LONDON – Since launching in 2004 the non-profit gallery/foundation Parasol unit has cultivated a unique position on London’s cultural scene. Located on the edge of Shoreditch, where ‘There are no other arts organisations of this scale,” says Founder/Director Ziba Ardalan, “Parasol is dedicated to educating a diverse audience about contemporary art.” On the occasion of Parasol unit’s tenth anniversary, Sotheby’s will hold Towards Tomorrow, a sale on 18th October to benefit the gallery. Further works will be sold online at Paddle8. Works can be viewed online at paddle8.com up until the 30th September and these works can also be viewed at the Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art. Malcolm Cossons spoke with Ardalan.

ziba-ardalan-parasol-unitZiba Ardalan, founder of the ten-year-old non-profit.

What are the origins and aims of Parasol unit?

Parasol unit was founded purely out of a passion for art and represents a totally independent voice in the contemporary art world. It acts wholly in the interest of artists and for public benefit. Our exhibition programme is mostly international and usually presents the work of artists between 35 and 45 years old. But we also show works by much younger artists, such as Nathan Cash Davidson, or take a fresh look at the work of older and more established artists, such as Robert Mangold, Jannis Kounellis, Siah Armajani and Jimmie Durham.

Take us through the upcoming exhibitions at Parasol unit.

Our 10th Anniversary year is full of interesting shows. In October, we open a solo exhibition by the Japanese artist, Shinro Ohtake, a leading force in Japan’s contemporary art scene. That is followed by a solo show of the work of young English painter, Katy Moran, and exhibitions of Los Carpinteros, the artist collective from Cuba, and Katrin Sigurdardottir from Iceland. Finally, in September 2015, Luc Tuymans, the painter and a dear friend, will curate a painting exhibition at Parasol unit. We have also commissioned the young American artist, James Clar, to create an outdoor light project around the concept of the Big Bang, and for our EXPOSURE Award 14 we are working with the Chelsea College of Art.


Michaël Borremans’ The Skirt, 2005. Estimate £150,000–250,000.

Which works will be offered at Sotheby’s on 18 October?

Some thirty art works will be sold  – all of the highest quality and made by a range of extraordinary contemporary artists from around the world. The donated works bear witness to the generosity of the artists and their loyal friendship and commitment to Parasol unit. Some of the artists, such as Adel Abdessemed, Darren Almond, Jimmie Durham, and Y. Z. Kami have created new works especially for the sale. Other artists – such as, Antony Gormley, Isaac Julien, Luc Tuymans, Toby Ziegler and others – have never exhibited at Parasol unit, yet have generously donated works out of friendship and esteem for the foundation.

What will the money raised be used for?

The funds raised from the auction will help to support our fast-growing education programme and underpin our increasingly ambitious exhibition programme. Parasol unit not only excels in introducing international art to the local area, it exists to make a difference.