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Design & Luxury November - December, 2017

A Modern-Meets-Neo-Classical Apartment in Milan


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Design & Luxury November-December 2017

Features 48 In Search of Lost Time At the Milan home of the architect Vincenzo De Cotiis, futuristic furniture provides a counterpoint to 18th-century finishes. By Nancy Hass Photographs by Simon Watson Produced by Tom Delavan

58 High Maintenance Some art pieces are challenging conceptually; others demand a great deal of upkeep. What it’s like to share your home with art that doesn’t love you back. By M. H. Miller Photographs by Sean Donnola

ON THE COVER A wall-mounted work by Florian Baudrexel and a low table from Vincenzo De Cotiis’s Progetto Domestico collection hold their own against the dramatic period architecture.


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Lookout 10 This and That A Gucci capsule collection, a major photography retrospective, artful motorcycles and more. 16 Market Report Crystal earrings. 17 Market Report Colored stone.


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The discreet Nobu Ryokan inn, a renovated 1947 motel with midcenturyinspired design.

22 By Design European art parks that prove the unique value of seeing works in the wild. 25 Art Matters Are artists the new interpreters of scientific innovation? 33 Another Thing A lava-rock floor lamp with space age appeal.

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Stuart Ian Frost’s ‘‘Skin Deep’’ (2012), a drilled, burnt and polished cherry tree trunk, at Arte Sella.

Arena 64 The Illustrated Interview William Wegman.

Page 34 A vase by Carina Seth Andersson for Svenskt Tenn and chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen and Muller Van Severen, the design duo of Belgian architect David Van Severen’s brother Hannes Van Severen and his wife, Fien Muller.



34 At Home In Brussels, a 19th-century mansion turned law office has been made into a family home.

Lookout Qatar 14 This and That Qatar National Library officially opens; Ajyal 2017 presents record 103 films; Van Cleef & Arpels new Lucky Animals collection; Heya 2017 sees largest number of Qatari designers; and more. 18 Market Report Fancy mules. By Debrina Aliyah

19 Market Report Bedazzled eyewear. By Debrina Aliyah

20 On Art Fine silk artist Rashmi Agarwal has revolutionized silk painting in Qatar and the rest of the region through her workshops, studio classes and exhibitions. By Udayan Nag Photographs by Robert Altamirano

Quality Qatar 28 On The Verge Versatile artist Patric Rozario talks about adapting to new art mediums to create art without limits. By Ola Diab

32 The Thing A cardboard box now upgraded and presented as a transparent cube and a symbol of modern luxury.




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38 In Design The new falcon-shaped Mondrian Doha hotel is a first for world-renowned Dutch designer Marcel Wanders in the region. By Ola Diab

42 Wanderlust Its air of shabby chic nonchalance keeps the madding crowd away, while those in the know just cannot stay away. Text and photographs by Debrina Aliyah

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Known for several unique creations including thread art, Patric Rozario has explored thread art and cloud painting, incorporating pearls and paint on plates, which he calls "Pearlappetite", and now "Artistic Metal Panels".

45 On Heritage A gastronomical epicentre that is small but packs a punch.

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This and That

Storm Clouds

A Cultural Compendium

‘‘MY PAINTINGS have always dealt with turbulence and

Cecily Brown’s ‘‘Sirens and Shipwrecks and Bathers and the Band’’ (2016), one of the oil paintings from her new series, opening at Paula Cooper Gallery on Oct. 27.

conflict,’’ says Cecily Brown, the British-born artist who was declared an art world virtuosa almost as soon as she arrived in New York 23 years ago. Indeed, Brown’s canvases — layered abstractions with erotic undertones that have earned her comparisons to de Kooning — are known for their fierce energy. This month, a solo exhibition opening at Paula Cooper (Brown’s first at the gallery) reveals a softer side. The artist employed faster, looser brushstrokes, creating veils of blues, pinks and grays to achieve a delicate transparency. Which isn’t to say the works have lost their bite. Among the pieces is the artist’s largest work to date, a 33-foot triptych of swirling gestures that turn out to be a shipwreck. The boat is surrounded by the suggestion of several burkini-clad women — a reference, Brown says, to an incident in Nice last summer where armed policemen forced a beachgoer to remove her garment. Brown likes her works to retain an elusive quality — just as you make out one shape or meaning, it dissolves, and another presents itself. And yet clearly here she was thinking about the body not just as an aesthetic form, but also as a battleground. As she puts it, ‘‘there’s no way to work as an artist without being conscious of the world around you.’’ — JACOBA URIST


MALIBU IS in the middle of a hotel

renaissance. After decades of offering mostly run-down motels — confoundingly, considering the lavish homes that sit on the


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famous 27-mile stretch of California coast — this year has seen the debuts of the discreet Nobu Ryokan inn, as well as the Native, a renovated 1947 motel with midcentury-inspired design. (Not to mention an upscale food stand, Coffee & Waffles, housed in a retrofitted Airstream trailer and manned by Ludo Lefebvre of the popular L.A. restaurant Petit Trois.) The most interesting spot yet may be the Surfrider, opening this month across from the famed beach of the same name. Another reimagined motel, it was originally built in 1953, at the dawn of California’s now-legendary surf scene. In 2015, Matthew Goodwin, an architect who grew up surfing Malibu’s waves, his Australian wife, Emma Crowther-Goodwin, and their friend, Alessandro Zampedri, a restaurateur who opened New York’s Michelinstarred Rebelle, began a total overhaul of the property. The couple designed the interiors themselves using a neutral palette and raw

materials (limestone and plenty of teak and white oak) that make the most of the natural light, while local designers developed the custom chairs and four-poster beds, as well as the hand-painted bogolanfini pillows and linen-covered lounges at the rooftop restaurant (a welcome alternative to Soho House’s members-only Little Beach House down the road). Here, Zampedri has partnered with nearby farms like Alice Bamford’s One Gun Ranch, known for its perfect produce (pea shoots, opal basil), while in the lobby, guests can enjoy cups of Canyon Coffee and housebaked banana bread before heading out to the water. — JOHN WOGAN


Surf’s Up


This and That


Wild Things

Under Cover INVENTED IN THE 1940S, acrylic fabric was considered a midcentury wonder for its durability in the face of weather and wear. Sunbrella, a North Carolina-based company that opened in 1961, started out offering brightly striped acrylic fabrics for storefront awnings (later, they were used on boats and patio furniture) that mimicked the look of cotton canvas. Now, thanks to advancements in fiber technology and a new push toward high-end design, the fabrics have become just as suitable for a sunroom as they are for a sundeck. ‘‘Some look like a handsome felt, Japanese shibori or Shetland tweed,’’ says Sherri Donghia, formerly of the Donghia design firm and a longtime consultant for the brand. Recent offerings include velvety textiles in jewel tones and pale pastels, as well as a range of polished prints, from intricate jacquards to splatter, as well as, of course, classic stripes. One new fabric, a burgundy tartan, could easily be used as a throw on a crisp fall night. ‘‘No one is ever going to know it’s not wool or linen,’’ Donghia says. ‘‘Maybe it’s not going to look like silk,’’ she allows. At least, not yet. — ARTIE NIEDERHOFFER

Top: a Milo Baughman sofa covered in Sunbrella’s Chapman Juniper fabric with an accompanying Sunbrella throw. Left: swatches of recent offerings from the brand.

THE ARTIST and theater director Robert Wilson is best known for his inherently grand productions, from ‘‘Madama Butterfly’’ to ‘‘Einstein on the Beach,’’ the five-hour avantgarde opera he collaborated on with the American composer Philip Glass. But for an N.Y.C.-based installation he designed for Van Cleef & Arpels, he had to think on a smaller scale. To showcase the French jeweler’s new L’Arche de Noé (Noah’s Ark) collection — an assortment of over 60 pairs of jeweled brooches including diamond-studded kangaroos and doves carrying leaves of pink sapphires — Wilson transformed a room inside the Cedar Lake performance space in Chelsea. Standing in for the ark is a 19-inch ship’s hull, fabricated from wood and based on an Inuit model made of whalebone, which hangs from the ceiling. Embedded in the walls of the space are illuminated glass curiosity boxes, in which 41 of the sparkly creatures will be displayed. ‘‘They look like stars at twilight,’’ Wilson says of the pieces, which Herons with was on view Nov. sapphires and 3-19. ‘‘With the black spinels and a pair of fennec proper lighting, foxes, at left, small objects sitting on a bed of pearls and garnets. become big.’’ — ALLY BETKER

Prices upon request,

A Dream House in Bahia EIGHT YEARS AGO, Wilbert Das, the former creative director of the

