A thoughtfully considered expansion: the history of Sean Kelly Gallery, with Senior Partner, Cecile Panzieri
THE CURRENT EXHIBITION AT SEAN KELLY GALLERY, A SWEEPING TWO FLOOR SPACE AT THE CORNER OF 36th STREET AND TENTH AVENUE AT THE STARt OF HUDSON YARDS, IS THE NEW WORK OF SHAHZIA SIKANDER WHO ENJOYS AN EXTENSIVE EXHIBITION AND MUSEUM HISTORY. IT IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE DEPTH AND BREATH OF EXHIBITIONS LAUNCHED AT THE GALLERY FOR OVER THE LAST THIRTY YEARS. ORIGINALLY TRAINED AS AN ARTIST, SEAN TRULY SPEAKS THEIR LANGUAGE AND RESPECTS THE STRUGGLE OF THEIR EFFORTS. THESE VALUES ARE EMBRACED BY HIS SENIOR PARTNER AT THE GALLERY, CECILE PANZIERI, WHO STARTED AT THE GALLERY’S FRONT DESK IN 1999.
Weeping Willows, Liquid Tongues, Shahzia Sikander’s first exhibition with Sean Kelly Gallery, is an expansive, in-depth look into the artist’s recent work, featuring dynamic, large-and-intimately-scaled drawings, a captivating new single channel video-animation, luminous, intricate mosaics and her first free-standing sculpture.
In this rich and diverse body of work, Sikander explores various iconographies and power structures to present transformative ideas; her interests in literature, history, sociology, psychoanalysis and the examination of how culture and society shape the imagination are all fodder for her work. Storytelling, language and text are also compelling influences and cornerstones of the artist’s methodology. “Language is fundamental to my practice,” Sikander has noted, explaining,
When I read words that inspire me, the relationship cast with the experience itself is precise and tactile. Visual experience is often a sensorial turmoil. The process of writing allows me to reflect. It will elicit multiple responses over an undetermined period of time. It is that space of interiority and of unknown measure that piques my curiosity. Out of the amalgamation of visual memory, chaos of experience, and influence of the literary comes amorphous creativity through the act of drawing.
Shahzia Sikander, 2020, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, November 5 – December 19, 2020.
THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME CECILE PANZIERI BACK TO SHARE HER RECOLLECTIONS OF THE EARLY DAYS OF THE GALLERY AND A HISTORY OF HER INVOLVEMENT IN ITS IMPRESSIVE BUT THOUGHTFUL EXPANSION.
CECILE, WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU JOINED SEAN KELLY GALLERY AND WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL RESPONSIBILITIES?
Holding various positions at Galerie Lelong where I started at the front desk is something that prepared me very well for what came next which felt like the right opportunity at the right time. I joined the Sean Kelly Gallery as Director in January 1999. My primary responsibilities were to put in place or improve on the gallery’s administrative and organization structures to foster growth, develop the gallery’s participation in art fairs, make sales, work with designated artists and travel to represent the gallery as needed. The range of those responsibilities perfectly suited my natural disposition and temperament, education and prior gallery experience. I am thrilled to see everyday, first hand, the impact of my contribution for over more than 20 years of involvement with the gallery.
YOU ARE NOW THE SENIOR PARTNER AT THE GALLERY. WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AND IN WHAT AREAS OF THE BUSINESS ARE YOU PRIMARILY INVOLVED?
I definitely spend much more time with Sean focusing and thinking about the big picture and less time dealing with the minutiae of the day to day. We have a very strong and experienced team in place which we have trained to embrace working with autonomy and accountability, therefore I do not need to continue to be as much the go-to person for everything. I am enjoying having time to deepen my relationships with collectors, trusted art advisors, artists and colleagues, and more time to read and think in order to contribute to the growing need for original on-line content and social media of the gallery brought about by the impact of the pandemic.
THE GALLERY HAS A ROSTER OF VERY IMPRESSIVE AND RESPECTED ARTISTS THAT INCLUDE ARTISTS WITH WHOM YOU HAVE HAD LONG WORKING RELATIONSHIPS, INCLUDING JAMES CASEBERE, MARINA ABRAMOVIC, JULIAO SARMENTO, ANTONY GORMLEY, AND REBECCA HORN TO NAME A FEW. HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THEIR LOYALTY TO THE GALLERY?
It is one of our greatest strengths and is a result of Sean’s (who was trained as an artist) profound understanding of an artist’s nature, work, voice and thus place in the history of art. He is like a music conductor that has engendered mutual loyalty. The past few months have reminded us of this.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS OF THESE ARTISTS THAT RESONATE THE MOST STRONGLY WITH YOU AND WHY? There are too many to describe but what I can say is that I like complex and demanding exhibitions or installations which makes me think, first about what I do not know instead of what I do, and push me to take the time to open my eyes and mind.
THE GALLERY HAS AN INTERNATIONAL ROSTER REPRESENTING A VERY DIVERSE CULTURAL SPECTRUM OF ARTISTS RANGING FROM THE CELEBRATED CHINESE PAINTER LIU WEI, JAPANESE MARIKO MORI, GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHER FRANK THIEL, AND BLACK AMERICAN ARTIST, KEHINDE WILEY. HOW DO YOU, IN GENERAL, DECIDE ON REPRESENTING SOMEONE NEW?
It is an intuitive process that requires being open to looking, being and staying informed and being spontaneous. It is a time consuming but very important aspect of the activities of a gallery and its future. We have tried different ways to go about doing this but in the end when I look back, I can say that a lot has to do with happenstance, patience, conviction and decisiveness.IN OUR NEXT BLOG POST, WE WILL LEARN ABOUT THE PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE CURRENT GALLERY AND ITSPRESCIENT MOVE TO HUDSON YARDS! PLEASE JOIN US.