Mon Dieu Projects aims to bring some irreverence to the LA art world with its provocative curatorial choices. “Mon Dieu” the French expression of “My god!” and surprise is the reaction the curators hope to inspire. It also represents Galerie Youn’s Montreal roots with its roster of eccentric artists, who are thrilled for their West Coast debut.
Where do you think the global art market will be in 5 years?
Spencer Walker: I will follow Juno down the sci-fi rabbit hole and try to imagine how much more technology will disrupt the global art market. I think AI generated art will be remembered as a silly trend like slap bracelets and Hyper Color shirts. Tangible real-world art will always be more revered than something that you can only view on a screen. But technology isn’t necessarily the enemy of the artist. 3D printing will improve and allow for artists to dream bigger grander scale works.
Juno Youn: I foresee a mature NFT developing from the ashes of the grifters. Original art is original art and there will always be a market for it. The world will only get more digital. Whether it’s gaming platforms or the metaverse, cave paintings or an NFT gallery, there are still walls that need decoration. The savvy artists will figure out how to keep a toe in each pool to create physical and digital work, each raising the others’ profile.
North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, perhaps Africa or South America – where should art investors be focusing right now and why?
Spencer Walker: European art has more than its share of time in the pantheon. There continues to be exciting art coming out of continent like the photo realistic acrylics from Mon Dieu Projects artist Hugo Alonso out of Spain. And we are a bit biased and myopic being based in North America. Mexico has no shortage of gamechangers working today. But I would look to Asia, primarily Southeast and South Asia for exciting artists to invest in early. I lived for two years in the Philippines and traveled throughout the region seeing exciting work coming out of Manila, Yangon, and Hanoi. Hong Kong and Singapore are the broker centers for these works, but I recommend going directly to the source. I don’t know enough about African artists, although I like what I’ve seen. And India just became the most populated nation in the world. Amongst those billions of people are artists destined to become household names.
Juno Youn: South Korea, baby! The country of my birth that I left long ago for North America is finally having its moment. BTS was just our opening salvo to announce to the world “annyeonghaseyo (hello)!” Momentum in the art market is moving towards Seoul with its advanced economy, technologically advanced with disposable income and an appreciation for the finer things. And from that Korean art ecosystem, a new generation of young Korean artists that will soon become must-haves for any serious art collectors. So, pack a bag, fly to Seoul, and order the contemporary art sampler with a side of kimchi!
In your opinion, who are the top 5 artists to invest in right now?
Juno Youn & Spencer Walker: We both have our favorite artists, but even we have very different tastes from each other and what we would hang on our own walls. Art must always be a purchase of love before an investment. You need to be able to enjoy the work even if it loses value in an ever-fickle art market. If you are purely dollar and cents, it’s a smarter financial move to invest in an already established, but not yet blue-chip artist. But there is no greater thrill than discovering someone brand new before they get scooped up by Gagosian or Hauser + Wirth. It’s financially rewarding too! With that said, here are some names we like for established, yet affordable artists we love:
How do you see the role of art galleries evolving in the future, and what changes do you anticipate in the industry?
Spencer Walker: Art galleries will need to become more than just a place that shows art on the walls for sale. That old chestnut of a business model will not be viable long term. That is especially true unless you are one of the elite galleries that sell based on their brand recognition alone. Back down on Planet Earth, the successful galleries of the future will need to become cottage industries. Live events, merchandise, streaming. And of course, sell lots of art.
Juno Youn: I have watched the industry expand and contract. Doomsayers predict the end of the art market only for it to come roaring back even stronger. Social media has changed the game so much in the last ten years, empowering artists to self-promote. As the power dynamics shift into the artists hands, some may decide that they may not even need a gallery to represent them. But the smart artists will continue to work with seasoned galleries. That way they can focus on their craft instead of spending all day answering emails and producing marketing materials like we do.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own art gallery or pursuing a career in the art world?
Juno Youn: Run! lol. The art business may seem glamorous with its beautiful art, decadent parties, and fabulous fashion. That part is true. But there is so much drudgery behind the scenes that is no one would consider glamorous. Excel sheets and Google drive files and so many emails. This cannot be some vanity project you do as a side hustle. It has to be your only hustle and it can be a grind. But if you’re up for it, knowing that nothing comes easy, then step right up! The joy of working with beautiful art and the brilliant people who create it makes it all worth it.
Spencer Walker: Be prepared to work harder than you have ever before. I have amassed enough power tools running a gallery that I could moonlight as a contractor. If only I wasn’t so tired at the end of the days trying to conquer the endless To Do lists. Be prepared for things to go wrong because the tiniest little mistake can derail the entire train. Just be ready ahead of time with a Plan B and C, whether that’s a backup framer, an external hard drive with gallery computer backed up, or a bottle of wine when there’s nothing you can do but kvetch and strategize a way out of the hole you’re in. This is not an industry for the thin-skinned.
Can you share with us any upcoming exhibitions or events that we should be looking forward to at your gallery?
Spencer Walker: Mon Dieu Projects is excited about our second group exhibition ABSTRACT ADJACENT in mid-May. This show strips away most, but not all of the figurative elements found in our inaugural show Intimate Exchanges. “Adjacent” refers to both being near, but not quite apart of something. And it is a quintessential part of Angeleno geographical lexicon, like living Beverly Hills-adjacent. These 8 artists are a blend of true abstract painters, surreal drawings and photography, and works bleeding into askew figurative works from:
D L Alvarez
Nadège Monchera Baer
Juno Youn: Galerie Youn currently has a solo exhibition of Jeff Nachtigall called TIGER VS BEAR featuring colorful, surrealist animal scenes.
“Animals have populated my work for over 30 years. Perhaps it was the synthesis of Saturday morning cartoons and my experience growing up in the Canadian North that influenced my perceptions. I prefer animals to humans; they have more integrity. They allow me to address relationships in a subverted manner, forcing the viewer to dig deeper if they desire more meaning.” – Jeff Nachtigall
Our June exhibition will feature two solo shows. Mixed-media sculptor Bernice Lum (also found in the inaugural Mon Dieu Projects show) will be showing her vintage bowling pins repurposed to create elements of nostalgia. Color blind Mark Liam Smith’s fine art paintings are inspired by the European masters, but with manipulated with subversive contemporary dimensions.
Additionally, Galerie Youn will be at the Art Busan in South Korea with other art fairs to follow in 2023, which our horoscope predicts will be a very good year.
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