Valerie Bach is one of the most important gallerists working in Belgium today. Her beautiful space in the Patinoire Royale in downtown Brussels has been host to exhibitions by major artists like Joana Vasconcelos and Takis, but she has spread her love of her even further afield, curating a sculpture park among the vines of Commanderie de Peyrassol in the heart of the Var in the south of France. Eclectic, unique and passionate - Bach specialises in contemporary art for true art lovers.
How did you first become interested in art?
I wasn’t really exposed to art as a child, but then I had the chance to work in a famous gallery in Paris and I became passionate about it.
How did you end up founding your own gallery?
I bought the gallery in 2007 and from there the journey started. I moved into the actual space in 2012 and I opened the "Patinoire Royale-galerie Valérie Bach" in April 2015.
What has the journey of owning your own gallery been, and where are you today?
The first years were the most difficult, you’re still trying to find everything out. From there everything went it’s way.
How was 2020 for you? Were you impacted by the lack of art fairs?
Compared to other years, I was able to get less out of 2020. For me, there were disadvantages and advantages to the lockdown. I had some time to rest and think about the future of the gallery and future projects. But like everyone else, lockdown took a big toll on me. Being locked up in your house 24/7 and having the gallery closed with no clear prospects is stressful.
You also work with the Commanderie de Peyrassol vineyard in the Var in the south of France, how did that come about?
I've spent many years in Provence with my family. The Commanderie de Peyrassol is a huge vineyard. I have created a huge collection of monumental sculptures in this idyllic location and a permanent exhibition of contemporary art. We wanted to share our passion with people who can visit the domain and create a surprise at every bend in the path, at every cluster of vines with sculptures by famous international artists such as Lee Ufan, Joana Vasconcelos, Vasarely and Pol Bury.
I imagine that you yourself collect art, do you have any favourite pieces?
It’s hard to choose, I have a special connection with all the pieces and especially with all the pieces of the artists that I exhibit. I’m really fond of the sculptures of Gisela Colon. I love the way her futuristic sculptures interact with light, space and movement.
Any advice to new collectors, what to look for when buying art?
First, do your research. It’s important to be up to date on the art world. Go visit some museums, galleries, exhibitions and go look on Artsy. See what you like and don’t like, so you know what you want to invest in. Don’t follow the trends too much, follow your heart.
Any under-recognised artists you think deserve more praise?
There are many who do not have the recognition they deserved. We’re currently exhibiting one of the great Belgian artists, Francis Dusepulchre, who died in 2013. The show of this unclassifiable artist, whose extremely personal output makes him particularly recognizable, shows works that were little to never seen by the public, coming directly from the studio.
How do you feel about the rise of crypto and NFTs, do you think that will have an impact on the future of running a gallery?
I don’t think so, I’m not really integrated in the world of crypto and NFTS. It’s kind of a difficult concept to grasp. But I don’t think they will have an impact on the running of galleries. Because of the digital nature of NFTs, it’s difficult to compare them with statues and paintings. I think NFTs will have their specific place in the art world, but it won’t be a threat to the traditional gallerist.
Do you have any advice for new, aspiring gallerists?
Owning a gallery is not only about art, it’s important to network and create connections. Don’t follow the market too much, follow your own visions. The most important thing for aspiring gallerists is to be passionate about art.
Interviewed by: Eddy Frankel, author of ARTE Generali