Interview - Tatiana Ojjeh
Tatiana Ojjeh, Founder of Artliner Ltd, discusses how her appreciation and instinct for fine art was born and the new direction the industry is heading in.
I think the love of art is in my genes. My grandfather was an art collector in the 70s and 80s and my earliest memory was when his collection was going on auction at Christie’s. Most of my grandfather’s collection was made up of Post-Impressionism pieces and they were the most tasteful pieces. I remember seeing pieces by artists like Van Gogh, Monet and Kees van Dongen and being totally overwhelmed by their beauty. The pieces in his collection were truly museum worthy.
My grandfather’s collection intrigued me to explore art further. Having spent the early part of my childhood in California, at the time when boom boxes were all the age and when frizzy hair, denim shorts over leggings and neon colours were considered fashionable, my sense of etiquette, taste and formality came when my family decided to move to Europe, furthering my cultural awareness and opening a window of curiosity for difference.
I conveniently enjoyed art before but it wasn’t until the auction of my grandfather’s art collection that I became aware of what fine art, quality art and the market value of art was. Out of all of the immersionist and Postmodern works encountered in my grandfather’s collection, to the modern and contemporary art of today, I remember first falling in love with contemporary art at the age of 19 when I was a student in New York at the Parsons School of Art and Design in a course that allowed me to discover fresh art within galleries and art shows.
While studying in New York, in one of my visits to MoMA, I discovered Richard Serra and his gigantic ton-weighing pieces made with sheets of oxidized steel. If you know about art, you’d immediately be able to identify his colossal pieces. I was fascinated by how they worked on both an architectural and an intellectual scale. Architecturally, I was interested in how serene and clean cut the pieces were and how simplistic the form was. Intellectually, the art spoke for itself. Richard Serra’s pieces were minimalistic yet weight bearing and the sheer size and scale was totally new for its genre.
Further to completing my BA at Parsons and when possible, I travelled to visit art events. The most memorable one was at the Venice Biennale in 2011. There I was mesmerised with artist Joana Vasconselos’ work at Palazzo Grassi. Her piece titled ‘Contamination’ was this gigantic patchwork of beautiful and vibrant materials, many handmade by Vasconselos herself, all sown together that took on a life of their own with arms and legs invading the staircases and the windows of the palace.
I wanted to bring art to somewhere new, somewhere exciting and somewhere unexpected.
My voyages experiencing beauty, genius and truth in art across the world are what inspired me to start my own business, Artliner, in 2011. My objective was to continue bringing that same beauty to new audiences in a different and unexpected way. If art is a mirror of our humanity, it’s an output of where we are, where we’ve come from and what we’re going through. It’s highly important we value art in society, continually spreading awareness of beauty and truth through art, thus giving space to museums and institutions.
The audience Artliner targets ranges as it does not organise exhibitions, but placements of artwork that create an element of surprise and questioning to those who did not intend to come across works of art. Through Artliner, my aim has been to bring art to a new audience beyond the traditional museums and galleries. I wanted to bring art to new platforms, somewhere exciting and somewhere unexpected.
I organised Artliner’s first Exhibition at EBACE (European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition) in Geneva, where I brought in a selection of Postmodern and contemporary works of art to the TAG pavilion, where private aviation clients are hosted during Europe’s most important business aviation exhibition. I worked with the Opera Gallery to exhibit a significant collection of original works of art by the likes of Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fernando Botero and many others.
Art shouldn't be defined by a paintbrush.
I try to travel when possible, visiting galleries, museums and art collaborations. In New York I love exploring at MoMA, the Chelsea Galleries, and of course, an ultimate classic, the MET. If my trip to New York consisted of one night, I would book dinner at the Waverley Inn. It’s a cosy, romantic and rustic restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village.
I also enjoy travelling to France. I love strolling the quaint streets of Paris in particular, something I did often when I was living there as a student, endlessly exploring the various galleries dotted around the arrondissements. The 4th arrondissement of Paris in particular, near Les Halles, is my favourite. It’s where the Centre Pompidou is located. France is home to some of the world’s most leading art institutions and the Centre Pompidou is my favourite and one of Europe’s most important museums of modern art. And no trip to France is the same without visiting the Lourve and Le Centquatre. Also, when I have time, I love venturing outside of Paris, visiting the Palace de Versailles, which usually hosts art once a year. I enjoyed Jeff Koons, whose art was exhibited in the Royal Apartments and in the gardens of the castle.
In London I love visiting both TATE Museums. The Mayfair area is my one stop shop for gallery visits including Pace, Haunch of Venison, White Cube and many others. And if I find the time, I love catching up with friends over tea time at the Connaught.
The most recent art placement I organised was at the TAG Farnborough Airport, where I invited two celebrated British artists to showcase their artwork to coincide with the London Olympics; Damien Hirst’s iconic butterfly designs and spin and spot paintings, along with a striking sculpture by the designers of the Olympic torch, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. They created a wonderful light sculpture, which hangs in the main atrium of the airport – the beautiful chandelier was inspired by movement.
My ambition is to expand my projects and bring more art and beauty to different and unexpected settings.
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