One of the trickiest — and most rewarding — things about owning a fine art gallery is the relationship we have with artists. Of course, we love all of our artists (as we learned early on that life is too short to spend time with those we don’t!), but sometimes we have to walk a fine line between encouraging them to take risks and giving them too much direction about what to paint.
Being on the front line, we know what our customers like. And of course we and our artists want their work to sell. But if we tell our artists to keep painting something that we know will sell, we’re not stretching them and they may get bored. If we encourage them to try something new, we may not be able to sell it, and then we’re all frustrated. So there is always this delicate balance of edging them away from the familiar, but hoping they’ll not veer too far off from the tried and true.
Imagine our delight when, in France for a recent buying trip to prepare for our upcoming Bastille Bash, we met up with one of our favorite artists, Christian Nepo, with whom we’ve had a successful, 14-year relationship. Nepo is an amazing, 4th generation painter, who knows how to draw and knows how to wield a fine tuned brush to create gorgeous little landscapes that have the precision of pre-impressionist artists like Boudin and Corot.
Despite being one of our most successful artists, Nepo was getting a little restless with his gorgeous little jewels and wanted to branch out and experiment with new techniques. He hadn’t quite hit upon it during our previous visits and we walked away almost empty handed a few times.
Until … fast forward to our trip to France last week, and picture two gallery gals jumping up and down in a parking lot, outside the winery in Coustellet (and no, we hadn’t visited the winery first!).
Nepo has been experimenting with inks and papers and brushes and paint, using different “formulas” that he stumbled upon so accidentally that he can’t even recreate what he first came up with. The results are black and white renditions of his previous paintings that use negative space, like white, to create the moody seas and hopeful skies. So instead of colors, it’s tone on tone, which makes every brush stroke more subtle yet important, more distinct yet refined.
We love these new works and grabbed every one of them as fast as we could extract them from the trunk of his car (never mind the looks we got from passers by!). We know they will fly out of the gallery, but even if they don’t, we’ll be thrilled to hold on to them because we will never tire of their beauty or finesse. But the best part of all comes down to the delicate balance: The artist who is thrilled to have stumbled upon something new that stretches and pleases. And the gallery owners, who never stop jumping up and down! Hurrah for Nepo, n’est-ce pas?
PS Please join us at Huff Harrington Fine Art on Thursday, July 17th from 6 to 8 for our annual Bastille Bash, where we will unveil new works by Christian Nepo and many other artists, while popping the bubbles and singing the Marseillaise! A bientot …