The James Freeman Art Gallery is a little gallery just around the corner from my flat. I walk past it every day, and it almost always has something that draws my eye. But, you know, galleries are intimidating and art is expensive — and, well, how am I going to achieve my life goal of becoming an art collector if I don’t just give it a try? So I mustered the courage to go in and . . .
. . . next thing you know, I had purchased an artwork called “Clearing” by Suzanne Moxhay.
Moxhay is an artist who creates her image using a montage of fragments from other images. Bits of buildings and paintings and landscapes that she fits together to create a new scene that gives the impression of being real but doesn’t hold up under closer inspection.
This one felt like it needed to be hanging in my own stairwell back home in Seattle. But for now it will hang above my sofa in London.
But here’s the thing. Deep down, my trip to the gallery had very little to do with Suzanne Moxhay. Yes, I love the piece I got, but that was really just a prelude to what I was really after: a piece that had hung in the window about two years ago when I first moved in. It had struck me at the time, and had stayed with me ever since. Every time I walked past the gallery, I thought about it and wondered if it had sold.
So as I finalised my new purchase, I casually mentioned that I had been drawn to a photograph of a church from ages ago . . . and lo, the gallerist obligingly told me it was a piece by Liane Lang and that it just happened to be sitting unsold in the gallery’s storage room. He asked if I wanted to see it again when I came to collect the Moxhay piece.
For the following weeks, as I traveled to Paris and Luxembourg and Seattle and Munich, I mulled over this artwork, wondering if I was ready to up my art-buying game. I texted Amanda and she provided all the support she typically reserves for rugs and ceramics, with a handful of encouraging words from her parents, too. By the time I went back to the gallery yesterday, I was all but decided — and when I saw it again in person, I loved it right away and took the plunge. (And for those of you who share Justin’s question: No, the gallerist did not (i) praise my penmanship, (ii) declare I looked like a Parisian, (iii) ask if I was an interior designer, or (iv) engage in any other form of flattery that has hitherto worked so well for other merchants.)
It’s a piece the artist created while in residency at Eton college a few years ago. Lang started with a photograph of the famous chapel, which dates back to the 1400s I think, and then she basically vandalised the image to blur out the paintings along the walls into something more cloudy and abstract with paint and charcoal and pastels. So like the Moxhay piece, it looks like something real but isn’t quite.
I can’t wait to have it delivered and figure out where to hang it. And I have to admit I feel I may have been bitten by the bug — I already have new artworks in mind that are calling my name!
This may be a more expensive hobby than collecting blue and white dishes…