Italian clothing label Diesel, opened Uxua Casa Hotel in Trancoso, Brazil, a 16th-century beachside colonial village. The Bahian town had long attracted South Americans and in-the-know Europeans, but the hotel, with its tropical candy-colored palette and low-key atmosphere, put it on the map for stylish Americans. This month, Uxua debuts a new addition to the property — a sunlit three-bedroom cottage that sits independent from the rest of the 11-casa resort, and adjacent to the town square’s coral stone church (which dates back to 1586). ‘‘This is the best-located house in Trancoso, so I always had my eye on it,’’ says Das, who designed the interiors himself. Seafoam green and flamingo-pink walls frame a collection of both vintage and custom pieces, including chairs and benches from the São Paulo avant-garde artist Rodrigo Almeida, an old work table from a local boat-builder that Das reimagined as a dining table, raffia pendant lights and decorative silk saris from India and Africa that have been repurposed as curtains. Outside, there’s a garden filled with scarlet bougainvillea and banana and cacao trees that, Das says, ‘‘we use to make our own chocolate.’’ — JOHN WOGAN 16

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Lookout Qatar

This and That

Fine Address

A Cultural Compendium

Five Years of Film The fifth Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute (DFI) from November 29 to December 4 at Katara Cultural Village, featured 103 inspirational films from 43 countries — including 10 MENA premieres. Ajyal 2017 presented a compelling array of films that expressed the power of storytelling in transforming minds. The program included 20 features and 83 shorts, 55 from the Arab world, and 52 by women filmmakers. The festival also recognized the illustrious career of the Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussein Abdulredha and presented a special "Made in Kuwait" section. The six-day event featured 36 public screenings of the films, 18 screenings for the Ajyal Jury, which comprised of over 550 jurors from more than 45 countries — including interactive panel discussions, red carpet events and communityoriented activities. Ajyal 2017 opened with the Middle East premiere of "The Breadwinner" (Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg, 2017) by Nora Twomey and executive produced by Angelina Jolie. An animated Afghan tale of a young girl’s will and determination, the film is based on the best-selling novel, T ُ he Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis about Parvana, an 11-year-girl who must resort to creative means so she can work to support her mother and sister Top left: A still image from the Middle East premiere of The Breadwinner by Nora after her father is unjustly arrested. Twomey; Above: Ajyal 2017 recognized the illustrious career of the Kuwaiti actor Abdulhussein Abdulredha.

Lucky Animals Van Cleef & Arpels launches a new collection of clips. The Lucky Animals collection reflects the generous and benevolent nature that has always inspired the Van Cleef & Arpels style. Today, this new creation brings together nine models, including a cat, a lion, a hummingbird and a rabbit. They follow in the footsteps of the playful creations of La Boutique, launched by the maison in the 1950s. Within this adorable group, the animals’ lively and graceful postures lend them a tender charm. They seem to come to life, their onyx eyes focused — as if they had just paused to listen and observe. Luminous mother-ofpearl and dazzling hard stones combine in delicate marquetry, illuminated by a contour of golden beads. Intricate details — a beak, a muzzle, whiskers or a mane — protrude slightly to bestow each one with a unique personality. — OLA DIAB


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Known as ‘the finest address in Qatar’, The St. Regis Doha was recently awarded two prestigious accolades, Qatar’s Leading Resort and Qatar’s Leading Hotel Suite, at the renowned 2017 World Travel Awards. The World Travel Awards are the ultimate awards in travel recognition, celebrating companies and organizations that have consistently pushed the boundaries of industry excellence in both product and service. World Travel Award winners were selected by online ballot entries between March and August 2017. The St. Regis Doha boasts stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, with 336 rooms and suites, 12 award-winning restaurants and bars, 6,500 square meters of meeting space and recreational facilities, including its famed Remède Spa, as well as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, beachfront cabanas, and private jacuzzis. — KARIM EMAM

Lookout Qatar

Fashion Entrepreneurship

Now Open

National Landmark

Emerging Qatari designers were the key focus at the 12th Heya Arabian Fashion Exhibition. Held under the patronage of HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Heya delivered a platform to foster Qatar’s fashion scene and empower entrepreneurship and knowledge sharing at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) from November 3 to 7. According to organizers, the five-day event attracted more than 9,000 visitors, which represented a 23% increase year-on-year organizers have announced. The exhibition brought together fashion enthusiasts and influencers, families and aspiring designers to discover more than 150 local, regional and international brands from over 15 countries. This year saw the largest number of established and emerging local designers, with 65% of exhibitors coming from Qatar. New partnerships with Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) and Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), provided visitors with valuable expertise in everything from fashion marketing to finance, to how to get a fashion business off the ground. Adding depth to this year’s program were collaborations with the Italian, Germany and Mexican embassies to help nurture and develop local design talent. — OLA DIAB

Traditional Dhow Festival Qatar’s maritime heritage and history came to life at the seventh edition of Katara Traditional Dhow Festival, which took place from November 13 to 19, 2017 at Katara Beach. Held under the patronage of HH The Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Katara Traditional Dhow Festival is an authentic celebration of Qatar’s maritime heritage and traditions, featuring competitions, displays and folkloric activities. The festival hosted several cultural, sporting, traditional and environment-related tournaments, including pearl diving, free diving, rowing and dhow sailing. This year, the distinctive showcase of authentic maritime traditions inspired by Qatar's ancestors saw the participation of Kuwait, Oman, Iraq, Turkey, India, Greece and Zanzibar. Welcoming visitors, approximately 85 Qatari traditional dhows were docked and decorated with Qatari flags and Tamim Al Majd images on their mainsails. The festival featured 32 maritime handicrafts from Oman, five from Kuwait, and 10 from Qatar.


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The annual Katara Dhow Festival hosted several cultural, sporting and traditional activities.

Participating countries, in partnership with seafood restaurants, highlighted their rich culture and traditions by providing festivalgoers with authentic maritime offerings such as an array of cuisines and traditional performances. These included food kiosks set up by Turkey, Greece and Iraq. The Iraqi corner featured cultural shows by a traditional ensemble. — OLA DIAB


The new Qatar National Library (QNL) building in Education City opened its doors to the public for the first time on November 8, giving residents access to more than one million books, periodicals, and special collections, as well as the QNL Heritage Library. Members can now check out books and other media from the main collection, access the Children’s and Teen’s Library, and begin using QNL’s facilities such as the Writing Center, Innovation Stations and study rooms. The library is open to all members of the public with free membership to anyone with a Qatari ID. QNL has also launched its new website at, allowing users to register for membership, search the library’s collection, reserve meeting and event spaces in the building, and access dozens of online digital resources. Designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the building is fully accessible to visitors with special needs. It features numerous custom-designed innovations, including an automatic book sorting system, several interactive media walls and self-check-in and check-out machines that make borrowing books easier for members. — KARIM EMAM


Market Report

Crystal Earrings

Chandelier styles — flashy, glamorous and unapologetically decadent — with a punk-rock edge. PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARI MAEDA AND YUJI OBOSHI

Clockwise from top left: Burberry, price on request. Céline, $820. Sarara Couture, $395. Isabel Marant, $485. Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, $1,195. Oscar de la Renta, $485. Janis Savitt, $300. Miu Miu, $1,355.

November - December 2017


Lookout Qatar

Market Report

Fancy Mules Posh details and fur embellishments give the humble mule a starring role on casual Fridays.

Clockwise from top left: Maryam Nassir Zadeh, QR1,700; Robert Clergerie, QR1,980; Coliac, QR1,720; Alberta Ferretti, QR3,100; Dorateymur, QR1,500; Sanayi 313, QR4,022; Avec Modération, QR1,180.


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Market Report

All Eyes On You Amp up the volume with eyewear that attracts and protects.



Clockwise from top left: Chloé, QR1,990; Dolce&Gabbana, QR6,000; DSquared2, QR3,400; Gucci, QR3,200; Marni, QR2,190; MCM, QR1,690; Salvatore Ferragamo, QR1,590.

