*Featured photo: FABER-Giulia Spernazza-NATURA PURA,2018
We met Cristian Porretta, who in 2013 founded the FABER art gallery in Rome’s historical centre, intending to become a place for the promotion and development of contemporary art and a reference and meeting point for art lovers and collectors. Around the gallery, a group of talented artists has emerged, their practices and research supported and promoted by the gallery. Porretta’s approach to the profession of gallery owner focuses on human relationships to disseminate culture and make the enjoyment of contemporary art a shared experience. He tells us more about his work in this exclusive interview for ArteMorbida
To open a small independent art gallery in the heart of Rome might be seen as a risky bet. Yet, almost ten years after your first step, success has proved you correct. So how did the FABER project come about?
Almost fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to curate and run an art space in Rome with some friends. Thus, I came across a profession that immediately became a real passion. This training period was crucial, and I slowly began to enter the world of contemporary art, immersing myself in all its aspects, delving into them and fully believing that research and the seriousness of the proposals were the basis to build upon.
I believe that a gallery owner should know all the profession’s aspects, from art history to curatorship, from administration to the law, from the techniques to the market scenarios.
On the other hand, in these times, I believe we should focus on the quality of the artists and their careers to provide a top-quality offer to the public.
I have to say that scouting has been thorough and highly selective right from the very beginning. So, after five years, and with clear ideas about the artistic plan to pursue, my wife and I decided to become independent. In 2013 the FABER art gallery was born.
An established group of artists, a calendar tailored to their career path and a steady commitment that follows and supports them over time. You do everything with great care, the same care required to build the gallery’s audience of visitors and collectors and its external relationships. Paying attention to the people rather than their role; can this be considered FABER’s winning formula?
Absolutely, we are proud of our ethical approach to art and the gallery’s commitment to following the artists with whom we collaborate in a joint growth process. This is reflected in the careful management of each project, with a serious and coherent approach. We are a space for research, and the FABER project is built on reliability and trust. This trust is earned by respecting the collaborators, the artists we represent, and the audience who enter the gallery to experience art.
We have embarked on a journey, and the steps taken so far have proved successful, even beyond our expectations. There is undoubtedly a long way to go, but we should not stray from the principles that move us. Without wishing to give moral lessons to anyone, there is no doubt that these values are not always respected in this environment. In my opinion, however, they should be the basis of our work and, above all, of living together.
Among FABER’s proposals, there is room for Fiber Art. How has the public’s response to this artistic language changed over time? In your experience, has an interest in the textile medium also grown among art professionals?
From the outset, our approach to art has been linked to matter and its transformations; Fibre art is one of its forms. This being said, the argument can be developed on a dual-track. First, the public and art professionals’ attention to fibre art has grown considerably.
On the one hand, this is the result of acknowledging great artists who use textiles as a way of expression; Maria Lai’s major exhibition at MAXXI is an outstanding example and has finally turned the spotlight on a great artist, allowing her to reach a wider audience.
On the other hand, the art of textiles has moved towards expressions of a more contemporary nature, freeing itself from a craft dimension; fibre artists are now moving towards more project-based and installation-oriented research that frees them from the constraints of definitions. At last, this approach has allowed Fiber Art to be seen in its purest form as poetic and global art.
Can you tell us about your experience as a contemporary art gallerist in a city with a bulky past (which is present everywhere) like Rome? And how have these last two years of Pandemic affected the gallery’s work?
Relating to Rome through contemporary art is a challenge. Paradoxically, there is a lack of support, the public institutions are somewhat absent, and greater attention should be paid to the message art has always carried: that of bringing everyone closer to something higher.
We need to create awareness of contemporary art.
Something in this sense has been done; I am thinking of William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments on the Tevere’s Muraglioni and the first attempt to create an art fair in the city: Arte in Nuvola.
Obviously, this small cultural revolution should start within academic institutions. Anyone working in the art industry should contribute to the best of their ability by offering proposals and qualified services that are as inclusive as possible. As far as the Pandemic is concerned, it has created a standstill, which the gallery has sought to exploit by focusing on research and developing new projects. Our wish for everyone is that we can leave behind a life based on fear in the hope that art will also contribute to bringing people together.
If you had to assess these years, what were the strengths and the mistakes?
Our strengths are the quality of the chosen artists and the accuracy of our proposed projects. We sincerely believe in the artists we represent, and, as I mentioned, our aim is to follow them constantly in their growth and research. We currently cooperate with Roberto Ghezzi, Valerio Giacone, Manuela Giusto, Koro Ihara, Jacopo Mandich, Keisuke Matsuoka and Giulia Spernazza. I must say that the harmony between us is excellent, and it was a joy for the gallery to celebrate Koro Ihara’s recent victory at the Tokyo Art Prize.
The contribution of the professionals who collaborate with the gallery and support the work’s many aspects: graphics, communication and social media; has also been significant.
Obviously, we are a young gallery and need to grow on many levels to make ourselves known to an ever-growing audience.
Therefore, it is essential to seek out collaborations and situations that can give us visibility beyond our own space. I am thinking of projects involving social institutions.
We must broaden our relations with academies and universities, which represent the future of contemporary art.
What are the long-term plans?
We are working to promote our artists’ projects in Japan as part of biennial exhibitions in the long term.