What is the history of the gallery?
The Federica Schiavo Gallery opened in Rome, in the Piazza di Montevecchio just behind Piazza Navona, in 2009, the year after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the consequent economic crisis – a challenging moment as much as the current one. The first exhibition was Eroding Rainbow by the American artist Jay Heikes, with whom a stimulating and vivid collaboration continues still today. We chose him also when we opened our first space in Milan, in Via Barozzi 6, upon the arrival of Chiara Zoppelli to assist Federica Schiavo in guiding the gallery. On September 9, 2020 we opened to the public our new space in the NoLo neighborhood and again we chose to screen a video by Jay Heikes, the Daily Rituals. Upon the opening, the gallery was renamed Schiavo Zoppelli Gallery.
The relationship with Rome remains very strong, thanks to various collaborations with artists, curators and local institutions.
Who are Federica Schiavo and Chiara Zoppelli?
FEDERICA SCHIAVO: I was born in Salerno in 1974 and moved to Rome in 1992 to study art history at La Sapienza University. After directing the curatorial department of Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, following its start-up phase, in 2009 I opened the Federica Schiavo Gallery in Rome.
CHIARA ZOPPELLI: Born in Treviso, I studied in London at Chelsea College of Art and Design and at KLC School of Design. I worked for 25 years in advertising and film production first as assistant director and then as producer and executive producer. I worked with major Italian and international directors until 2006 when I met Mario Testino, with whom I started collaborating in his London studio. In 2016 I opened the Milan branch of the gallery with Federica.
Tell us about the new venue: what kind of space it is, the area it is located in, why you decided to change.
The previous venue was located in one of the most elegant areas of Milan, between Corso Venezia and Via Mozart, full of palaces and buildings of historical and artistic interest, dating back to the early decades of the 20th century. However, it is an area mainly occupied by offices, and our gallery was a bit too small for us. We looked for a new space that could easily adapt to experimentation with the possibility of accommodating the studios of some of our artists, and also in a context that could activate new challenges. NoLo is perfect for this because it is a district with a strong identity and is currently undergoing a great transformation. It is a district that is looking to improve itself through the activity of its inhabitants. The architectural structure is absolutely Milanese, early 20th century buildings combined with old warehouses and industrial archaeology. Also, the attitude of those who live in the district is very contemporary. Our gallery, with the studios of our artists, would like to bring another new element to the district and, we hope to set an example.
Please tell us more about the ateliers
The studios are occupied by Andrea Sala and Patrick Tuttofuoco, two Milanese artists we represent with whom we have always had a very close relationship. They are involving other artists with whom we share this new experience. The gallery and the studios share the entrance foyer which has already become like a small agora and therefore a place of continuous exchange.
What about the current exhibition of Andrea Sala and Alessandro Mendini?
This exhibition stages a dialogue between new works by Andrea Sala (Como, 1976) and one of the latest furniture collections designed by Alessandro Mendini (Milan, 1931-2019). It is a dialogue between different generations and disciplines that was initially conceived by Alessandro Rabottini for the Generations section of miart 2020. It is a collaboration with Galleria Luisa delle Piane.
In his work as a designer, architect, and theorist, Alessandro Mendini has always shown a profound relationship with visual arts, while Andrea Sala has always articulated in his sculptural research an acute understanding of the culture of design in its formal and cultural implications. This long-distance dialogue, therefore, has a meaning that goes beyond a specific personal relationship and refers, instead, to a greater breadth of sensibility that both authors have explored at different times, with different instruments.
Who were the first artists to enter the programme?
Jay Heikes and Andrea Sala in Rome in 2009.
And the last ones?
The last one is David Renggli, a very interesting Swiss artist, born in 1974.
What is the fil rouge of the gallery's research?
Over the years the gallery's programme has focused on researching and promoting the work of emerging Italian and international artists, with particular attention to the generation born in the mid-70s. The artists we represent work in a wide range of media including video, performance, sculpture and painting with a rigorous and original approach to traditional and contemporary themes.
What is your relationship with the web, and how is this changing at this time of COVID-19?
Today, there is a greater need to put our social resources and our presence on platforms or projects that are more easily accessible online. But compared to the lockdown in March and April we are more careful to choose the most suitable opportunities and communication channels for us and focus on the quality of our research. Many of our participations in online initiatives have certainly proven useful in terms of communication but for now, not for much else.
How is the work of the gallerist changing and what are your strategies for the future?
Galleries represent a particularly vulnerable sector at the moment, because they are based on events, travel and, in a commercial sense, they deal in non-essential goods. In response to this, our efforts today are focused on increasing the network of relationships with the public at a local level, and also on interactions with other gallerists especially in our region. From this renewed dialogue between professionals, initiatives have arisen in a short time that without COVID-19 would have been difficult to achieve, such as the Italics.art platform, for example. Regarding the content we produce, it is now even more urgent to focus only on projects of the highest quality, trying to make the best use of our resources. Without the thousands of distractions caused by the international art fairs and events, it is possible to strengthen the core of the gallery project, which can make us stronger and more competitive when we "return to normal".
What are the next exhibitions are you planning?
In January we will have a solo show by Svenja Deininger followed by Patrick Tuttofuoco.
An artist from the past that you would like to have dinner with?
FS: It's difficult to choose but maybe I'd like to have dinner with Marcel Duchamp, Luciano Fabro and Louise Bourgeois... From today, Bruce Nauman.
CZ: Lucian Freud, if only I could go back a few decades.
If you hadn't become gallerists, what would you have done?
FS: I would have tried to work in cinema as a photography director.
CZ: I came to art after many years spent in another professional career. Today I would not change a thing.
Gallery Website: www.schiavozoppelli.com