June 28, 2023
As I wrote in “Impressions from Basel art events 2023,” Photo Basel is a treasure, my favourite in the arts. It started out in 2015, grew and changed organically, survived the pandemic and will, this year, for the first time, also launch a fair in Miami Beach. (I would have chosen China or somewhere non-Western rather than follow Art Basel Miami over there, but that is not the point here).
It’s Europe’s second international quality photo art fair together with Photo London, and it is open to the “Beyond Photography” concept, which means that a photographic work can use mixed media, special printing techniques or become three-dimensional.
One reason to like Photo Basel is that it is not too big, it’s quality all over, it’s held in the beautiful old “Volkshaus” in Rebgasse with small stairs between different floors, a bit of a labyrinth. It beams a kind, informal ambience, and the staff is one big smile. It’s easy to talk with exhibitors who gladly explain everything and seem to be driven by the love of their work at least as much as by their wish to sell. Also, both the homepage and the simple 8-page paper catalogue contain what you need, not too much and not too little.
The Guardian – with lots of photos – called it “a feast for the eyes,” and I think it was.
The photo on top is from the booth of Swiss Galerie Annalix Forever, run by Barbara Polla. She has curated a very diverse series of exhibitions which you can see here on the homepage. In her booth were three fine artists, Isabelle Chapuis, Mimiko Türkkan and Tereza Kozinc – see them here. Also, visit her Vimeo Channel.
Before I focus on three very fine exhibitors, let me share a few of my snapshots – please click to enlarge and also see the artist’s name:
The Three I chose to speak with
It was all very spontaneous. You walk into a booth; you’re met with background information and not with sales phrases. A conversation develops. In a way, it’s one of many human encounters connected by mutual interests – but then again, every dialogue is unique, and it is a slightly different story when an iPhone gets between us.
The interviews below were conducted without preparations, the iPhone handheld and the videos unedited. After my short intro, these enthusiasts speak for themselves…
Director of Francis Boeske Projects in Amsterdam (Instagram). She exhibited Dutch artist Danielle Kwaaitaal’s totally amazing still lives on walls painted to suit the images. (Danielle on Instagram). In the video below, Francis explains the unique, elaborate process by which Danielle creates them.
She also tells about her background, why she loves to work with female artists and what’s next in her life:
Martijn van Pieterson
Martijn was once a banker, now with his wife, Annemarie Zethof, leading the Ibasho Gallery in Antwerpen, Belgium, which specialises in art photography rooted in Japan (Instagram). Please jump over to see the more than 100 artists that Ibasho promotes on its impressively rich homepage; it does not only contain superb photography but also books, ceramics and objects.
The gallery is on the first floor of their home, everything integrated – ibasho meaning “a place where you can be yourself.” See here some of the works Ibasho exhibited this year.
I’ve followed Ibasho’s exquisite shows over the years and thought it was finally time to speak with Martijn, who, like Francis above, conveys such life joy over working with art and artists:
Chantal Convertini was one of two “focus artists” at this year’s Photo Basel, i.e. not running a gallery but being a fine photo artist that the fair wants to highlight. And no wonder they’ve chosen her. I immediately stopped at her booth because of its soft-serene-sensual images.
You must definitely visit her homepage with many more works, ‘about,’ shop and more. Chantal has two Instagram accounts – here and here – with no less than close to 200 000 followers! and – believe it or not! – she is self-taught.
After a short chat, I asked whether she would be willing to talk with me about her background, development and photo passion, and below you see what came out of asking that question.
I am very grateful to have been trusted to make this documentation of their extraordinary passion and quality-driven work – for the arts and for a better, more beautiful and meaningful world.
To round off this report, here are a few of my snapshots from this visit to Basel, some quite manipulated. Click on each in the gallery to enlarge them.