- Address: Cra. 16 No. 86A-31, Bogotá, Colombia
- Owner/Director: Beatriz Esguerra
Beatriz Esguerra (B): Beatriz Esguerra Art has a space in a 1958 historical conservation building in Bogota, Colombia. It is a simple three-story building, built in the typical 1950’s style greatly appreciated by architects, designers, artists and the general public alike. These buildings are being torn down all over the city, but this one, because it is protected under a conservation law, remains.
The gallery is located on the second floor of this building, and has an interior space that flows. The floor has a blond-color wood, there is a very large window on one side of the gallery, with a view of some trees. It smells of delicious Colombian coffee in the morning. Everyone that goes to that gallery agrees that the gallery has wonderful positive energy. The gallery is small, 70 sq. mts. and has a not-so-high 1950’s ceiling. This affects certain very large pieces. But normally, the artworks look fantastic in the space, and we take care to carry out impeccable, well-balanced, aesthetic, and thought-out installations of the exhibits. The gallery is always in perfect order and cleanliness. I don’t like the urban, scruffy look. I like impeccable and aesthetic. I like airy.
I also rent part of the first floor where I have my office and back room. I have a glass door that opens to the building’s back garden, designed in the Japanese style, with a pool of water, rocks in the pool and a fountain designed more for sound than as a grand fountain. I took over the garden and restored it. Today I work there when it is nice out, hold meetings and level the stress with the sound of the water. You can see this garden from the gallery on the second floor and also hear the water.
Additionally, in Miami I store my artworks at Museo Vault, a state-of-the-art facility for art storage. Museo Vault has a beautiful exhibition room available for its clients. I periodically use this space to do exhibitions in Miami.
B: I studied art history and after graduating from college in the U.S., came back to Colombia to work in the Gold Museum, the Bank of the Republic Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. I then opened an art consulting office with an associate. This was in the late 80’s and 90’s. In the year 2000, I left my associate and opened the gallery, in the exact same spot I am today. It was a natural evolution, considering that this is what I studied, all I know how to do, and am passionate about.
B: My eye, my selection of artists, my good taste, my work philosophy, professionalism, organization, and clarity in the way I do things. I have clear goals I work towards. I speak clearly, keep my word, pay my artists as soon as I sell their work, and abide by the honor system. I’m very organized and practical. I don’t think about my competition, I don’t listen to gossip or hearsay, I just focus on my job and where I want to go. I expect the artists and all those who work for and with me, to be the same. Those that don’t, I drop.
Finally, I studied art history, I have training in the field and more than 30 years of experience. That sets me apart from most gallery owners who enter the business from other careers.
B: Professionalism, Integrity, Quality
B: Definitely, the ceiling height.
Is there any consistent message, regardless of different shows, that you want your gallery to deliver to visitors?
B: Yes, our mission: to enrich lives through art, with integrity and professionalism.
How would you describe Bogotá, as an art/gallery city, compared to other major cities in South America?
B: Bogota is not Sao Paulo, nor Buenos Aires, nor Mexico City, nor Caracas in its good times. The professional art world, the serious collectors, the art market are all somewhat recent in Colombia. Buyers, collectors, institutions and artists are still learning how the art world and art business works.
However, it has undergone a major evolution and ARTBO (the Bogota Art Fair) has played a major role in this, for obvious reasons. ARTBO opens the Colombian art scene to the world and vice versa.
Colombia has a history of conflict. Combine that with a complex geography that marks very distinct regions, with different climates, customs and cultures. This makes for a very rich environment to produce art. Colombian art is fascinating, varied, it tells stories, it’s reflective, strong, subtle – it is, as I said in an interview for a magazine, “A Resounding Subtlety; one of the world’s best kept art secrets, yet to be discovered by the world. “ We have two internationally known artists: Fernando Botero and Doris Salcedo. But here, waiting to be discovered, are many outstanding artists at unbelievable prices.
B: Galleries: That they make tons of money and take away most of the artists’ earnings.
Artists: That they are complicated, live a life based on muses and inspiration and only produce when they feel like it.
Two concepts that are absolutely removed from reality and the truth.
B: I have many all time favorites but there are a few that stand out. The reason they stand out is because they are very atmospheric, balanced and harmonious and inspire tranquility within me. To name a few like this: Helen Frankenthaller, Olafur Elliason, James Turrell, Robert Kelly, Hadi Tabatabai
B: They’re all equally challenging. Each one is special and unique and requires our full attention.
B: The decision of being a gallerist and insisting everyday on being the best that I can be.
B: All exhibits and fairs I have planned. I love my work and every event I plan is done with passion.
B: Professionalism, aesthetics, originality, dialogue, subtlety, craftsmanship, talent, hard work, sophistication and intelligence – in no particular order, as all are just as important to me.
B: Work hard. Do not give concessions. Do not create for the market. Create what you truly believe in. Be honest with yourself when creating. Always do research and learn. Take the long and steady road. Control your prices: start low and gradually increase. Work with a professional and serious gallery: an artist without a gallery is non-existent and has no backing. Respect the gallery’s work: if the gallery is investing money in the artist’s career, the artist should not conduct business behind its back or disrespect his own prices.
B: I don’t believe much in anything that does not have a formal education. At some point, an empiric artist needs to go through education. It will give him structure, tools and ideas that will help him expand and develop his natural talent.
B: Definitely towards a stronger presence on the internet and fair participation. Pop ups and increased collaborations between galleries, collectors and art institutions will be necessary to more effectively promote the artists’ work. However the figure of the gallery, its director, collaborators and physical space, be it large or small, will always remain. The gallery is the bridge that connects artists, the public, collectors and cultural institutions.
- Photos courtesy of Beatriz Esguerra Art