Barry Keldoulis

The young Barry Keldoulis studied philosophy before heading overseas to New York. It was here that his career in the art world began. Fast-forward to today and after ten years of operating his own space, Gallery Barry Keldoulis is shutting up its permanent space opting for a more fluid operating model. The incredibly kind and humble gallerist shared his thoughts with arts interview about managing artists, networking and his love of contemporary art.

 Interview by Vanessa Anthea Macris

How do you select and instigate relationships with artists for representation?

Interestingly, only one of the artists I’ve ever represented is somebody who walked into the gallery with his portfolio and that is Hitesh Natalwala. I must say that I was struck by the beauty and stories behind his work and he has proven to be a delight to work with. But generally speaking, a lot of my artists I met through hanging around the young artist crowd while they were still at art school. I gave many of them their first show while they were still studying and the relationship has developed from there. Artists have always given me good leads to follow and so a lot of the other artist I have taken on subsequently have been through introduction by other artists I’ve represented. Finally, there are a couple of others that have come from Sherman Galleries with me.

What is your approach in managing your represented artists?

One of the most interesting aspects to the job is the relationship with the artists and of course the relationship with the work itself. So the approach I take is quite intense when compared to the majority of galleries out there who tend to represent an enormous number of artists and show them on a roster every few years. I’ve always worked closely with my artists. From the beginning I’ve really only been interested in artists whose work would stand up on the international stage. This has led to me developing a strategy, at least for the first few years of concentrating on exclusive representation worldwide and narrowing the focus down through that one channel to best strive on getting their work not only seen in Sydney or interstate but internationally.

What relevance does a physical gallery space hold in the current climate?

When the gallery is working as the model is intended to i.e. where you have a fairly constant flow of work out through the stock room, in order to maintain cash flow- the physical gallery space is great. These days that model is not working as well, mainly because of the hesitant times we are in financially. As such the gallery space has almost become a noose around ones neck in that you know people expect you to be here all of the time, but one has to be overseas and you cant be in two places at once. It will be very interesting for galleries going forward, particularly in Sydney who is a very ‘now’ city, a city that is obsessed with what’s new and what’s coming. I think that it will act well to have pop up exhibitions where you define a time and a place for people to be rather than sitting around in the gallery waiting for someone to come to somewhere where they have been dozens of times before.

What is you approach to networking?

I’m not really one who operates on a model other than just being myself, so I’ve never really thought about it too much. I do make an effort to as the Japanese say “keep a wide face” and be out there as a representative of my artists in contexts that they can’t be in.  I do think that networking is important. It is also important to set an example in the industry through supporting other institutions that are supportive of the artists and the art world in general.