One outcome of the havoc wreaked on the art market by Covid-19 is the way that galleries have united to set up schemes in order to pool recourses and work together. The most recent manifestation of this collegial spirit is Galleries Curate: RHE, a new collaborative exhibition initiative which connects 21 galleries from across the globe, in locations spanning from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo, Capetown to Kolkata, and Los Angeles to Beirut.
The initiative began in the early days of the pandemic when an informal group of international galleries got together on WhatsApp to discuss how to navigate the new challenges of the global crisis. The initial exchanges were between the dealers on the three Art Basel committees—Hong Kong, Miami Beach and Basel—but soon the original group of 12 grew to include 21 galleries. It was out of these conversations that Galleries Curate took shape, to express what its organisers describe as “the dynamic dialogue” between the individual programmes of each of the participants.
“We were comparing notes how to cope with the situation and then, as we got back to work, we wanted to do something to express our solidarity and our enjoyment in talking to each other every week,“ says one of the founders, Sadie Coles, adding that it was her fellow gallerist Chantal Crousel who had suggested that this solidarity might be expressed “by doing a joint exhibition contributing to one theme.”
Launching in January, the first chapter of this joint venture is Galleries Curate: RHE, which takes the form of not one, but a progression of solo and group exhibitions, as well as performances and public interventions all loosely based on the overarching theme of water. (RHE comes from the Greek, Panta Rei, meaning "all that is fluid.")
These thematically linked projects will be rolled out between January and May, and are being co-ordinated by the French curator Clément Delépine, who is also co-director of Paris Internationale, the gallery-initiated art fair. Along with all its physical exhibitions, RHE will also consist of an ever-expanding digital platform, with a growing archive of materials related to the works on view.
Jean Mot in Brussels is presenting the first RHE project opening on 4 January (until 16 January) with a digital presentation of works by gallery artists Francis Alÿs, Giovanni Anselmo and Latifa Echakhch, all of which incorporate an aquatic theme. This elaborates on a group exhibition entitled A buoy if not a beacon which is already showing in the gallery.
Then on 17 January (until 27 Feb) Sadie Coles and Tanya Leighton are taking the notion of collaboration even further with Tempest, a joint mixed show of artists from both their stables held at Leighton’s Berlin gallery which reflects on the transformative potential of water, both physical and metaphorical. Participating artists include Alvaro Barrington, Pavel Büchler, Monster Chetwynd and Oliver Laric, with the charity Water Aid receiving 10% of the proceeds from sales.
Finally on 23 January (until 27 February) Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris opens Rhé, an eight-work show highlighting “the forcefulness of this irreplaceable substance.” Additional projects will open at the other galleries over the following months.
Following this inaugural dispersed exhibition of many diverse parts the plan is for Galleries Curate to invite new participants and to add further additional curated chapters to instigate “a global conversation of thematic relationships between galleries, artists and their audiences.” As Coles puts it, “it's an expression of a new mindset and a solidarity between individual galleries that has come out of Covid. Our business is so global today, and to feel that we are all connected—that I like a lot.”