What is the S|2 Gallery?
Bianca Chu & Darren Leak: S|2 is a secondary gallery space at 31 St. George Street. We are part of the Sotheby’s greater business but operate the gallery space separately from the auctions and the programme is laid out independently of the auction seasons. Our aim with the space is to put together interesting exhibitions focusing on the ‘edges’ of art history. The projects aim to shine a light on artists that we feel are due more recognition.
What makes S|2 different from other galleries?
As a project-led space with a very specific vision of its programme, we differ from primary galleries as we do not represent artists. Rather we collaborate with primary, independent galleries and estates to promote artists that the Sotheby’s established collector base may not necessarily be familiar with and may not be fully recognised on the market. This collaborative aspect of our programme is what sets us apart from previous auction house gallery spaces.
Tell me about S|2 today, how has it developed since its creation, and why is now a great time to visit?
We both joined S|2 in January of 2017, with the inaugural exhibitions of the new programme opening in April. These were Renate Bertlmann in Gallery One and Maria Lassnig in Gallery Two. Since then we have presented seventeen exhibitions, including solo presentations of artists Li Yuan-Chia, John Latham, Yuko Nasaka, Kim Lim, Ibrahim El-Salahi, William Turnbull, Tess Jaray, Ernesto Briel, Bice Lazzari, Alfredo Volpi, Tsuyoshi Maekawa and Ewen Henderson.
We also have presented two major group shows: in 2017, our summer exhibition Beneath the Pavement, the Beach combined Tantric, Jain and Ritual art from India alongside Helen Chadwick’s seminal 1992-3 photographic work Wreaths to Pleasure and typestracts by concrete poet Dom Sylvester Houedard; this year, we presented a 3-part exhibition restaging the historic Signals Gallery in London open between 1964-66 which included works of David Medalla, Mira Schendel, Lygia Clark, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Sergio de Camargo and Liliane Lijn, amongst many others. That exhibition included over fifty-five artists who had engaged or exhibited at Signals.
In addition to the exhibition programme, the publication of books is a key part of the S|2 ethos. As many of the artists we show require a deeper contextualisation than what is currently accessible, the books are an important place for us to explore this and place the artist in a wider story of recent art history.
Could you explain the collaborative process and partnerships that have begun at S|2 since you started the new programme?
Every exhibition is a result of a collaborative effort with a gallery partner or estate. As we do not represent artists, we look to actively participate and contribute to an ecosystem around an artist and that has led us to think about each show uniquely. With each exhibition, the first step is a meaningful period of research and consideration on each artist’s position within art history.
We have shown both living and deceased artists in the programme, and by working closely with an artist’s primary gallery we are also able to collaborate with the artist where possible. For us, measures of success are multi-leveled. The works in our exhibitions have been placed in major public and private collections, including museums. An important aspect of our programme’s collaboration is also the ongoing conversations we have. For example, Renate Bertlmann, whose work we showed in our first exhibition,will now represent Austria in next year’s Venice Biennale, the first time a woman artist has been given the entire pavilion.
Can you tell us about what’s coming up at S|2 this year?
Currently at the gallery we have the second exhibition of Singaporean-born Chinese artist Kim Lim. This is the second time that we collaborate with the estate of the artist on an exhibition. Our first show was in September of 2017 with a focus on the artist’s 1970s wood works. The current show focuses primarily on Lim’s stone and marble sculptures of the 1980s and 1990s, with a few contextualising early works from the fifties also on view. In addition to the exhibition, we also collaborated with the estate on the publication of the first ever monograph on Lim’s life and work. It is also the first time that we dedicate the entire space of the gallery to one artist.
In November, we will present two solo exhibitions: British artist Jon Thompson (1936-2016) in Gallery One and Canadian artist Victoria Sin (B. 1991) in Gallery Two. Thompson was the head of the Department of Art at Goldsmiths in the eighties and is seen as instrumental in the breaking down of specialisms at the art school and influencing and teaching the YBAs. Besides teaching and writing, Thompson also curated important exhibitions including Falls the Shadow (1986 Hayward Annual) and Gravity and Grace also at the Hayward Gallery in 1993.
The S|2 exhibition of Thompson will be made in collaboration with Anthony Reynolds and the publication will feature a newly commissioned essay by novelist and essayist Michael Bracewell. Victoria Sin is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art and their work has been most recently included in the Park Nights programme at the Serpentine Gallery this past summer and the current exhibition, DRAG, at the Hayward Gallery. Their work is collected by the Ingram Collection and awarded the collection’s Young Contemporary Talent Prize.
CLICK HERE to view Kim Lim at S|2 London, which runs from 28 September-16 November.