November - December 2017


Lookout Qatar On Art

Silken Touch

Residing in Qatar for over a decade, Rashmi Agarwal describes her journey as a fine silk artist, and talks about the intricacies of her work. BY UDAYAN NAG PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT ALTAMIRANO

HAILING FROM INDIA, Rashmi Agarwal has truly rediscovered herself in Qatar, where she has been living for more than 13 years. She quit her job as the manager of a water and waste management company to take care of her daughter, and decided to focus full time on her art: silk painting. The year 2017 was an eventful one for Agarwal. She participated in Notes of Vision, ICAC Art Gallery, MumbaiIndia, ‘‘da Frame’’ International Art Show at Gallery Gold in Kolkata, India, World Art Dubai and Moscow International Painting Exhibition and Symposium. Like a master conductor at work, Agarwal strives to harmonize and unite every aspect of her designs, patterns, textures and colors to create a masterpiece. She believes that every stroke has something precious and special to give to all of us, and that her art has a spiritual quality with the power to heal hearts. ‘‘When I came to Qatar in 2004, there were hardly any


silk painters around and not enough resources were available for them,’’ says Agarwal, who feels that silk painting is different from other forms of art because the flow of colors is unique. ‘‘I use pigments as well as paint for my work, which can be used for clothing, interiors and fashion. The colors are so vibrant that the final artwork gives the impression of a printed piece.’’ With hand-painted silk, the fusion of glass and silk plays a pivotal role for Agarwal as it can be used for interior decoration purposes ­­ in lamp shades, vases and wood furniture. ‘‘Silk is a natural and royal fiber, so once it's fused with glass or any other surface by applying a waterproof varnish like decoupage, it becomes an integral part of it. It suits traditional as well as modern interiors.’’ These days, Agarwal is focusing on painting pashmina (a type of cashmere wool) scarves, which, she says, are very much in demand. Her dream is to see her designed couture scarves donned by distinguished personalities across the

MIX AND MATCH A mannequin on display at Rashmi Agarwal's house showcasing one of her art works.

world. Understanding her clients' requirements, which at times comes down to reading between the lines, is of paramount importance for Agarwal. ‘‘I pay attention to their lifestyle, passions and hobbies and get an idea of preparing works of art from which they will draw inspiration.’’ The use of dyes — ­ powder, natural and fiber reactive — form an integral part of Agarwal's work. ‘‘Dyes add beauty, vibrancy and intensity to my work,’’ she says. ‘‘They are attached with the fabric by steaming in order to make it a permanent fix. I rarely use powder dyes except for ice dyeing. I prefer using the natural and fiber reactive ones. I use distilled water for all my dye projects.’’ Agarwal adds that natural dyes are usually used with a mordant to make them 'stick' to the fabric and generally give more muted tones on plant fibers like cotton and rayon, but they also work brilliantly on wool and silk. ‘‘The colors we get with natural dyes vary depending on what mordant we use and also which fabric is being dyed. I also use extracts from fruits, vegetables, roots and plants. They give a fresh look on fabric, especially natural fibers, and produce beautiful, harmonious colors.’’ She also says that apart from being safe and easy to use, fiber reactive dyes don't fade ­ — even after repeated washings. Agarwal uses mostly French silk dyes. According to her, they are very popular throughout the world and are used by many professional artists because of their wide range and intensity of colors, the flow of the dye, and the superior way they lend themselves to salt, water color and with other techniques on fabric. Agarwal is the silk painting instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, where she has been teaching for the last five years. These days, Agarwal has

'Silk is a natural and royal fiber so once it's fused with glass or any other surface by applying a waterproof varnish like decoupage, it becomes an integral part of it. It suits traditional as well as modern interiors.'

OUT OF THE BOX Top right: Rashmi Agarwal in her studio. Bottom left: Agarwal's vivid range of colors epitomise what her work is all about.

started delivering workshops at the Doha Fire Station art gallery and other centres around the country. Apart from that, she also worked at the Souq Waqif for two years, where she gave demonstrations on silk painting. The souq also became a platform for selling her work. Agarwal is the founder of the Qatar-based Middle East Art and Silk Painters (MAPS) and a board member of Silk Painters International (SPIN), USA. She is also the president of GCC Spandan International and Zervas Art Club, Qatar. ‘‘The goal of MAPS is to provide a platform for emerging artists to embrace a difference that makes our world unique. It discovers similarities, regardless of their origin, by conducting workshops, seminars and exhibitions,’’ says the fine silk artist. Agarwal's upcoming exhibitions and symposiums will be held in Goa and Paris in December 2017. She is planning to exhibit in Dubai in February and March 2018, and her work will also be exhibited at the Oxford International Art Fair in February. In Qatar, the art galleries of Katara Cultural Village and Grand Hyatt Doha have hosted many of her group exhibitions in the past.

November - December 2017



By Design By Design

Close Encounters

Why three European art parks — outdoor spaces with large-scale, site-specific sculpture — have become essential places to engage with culture. BY GISELA WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHS BY FEDERICO CIAMEI


Gone — or, at least, reduced — are overly manicured lawns and excessive groundskeeping; these parks celebrate their wildness. Previous page: Will Beckers’s ‘‘Through the Soul,’’ made of hazel branches and installed at Arte Sella in 2015. Clockwise from far left: Stuart Ian Frost’s ‘‘Skin Deep’’ (2012), a drilled, burnt and polished cherry tree trunk, at Arte Sella; Martin Puryear’s ‘‘Meditation in a Beech Wood’’ (1996), at Wanas Konst; for ‘‘If the People Have No Bread, Let Them Eat Cake’’ (2002), Henrik Plenge Jakobsen dyed sheep pink and set them to graze in a pasture. The piece was restaged at Wanas this year and will be on view through early November.

IN 2002, Jenny Holzer was invited to create a piece at Wanas Konst,

an 80-acre sculpture park tucked behind a romantic 16th-century stepgabled castle in the wilds of southern Sweden. She spent two days just wandering the grounds, where contemporary sculptures (a monumental steel chair covered in antlers, a tiny wood house in a clearing) by the likes of Marina Abramovic, Robert Wilson and Maya Lin stand amid tall beech trees and, in some cases, grazing cows. (The art foundation shares the land with a working dairy farm.) Deep in the woods, Holzer found herself thinking of ‘‘fairy tales light and dark.’’ Then she came upon a waist-high stone wall that dates to the 1700s. ‘‘I started following it and knew it was the site,’’ she says. Her contribution to what is now known as ‘‘Wanas Wall’’ was to carve a different phrase or truism from her past work into a stone block every 20 feet or so. ‘‘ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED,’’ reads one. Wanas Konst was founded in 1987 by Marika Wachtmeister, an art-loving lawyer who married into the aristocratic family that’s presided over the remote Wanas estate for eight generations. It’s one of several parks in out-of-the-way places throughout Europe, from Arte Sella, in an Alpine valley in northern Italy, to Refuge d’Art, in southern France, that collectively compose a second wave of art parks. If the first generation — Storm King Art Center in New York, founded in 1960; Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England, opened in 1977 — were pioneers, disrupting where and how large-scale work should be seen, this second group, born in the late ’80s and early ’90s, emphasized truly sitespecific pieces, ones inspired by the properties’ history and landscapes, and are significant for the equal emphasis they place on the art and the environment in which it’s displayed. Gone — or, at least, reduced — are overly manicured lawns and excessive groundskeeping; these parks celebrate their wildness, sometimes so much so that the works

within them are obscured, either partly or wholly. This makes their eventual encounter feel like discovering a secret — and the thrill of seeing art outside a museum is compounded by the unpredictability of its context. Every art institution — no matter how nontraditional — takes time to mature: Collections have to be built. An aesthetic has to refine itself. At Wanas Konst, Arte Sella and Refuge d’Art, one realizes the apotheosis of not only an idea, but of a space; here is a marriage of object and place, of the artificial and the natural — a fully realized collection in a fully realized environment. ART PARKS occupy a distinct and, one might argue, increasingly important place within the larger art world. Generally with low admission fees and located outside urban hubs, they bring sculpture to those who might

November - December 2017



By Design

otherwise lack access, or feel unwelcome in a typical museum or white-cube setting. In doing so, they not only democratize art, but challenge us to see it anew. Wanas is in the middle of a poor and rural region of Sweden, which has recently been settled by a number of asylum seekers from Syria and elsewhere. Of the 75,000 visitors the park welcomed last year, about half were not regular museumgoers — but the forest floor, it turns out, is neutral ground. The park is large enough to contain a number of topographies; in touring its 70 pieces, one moves from lawns to fields to forests filled with bird calls and mossy logs. Like the guests, the artists featured here may be from all over, but the land itself is Swedish countryside, ungroomed and unkempt. ‘‘I appreciate that [it doesn’t] feel like a wealthy person’s garden, even if it is,’’ says the contemporary-art curator Diana Campbell Betancourt. It is also a refuge for nature-starved city dwellers. Just as the parks bring art to the underserved, they also entice culture-seekers into the wild. In this way, they borrow from the American land-art movement, which was pioneered by artists such as Walter De Maria and Robert Smithson, who wanted to push past the gallery walls and work with natural materials. Land art was inherently anti-institutional — an artistic expression of man’s smallness in the face of expressly inhospitable settings — whereas art parks are, ultimately, curated: meant to attract visitors into what its critics say are simulacra of museums, a partially controlled setting that happens to be out of doors. And yet both movements make the environment fundamental to the act of viewing. Jessica Morgan, the director of New York’s Dia Art Foundation, which has long been associated with land art, says the popularity of parks like Wanas Konst speaks to the need ‘‘to escape our increasingly digitized urban reality,’’ adding, ‘‘even the journey is part of the experience’’ — an antidote to the static encounters we have with art in the modern age. But if the experience of coming across works of art in the outdoors is personal — one cannot help but feel they’ve been placed especially for you — it is also physical. A thorough viewing of ‘‘Refuge d’Art,’’ a series of 11 Andy Goldsworthy installations strewn across a remote and mountainous region of Haute-Provence, requires walking nearly 100 miles of ancient Jacob Dahlgren’s ‘‘Primary Structure,’’ a series of interlocking painted steel blocks, was installed at Wanas Konst in 2011.


