Grace Carter: Can you tell us a little about who you are and your background?
Marine Tanguy: I am from a small French island called Ile de Ré. Aside from cycling along, eating blueberries, and running by the sea, I cannot say that much happened when I was growing up. Thus, as a young girl I took the habit to escape in 19th century literature and artistic photographs. My mother and grandmother never pressurised me to be anything and embraced the fact that I was very different and rather eccentric from the other kids there. I struggled to fit in and I already had a strong artistic ambition.
GC: Which artists served as your inspirations in your early days and is this still the case?
MT: The first artist who made me love art is a romantic: Géricault and his ‘The Raft of the Medusa’. The realism of the brushstrokes and the pathos were so strong that I felt moved by this large painting for days. Later I encountered the art of my first artist Alison Bignon; she made me realise what I loved in art: a strong technical and creative process leading to a meaningful narrative (for Alison, her narratives are felt emotions).
GC: You left your degree early for the opportunity to become the manager of The Outsiders Gallery in Soho, London. Have you ever regretted this decision? And would you say work experience is more important than education for budding art enthusiasts?
MT: I think that every part of the story makes you who you are and should be embraced. I dropped out as I felt misunderstood by the education system - I had a strong vision already and I struggled to fit it within my academic assessments. I always felt that I was more of a Ph.D student at heart rather than an undergraduate. I could be left alone for days in a library but I struggled under authority and within structure. I feel that I am a student for life; everyday I read, write and research within my field. The professional world allowed me to be more dynamic and constructive with my own artistic vision.
GC: What is it about art that makes you so passionate about it?
MT: Well - it gives me just what I need in life. That is, inspiring visuals and a meaningful substance. It transports me and makes me feel alive. I escape and recover in it. I simply cannot live without it - I find the world very bleak without art.
GC: What value would you say publications such as PETRIe hold in the art world, how do they fit in, and how do you see their relevance continuing to grow?
MT: Publications such as PETRIe are key for the art world as they discuss and support the artistic vision of the youth. Without them, the work of emerging artists would not be visible in the art world. These artists need the extra support; most young creatives are currently struggling in London. We are very grateful for the support of PETRIe, who has published a wonderful article on our artist Scarlett Bowman. I hope that PETRIe can encourage the art press to publish more and more on emerging artists.
GC: You became the youngest art dealer in LA at just 23 years old. This must have meant maturing pretty quickly and learning a lot of key lessons in a short space of time. Can you tell us about some of these - and also how it felt to have progressed so rapidly?
MT: De Re Gallery made me a much better businesswoman and art dealer. I went into this experience completely clueless, and as some people say: ignorance is bliss. Indeed, youth makes you do things and take risks that you would never do later. And, thank God, as those risks are key to truly understanding what you are doing and doing it better. My first gallery made me understand what I liked artistically and reinforced my artistic vision. Having gone through the first ups and downs, I am now feeling sure that I want to do my job for the rest of my life. I would never have been certain of if I hadn't had to battle for it.
GC: What led you to setting up Marine Tanguy Art and how does it differ from other galleries you have led?
MT: When I opened my first gallery in Los Angeles, De Re Gallery, I found myself drowning into a load of administrative tasks and pressures relating to the structure - that is, the gallery space. What I loved the most was spending time with my artists, clients and journalists and nurturing these relationships over cup of teas and strawberry tarts. I felt that I was restricted to push these existing relationships forward and develop new ones as I was stuck behind a desk most of the time.
I also grew increasingly frustrated that I had to sign a different artist every month to fulfill an exhibition program. I was happy with my small crew of artists and I didn't like the idea of putting an exhibition through with an artist that I was half happy about. I felt that I was compromising quality with the pressure of quantity. I also listened to my artists, who were technically entrepreneurs without the wish to, with cash flow issues and a need of administrative and legal management and the continuous desire to exhibit everywhere. The gallery model didn't feel on point.
This is how my artistic management company was born - to support talents and nurture them towards a successful approach to the art world. I pitch them daily to the press, collectors and institutions and we exhibit all over the world together. My phone is on 24/7 for each of them. I have a wonderful time supporting talents that I truly love and believe in.
GC: Did you have a vision in mind when you began? Would you do anything differently?
MT: I did. My 19th century novels would praise the value of an artistic gathering of people. I wanted to witness creative exchanges between people, as did the previous art movements of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. I believed in encouraging unique artistic voices over the idea of a trend or competition in the arts. I don't think I would do anything differently. I would just carry plasters with me at all times to cover bruises and carry on.
GC: What is the selection process for choosing the artists that become part of Marine Tanguy Art and what guidance do you give to any aspiring artists that want to become part of your gallery?
MT: I select my artists based on a soon-to-be published manifesto called ‘Formationism’, which artists Walter & Zoniel founded. This manifesto believes in the equal importance of the creative (craft and technical) and conceptual concepts in each work. First I must be attracted by the work visually based on my appreciation of the technique. Then the artwork must keep my attention intellectually with a meaningful narrative and concept. I also choose my artists based on their drive - any talent needs drive and energy. I do not creatively guide my artists. Instead I encourage them to keep on experimenting. All I want is for me to remove their business struggles and financial worries - for the art to be set free and their creativity to be at their best.
GC: Formationism underpins the upcoming ‘Fragments Of’ exhibition. Can you talk us through how this movement came about and what it means for the wider artistic community?
MT: The dear artists Walter & Zoniel founded this term and concept. We met over a cup of tea and realised that, despite growing our careers in different ways, we had believed in the same principles for years. This is how we united ourselves and became Formationists, an artistic movement that reconciles process and concept. ‘Fragments Of’ is the first curation inspired entirely from this movement. It's very exciting for us; we are soon unveiling a wave of arty dinners to discuss the movement further with artists and we wish to create a supportive community behind it.
GC: What can viewers expect from the ‘Fragments Of’ exhibition?
MT: A lot... I have asked my artists to go mad and experiment away. Innovation, challenges (my poor business manager has spent weeks trying to sort out the hanging logistics of this exhibition!) and great art from our generation of artists addressing meaningful matters and the visuals of our current society.
GC: Finally, is there anything else in the pipeline for Marine Tanguy Art?
MT: Plenty. I just landed from Monaco where we will soon be hosting a new project and Los Angeles and New York are next! There is a lot to do and no desire to rest!
Alison Bignon \\ Scarlett Bowman \\ Tristan Pigott \\ Walter & Zoniel \\ Jennifer Abessira \\ Jean-François Le Minh
Exhibition Dates: 13th-17th October.
Open daily from 10am to 7pm.
Words: Grace Carter