An interview with Leontia Gallery founder, Leontia Reilly

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Ahead of Leontia Gallery’s exciting show, Figure It Out, we asked founder Leontia Reilly several questions about the gallery and exhibition. The exhibition aims to explore the significance of painting and the numerous possibilities painting has to offer.

Can you tell us about Leontia Gallery’s new exhibition, Figure It Out?

The exhibition is an exploration of contemporary figurative painting and the traditional mediums associated within the movement.

I wanted to completely up-end the traditional notion of figurative art and with this in mind I curated a selection of artists who really pushed the boundaries of painting in medium and concept, from Eugene Ankomah’s paintings created on the old Microsoft paint programme to Frans Smit’s glitter painting.

 

Are there any striking similarities between any of the artists in the group show? Conversely, are there any differences that really stand out?

I think the similarities are their respect for their predecessors, from Magnus Gjoen’s adoration of classical painting, to Frans Smit’s reinterpretations of the masters. However I think there is a stark difference in all of their work. All of their visual styles are completely different, from Benjamin Thomas Taylor’s bold and bright paint by number pieces to Carp Matthew’s dark and grotesque disturbing figures. Each artist brings something significantly different to the exhibition.

What, according to you, is the future of painting?

The question of paintings’ authority and future in the art world has been debated for about a century. I do believe the question will keep on being asked because innovate artists are constantly pushing the medium and exploring the theme. Painting is the oldest documented art form, however, art like society is always in a state of flux. I believe painting will always have a future but the parameters are always changing.

 

How do you decide on the theme of every new exhibition?

It’s an organic process that can start from a conversation or an idea I want to explore. Once I’ve decided on an exhibition theme, I’ll show my artists the brief and they will make works around that concept or I will pick works that I feel contribute to the exhibition.

 

How do you discover new artists?

I’m constantly looking; in this business I don’t think you ever stop. I find artists from a variety of sources, degree shows, online, art fairs etc. I tend to find a lot of artists online but only a small fraction of these artists make it through the selection process. Once I find an artist I like I will usually arrange a studio visit and that’s were the magic happens or it doesn’t. But when it does its one of the most enjoyable parts of my business. It’s a sense of privilege, discovery and excitement that’s unparalleled.

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in opening a gallery?

 

It isn’t just about hanging some pictures on a wall. Jokes aside…

 

  • If you aren’t passionate about the art world don’t open a gallery, passion and enthusiasm is contagious, artists and collectors pick up on that. If you don’t believe in the artist why should anyone else?
  • A successful gallery needs a business plan like any other business, planning is crucial
  • The backbone to any gallery is visionary artists and clients. If you don’t have these you won’t have a decent gallery. You can have the best marketing in the world; art is a passion and specialism. The best marketing departments in the world cannot hide rubbish talent from discerning eyes.
  • You need to stand out from the crowd, think about what makes your gallery different
  • You will make mistakes. Learn from them and don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Celebrate and recognize your accomplishments!
  • As any entrepreneur knows it takes more than passion and love to run a business, but also years of grit, determination and know how before you get anywhere….

Why are you THE go-to gallery in North London?

 

I wouldn’t be anywhere without my incredibly talented artists, my collectors come to me because of the artists I represent and because as a collector myself I understand the importance of art acquisition and appreciation.

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