Christie’s has announced the appointment of Stanislas Gokelaere as European consultant within their African & Oceanic Art Department (press release). Based in Paris, Stanislas Gokelaere is to work with Susan Kloman, international director of the department. His arrival should strengthen the department’s activity in Europe, boosting the two annual sales in Paris in June and December in particular.
Raised in a family of modern art dealers, Stanislas Gokelaere has been personally collecting African and Oceanic art for over 20 years. No stranger to the African art scene, Gokelaere will certainly bring an interesting address book of both collectors as dealers with him. Christie’s new consultant has also worked in the private equity field and co-founded and directed the Art Collection Fund (info), an art investment fund whose objective is to bring together a collection of high-quality modern and contemporary art, as well as African and Oceanic tribal art.
The press release of the next BRUNEAF included a short interview with Gokelaere:
What, in your opinion makes BRUNEAF so special?
SG: The fair has been a required stop for all serious collectors since the beginning. It’s very well organised by a dealer association and provides an opportunity to see a remarkable concentration of quality items in one place. I come to find one-of-a-kind pieces, unearthed by dealers who are always in touch with the leading collectors. There are also often wonderful exhibitions organised during the fair. They provide real added value. I’ve come to BRUNEAF every year since I started collecting twenty years ago.
What do you collect in particular?
SG: I’m very eclectic. I collect primitive art, but also furniture from the 1930s to the 1960s and art from the second half of the 20th century. I was born into that world and my parents were art dealers. I’ve always been in a very favourable environment. What fascinates me most about African art is the strength and energy of the objects, their plastic qualities. Brussels has always been an important crossroads for art from central Africa, from Zaïre and Angola. It continues to one of the major strengths of BRUNEAF today. In terms of modern and contemporary art, I tend to prefer strong works with material density. The issue of density is very important for African statues and masks.
What makes an object exceptional in your eyes?
SG: The energy it communicates. The quality of the sculpture too, its patina, its history; the history that shaped the object, that gave it its DNA. I’m less interested in a work’s pedigree. Great collections sometimes contain very poor pieces. I usually buy on the spur of the moment, but things have to work together. A dialogue has to develop between the objects. A collection is dynamic. You buy and sell, but it always has to be coherent.
Are there many major primitive art collectors?
SG: No, it’s a very small circle. A fair like BRUNEAF encourages meetings and exchanges between collectors. That’s very important. We talk about our tastes, our works and what we’ve found or bought. It’s a great moment of sharing and conviviality.