footpaths. (The work also lends its name to the site itself.) Goldsworthy, a British sculptor who is something of an art-park star and who is currently at work on a similar project in England, began this one, with backing from the nearby Musée Gassendi, as a single sculpture in 1999, and has added to it over time. A handful of the installations are free-standing egg-shaped stone sentinels that recall ancient burial sites, while in other cases the artist set sculptures (a humble pile of rocks, a maze of stone archways) within the walls of abandoned dwellings that he refashioned to accommodate them. Inside a former farmhouse, for example, a snakelike relief winds up a wall covered in red clay native to the region. Goldsworthy’s intention, he says, was to get ‘‘right into the skin of the place’’ — and of the viewer. The time spent and effort expended to see these works (three of the structures even allow for overnight stays) fosters a deep engagement with both the art and its setting, so much so that a viewer might not know whether to ascribe her sense of wonder to one or the other. At times, that wonder borders on the spiritual. Most of the sculptures at Arte Sella are made with natural materials and have their own life cycles; they change with the seasons and will eventually decompose, returning themselves to the earth. Patrick Dougherty’s ‘‘You Are Free’’ is composed of a trio of twister-like, shack-size nests of branches; ‘‘Transition,’’ by Luca Petti, is a group of starburst forms made from wooden poles and fastened to tree trunks. But the park’s grandest work is Giuliano Mauri’s ‘‘Tree Cathedral’’ (2001), a towering (40 feet tall and growing) temple to nature, made with reinforced timber columns and a vaulted canopy of sloping hornbeam branches. Walking its grassy aisles, visitors take care to whisper. What a rare gift, in this noisy world, to feel alone with beauty and with one’s thoughts. The mind wanders — out of the real world, and back to fairy tales, to fiction. The work reminds us that these pieces, and the parks that contain them, offer what might be considered a necessary paradox for our times: They give a glimpse of something greater than ourselves while allowing us to remain the protagonists. Here, we’re on an adventure — and something interesting is bound to happen.

Art Matters


State of the Art

A self-portrait by the artist Hiroshi Sugimoto in the Oculist Witness eyeglasses he designed in 2014.

Modern science and technology move with boundless, sometimes perilous speed. What if the best people to keep them in check are not government officials — but artists? BY GISELA WILLIAMS

WHEN WE THINK OF ARTIST residencies today, we think of the MacDowell Colony, in the woods of

New Hampshire, and of the Skowhegan School, in Maine. There’s the Rome Prize fellowship, at the city’s American Academy, and Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation, in Marfa. To be an a ­ rtist in residence means removing yourself from the noise and obligations of regular life, and instead getting to concentrate on your creative life, often in a beautiful locale. But once, an artist residency meant something very different: being embedded squarely within regular life, an experience meant both to inspire artists and to infuse what were seen as artless environments with creativity. In 1966, an artist named Barbara Steveni and her husband, John Latham, the influential British conceptual artist, started the Artist Placement Group, or A.P.G., in London, the goal of which was to embed artists in industrial and government organizations, to allow them to both learn about and to have a voice in the world of business and science — and then, when possible, organize exhibitions of work inspired by those experiences. Latham himself spent time at the Scottish Office in Edinburgh researching industrial waste heaps called ‘‘bings’’ that were created by distilling oil from shale, and the artist David Hall made 10 short films, called ‘‘TV Interruptions,’’

November - December 2017


Art Matters

Right: a fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya and Thomas Mee enmeshes the Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 world’s fair in Osaka, Japan. Below: Aoife van Linden Tol, who works with explosives, created ‘‘Second Story — Into the Dark,’’ for the 2016 Ars Electonica Festival while an artist in residence at the European Space Agency.

that were broadcast uncredited on Scottish Television and are now regarded as landmarks of British video art. The project, which was renamed Organization and Imagination, or O+I, in 1989, was considered groundbreaking and important enough that the Tate bought the A.P.G. archives in 2004. Meanwhile, in the U.S., two visionaries were also campaigning for a greater collaborative relationship between modern art and science: Gyorgy Kepes, who founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at M.I.T. in 1967, and the artist Robert Rauschenberg, who, around the same time, co-founded E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) with the engineers Billy Kluver and Fred Waldhauer and artist Robert Whitman, to initiate and support collaborations between artists and scientists. (Their most publicized project was a series of installations, including a water-vapor sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya and physicist Thomas Mee, made for the dome at the 1970 world’s fair, Expo ’70, in Osaka, Japan.) Two years later, NASA invited Rauschenberg to witness the launch of Apollo 11, the first manned voyage to the moon — an experience that resulted in ‘‘Stoned Moon,’’ a remarkable series of lithographic prints. This kind of residency eventually fell out of favor for the luxury-summer-camp variety. But in the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the idea of inviting artists to observe, learn and work within mainstream government agencies and institutions, among entrepreneurs and scientists as well as among the artists themselves. In this innovation-hungry age of TED Talks and Silicon Valley, every company seems to be launching an experimental lab that is meant to foster innovation through the cross-fertilization of ideas in a variety of disciplines, including the creative arts. Two years ago, the art collector Dasha Zhukova donated a million dollars to M.I.T. to create an artist residency there in her name. At the same time, the work of artists like Thomas Struth, Vija Celmins, Tom Sachs and Olafur Eliasson is driven and influenced by the rapid pace of discoveries in scientific fields from artificial intelligence to astrophysics. The photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto has repeatedly explored the relationship between image and evolving technology, including in his Lightning Fields series, for which he used a 400,000-volt Van de Graaff generator to apply an electrical charge directly onto film. Gerfried Stocker, the artistic director of Ars Electronica, a think tank that started a festival celebrating arts and sciences in Linz, Austria, in 1979, believes that artists have become ‘‘cultural missionaries’’ in a time of ‘‘intensive transformation driven by new technology.’’ It’s crucial, he says, ‘‘that humanistic voices address the ethical and moral questions created by this transformation.’’ Ars Electronica helped institutions like the European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN, its acronym in French), as well as the European Southern Observatory, when they recently founded their own artist residencies. With the assistance of Ars, CERN — which is based in Switzerland and is home to both the Large Hadron Collider and the world’s largest particle physics research facility — initiated Collide, its flagship art residency program, in 2011. Monica Bello, the head of Arts@ CERN, explains, ‘‘The objective at CERN is to understand the fundamental structure of the universe. This is extremely compelling to artists, as they are often interested in studying matter itself.’’ CERN HAS SINCE HOSTED about a dozen international artists through Collide, including Julius von Bismarck, a German artist who creates installations, often humorous, that are typically inspired by science, nature and technology. At CERN, he staged several interventions, including locking 30 physicists It’s crucial, says Ars Electronica underground and asking what they saw in artistic director Gerfried Stocker, the dark, pushing them to describe physical matter that couldn’t be seen. More recently, ‘that humanistic voices address CERN has partnered with FACT, the Foundathe ethical and moral questions tion for Art and Creative Technology in Livercreated by [technologypool, England, which helps to produce as well as driven] transformation.’ to provide a space to show the work inspired by the CERN residencies. ‘‘Science is too important to leave to the scientists,’’ says Mike Stubbs, director of FACT. ‘‘Science has kind of become a new church, but it’s clear now that technology has not been applied to everyone in society to their benefit. We need voices from the arts and sociocultural disciplines to provoke important debates.’’ As the artist Thomas Struth says, ‘‘My feeling is that somehow, since the 1980s, politics are always running behind the





development of technology, and it’s very hard to create a legal framework to control what’s happening. Maybe artists are looked to because of their freedom and critical analysis, and because in general they are not corrupted. Someone brings up the self-driving car and within no time, someone yells, ‘Hurrah, the self-driving car!’ It’s like, who needs it? What about more public transport?’’ At the same time, institutions like CERN need artists to translate their findings to a larger audience. ‘‘Often experiments are invisi‘Maybe artists are looked to because ble,’’ says Stubbs. ‘‘They just exist as pure data.’’ Agencies like of their freedom and critical analysis, CERN benefit when well-known and respected artists emphasize and because in general they are the importance of their work and explain it in an accessible visunot corrupted,’ Thomas Struth says. al medium. Stubbs takes it even further: ‘‘I think it’s absolutely essential that artists are part of the process not just in terms of visualizing information but how we understand scientific culture.’’ It’s also worth remembering that the cultural divide between art and science is a relatively new one; for much of human history, the two fields were not oppositional, but collaborative. This relationship reached its apotheosis in the Renaissance era, whose most famous artist — Leonardo da Vinci — was also a scientist. Art was aligned with religion, but it also explored the natural and physical world. In the Victorian era, however, the two worlds diverged into what the British physicist C. P. Snow called ‘‘the two cultures’’; these projects, and the people involved in them, aim to correct this schism. ‘‘Artists are no longer concerned with creating artwork that reflects or interprets reality; rather, they want to be active agents in creating it,’’ says Stocker, of Ars Electonica. ‘‘That means that artists need to have an even deeper understanding of the mechanics behind science and technology.’’ THE SEARCH FOR that understanding has been a kind of revelation for the contempo-

