20 Hoxton Square challenges the contemporary 'billionaires only' art scene in London.
I walk into 20 Hoxton Square, the latest progressive artistic endeavour to hit N1, and instantly feel miles away from the clamour of lively bars spilling out into this late summer evening in Shoreditch. Sandbags are piled high outside; a layer of 'protection' I'm told, against the increasing commercialisation of art. Inside, the large warehouse space is low lit and feels unearthly. From the ceiling hang androgynous bodies, whilst enormous metal landscapes stretch across the walls. It is almost like a laboratory; ethereal, bleeding, watercolours stare out at you from the dark.
This is the work of 'completely unknown' Dutch artist, Jaap de Vries. It is the latest installation by Adam Waymouth, Alex Dellal and Richard Graham who co-run the gallery. Artists themselves and still in their early twenties, they are on a mission to challenge the contemporary 'billionaires only' art scene in London by legitimising guerrilla art-fare.
Dazed Digital: So Jaap de Vries... How did you find him? And why is he 20 Hoxton Square?
Adam Waymouth: I found him on the Saatchi website gallery. His watercolours had been shown in a small exhibition before, but that was it. We went to visit him and found his work incredibly distinctive and unique.
Alex Dellal: And as a person he just seemed to fit. Most artists would be a bit scared if we were like "okay, give us your paintings and we'll put something together," but he was really brave and trusted us.
DD: How do you stand out from the larger galleries that surround you?
AD: Places like White Cube or any of the more established galleries are intimidating. All the work is sold in a very elitist way, and for a certain budget. We're quite young, so a lot of people who come to this gallery and consider buying are young people, we want to be approachable and sell the emerging art that people can afford.
DD: Do you find your age has influenced your style of curator-ship?
AW: It's given us a lot more freedom. Having not gone through the training and rigour of other galleries, it has probably made me look at things differently.
AD: To begin with I'd just finished studying photography and had done a couple of shows that went really badly because of the space. Galleries in London are really inaccessible to young people and the system doesn't make sense. So it's made us a lot more acceptable towards people who don't necessarily have the experience.
DD: What do you say to critics who claim 'guerrilla' exhibitions to be more about the marketing device than the art?
AD: It's just the way we do things, we don't plan stuff out way before hand.
AW: We're not set-up like most commercial galleries, with a six months advance on everything. We take people in last minute and look at all artists; if you're good, then you're good and we'll take you. That's what we mean by 'guerrilla' art fair.
DD: So plans for the future?
AW: Lots of things in the pipeline; a very talented American artist. We're talking to the people who do the LCD light displays at Piccadilly Circus, and thinking of doing a short film festival.
RG: I'm also working on a newspaper; it is more space to showcase talent and keep people in touch.
DD: Finally, is East London now the cultural centre for modern art?
AW: Right now to do our idea, to really make it work, we needed to be here. It wouldn't have worked otherwise. Maybe someday we'll take it elsewhere...
Jaap de Vries exhibition will be open from 7th September to 21st October 2007.
20 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NT.
Tel: 07804 343 550