INTERVIEW: Fiumano Clase at Art Central Hong Kong

Art Central Hong Kong has returned to the iconic Victoria Harbourside for its highly anticipated fourth edition. Staged from 27 March - 1 April 2018 (VIP day 26 March), the fair features 103 galleries showcasing a broad range of works by emerging and more established contemporary artists. 
The six-day extravaganza caters to avid collectors and art lovers alike. Film and performance art, interactive installations, and a fascinating talks programme foster discourse surrounding contemporary art practices. Around a quarter of participating galleries are from regions other than Asia-Pacific.

ArtworldNow correspondent Serene Fu interviews Francesca Fiumano, co-director of new London-based gallery Fiumano Clase, which is presenting exciting pieces in booth D14.

Andrés Clase and Francesca Fiumano, co-directors of Fiumano Clase.

Congratulations to Fiumano Clase on making its Art Central HK debut this year even though you have, in fact, shown here as Orion Contemporary in 2017 and Fiumano Projects in 2015, before the two entities came together. What do you find particularly attractive about Art Central HK?
Art fairs are always challenging. We feel the vibe around this fair remarkably positive. In previous years we've met excellent collectors who have bought from us and then came back. We are very optimistic this trend will continue. We hope this year will be great if not greater than in the past. Of course, there are other fairs, but we are not as sure about them.

Installation View, Fiumano Clase at Art Central HK 2018

Guests holding an Art Basel VIP Pass are welcome to drop by Art Central for free.  Do you find the overlap between Art Basel HK and a younger fair showcasing work at a lower price point such as Art Central beneficial?

I call Art Central the sexy younger sister of Art Basel and more of a 'discovery' show. We have opportunities to show new, edgy works that push the boundaries of contemporary art. Whereas Art Basel offers all these wonderful things, its artists are often all too familiar.

Nicole Wassell,  Remembrance, 2017
Blackboard paint, Stemple black paint, 24 carat gold leaf, glass specimen jar & brass, 107 x 36 cm

What is ethos of Fiumano Clase?


We want to be a brave gallery recognised by our identity and our choice of contemporary artists. Andrés (co-founder of Fiumano Clase) and I both studied classical art history and we are interested not just in the visual aspects of the work but also the position of the artist within art history. We only work with artists we are proud to show and those we like to work along with. When I meet an artist and the first time I see their work, my first question is Do I want it? The next is Do I know anybody who wants it? It's about really believing in the work we show.

Tell us about the artists and some of the highlights you are showcasing at the fair.

We have selected four artists we think work well together. Herman Lohe and Joakim Allgulander, both previously from Andrés's gallery, come from Sweden and their tranquil nature-inspired paintings are showcased alongside a challenging installation by Nicole Wassall and the conceptual photography of Sam Burford.

Installation View, Fiumano Clase at Art Central HK 2018

Sam Burford,The Godfather, C- Type Print, Diasec, 83 x 180 cm

Here, this installation entitled Channelling Baroness Von DaDa by Nicole is a triptych paying homage to Baroness Von Freytag-Loringhoven whom, there is sufficient evidence to suggest, if not the real artist, was at least a collaborator of the famous urinal artwork of Marcel Duchamp in 1917. The installation poses the question of how female artists have been overlooked by the art world, how they are not given credit and are frequently ignored in the history of art.

Nicole Wassell  Channelling Baroness Von DaDa, 2017

Sam Burford, who is now doing a PhD at Chelsea College of Art & Design, works on the classic movie and is fascinated with the process of watching images on a screen and the way our eyes read different colours and light. He starts with producing time-lapse photographs of cinematic time using specially constructed cameras. From here, he employs techniques to generate ‘portraits’ of iconic movies. In Citizen Kane, he has taken styrofoam and cut a replica of the photographic image, turning the flat medium of cinema into a 3D object.

Sam Burford, Citizen Kane. Image courtesy of Fiumano Clase

How do you balance the commercial pressures of showing at the fair?

When you are working in a booth like this which is around 40m2, the whole concept is to show the identity of the gallery alongside the character of the artists in a harmonious way, rather than a jarring way. Aesthetically, we try to make combinationsthe tranquil paintings, the contemporary photography, challenging installations and difficult works – our four artists represent the ethos of our gallery as well. Realistically, we have an accessible price point; here our most expensive piece is Herman Lohe’s Untitled Night, priced US $17,000.

Herman Lohe Untitled Night, 2015. Oil on canvas,193 x 183 cm

Has 'local taste' come into play in the selection process of your Art Central HK artists? For instance, do you find that the HK market finds certain types of work particularly appealing, and how does this differ to what you would select for a London fair?

I don't believe collectors of a nation or area are homogenous. Each time we prepare an exhibition in a different country, we consider which artists will work well together. I think each collector's taste is very individual. Indeed it's very hard to pinpoint a distinct style that any one nation, area or city particularly likes. At Fiumano Clase we work hard to understand what each collector's taste is. Through time, the collectors we deal with tend to have a similar interest in art as us.

Installation View, Fiumano Clase Art Central HK 2018

Has your customer base expanded after your participation in Art Central? Who would you say is your target market in HK and what are its tastes?

The majority of our clients are European because we are based in the UK, and London is a superb hub for art. Yes, now Art Central increases our customer base. The customer split here is about half expatriates and half locals. In 2015, we sold to a gentleman from Macau, a gentleman from Shanghai, and a gentleman from Hong Kong. For us, it is more an HK market than Asian market. Regarding the demographics, you can never tell. To our surprise, Sam’s classic movie photography is appealing to the locals and not just the expats. We’ll say art taste is not a science!

Nicole Wassall, Flying Geisha Girl - Pure Geisha, 2014
Hand finished silkscreen on Somerset 100%cotton rag paper,112 x 76 cm