With galleries in London, Mykonos, Los Angeles and plans to open one in Mexico City in the near future, The House of Fine Art is really making a name for itself. What’s even more phenomenal, is that the gallery was only launched in 2013! Imagicasa had the opportunity to talk to Simonida Pavicevic, co-founder of The House of Fine Art, and ask her about the gallery’s – unique and at times revolutionary – philosophy and how they got to where they are now.
In 2013, Simonida Pavicevic and Elio D’Anna opened their first gallery in London. A natural step when you know Elio’s family owned a gallery in France, and Simonida previously worked as an art advisor for prestigious companies and families to build their collections and give guidance on investments. Her main objective was to ‘introduce clients to beautiful pieces’. One night, while having a conversation about life, Simonida tells us, they decided it was time to start a gallery together so they could be more involved with the artists they were excited about: “At the time, the artist Zhuang Hong Yi inspired me and I wanted to see where he went next and be the one to grow with him. I felt we had what it took to elevate his work and get it to the right audience. The belief and passion in the artist is everything.”
This approach really set them apart from the others and has ensured their position in the art world. Simonida Pavicevic was kind enough to give us some insight into the business of running a gallery and also shared some tips on collecting art as an investment. Did you always want to start your own gallery?
“I grew up in Switzerland and was surrounded by and nurtured a love for art, and history of art from an early age. My father was a professor in art, just like my Aunt who was also an artist. I painted as a child and entered and won many competitions. There was never a question of going in any other direction in my life, I knew I was always going to be driven by my passion for art. I studied at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Switzerland and even though I loved painting, I knew I enjoyed representing and taking care of other artists more. I wanted to really get immersed in the art world, not just on the periphery as an advisor. The need to be on the journey with the artist, following them year by year, drove this passion.”
"The belief and the passion in the artist is everything”
How do you distinguish yourself from other art galleries?
“You have to trust your instincts, it really is all about your own taste. There are so many galleries out there with different tastes and different artists. You have to believe in your taste and the direction you want to go, choosing very unique artists who are not represented anywhere else. We felt that if we loved the artists and they were exclusive to us as a gallery, then we could be relaxed about the competition. We also put together the elements of knowledge, research and instinct to select our artists. We first of all have to like their work and see very big potential even if they are already well known. When you can see that potential for them to grow so much more… this is the best time to represent the artist.”
What is the main focus of your gallery?
“Our main focus is our clients. We work very closely with them. There are different clients with different tastes, and different questions. At the end of the day it is about how to advise them. We have some who come into the gallery and see a piece of art and think ‘wow!’. They don’t care if the artist is important or not important, they just love it. Then we have the clients who are young collectors who have started growing their portfolio and they want to build it with you. We have a lot of clients who are very loyal. If they are happy with your services, with your artists, your knowledge, and the portfolio you have of the artist as a gallery, you will always keep the client. You can send them a new piece or a new artist and they will trust you. Because the trust is one of the most important things.” In 2018, you also had a special surprise for your clients, in the shape of the Qvantum exhibition. What was the idea behind this?
“For the Qvantum exhibition we wanted to be revolutionary in offering our clients another way to buy art. We sensed there was a movement towards using bitcoin to buy art and it felt like the opportunity was too good to miss. We were the first gallery in the world to announce its entire portfolio was available to buy in cryptocurrency. Even before we had opened the exhibition, we received one of our biggest sales of £1.2m in cryptocurrency for a commissioned sculpture by Joseph Klibansky, from a Swiss collector.”
You also work with interior designers and larger corporations. What’s the process when selecting works for these clients?
“We work closely with interior designers and art advisors. They send us detailed renderings and photos of the house and the space. So that means we get a really good understanding of what our client likes and what would fit appropriately within that space. We work with the client’s budget and they are often very knowledgeable about art as they travel a lot and see beautiful pieces. So it is not only the beautiful furniture, they want to see appropriate art to go with the luxury furniture. This is where we can advise the interior designers within a certain range what would fit in this kind of property, and what to choose.” Are you an art collector yourself, in your private life?
“I believe in all the artists we represent and have at least 90% of all our artists work in my collection. Because I have to believe in the art, to sell or propose it to my clients, I need to love it too. All the artworks and artists are all very special to me. We work so closely with each other, not just on a business level but also have developed deep friendships. We spend a lot of time on the phone together, we go to their studios, we go on holiday with them sometimes, we invite them into our homes.”
Which artists are you most proud of representing?
“We are so proud of all our artists that we have. We don’t sign thousands of artists, we are very selective and the artists are all unique. The first names we represented were Zhang Hong Yi and Marco Grassi. They were so important to us as our first artists as we started out, and they are still with us five years later. We are proud to see their growth and continued high performance in the art world. They were already well known before we represented them, but we have watched them become better known and their price tags changing accordingly. They are growing in every kind of way.” What is your advice for art collectors, whether they’re new to the field or they already have a vast collection?
“In general, I would recommend to them if they are buying at auctions or in a gallery to do their homework first. If you are buying as an investment, find out the CV and biography of the artist. What have the auction results been previously? What is the demand around the world? Which galleries have represented the artist in the past? If you are not buying as an investment, but simply because you love the work, then it doesn’t matter.
When it comes to The House of Fine Art, our exhibitions showcase important world-renowned artists. They have been curated by us and are unique and cutting edge. When I say they are important artists, that is to say that we believe they will have a significant footprint in the art world and one day their works will be unaffordable, and that now is a good time to invest. I would always recommend Joseph Klibansky to those who are just starting to collect art. He is going to be very expensive one day. Also Gianfranco Meggiato, Marco Grassi, Loribelle Spirovski and Ilhwa Kim. These are all artists that one day will not be affordable and now they are affordable.”
You’ve heard it, dear readers, no more excuses to put off investing in art. And Simonida Pavicevic and Elio D’Anna will happily advise you along the way!
This interview was originally published in Imagicasa Art (December 2018)
All images courtesy of The House of Fine Art