Suppose the romantic ideal of art as the expression of an individual was neither abandoned nor quashed under the modernist thumb. It is possible that the old sentiment assumed a new guise and traversed from the individual to the collective, from a personal signature to an institutional taste. It is a situation of ideological sensibilities and gallery styles, where a gallerist’s name is index of something almost predictable.
New Gallery Models—Assured Quality, Discreet Service is a proposition by Sam Thomas. It is an alternate model for an exhibition space, a guerilla gallery without an identifiable gestalt. There are no gallerists here, only a telephone atop a slot in the wall. It is a depersonalised site; a haven for the worrywarts, the tired and the unsociable, a kind of self-service Laundromat without an ogling cashier. Thomas translates the anonymity of a website onto a real site, imagining an almost utilitarian space for an exhibition. But if we have learnt anything from the Internet’s adolescence, it is that anonymity promises neither privacy nor safety. Artwork, like the assets depicted in Thomas’ paintings, must be framed in stone and chained to the gallery walls. The new gallery model overlays insecurity onto anonymity and thus reaches a curious double bind.
Gallery text for New Gallery Models—Assured Quality, Discreet Service, a solo exhibition by Sam Thomas’ at Plaza, Auckland, 23 January 2014. Image courtesy of artsdiary.co.nz