Interview with Rolando Anselmi, founder of Galerie Rolando Anselmi in Berlin
An Italian architect based in Berlin, a concert of Martin Creed, a new gallery in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg. Rolando Anselmi told us his story, about how he arrived in the German capital to study the cultural program of the Weimar Republic and stayed to open a gallery for contemporary art, and has now also opened an annex: a project space in Rome.
Tell us about the history of your gallery
The gallery opened its doors on February 23, 2012 with a concert of Martin Creed that had an audience of about one thousand. It was for me an opening in a literal sense, a choral participation, warm, humane. The history of the gallery is yet to be written, but thinking of the future, I feel like a pioneer embarking on a great adventure.
What is your background?
I am an architect. I got my degree in Rome but I had post graduate studies with a historical slant that led me to work in Berlin at the Technical University. The subject of my studies was the cultural program of the Weimar Republic, from Kandinsky to Bruno Taut, the spiritual in art, but also the human commitment in an artist’s destiny. This defines my background and my personal vision of the work.
Why did you choose Berlin?
It was not a professional reason that took me to Berlin but a life choice. Let’s say that it is where at the moment I am happy.
What made you return to Rome to open a gallery there in 2016?
Rome is my city. In 2016 I wanted to open a small project room that would I would not define as a real gallery, but rather as a supplement to the space in Berlin with an independent program and trajectory.
What type of art do you represent? Can you give us some examples?
Certainly, the gallery has a strong orientation in sculpture and its classical language, but I would not define a gallery by genre. We seek to create together with the artists we represent exhibitions that are conceived as unique and non reproducible works. The most recent example was the presentation of “Damnatio Memoriae” by Arcangelo Sassolino that involved the artist and the whole gallery team for more than a year of planning and producing the exhibition. But the gallery also works on many levels to support its artists, through working with institutions, publishing, and working on outdoor projects. In this way I seek to supplement a somewhat commercial space with an idea that is central to the production of contemporary art by disseminating ideas in a cultural context.
What type of spaces do you have in Berlin and in Rome?
For the gallery in Berlin I wanted to create as much as possible the essence of an exhibition space; a particular balance of the relationship of depth and surface, of natural and artificial light, of presence and absence. I wanted a neutral container that could have a more sober appearance than the traditional white cube. The space in Rome is at the moment only a small room with the same features.
How would you compare the art market systems of Berlin and Rome?
The system in Germany is very much supported by the public institutions, not only with acquisitions, but also with prizes, scholarships, and funds designated for cultural initiatives. All this feeds the process of art production and strengthens its economic growth. In Italy I have the impression that the public sphere lacks that kind of vision and involvement, and it is all pretty much left up to private initiatives.
What has been the best and most difficult moments of your career as a gallerist?
The most difficult moments were certainly in the early years. The greatest moment I think is yet to come.
Rolando Anselmi takes part in the 3rd edition of Granpalazzo from May 27th to 28th, 2017 with a selection of works by Arcangelo Sassolino.
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