While Morocco is not known for its contemporary art scene, there is one spot that has been attracting a lot of attention in recent years, The David Bloch Gallery. It has boasted a wide variety of exhibitions from the likes of Mist, Steph Cop, Steve McCurry, Tanc and Sowat. We recently sat down with the owner to find out what it is like to run one of North Africa’s most successful galleries.

What attracted you to the art market?


A: What attracted you to the art market?

D: I was searching for my dream job and I wanted to be constantly surrounded by beautiful art. I use to do a lot of graffiti when I was younger and I have a history with Moroccan craftsmen so I wanted to mix these together and create a gallery. I selected Marrakech because it allows us to do what we want, there is no pressure from the market. I also wanted to give the artists and collectors an experience when they came to visit. 

 

What is the biggest challenge of running your own gallery?


A: What is the biggest challenge of running your own gallery?

D: I didn't have much experience in the art market when we were starting off but I have discovered a lot over the last six years. The local market was also totally different than Europe, the Moroccan people are very traditional. Their perceptions have changed a lot since we opened - people are travelling a lot more these days and post-graffiti has become more popular. Everything is changing here at the moment, galleries from all over the world want to host Moroccan artists. It is a country of art - more for craftsmen but the foundations are here and they have a lot of respect for people who work with their hands and their love for this type of art is growing. This is only the beginning. 

 

What is your favourite aspect of running the gallery?


A: What is your favourite aspect of running the gallery?

D: The first thing is creating a beautiful experience and this comes from my love of making big installations with the artists. We want to give them a space that allows them to push themselves. The other thing is our residency; it is a unique experience. We set the artist up in Marrakech and give them a space where they can get inspiration and experiment. We get artists to work with the local craftsmen and it becomes collaboration between us all.

 

A: What’s your approach to finding new artists to represent?

D: I only select artists I would display in my home. They must also go with the artistic direction of the gallery. We have three main themes here - optical and kinetic art, letters and calligraphy, and finally, abstract art. The last and most important thing is the person. The talent and personality must align with us. We all help each other so we must be able to work together. We are not art dealers; we want to develop a relationship with our artists. It is so important for us to have a collective where all the artists can work together and share good energy.

 

What advice would you give to an artist looking to contact a gallery?


A: What advice would you give to an artist looking to contact a gallery?

You must work hard to find your own signature style. Yes, you must get inspired and influence from others but your own style must come through. I think the studio work is important to find that balance. A good artist is 50% talent and 50% personality. The story behind the artwork is so important because it will change the way people view the artwork. 

 

What significant steps have led to the success of the gallery?


A: What significant steps have led to the success of the gallery?

D: For me, the most important thing is to be patient, it takes time. First, you have one collector, then two and so on, it doesn’t happen overnight. It is also vital to create exceptional shows, people must want to come back. 

 

Where do you see yourself in the future?


A: Where do you see yourself in the future?

D: I need more space, this gallery is a bit too small. We recently created a public installation with Steph Cop and Tanc in front of the Marrakech train station. This would not be possible inside the gallery and we want to do more of these. When an artist comes here, we want to make sure they can do the craziest thing they can think of.  That is our plan for the future. 

 

David Bloch Gallery

 

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Images Via: David Bloch Gallery