Satoshi Saikusa on Da-End Gallery.
"Our artists have an obscure universe, dominated by dreams and inner worlds," says Satoshi. "Their preoccupations often have to do with the fragility of our existence.” Partner Diem Quynh also curates exhibitions, which currently include the works of Daido Moriyama, Matsui Fuyuko, Toshio Saeki and Marcella Barcelo.
I noticed recently that your website doesn’t feature fashion photos like it used to do, but it seems you are more focusing on artist portraits (musicians, plastic artist, dancers, actors) and also some of your own artistic creations. It seems it occurred shortly after you opened your art gallery, DA END. Is it a sign of a majorswitch in your professional life direction?
It is not a new direction; I have always loved meeting and shooting portraits of artists (Louise Bourgeois, Fernando Botéro, Yayoï Kusama, Braco Dimitrijevic, Mariko Mori etc). The gallery project is kind of a logical sequel that allowed me to collaborate directly with them. All throughout my career, I have always carried out photo shootings linked with my personal preoccupations, but the desire to dedicate more time to arts came indeed at the same time as the fulfilment of my gallery. I have the feeling that it globalises everything linked to this specific moment of my life.
Do you now see fashion more as a way to make a living as opposed to focusing on art as a non-commercial passion?
Nowadays it is difficult to evoke/talk about a non-commercial art! And I believe that it is possible to work for fashion with as much passion as with art.
Do you see a link between art and fashion? Or would you totally separate those two media?
Today fashion and art are often linked and influence themselves mutually. Fashion designers take inspiration from contemporary art (Yves Saint Laurent with his Mondrian dress, Karl Lagerfeld in his latest show) and artists collaborate (Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton) or denounce (Wim Delvoye and his monogram pigs). Both universes stand side-by-side.
Would you still define yourself as a fashion photographer?
I am not used to defining myself. Fashion photographer is my first profession. But I take real pleasure in dedicating myself more to plastic photography work with my « photo-entomological » boxes. Today I am also a gallery owner and in this profession I like doing the work of an exhibition commissioner, the relationship with the artists or the discovery of art collectors' universes.
What was the major click for you when you decided to open your art space? Had it been a dream for a long time?
The desire to open an art space, a meeting place for artists, is indeed something that I had desired for a long time. I just needed the right opportunity and right space to materialise it.
Was it a necessary step for you to move to a more arty approach of photography?
The gallery hasn’t been a necessity in my creative process; it is only an extension of my quest to open myself to creation in general.
What is for you the best quality an artist must have?
The Da End team is looking for artists that have a technical control of their art, but who also have their own universe that they build with sincerity and as much freedom as possible.
How do you choose the artist you will represent in your gallery?
The gallery is a space with a particular identity and a defined editorial line which portrays our choices. Our artists have an obscure universe, dominated by dreams and inner worlds; their preoccupations often have to do with the fragility of our existence.
What space do you see nowadays for Asian artists in worldwide art?
It depends on which part of Asia. Chinese artists are at the front of the contemporary scene. Japanese artists form the new generation seem to have much less impact on the international scene than their predecessors. The curious are digging more towards the Filipinos, the Indonesians or the Indians.
Which artists did you have the most pleasure collaborating with? Why?
We had great pleasure in collaborating with each of our artists, because every story is singular. We wish for a real collaboration with them during the preparation of the exhibition, the progression of their work, the choice of their studying topics. In general it is easier to collaborate with skilled artists that see us as partners linked with the same passion and enthusiasm, who invest as much energy as themselves, than young talents that fool themselves with false ideas about art and see us as exploiters!
Can you love an artist and not have the desire to exhibit him?
Of course there are artists whose work we admire but that we couldn’t exhibit because their universe doesn’t fit with the gallery. It also happens that we appreciate only a part of their work, but without being able to take on the entire oeuvre.For us, the interaction between the space and the pieces exhibited is essential.
How is it, in your perception, different from the other art spaces? What is unique about it?
The main difference is that our space is not assimilated to a “White Cube." Apparently we are the only ones in France. Our idea at the beginning was to create a place that would be experimental but also unique. The gallery is a house where art must come to life. Our original assumption was to have the pieces coming out of the walls. To us, it is not simply a retail place but first of all and particularly an exhibition space. We give great significance to scenography and lighting. Each exhibition here becomes here an initiatory path in the artist’s universe. This place is an experimental and interactive place for the artists, the gallery owners and the visitors.
I noticed that you often displayed pieces that may appear disturbing, often featuring death or monsters (Toshio Saeki), subdued atmospheres (curiosity cabinets), characters with deformities (Matsui Fuyuko) strange creatures (Marcel Barcelo, Celine Guichard, Lucy Glendinning) or deeply nostalgic situations. Do you have a special attraction to somehow dark forms of art?Could it be one of your gallery identity intentions?
Yes, we clearly favour dark universes, whose strengths are increased by the gallery space, a laboratory and contemporary cabinet. We like to follow the artists into the deep and sometimes wander with them in oneiric spheres. It is not necessarily “dark," however often intimate or subconscious and not inviting to relaxation or laughter. What interests us is maybe to awake some sensitive zones left behind.
Lucy Glendinning, one of our artists from England, was once explaining to a visitor who was repulsed by her universe, that she was totally fine with criticism and rejection, saying that an exhibition was not only displayed to please others. The curiosity cabinet carries a meaning that interests us: it is the microcosm of our world, of our questioning about our humanity. We don’t live in a Disney world. A few words are often used to describe us: transgressive, subversive… to us it mainly means go further than the surface and cross borders.
Do your Japanese roots mainly influence your choices even though you have spent more than 20 years living in France?
We are two Asians at the head of this project, and certainly our aesthetic choices are influenced by our original cultures. But our programme doesn’t aim at putting this particularity forward (except for our annual Japanese photography cycle). It’s above all about contemporary and international creations. We are has much attracted to the universe of Swedish artist Markus Åkesson as we are to Croatia's Davor Vrankić or England's Lucy Glendinning. Nevertheless, during Cendrine Riovini’s exhibition, many visitors thought that this French artist, moreover mainly influenced by Renaissance imagery, was in fact a Japanese artist!
What do you think is the best mix that can occur between French and Japanese creations?
Are those cultures made to interact? There are many good exchanges and experimentations in the culinary domain between French and Japanese cuisine. But in terms of art I don’t really have an example in mind…
What will be your next exhibition theme?
The next exhibition “Cabinet Da-End IV” is part of our annual contemporary curiosity cabinet’s cycle. This year’s theme is "fragility." On this occasion, the gallery will feature a group exhibition of around 30 artists. Their art will interact with tribal art pieces and thus confront our perceptions across time. The artists we selected from Europe and Asia all have great technical skills, each in their own domain. They evoke the fragility of the world whether through the materials they use (wax, feathers, glass, ceramics) or through the themes they approach, such as existence or desire.
What is the motto of DA END?
Discover, enjoy and share.
DA-END-17 rue Guénégaud-Saint Germain des Prés-Paris-galerie.da-end/http://www.da-end.com.