Above: ‘‘Vibrations from a Graphite Core’’ (2012) by the artist and recent CERN resident Anaïs Tondeur, made with Ianis Lallemand. Right: Jorge Mañes Rubio’s ‘‘Untitled #5 (Afterlife)’’ moon mask (2017), made of vapor-deposited aluminum aerospace film and lunar regolith simulant. Rubio has had a residency at the European Space Agency.

rary figures involved in these new partnerships. A few months ago, when the artist Olafur Eliasson was in Montreal, he visited Buckminster Fuller’s 20-story geodesic dome, built for the 1967 world’s fair. ‘‘It gave me a great boost of creativity,’’ he says. ‘‘That was a time when there was a strong confidence that technology and creativity would shape the future.’’ Three years ago, Eliasson was awarded a several-weeks-long residency at M.I.T. He used the time to work on a project called ‘‘Little Sun,’’ a portable solar lamp that he designed with the engineer Frederik Ottesen, which is sold at high cost in wealthy countries so that it can be sold cheaply in poor ones. According to Eliasson, the lamp is meant to raise the question, ‘‘how can we create an affordable global energy system that factors in human emotion, creativity and desire?’’ His work, he says, often grapples with ‘‘how to tell people that they are not consumers of the world, they are co-producers of the world.’’ Struth, who will be showing large-scale studies of recent work at the Marian Goodman Gallery in New York in November, has made his own artist residencies in science-related businesses and agencies over the years just by asking. Earlier this year, he spent several days in Houston taking photos at NASA. Struth says that despite the fact that he is extremely skeptical and critical of certain technological developments and the way they’re used, he enjoys working with scientific researchers: ‘‘They tend to be very open. They have certain similarities with artists because they are working on something they don’t know or can’t see.’’ Then there’s the conceptual artist Jorge Mañes Rubio, who in 2016 began a residency at the European Space Agency. The agency had announced plans to create an international moon village: ‘‘There was no budget but it was an important call to space agencies and private companies. Mars is far too distant of a goal, so the moon seemed like the next step,’’ explains Rubio, whose works are often about re-engaging neglected places and cultures. After spending time with the ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, which is based in the Netherlands, Rubio decided he would build a moon temple. Despite the team’s discomfort with the idea — they worried it was too religious and new-age for their purposes — he proceeded, spending months with experts to learn about the moon’s geology and the practicalities of living in an atmosphere with one-sixth the gravity of Earth’s. Rubio ended up designing a structure that could be 3D-printed from moon dust, giving it a utopian-adobe look. But the best part of the project might have been both his and his new collaborators’ understanding that science, contrary to popular belief, is not immune to the thrill of romance, the pull of magical thinking. ‘‘There was a lot of friction about building a temple,’’ Rubio recalled, ‘‘but then someone said, ‘Actually I like this idea. What if we just build this temple and leave? Maybe we decide not to stay and we just create a beautiful space to celebrate the earth’s relationship with the moon.’ ’’

November - December 2017


Quality Qatar

On The Verge

Shifting Mediums Versatile artist Patric Rozario talks about adapting to new art mediums, and creating art without limits.

OWN A ROZARIO Known for his unique creations, Rozario has explored thread art, cloud painting and metal panels, incorporating pearls onto his paintings.


ACROSS FROM THE four-star Swiss-Belhotel Doha, in the overcrowded Old Salata, stands an old crippled building. It is here where Qatar-based Malaysian artist Patric Rozario is diligently working on an upcoming limited edition collection of textileembedded bangles, a new medium for him. The full-time artist employs the brand name Rozario - Own A Rozario, known for several unique creations including thread art, cloud painting, which he calls “Cloud Dances” and incorporating pearls and paint onto plates, which he calls “Pearlappetite”. Every now and then, he delves into a new medium. Today, his newfound artistic venture is the “Artistic Metal Panels”, which are bespoke metal coverings conceived and

created to lavishly decorate interiors. Rozario shuffles between Doha, Dubai and London. Doha and London are homes to two of his studios, Aesthetic Arts Ltd in Britain and Aesthetic Arts Design of Qatar. On July 14, 2016, Rozario was bestowed with the title of Master Craftsman and his company, Aesthetic Arts Ltd, is now member of the British Guild of Master Craftsmen of the UK. Rozario, who has been in Qatar for more than 10 years, witnessed the development of art in the country. “It was difficult. There was no art gallery in 2004 and 2005. It was frustrating to even have an audience to start with,” says Rozario, who first arrived in Qatar in




2004. However, art is not what brought him to Qatar. Rozario was traveling the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in 2004. At the same time, he was running an advertising and design company. “I closed down my operations, my company, and came searching for the easy treasure. So in 2004, I was here…I came to Doha and I found myself as the first marketing staff at The Pearl-Qatar, so I worked as the Senior Creative Officer at The Pearl-Qatar and concurrently, I rolled over my other hat which is that of an artist,” he says. Rozario is a well-rounded artist, an occupation he began professionally in 2002 — although not fulltime. “In 2002, I became 'pro' in arts so I started selling. It was the year I started professional because it was about time,” he explains. When he turned professional, Rozario was already a well-known thread artist. “I’m always searching for something new. For example, at one point, I was known as a thread artist because I used to work with thread. A thread to me is solid but once you start dropping it, it becomes like liquid in my hand and I create any shapes and colors and things like that … So I moved on with that and I sold a lot of

BEJEWELED Clockwise from top left: Celestial Octopus, Orange Dallah, Celestial Phoenix. Rozario incorporates pearls, beads, crystals, semiprecious stones, buttons and other embellishments onto his canvases.

pieces, only because it was different,” Rozario explains. Eventually, Rozario stopped creating thread art simply because he wanted to discover new mediums. He discovered his love for clouds and decided to make clouds his focus in a series called “Cloud Dance”. He painted clouds on canvases using oil and acrylic paint. Rozario joined the Cloud Appreciation Society in the United States and sold “Cloud Dance” paintings to them. “Doha has beautiful clouds in winter. If you really look up, it’s stunning. And we miss it. There’s something beautiful about clouds … I love clouds and watching them so that’s what I do in painting,” he explains. After the successful venture with “Cloud Dance”, Rozario discovered another unique venture, “Pearlappetite”, which involves incorporating pearls, crystals and other embellishments onto painted plates. “Pearlappetite” was a result of a convenient mistake, while Rozario was working on a canvas. “I always have a pearl with me in my wallet. And by mistake, one of the pearls fell on my wet canvas. I tried to take it out with my hand and it was messing up. It fell on a spot where I had painted in detail and I used tweezers to pull it out and it fell down again. The pearl was covered with oil and acrylics, I took it away and tried to wipe it and said, ‘How do I fix this now?’ And I said, ‘There’s a reason why this happened.’ And what I did is put it back in the wet paint and said, ‘Hey that’s nice! Pearl

November - December 2017


Quality Qatar

On The Verge

on paint?!’ and suddenly it blew up in front me,” explains Rozario. He went on to look for beads, crystals, semi-precious stones, buttons and other embellishments to add to the canvas. As he was doing this, Rozario wondered whether he could use the plate as the canvas. “This itself looks beautiful … that happy accident gave birth to plates and pearls,” he says. Rozario has been producing “Pearlappetite” pieces for over six years, creating four or five pieces per month, but recently has moved on to another unique medium; aluminum composite panel (ACP). This medium, however, is here to stay. “I’ve been doing “Pearlappetite” for quite a number of years. It was quite limiting,” Rozario explains. He now wants to explore larger spaces and reach wider audiences. In addition, Rozario is delving into commercial work especially in fashion. “If you buy a piece of “Pearlappetite”, it could be sitting in a room or in your office, limited to very few people. But if I do your corridor, 100 or 1000 people are going to see it every day. That’s the platform I need to jump to,” he adds. Rozario worked and experimented with plastic, acrylic, plywood and more, until he found ACP. “They're good because 50% of the work is done … It is lightweight; you can cut it any size or shape you want. It doesn’t get destroyed. It’s so sturdy and versatile medium for me. I can thicken, cut and make a sculpture; so many things,” he explains. Rozario’s exclusive production process includes hand painting on metal composite panels or solid metal, which are then embedded with natural pearls, Swarovski crystals, precious gems, semi-precious stones and crystals. These are then time-dried and finally hand coated with a special water resistant epoxy resin


