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The Rod Barton Gallery Opens

Michiel Ceulers Makes His London Debut at Rod Barton's New Gallery Space

Tonight, Rod Barton premieres his new gallery space in Angel with a challenging show of new work by the young Belgian artist Michiel Ceulers. The decision to kick off with an exhibition by an unknown abstract artist, who produces work that is incredibly difficult to read, is testament to Barton’s unflinching commitment to exhibiting art that he truly believes in. We took a sneak peek at the new space to find out more…

DazedDigital: Have you always wanted to have your own gallery?
Rod Barton:
 In the first year of my BA I can remember saying that all I wanted to do was put on exhibitions and run my own gallery, and that was ten years ago. Doing shows at The Griffin was the first step towards that really, and I tried to do as many shows there as possible. Now, I’ve got this space, I’m finally getting to a point where I’m actually doing what I want to do, so it’s quite exciting. 

DD: Does curating conflict with your work as an artist in your own right?
 I did train as an artist but I wouldn't describe myself as an artist now. I wasn’t as motivated in making art as I was in putting on exhibitions. The first exhibition I organised when I came to London was on an entire floor of a disused warehouse in Bermondsey. I can remember it being very New York even though it was next to Millwall football ground!

DD: What attracted you to Michiel Ceulers?
 Perry Roberts took me around all the galleries in Antwerp at Christmas and I walked into this one abstract painting show and these grungy but very well-executed paintings really hit me. When you first see his work you kind of think, 'Hang on what’s this all about?' But on the second or third look you realise that it’s actually really good stuff. I decided to exhibit him having only seen four of his paintings, but I liked them and I liked him, which is one of the biggest factors for me in working with an artist, because at the end of the day it is a working relationship. 

DD: Do you think other people will see what you see in his work?
 I’m hoping that I see something other people will see as well. I think all gallerists take a chance on saying, ‘Hey this guy is great!’ I mean some people may hate it, but some people will love it. I’m just really ecstatic about it. I guess we have to wait and see… 

DD: Were you nervous in starting up a gallery given the current economic climate? 
 Of course I am a little nervous, but I’ve set it up in such a way that theoretically I don’t have to sell anything to keep it going. Unfortunately, I can only open on Saturdays, but if I sell one painting then I’ve done well. 

DD: You are in quite a residential street – did you consider spaces nearer other galleries?
 Before I found this space, I realised that it might be advantageous to be near other galleries, say on Eastcastle Street or Vyner Street, but then I would like to think I’m doing something a little bit different, and we have got the Parasol Unit just down the road, so we’re not too far of the beaten track.

Michiel Ceulers exhibits at the The Rod Barton Gallery, 1 Paget Street, EC1, March 27–May 2