Office Art: JEALOUS at Fora – Clerkenwell – Central Street


How did the relationship between Jealous and Fora begin?
The relationship began with a call out of the blue from Katrina, an old friend and co-founder at Fora. We have popped in and out of each other’s lives for quite a few years now and it’s always lovely to know there’s another adventure to be had.
Katrina excitedly talked me through Fora and invited me down to have a look. When I walked into the beautiful space I saw finishing touches being added and after a well-informed tour I knew that this was a project that Jealous should be a part of. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be involved.

How does Jealous approach sourcing artworks for a space such as Fora?

Walking round the space and hearing the intentions and visions from the people involved is very important. It was also important for me to see the space quietly, as we did that first Saturday afternoon. The ongoing carpet laying, lighting and fixture detailed attention helped to give me a sense of what art was needed and would sit comfortably within the setting.
Jealous is not a gallery in a traditional sense. We sit behind galleries and make work with artists one project at a time. We partner with galleries, colleges, design studios and museums and have many contacts throughout the art world.

What’s the criteria for selecting art Fora?

I think the criteria we applied to selecting the artwork for Fora is the same that we apply to all the artists we work with. The art and artist need to be genuine. It’s as simple as that.
We live in a world where much of the art produced is not actually art but a constructed product that responds to a market. True contemporary art is made as a response to its surroundings, therefore the intentions of the works should reflect these concerns. The art should inform and possibly complete and punctuate the space. I am a believer that art should please the eye. Perhaps an old-fashioned approach, but nonetheless I believe there should be inherent beauty in which you find meaning, rather than the need to be convinced of its intentions through discourse. We have tried to show art that appeals and yet can take you further.
The artworks we have chosen for Fora – hopefully – successfully sit comfortably within the space. We decided early on to show artists working in different arenas and at different points in their careers. Some of the artists we selected were Jealous prizewinners. This is a prize we annually award to MA graduates from London’s top art colleges. Each winner is given a paid residency in our studio to make a limited edition print which is then launched at the Royal Academy and at a show in our two galleries. These works are also placed in the V&A’s permanent print collection.
Other artists such as Charming Baker and Joakim Allgulander come from a fine art aesthetic and are both well-established artists with a maturity of voice in their work now included in many private and public collections.
Kate Gibb who is responsible for all the Chemical Brothers album covers, among many other works, is a fantastic graphic artist that we also included. We chose a giant Palm silkscreen for Fora, which shows another side of her practice.

If Fora was an art piece, what would it be and why?

This question has made me smile. It’s a throwaway question but it made me think the most. After much deliberation, I would have to give the same answer as I’ve given to the final question, and that is ‘Celebrate’ by Ben Eine. You’ll have to read on to find out why…

Who should we be looking out for on the art scene?

I’m asked this question quite often and I guess there are a few answers. It depends how and why you choose to collect.

Some collectors like to concentrate on one artist, collecting them in depth, tracing their different periods throughout their life.
Some prefer to collect a certain movement, such as Pop, or Minimalism, or Graffiti and collect works that give an overview of that style.
Some may prefer to collect portraiture or landscapes, while others have a more eclectic approach.
Other collectors see collecting as an investment and tend to collect ‘names’. All these reasons are as different and as valid as each other. As long as your reason is guided by your own taste and passion then you will build up a collection that you believe in and love.
One piece of advice I would give is to see as much art as you can. Take the guided tours, read up on exhibitions, look online, go to art fairs… You’ll soon see what’s happening and where.

What was the first piece of art you selected for Fora, and why?

The first piece we chose for Fora was Celebrate by the street artist, Ben Eine. It ticked all the boxes for the space. By this I mean that Eine has worked in the geographical area where Fora is located for over 15 years and although he is now internationally-recognised, he is one of the artists, along with Banksy, that shaped the area artistically with their graffiti and murals long before turning into the cultural hub it has now become.

Also, the very word ‘CELEBRATE’ has that positive, upbeat, can-do attitude that is part of the ethos that Fora seems to embrace.

No brainer, as they say.

Dario Illari is Director at Jealous Gallery and Print Studio