(which has no odor and no Volatile Organic Compounds), bringing to life an elegant and unique form of art. Rozario produces one meter by one meter pieces, as well as custom-size pieces that could cost more than QR20,000. “The signature piece takes roughly about a month. I have three workers helping me out. There’s a lot of work to be done, preparing and cleaning the panels,” he says. Rozario is exploring ways to incorporate his large ACP creations into elevators. He is already in talks with Al Futtaim’s Toshiba to introduce luxury elevator interiors to the Middle East. “Your elevator is going to be an interesting place, a selfie place. People are going to talk about it, ‘Come inside, did you see his bejeweled surface?’ People are going to touch and say, ‘Wow!’ It’s going to be different,” says Rozario. He is currently working with Doha Design Center to incorporate his canvases in their projects. “He is a gem artist,” says Roshan Cherri, CEO of Doha Design Center. “His art is something special. I haven't seen art like this with the pearls, crystals and other gems. It's like jewelry. It's a jewel for buildings.” Similar to his large ACP creations, Rozario is venturing into making limited edition timepieces with LED lights on acrylic Plexiglas incorporating gems, pearls and Swarvoski crystals. He plans to launch the timepieces in 2018. In addition to the timepieces, Rozario is working on his first prototype of ladies bangles. “One of the series under the bangles would be textiles. I’m going to work with the sedu cloth: the Arab tent material cushions [are made of] inside the majlis. It has those geometrical lines in red and white. It’s got history behind it, so I’m going to have that embedded inside. I’m going to have a series on sedus and different kinds of materials


LARGER THAN LIFE Rozario’s exclusive production process includes hand painting on metal composite panels which are then embedded with natural pearls, Swarovski crystals, precious gems, semi-precious stones and crystals. These are then time-dried and finally hand coated with special water resistant epoxy resin, bringing to life an elegant and unique form of art. 


from India, Africa and more,” says Rozario, who has already created 30 pieces of the textile-themed bangles, which will retail from QR120 to QR200 per piece, and are set for a January 2018 launch. The year held both highs and lows for Rozario. He kicked off the year with two major art exhibitions — the first at City Centre Rotana from January to February 2017 and the second at Katara Cultural Village in April 2017. “The business was not good this year because I was concentrating on the two exhibitions I had … The preparations for these started last year in October. Maybe for the next year, I won’t have any exhibitions as I need to concentrate on business,” he explains. Improving his business and network, Rozario recently became the vice president of the Business Network International (BNI) Pioneers in Qatar. “BNI is one of the best things that has happened to me,” he explains. “Sixty percent of my customers and contacts are through BNI. Pretty soon, 100% of my work will come through BNI." That's where Prem Kumar Dusiga of ElectroFos Contracting met Rozario and purchased one of his canvases for the company office for QR22,000. “I liked his work. I bought one of his “Bouqet” paintings with all its beads, gems and crysrals. Great work,” he says. Rozario’s term at BNI Pioneers will continue for six months. As Qatar closes in on marking six months of the Qatar blockade by its neighbors, Rozario has experienced the advantages and disadvantages of it. Rozario was meant to travel from Doha to the UAE days after the Qatar blockade to present one of his art pieces to Indian royalty in Dubai. “I did [a piece] called “A Coronation Sword”, a ceremonial sword laid in with heavy gems, pearls and crystals. You look at it, it’s rich, so I finished the piece and packed it. I was supposed to fly on Thursday, and Monday the siege happened. That would have turned my career to a different level all together, if I met him,” he explains. Due to the travel ban, he could not travel nor ship his painting. “The only thing I can do is go to Dubai, stay there and produce there. Shipping is out of the question."

Rozario recreated the notable unity icon, ‘Tamim Al Majd’ or ‘Tamim The Glorious’, by Qatari artist Ahmed Al Maadheed. His bejeweled ‘Tamim Al Majd’ mural has been on display at several locations from October to December 2017 including Radisson Blu Hotel Doha, The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa, Premier Inn Doha, Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel and Doha Marriott Hotel. Rozario recently signed a royalty agreement with Al Maadheed to create a Luxury Limited Edition Bejeweled Art of his Tamim Al Majd paintings, totaling 50 framed pieces in 100X100 centimeter on ACP, hand-painted and studded with gems, natural pearls and Swarovski crystals — approximately 2,000 in each piece. The gems comprise of Black Agate, Blue Goldstone, Red Garnet and American Diamond. (Cubic Zirconium). Rozario has been receiving orders since December 2017. Each piece takes about 30 days to complete.

November - December 2017


Quality Qatar

The Thing Boxes reflect change, a new beginning, a new adventure, triggering memories and stories, smiles and tears. They are functional and they house cherished moments, but with time their contents can easily be forgotten. “Out Of The Box” by Lebanese designer Samer Alameen goes beyond the mere practicalities of the container, presenting it as the gateway to an enriched and luxurious life through past and as a window to the past, present and future. The piece takes inspiration from the humble cardboard box, now upgraded and presented as a transparent cube and a symbol of modern luxury; a safe keeper of one's history and emotions. Contents can now be on display in an accessible and aesthetically pleasing contemporary context — a box, side table and storage remedy.




T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine


Another Thing In an age of recessive, even polite, design, Anna Karlin’s Lava Light lamp unapologetically commands both your attention and a vast swath of a room’s real estate. Mysterious and even a little forbidding, it stands erect, like a chunk of fuselage that’s broken off from an interstellar vessel and lodged itself in a volcanic boulder on the moon. That is not, in fact, far from the truth: The Britishborn, New York-based Karlin handpicks each lava rock from a quarry near Los Angeles and, using 3D imaging, cuts a precise slot for the towering 6½-foot curved brass structure, which in turn flashes a slash of LED light. The back is a dramatic matte black — perhaps it was charred in the wreck. Price on request, — NANCY HASS PHOTOGRAPH BY MARI MAEDA AND YUJI OBOSHI

November - December 2017



At Home

Shape Shifting

In ever-changing Brussels, a 19th-century mansion turned law office gets a third life as a family home. BY ALICE RAWSTHORN PHOTOGRAPHS BY TOBIAS HARVEY

IN EARLY 2016, the Belgian architect

David Van Severen and his wife, the Swedish photographer Martina Bjorn, were looking for a larger apartment for themselves and their two young children, when Bjorn came across a curious property. ‘‘It was listed as having zero bedrooms,’’ she recalled recently. This was, it turned out, because the place was not technically an apartment; it had been, most recently, the offices of a law firm. But it was not technically office space, either — it was the bottom three floors of one of the opulent Beaux-Arts style mansions built by wealthy Bruxellois during the late 1800s, in the quiet, forested area south of the city center. Belgium’s architectural conservation laws had been notoriously lax, and so over the decades many of those buildings were demolished or carved up into offices or apartments. But the interiors of this one had somehow survived mostly intact, with ornate stucco moldings, marble fireplaces, wooden paneling, wrought-iron stair rails and parquet floors made in the traditional way, without a single nail. Huge windows on the grand top floor looked out across Avenue Winston Churchill on one side and into a densely wooded garden on the other. There were drawbacks, not least of which was that one room was only accessible from the building’s main entrance. But Van Severen, 39, is co-founder of one of Belgium’s most dynamic architectural


T Qatar: The New York Times Style Magazine

From top left: the architect David Van Severen in the apartment he shares with his wife, Martina Bjorn, in a Beaux-Arts style mansion in Brussels; in the living room, a 1968 sculpture by Wybrand Ganzevoort sits beneath a ’50s Mathieu Matégot table, and a Chesterfield faces a low leather chair by Maarten Van Severen, David’s father.


practices, Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen, and Bjorn, 36, studied architecture before she became a photographer — and they were confident they could make it work. And so they bought the property: By Christmas, they had moved in and soon transformed the space into an elegant, comfortable family home that honors the mansion’s architectural history but is also filled with references to Bjorn’s Swedish childhood and with furniture made by Van Severen’s late father, Maarten — an influential designer and collaborator of the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas — and by his brother Hannes and sister-in-law Fien Muller, who are also furniture designers and artists. Light now sweeps through the open-plan top floor, where the footprint of the old offices forms loosely defined areas for relaxing, reading, cooking and dining. The walls are painted white, the better to emphasize some lightly restored features, including an oval wall painting of a romantic forest scene, now accompanied by a tubular plaster sculpture made by Hannes as well as by one of Maarten’s earliest works: a low-slung leather chair he used himself. An aluminum table that the 15-year-old Van Severen helped his father weld stands in the kitchen. Hannes and Muller designed a heavily veined marble bench to complement the marble tiles in the ground-floor foyer, which is flanked by the children’s playroom on one side and the main staircase on the other. In the English basement are bathrooms, storage and the couple’s own bedroom, which has a door into a garden that gives way to a forest beyond, heavy with beech, oak, maple and wild cherry trees. ‘‘Having

Clockwise from right: the couple effortlessly combines periods in the kitchen, where aluminum-clad cabinets flank the original sandstone fireplace; also in the kitchen, a perforated metal spiral staircase contrasts with 19th-century molding detail; in the dining room, a vase by Carina Seth Andersson for Svenskt Tenn and chairs by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen and Muller Van Severen, the design duo of David’s brother Hannes Van Severen and his wife, Fien Muller.

