On May 2, 2015, British-born and Parisian-based artist Anouska Beckwith will present her first New York solo exhibition curated by Andi Potamkin at Three Squares Studio. Transcendence will feature never-before-seen works from a new series by the artist featuring British songbird Flo Morrissey, alongside photographs from Beckwith's travels throughout rural Italy and Spain, Normandy, Ibiza, Paris and London.
In order to find out more about this dynamic duo as well as their new exhibition, I decided to have a little Q&A with them before they unveil their highly anticipated show, Transcendence.
Anouska: How did you and Andi first meet?
Andi and I met at Paris Photo two years ago through my mother who had previously met Andi through Steven Kasher. It was she who thought we would get on due to her passion and creativity in the arts. She kept telling me that I needed to meet her as she was someone special and at the time I was looking for a curator to work on our Ritual Exhibition with World Wide Women. As soon as we met the spark was instant. She was incredibly warm and incredible stylish. I felt as if we had known one another forever despite meeting for a brief moment.
Andi: What do you recall about your initial meeting Anouska?
I had fallen in love with Anouska's work before we ever met. I was working with her mother Tamara, promoting artists across the pond through our respective galleries in New York and London. Tamara knew my taste and directed me to Anouska's work. I felt an immediate connection from the moment I first saw it and I was terribly excited to meet her in-person.
When we finally met, if possible to be blown away yet again, I certainly was. She is a goddess, and she truly embodies the etherial feminine energy of her work.
So, how and when did you two decide to work together?
Anouska and I are quite like-minded and became fast friends, often Skyping about inspiration and artistry well into the night. Our first collaboration was when she asked me to curate a show for her artist collective World Wide Women last December. Anouska has incredible vision. She put together a beautiful selection of young artists in the collective and we had a terribly good time putting the show together. When I saw the crowd was just as enamored with Anouska's work as I was, I knew it was time to bring her work to New York. We went out to dinner one evening and had given a gentlewoman's handshake before main courses arrived. I think it's safe to say we were both just as excited about working with each other.
Anouska: So "Transcendence" is the second show you and Andi are collaborating on - what inspired this second go around?
Yes, Andi I collaborated for the WWW Ritual Exhibition over last year for our December show that was a big success in London and we were then asked to have two extended shows very quickly after at Suitcase Magazine and Grace, Belgravia. Therefore, I knew that after working with such an inspiring person I wished to continue collaborating with her - so I asked her if she knew anyone who would be interested in putting on my first solo exhibition and she amazingly said that she would love to do it.
Andi: How did you know it was the right time to bring Anouska's work to New York?
Anouska's work is timeless, exploring global ideas about femininity, nature, spirituality and mysticism. But her work is also very much of our time, questioning our relationship to the earth, our mortality, and our unstable future.
We are mounting this exhibit at Three Squares Studio, a hair salon and art gallery that bridges different industries of beauty. I think Anouska's work is perfect for the space as her pieces also encourage appreciation of different types of beauty. Her work is appealing on an aesthetic level, beautiful as a pure object; but it also creates a conversation and begs the viewer to spend some time with their own thoughts.
Anouska: What are you most nervous about on presenting your first solo exhibition in New York City?
I think that due to New York being such a prestigious art institution it would make anyone nervous as there is so much great art coming out of the city and I feel that New Yorkers are known to be quite harsh critics otherwise there wouldn't be there saying 'if you can make it there you can make it anywhere' and after living there ten years ago I can definitely attest that it can be a very competitive arena to throw yourself into.
Andi: What was the curatorial process is organizing Transcendence?
In curating at Three Squares Studio, I take the audience into consideration. Day-to-day Three Squares Studio is a hair salon, and people spend hours in there. So the energy of the art is very important and it has to be sort of inviting.
I knew I wanted to do a retrospective of Anouska's development throughout her career. I find her different series very interesting in conversation with each other. I started to mentally select pieces late last year but when I was in Paris a few months ago, I got a peek at some of Anouska's new works and knew they had to be featured really strongly. I'm thrilled with the incorporation of multi-media she is doing.
Anouska: Often times artists and curators bump heads along the way in creating a show, can you recall any moments of tension or was it a smooth ride?
Working with Andi has been a smooth ride as we both are respectful of one another's opinions and taste and therefore we have a wonderful working relationship!
Andi: As a curator as well as art dealer - how were you able to strike the perfect "art / commerce" balance in selecting work?
As an art dealer, I'm very interested in context: the surroundings that a piece of art lives within. So as a curator, I am always very informed by the space I'm working with. I think art is most marketable when it is well-placed. Think about how terrible a bad frame is; It can devalue a great piece. When a work is well-placed, it has power in it's space and is elevated to a richer complexity.
At Three Squares Studio, I like to present art that is inclusive, no matter how much art world knowledge one has. Because the clientele at a salon is different from that of a classic white-box gallery. So it should be inviting and aesthetically beautiful. I love Anouska's work because it is both, in addition to though-provoking and rich in backstory. When the work is as good as Anouska's, it sells itself.
Anouska: If you had to choose one piece you would consider to be your favorite from this show, which one would it be and why?
One of my favorite pieces from the show is of my good friend and muse the musician Flo Morrissey from the Chrysalis series (Blue Butterfly) as I am completely inspired by her as a person. She has the voice of an angel and her talent is beyond words... I choose to collage her with a blue/purple butterfly wing that I had previously and had been saving for a special occasion which I feel was worth the wait. I feel as if she is from another world and hope the image does her justice.
Andi: What will personally be the mark of success for you after this show opens and closes?
I feel really proud to be bringing Anouska's work to the US. I'm a fan of her work as well as her person and it's an honor to be able to champion artists I believe in. Plus, we've had fantastic pre-sales, so I would say it is a success already.
Anouska: Now that this series of work is complete and being exhibited, what can we look forward to next from you?
I am currently working on lots of new series as I feel very inspired at present with the springtime. One is with the embroidery artist Poline Harbali from our collective WWW. Another is a book I am creating with Michaela Meadow 'Return of the Goddess' as well as different series that I am developing for later this year to do with ballerina's and Joan of Arc. So lots of exciting things to come!
@photos courtesy of Three Square Studios