LONDON, UK — Pontone Gallery director Domenic Pontone speaks with Lorna Davies of Sloane Square Magazine.
How did you get into the art industry?
My father started a gallery up in the North East of England in 1979 and has been in the business ever since, so I have been around art since I was a child. We even had a framing workshop in our cellar at home with lots of interesting machines and tools that a child probably shouldn’t have been playing with, but I did anyway and learned how to assemble frames aged nine. I started the first incarnation of my gallery in 2011 and we opened here in Chelsea in 2016.
How has it changed sincde you began?
It has changed significantly in many ways. In particular, I have seen the rise and proliferation of art fairs in the last 20 years. I think also we are going through a period of change right now with more and more galleries finding their feet online. It will be interesting to see where this leads.
You opened in Chelsea in 2016. How has it been since you opened?
We were in Mayfair prior to opening in Chelsea, so it was a very smooth transition for us. A lot of our clients live in the Chelsea area, so the new gallery is more accessible to many of our regulars. I love the new, bigger space we have in Chelsea.
What clientele do you have?
It is a very diverse clientele. We have as many international clients as domestic and they are from all walks of life. I can’t really divulge any celebrities.
How do you find the artists you feature in the gallery?
Most of the artists I find are from studio visits, exhibitions and art fairs around the world. We have a lot of homegrown talent, but we also specialise in Korean contemporary art. I fell in love with the Korean art scene about 10 years ago, and I have since spent a lot of time visiting art colleges, artists’ studios and exhibitions in Korea.
What makes a great work of art?
A great work of art can be many things, but when I think about it I think of works that have imagination and depth, that have originality (as much as possible) and a quality of technique that stands out from others. A great artwork for me engages with you emotionally or intellectually or both.
Are you ever tempted to buy pieces from artists on your books?
Actually, I only really buy from artists I work with ... I suppose that shows that I really do believe in the artists I represent.
Do you have a large art collection?
At present, I have around 20 pieces, but I don’t have any wall space left at home.
What's your advice for a budding collector?
Buy what you like, regardless of investment. Buy works that say something to you, that intrigue you or enchant you. There is a painting I have by Matteo Massagrande, of the interior of a derelict room looking out to a terrace. This piece enchants me and every day that I look at it I see something new that makes me happy … a detail or a brushstroke or the light painted on a doorframe.
What's the best thing about your job?
Watching a body of work develop to be ready for exhibition and being part of this process is my favourite part of the job.
And the most challenging?
I think it’s time. I am always looking to expand and have new ideas, but we have quite a full programme with 10-12 exhibitions a year in London, six in Taiwan and up to 10 art fairs internationally.