Aktis Gallery from London, run by Iana Kobeleva and Anna Chalova, is making its second appearance at the Biennale
Q. Explain the scope of your specialist stock.
A. We are one of the leading specialists in the post-war lyrical abstraction movement, focusing on the internationally renowned Chinese émigré artists Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun (as well as the contemporary Chinese émigré Gao Xingjian), and Russian lyrical abstractionists such as André Lanskoy and Serge Poliakoff.
The gallery is also dedicated to the first wave of Parisian emigration, with European and Russian artists such as Leopold Survage, Marc Chagall, Marie Vassilieff and Pascin, and the Japanese artist Foujita.
Q. Have you exhibited in Paris before?
A. We are delighted to be exhibiting at the Biennale for the second time. It is a prestigious fair with high-quality exhibitors and visitors.
Q. What types of work will you be bringing to the Biennale?
A. We plan to exhibit works on paper and canvas by Zao Wou-Ki, works on paper by Le Corbusier and Chinese contemporary sculptures by Wang Keping.
Q. Why are these Chinese artists so relevant to Paris?
A. Wang Keping is a sculptor born in 1949 in Beijing, who currently lives and works in Paris. In 1979, Wang was one of the founding members of the first non-conformist artist’s group in China, The Stars (Xing Xing), together with Huang Rui, Ma Desheng, Li Shuang and Ai Weiwei, setting the stage for avant-garde art in China. Zao Wou-Ki was born in Beijing and trained in traditional Chinese and Western art before arriving in Paris in 1947. His debut solo exhibition was in May 1949 at Galerie Creuze, followed by shows at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon d’Automne. He was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2002 and received the Légion d’Honneur in 2006.
Mehmet Keskiner of Kent Antiques in London, specialising in Islamic works of art, is a new exhibitor to the Biennale
Q. Why did you decide to exhibit at the Biennale for the first time this year?
A. It is one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world. It seemed the right thing to be exhibiting our selected Islamic works of art in the presence of truly international clients, both individuals and institutions. International fairs of this magnitude have always played a very important role in the representation of the arts since the 19th century. This year we wanted to be part of this.
Q. How does the market in Paris differ from other fairs that you do?
A. Paris is a world capital. It has a very important place with its museums and artistic heritage not only for France, but for the whole world. We believe that Paris has a lot to offer as an international art platform and is definitely the right place for showcasing some of world’s leading artworks.
Q. Do you think that making the Biennale into an annual event will change its international profile?
A. I hardly think so, but an annual event somehow brings vitality. It is easier to remember and it arrives every year as an anniversary of itself.
Q. What special objects will you be bringing to Paris in September?
A. Kent Antiques will exhibit several true masterpieces of Islamic art, including an extremely rare Iznik dish, an exquisite 17th century Ottoman Qur’an manuscript, an important Mamluk wooden panel, a princely Qur’anic section and an outstanding illuminated imperial Ottoman firman of Sultan Mahmud II. Last but not least are some paintings by world-famous Orientalist artists such as Jean-Leon Jérome and Count Amadeo Preziosi.