Grey Skipwith in front of art by one of his gallery's artists, Ceviga

Interview: Grey Skipwith

STARTnet is an intimate art fair which acts as a snapshot of new art around the world. We spoke to Grey Skipwith, the fair’s director, about trends in art and the difference between art for collecting purposes and art for interior design purposes.

Founded in 2014, by collectors and philanthropists, David and Serenella Ciclitira, STARTnet has helped springboard many exciting young talent. Previous visionaries to have headlined include Liu Bolin, Teamlab, and Philip Colbert. Held at the Saatchi Gallery in London, UK, it showcases global contemporary art, providing emerging artists with a unique platform through which to showcase their work. What makes this fair so different is that artists can showcase their work solo, rather than in a gallery setting. Some of this year’s solo highlights were Pedro Merry, Lincoln Townley and Marek Boguszak.

This year’s edition felt special. It was one of the few art fairs to go ahead amidst the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the art world to a standstill. With no real opportunities for artists, buyers and dealers to network due to many shows being cancelled, the fair presented a welcome breath of fresh air.

Grey Skipwith is the STARTnet’s director. Grey lives and breathes art, first introduced to art by his art deal father, he is now himself an art consultant and a gallery owner. His gallery and art consultancy, Skipwiths, on manages high profile art consulting services along with primary art works by mid-career to established international artists. He has a particular interest in Korean contemporary art and is a passionate supporter of emerging talent.

What do you think are the trends in art at the moment?

“I’d say there are three major trends right now: street art, abstract minimalism and pop art. 

Obviously street art is very urban, mixing the coolness of Banksy and the grittiness of real life. 

Abstract minimalism, I think of Asian artists such as Lee Ufan all the way to French painter Pierre Soulages. The minimal use of colour and detail on the canvas has become incredibly powerful. Abstract minimalism talks to the understated nature of people wanting to show their knowledge and appreciation of great art. But it’s maybe also a reverse bling. It’s the reaction against, the Jeff Koons style work, which is so big and flashy. There’s also this sense of I have money and taste and I don’t need to show off for you.

The third biggest, which never really goes away, is pop art. there is a certain section of the art world who are always in love with pop. And I’m not just talking Lichtenstein. I am talking about Warhol all the way through to the younger artists. It’s the most accessible image-wise to most people.

Because when you’re looking at things like the abstract minimalism, you’ve got to really understand the entire story. The beauty comes from knowing all about it, and not just from looking at a few beautiful strokes.

With pop art, you can appreciate it on the clearly visible… You can just look at it and go, wow, I love it. And then you can then get deeper into it as well.

So it kind of marries beside, and becomes a very good entry point into serious collecting.

We have noticed there is a lot of textured art at the moment, what do you make of it?

This is something that’s been around for over 100 years. It adds an extra dimension to the painting when you look at it. It’s certainly in fashion at the moment to use a large amount of texture in the work. But it does make the potential to make your work really stand out if you use it well there. I don’t advise all artists use it. It should be used with great delicacy and sensitivity to what you’re doing. It’s a tool, if you can use it well then you can also use it badly!”

What is the difference between art that is for a collection and art that is destined for an interior?

“An Interior designer will come up with a specific budget to do the whole project. And then obviously they have taste guides, and sometimes they have a freedom, and sometimes they have to get everything approved. I’ve got this amount of money, I need around, X paintings, X sculptures — and they are trying to do in a relatively very short time to build an inter complexion. They’re trying to build breadth and, but also very much keeping an eye on the stylistic side of things.

Most collectors, when they’re buying, they have no idea where they’re going to put the works. Some of them even when they no space to put it. It’s a case of: I ‘love it. I want it. I’ve got to get it, and I will figure that out later It may even be that I will never get a chance to hang it in my home. I’m going to be putting in my office.’” 

What are the art trends for interior design?

That kind of beautiful, clean, minimalist design with great use of colour and variety. Because depending on what kind of interior you want, you need a lighter, a darker, a brighter, a pastoral. But only a few colours. Not too many. That kind of very clean, minimalist look is what interior designers  want. But with a very strongly defined image.

And then also they’re trying to avoid something too now, too dated. So the use of a particular image has become less desirable. Whereas an abstract form that’s very strong and bold is more timeless.

Grey Skipwith in front of art by one of his gallery’s artists, Ceviga