Our fashion Editor Madeleine visited the Paris Internationale Art Fair and met Clément Delépine for an interview
The third edition of Paris Internationale took place between October 18th and 22nd, 2017 in the former headquarters of Libération, the French daily newspaper founded in 1973 by Jean-Paul Sartre. Although the art fair is still relatively young, it is already treated as one of the most promising on the scene. Our editor Madeleine spoke with co-founder Clément Delépine about the fair itself, and its success.
Paris Internationale is a very young art fair. Why did you feel it was time for a new one?
We felt that FIAC is a very well-established fair, but without space for young artists. Some time ago they tried to set up the Officielle Art Fair which was oriented towards emerging galleries. It didn’t work out for logistical reasons and we felt there was a void to fill. I think Paris Internationale might not have been possible ten years ago, but right now the planets seem to be sufficiently aligned for a new initiative. It’s the right time. There is an expression in French that’s fitting: You have to make a virtue of necessity.
How do you explain the fair’s success?
Nowadays, there is something that’s often referred to as a “fair fatigue.” The amount of art fairs has increased immensely. Let’s say there were 50 art fairs in the beginning – today there are close to 250. So collectors and galleries are tired. There are simply too many and there’s too little discussion. We wanted to slow down the pace and reposition art in a very cool way. And we offer very cheap booths compared to other fairs. Participants at FIAC have to pay between €25,000 and €50,000 for their stands. If you spend that much money, you have to be sure to at least break even. So you tend to bring along artworks that you are sure of selling. In general, everyone responded positively and really appreciated the approach. One of the core values is that we want everyone to feel welcome. The fair is free and open to everyone and that is really important to us. We try to make it easy.
How does the selection process work? Did you invite galleries or were you approached by them?
It’s was a bit of both. Originally the fair was by invitation. The selection committee invited galleries which they wanted to showcase, but of course we review every request. Than we all meet, fight, scream…and then eventually decide who gets in. It’s meant to be a democratic system.
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On what criteria are participants invited?
The art world is a small community and so we know what our peers are doing, which galleries are doing interesting things. There are other parameters we take into consideration, such as equal representation and being as inclusive as possible. We regret that we don’t have a single gallery from the continent of Africa, for instance. But we are working on it. We are aware that there is a lack of representation in the art world, which is like a mirror for society: Women are paid less in the real world, and also in the art world. Female artists sell for less than male artists. So we are trying to have a positive impact to the degree that we are able.
What will change next year?
The venue is going to change for sure. The location decides so many things. Depending on how big the venue is, you can decide how many participants you can fit in. So logistically speaking, it’s important to know about the venue as soon as possible.
Can you point to some artists we can expect more from in the future?
That’s a tricky question. I am curious to see what Raúl de Nieves from Company Gallery is going to be doing five years from now, but also more established artists like Jochen Lempert.
Paris Internationale is very active on Instagram. What kind of impact does it have?
Instagram is important for the fair – our visual identity is based on a Situationist technique and the appropriation of other people’s images. If you follow the Instagram account, you’ll realize there is content borrowed from other exhibitors where we add a speech bubble, which is the logo of the fair. People responded very positively to it. Instagram has taken an important position in the art world recently. But in the end, physicality is what matters the most. You can never convince an artist show his work exclusively on Instagram. Art works often form a relationship with the space and the viewer. I don’t think Instagram is a mandatory tool, but it is a marketing tool. There is a trend that has been observed: Paintings of younger artists tend to be more square than they used to be. They are Instagram-ready. But in the end nothing replaces the actual sensation of standing in front of an artwork.