Contemporary Art

Five Minutes with Mark Hix

By Sotheby's

Mark Hix is uniquely placed to curate a collection of contemporary art, and to advise others on collecting based on their personal passions. Over the years, Hix has built an art collection made up of purchases, commissions and gifts from artist friends, making each of his restaurants a delight for the senses; award-winning food served against the backdrop of remarkable works from the world's leading artists. Sotheby's Boris Cornelissen caught up with Hix ahead of the Contemporary Curated sale on 11 April. 


Boris Cornelissen: You have become famous for your contributions culinary culture, so how did you first get involved with contemporary art?

Mark Hix: This kind of evolved working with Corbin and King at Le Caprice, The Ivy, J. Sheekey and later curating and commissioning the art at Scott’s. This kind of bonded my relationship with the artists for all sorts of collaborations to come.

BC: Your collection and your selected works in this auction are mostly by British artists and you are very involved with the local art scene. Is it important to be part of the generation of artists that you collect?

MH: I’ve always collected works from artists I know personally from Bridget Riley to Mat Collishaw and Emin etc., and of course HIX Award finalists. I think it’s important where possible to have that relationship with the creator.


BC: In 2012 you opened an exhibition space for emerging artists and in 2013 launched the HIX Award. What inspired this very active involvement with young artists?

MH: It was a space in the Tramshed that couldn’t really be used as restaurant or bar, so I thought it would be a good idea to show emerging artists and give them a chance, and the HIX Award followed. It’s important to give young creatives an opportunity in the art world.

BC: What do you look for in the work you collect personally or in the restaurant? Is there a common theme?

MH: Well most of the restaurant works are commissioned for the specific spaces but I always give the artists the opportunity to become part of the look of the space which always works well. 


BC: Have you ever created a dish that was inspired by an artist or work of art?

MH: Heaven and Earth in HIX Soho which came about when I had the Rivington Grill. Steve Claydon told me about a dish he used to love eating in Berlin Himmel und Erde (heaven and earth) and I got a friend to make me a bespoke soft black pudding which we serve on crushed apple and potato.

BC: Being a chef at your level requires a very creative mind. Do you see any similarities between making art and making food?

MH: Yes a lot, my philosophy is simple and no more than three ingredients on a plate. Bridget Riley likened it to her artists filling in the colours once drawn and similarly as did Michael Craig-Martin when we did an art and food talk together.


BC: You are part of a generation of chefs that put British food on the map globally. At that same time, the Young British Artists radically changed the art world in the UK. Do you think these cultural shifts were connected?

MH: Yes they possibly were when Britishness was being embraced by the public, and people wanted to know where their food was from with an interesting story.

BC: Would you describe yourself as a compulsive collector, and if so what drives that? Do you only collect art or other objects too?

MH: No, not compulsive — I can’t afford to be! I do collect mid-century furniture and Stilnovo lights which I love, it’s tempting not to buy a light that I haven’t got. I also collect a lot of other household vintage stuff.

BC: What do you look for in the work you collect personally or in the restaurant? Is there a common theme?

MH: Most of the restaurant works are commissioned for the specific spaces but I always give the artists the opportunity to become part of the look of the space, which always works well.


BC: Many collectors have something they regret not buying – is there anything you don’t have that you regret not buying when you had the opportunity?

MH: Yes. Banksy when he first started showing work, I ummed and ahhed over some pieces that Lazarides was showing, I kick myself now!


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