London dealer Joost van den Bergh.

1 What do you specialise in?

Indian and Japanese art. Some 14 years ago I travelled to Japan to look for Gandharan sculpture. I did find some but also discovered Japanese ‘Art Deco’ and this has rapidly become a large part of the business.

2 Where did you train?

From a young age I was interested in architecture, design and Modern art. After failing secondary school in The Netherlands, I came to London for a one-year art history course.

I met Luca Baroni (at that time of Colnaghi) who introduced me to Sotheby’s Old Masters department, where I worked as a ‘volunteer’ for some years.

It was a fantastic training ground and taught me more than any formal education would have offered. Later I decided to train as a paper restorer, combining my love of drawings with a more practical, hands-on job.

This in turn introduced me to Indian miniature paintings and from there my love for Indian art developed.

3 You’ve held several Tantra art exhibitions – what drew you to this initially?

In the 1990s I found a catalogue for the Hayward Gallery’s 1971 Tantra exhibition at a stall in Portobello Road. It presented a selection of weird and wonderful esoteric works representing ancient thoughts and beliefs, used in ritual practice.

I felt an instant connection to these amazing objects. Abstract, minimal and mysterious, these represent to me the ultimate in art. The catalogue remains a great source of inspiration, and I still often pick it up to browse through its pages and over the years I have organised five exhibitions, some with catalogues.

4 What do you collect personally (if anything)?

When I started dealing, I made a rule to not collect in the same area – I feel I would be in competition with my clients if I did.

For myself I buy western Modern and Contemporary art mainly from the 1920s to the present.

I travel to Japan twice a year and do buy some pieces privately there, mainly Modern paintings and works on papers. But it is always clear if something is purchased to sell or to keep.

5 What is one thing you love about the job?

Always discovering new areas to work with and constantly learning.

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