November - December 2017



At Home

grown up in Sweden with the forests and wilderness, those trees are so important to me,’’ Bjorn says. ‘‘And the kids can go crazy out there.’’ VAN SEVEREN and Bjorn’s new-but-old home is the culmination of the decade they’ve lived together in Brussels, during which they’ve witnessed the city’s evolution into one of Europe’s liveliest cultural centers. A key factor in the city’s resurgence is one that had hampered it historically: its eclecticism. For centuries, Brussels belonged to what was known as the Low Countries, which included present-day Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and parts of France and Germany, and was, at various times, under the rule of France, Spain and Austria. After declaring

independence in 1830, Belgium was divided into the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders, the French-speaking Wallonia and some German-speaking areas. As the geographic heart of the nation — ‘‘the eye of the storm,’’ as Van Severen puts it — bilingual Brussels has long been divided by its French and Flemish communities, its lack of unity further emphasized by a constantly changing expatriate population linked to NATO, the European Commission and other international institutions headquartered there. As such, the city has been too fractured to have a coherent aesthetic identity, and trapped, architecturally, in a relentless cycle of demolition and reconstruction. Whenever Belgium has prospered, the Bruxellois have built. The early-20th-century Beaux-Arts boom was funded by the spoils of industrialization and colonialism, as was also the case with buildings designed by Art Nouveau architects such as Victor Horta and Henry van de Velde. Brussels’s postwar role as a hub to international governance organizations spurred another wave of construction, during which new structures were often constructed at the expense of historic ones, which were torn down or abandoned. What survived is as idiosyncratic as the city’s population. ‘‘Even in an area like ours, where the mansions were built right next to each other, they were commissioned from different architects, who designed them in their own styles,’’ Van Severen explains. ‘‘There’s a saying that ‘every Belgian is born with a brick in the stomach,’ meaning that we all want to build our own homes.’’ By the early 21st century, Brussels was left with a surfeit of empty or neglected structures, attracting young creatives priced out of artistic centers like Berlin, London and Paris. Their presence and the opening of new institutions, such as Wiels, now one of Europe’s most influential art establishments, plus outposts of international galleries — the New York power-dealer Barbara Gladstone has a space there, as does the Parisian gallerist Almine Rech — have in recent years made the city an essential stop on the contemporary art circuit. Brussels, it seems, finally has the critical mass to be a sustainable cultural capital on its own merit, rather than a place whose main attraction is

Against the backdrop of the original parquet floor and a marble fireplace in the dining area, a collection of antique glasses, a floor lamp by Muller Van Severen and a butterfly chair found on the street.


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‘Most of the furniture is connected to us through family and friends,’ Bjorn says. ‘It fills the rooms in a very loose way.’

From left: a painting by Henk Visser, Van Severen’s grandfather, hangs over the grand staircase leading to the top floor; in the master bedroom, a stool that doubles as a lamp by the artist Richard Venlet next to a slab of Van Den Weghe marble and an 18th-century chair from Bjorn’s grandmother.

being cheaper than Berlin. (Besides, Athens and Lisbon have filled that hole.) Van Severen himself has benefited from the changes. Office, which he started in 2002 with Kersten Geers, a friend from university in his Flemish hometown of Ghent, has thrived, winning a Silver Lion at the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture; the firm is currently designing a broadcasting headquarters in Switzerland, and both men are now teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. And then there is the apartment, which the couple say was a true collaboration. ‘‘David focuses on structure, and I more on the details,’’ Bjorn notes. ‘‘And we each realize when the other has a better idea.’’ Having solved the problem of the inaccessible room by connecting it to the top floor through a spiral metal staircase (it’s now the kids’

bedroom), they furnished their new home with the same eclectic mix of modern and contemporary pieces as they had in their last one, which was also in a 19th-century mansion. ‘‘Most of the furniture is connected to us through family and friends,’’ Bjorn says. ‘‘It fills the rooms in a loose way.’’ An abstract clay sculpture made by the Belgian artist Maen Florin as a gift to celebrate their son’s birth sits on the mantle of the kitchen fireplace. Vintage architecture books are piled atop a low cabinet made from galvanized steel industrial shelving in the reading area. Standing beside the books are a 1962 Taccia lamp by the Italian brothers Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and a steel-mesh Paulistano chair designed in 1957 by the Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. In the dining area, a tall tubular Muller Van Severen metal lamp looms above antique glassware once owned by Bjorn’s grandparents and a rusting butterfly chair that Van Severen found on the street. Opposite hangs a photograph taken by Bas Princen, as part of Office’s research into North African border crossings. ‘‘It might not seem as though a traditional bourgeois building like this is relevant to what we do at Office, but it is,’’ Van Severen says. ‘‘We’re not interested in constantly reinventing architecture, but in building on cultures that have existed for thousands of years. I’ve found it so interesting to study a 19th-century building, which is too excessive to serve its original purpose, but was built in a good way, to be solid and durable — and to find a new way of living in it.’’

November - December 2017


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White Wonderland Featured in the lobby of Mondrian Doha is New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery, serving up freshly baked cupcakes, cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, brownies, banana pudding and more.

In Design

The Falcon of Qatar BY OLA DIAB

ON THE SHORES OF DOHA’S WEST BAY LAGOON, approximately 18 kilometers from Qatar’s design-centric Lusail City, stands a new 24-floor falcon-shaped luxury hotel with interiors inspired by the national bird of Qatar, from paintings and portraits to falcon headpieces and ornaments. Qatar’s new hospitality destination, Mondrian Doha, is managed by sbe, a leading lifestyle hospitality company that develops, manages


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and operates award-winning hospitality venues across the globe. Mondrian Doha opened on October 2, 2017 on the very same day sbe opened its fifth property, Mondrian Park Avenue, in New York.   The hotel has been designed in collaboration with the worldrenowned Dutch interior designer, Marcel Wanders, and South West Architecture (SWA) — the architectural company of record for Mondrian Doha, which is responsible for the design of the building.


The new falcon-shaped Mondrian Doha hotel is a first for world-renowned Dutch designer Marcel Wanders in the region.


RISE AND SHINE Clockwise from top right: The lavish 270-room Mondrian Doha hotel features 211 bedrooms and 59 suites over 24 floors; Located on the 27th floor, the rooftop swimming pool and bar, Rise, incorporates black and white bricks and an abundance of natural light which shines through the stained glass dome to create rays of colored light; a relaxation room in the first ESPA in the region, featuring separate spas for men and women.

The 270-room Mondrian Doha hotel is Wanders’ first hotel in the Middle East as well as for the global lifestyle hospitality company, sbe. The hotel is a fantasy-like environment, true to the Wanders' design and sbe ethos. Wanders and Adnan Azrak, Vice President of SWA, delved into a creative process with intricate details that make up what will soon be a landmark property in Doha. “For the design of Mondrian Doha and everything we do, locale is super important. To create the hotel, we studied the city, we studied the people. We don’t create interiors, we create destinations and Mondrian Doha is a destination in itself that needs to be discovered,” says Wanders, who founded Marcel Wanders, a leading product and interior design studio based in Amsterdam, which has developed over 1,900 iconic product and interior design experiences for international private clients and premium brands. Mondrian Doha marks sbe’s first hotel in the Middle East and the introduction of the Mondrian brand to the region. “Implementing this fantastic design and bringing it to reality has been a challenge from day one. Realizing the dreams of Marcel Wanders and ensuring an exceptional level of workmanship was the result of careful planning and coordinating,” says Azrak. “We are delighted to have successfully morphed Marcel Wanders’ vision into the architecture and design of the Mondrian building.” The hotel incorporates bespoke Wanders' design features, with influences from local patterns, ornate Arabic writing and historic souks. “In other places, there are giant columns with golden eggs, falcon video art, ornate stained glass and intricate mosaic tiling that inspires guests with feelings of nostalgia,” says Wanders. The luxury hotel features custom-designed furniture and fixtures by Wanders

including bathroom fixtures, bedroom wall murals, crystal chandeliers and bathtubs. The core concept of the hotel is “One Thousand and One Nights”, a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales and stories influencing the design of the space, which is detailed and complex with a number of facets, levels and layers. “Conceptually, we have married the local culture with a modern design aesthetic, creating a contemporary classic. The interior settings feature locally-inspired fabrics and bespoke items that connect to local traditions,” says Wanders. “This is one of the most critical aspects of designing this building. Mondrian Doha is built to ensure that guests realize their space and connect with Doha and its cultures and traditions,” Azrak adds. The intricate details found in the Mondrian Doha’s exterior and

November - December 2017


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In Design

interior feature the national bird of Qatar. “We wanted the hotel to be sensitively rooted in local Arabic culture. We wanted it to be the embodiment of Arabia, as experienced through a lens that mirrors its modern reality. The result is  an incredible luxury destination for international and local travelers alike. This hotel has been created to be a fantasy-like environment that is a multi-layered sensory experience that at times feels abstract,” says Wanders. “The hotel is full of surprises around every corner. Walking through the building on a daily basis, I can still find surprises on every corner with the high level of details. Not only that, but every space is uniquely amazing while still all being connected with a common theme and story,” says Azraq. “Mondrian Doha’s distinctive interior sets a high standard for the rising architecture industry in Qatar,” says Sharice Tan, a Qatarbased content creator and film makeup artist, who recently visited the hotel. “This world-class hotel delivers a great platform for artists and design enthusiast.” Guests can choose from five distinctive room categories including a penthouse suite, studio suites, one and two bedroom suites and a range of standard guestrooms — all of which share the universal design details of Swarovski crystal chandeliers and sumptuous bespoke furniture in hues to mirror the desert. “When I work on a hotel, I allow everything in the local area to influence me — from customs to clothing styles to architecture and even language.  This  region is so rich with heritage that it brought a heightened sense of reverence and responsibility to this project,” says Wanders.


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Wanders’ iconic floating staircase and hand-painted One-Minute Delft blue vases set a striking and sophisticated atmosphere, while other locally-inspired features such as custom-designed Dean Majilis sofas and a ‘cabinet of information’ filled with objects and details allow guests to familiarize themselves with the history and culture of the region. “In the lobby, guests discover an oversized gold leaf bell with a crystal chandelier that welcomes them in and celebrates their arrival. The striking, custom-designed four-level spiral staircase acts as a focal point of the atrium and leads guests up to a viewing platform. It is a sculptural piece that gives the impression that the stairs extend to the sky,” says Wanders. Light is a prominent feature in the hotel, which, according to Wanders, is used in several different ways especially in  the lobby with the crystal chandelier. “The light here is brighter, but also warm and welcoming. We also created bespoke items, such as the — decorative glass dining table and richly — patterned, perforated wall light  that offers  authenticity and exhibits  local significance. Light also plays with color in the  multipurpose hall, where three colors adapt into intriguing atmospheres when lit,” he says. The rooftop swimming pool and its bar, Rise, feature a scheme incorporating black and white bricks that offer an abundance of natural light which shines through the stained glass dome to create rays of colored light. Modern technology has allowed the pattern of a peony Tiffany lamp to be printed on the glass, making it the largest Tiffany lamp in the world. Under the colorful sky of the glass dome is the black and white city below with the pool area, which houses luxury wooden and crystal lamps, white leather seating and wooden


SLEEL AND CONTEMPORARY Left to right: Wanders’ iconic floating four-level customdesigned spiral staircase acts as a focal point of the atrium and leads guests up to a viewing platform; Wolfgang Puck, master chef and restaurateur, bringing his sleek contemporary steak restaurant CUT by Wolfgang Puck to Qatar for the first time.


sunbeds. Setareh Raeisi, a Qatar-based business owner and health coach, visited the hotel when it first opened. “It's unusual but when you walk around, you get the concept. Guests will love to spend time looking around,” she says. “The lobby makes you feel like you're underwater.” Located on the 23rd floor of the property, the penthouse suite offers incredible attention to detail combined with panoramic 360-degree views of Doha throughout. The Penthouse Suite has a living room, master king bedroom, and two twin bedrooms, dining room, and entertainment room complete with a pool table and piano. Mondrian Doha is a culinary emporium; with eight restaurants and bars — some of which are entirely new to Qatar. “It took months of discussions and brainstorming to create this fantastic hotel, thinking about every detail, every outlet, and every corner. The hotel is built to fill a void in the food and beverage industry in Doha while creating magnificent spaces and keeping a connection and respecting the local culture and traditions,” says Azrak. Middle Eastern cuisine is at the heart of Mondrian Doha’s food and beverage offering along with its internationally-renowned chefs. This includes Wolfgang Puck, the master chef and restaurateur, who is bringing his concept CUT by Wolfgang Puck to Qatar for the first time. The sleek contemporary steak restaurant offers a sophisticated menu featuring the finest cuts of prime beef and an extensive beverage list, and raises the bar on gastronomy in Doha. Furthermore, Japanese Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who has garnered critical and popular acclaim for his seamless integration of Western and Japanese ingredients, introduces Morimoto Doha — the first eponymous Morimoto outpost to open in the Middle East. The hotel features one of the largest ballrooms in the region, Moonstone Ballroom of 2,000 square meters, with an entrance incorporating a private 24 karat gold sculpted caged elevator, which links to the bridal VIP Opal Suite. “Our purpose for a bride-to-be is to offer the most luxurious pampered experience. We began by designing the entranceway with crystallized mirrors and crystal

chandeliers,” says Wanders. The Opal Suite features a master bedroom, a formal dressing room and makeup room, a bridesmaid’s bedroom, a hot sauna, a soaking tub and spacious living room. “The 24k gold Swarovski-encrusted private  lift  transports the bride directly into the spectacular Moonstone Ballroom, providing the ultimate grand entrance. Ensuring that the bride’s dreams for her big day transcend imagination, the hotel offers the finest food and drinks menus designed by international chefs, along with its own florist, chocolatier, and hair and beauty salon,” says Wanders. A further 500 square meters of flexible function and conference space is capable of accomdating events for 100 to 300 guests. Facilities include a boardroom, full service business centre, as well as production, wardrobe, make-up and casting rooms. Additional hotel facilities include an entertainment floor complete with a club, rooftop pool and Skybar. The Mondrian Doha is also home to the first ESPA Spa in the region. “For the spa, we wanted to continue the concept of finding your own story. While all guests enter the spa through a pure white reception area, representing a freeing of the mind and encouraging a sense of relaxation, the male and female guests soon enter genderspecific areas to embark on their own personal journey,” says Wanders. The 2,000 square meter spa combines striking design elements, 11 treatment rooms, a heat experience garden and a traditional Turkish hammam. “The female spa exudes femininity and has been  designed  with soft, warm tones and curved lines, along with golden and sparkling accents, to create a space that is luxurious and peaceful. The male side has been inspired by the strong and vibrant urban souks of the region. The space is dominated by deep, monochrome tones and muted lighting with bold, geometric patterns and golden accents throughout,” says Wanders.

ON THE WALL Top right: Shimmering mosaic walls are a recurrent feature throughout the hotel, true to the Marcel Wanders' design and sbe ethos.


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An Island of Locals Its air of shabby chic nonchalance keeps the madding crowd away, while those in the know just cannot stay away. TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRINA ALIYAH


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BY THE SEA Previous page: Hotel Chiaia di Luna is a spacious property with plenty of nooks and corners where one can soak up the sun. Clockwise from top left: The marvels of Ponza are in its isolated beaches, water caves and rocky cliffs. The Chiaia di Luna cliff is a natural whitewashed marble formation.

ARRIVING ON PONZA ISLAND through one of the few ferry services that push onto from either Anzio or Naples, the first thing that strikes you is the absence of foreigners, except maybe for yourself. The jam-packed ferry port is a cackling of fast-paced Italian conversations as the new arrivals decide on what to eat or which boat to hop onto for the day’s adventure. A smattering of others will be wheeling their luggage to the local police station — the designated pickup outpost for almost all the hotels on the island. An hour away from mainland Italy by boat, Ponza is notoriously local as a summer holiday destination. While Capri, Almafi and Sardinia capture the attention of romantic-getaway hopefuls from around the world, Ponza and its shabby chic nonchalance are almost never heard of outside of Italy. On the few occasions where they do get a mention, it is mainly because some celebrity had anchored their boat in one of the bays for a couple of hours, while on his way to the glitzier islands. Though it is easy to see why Ponza is often overlooked — there are no big hotel chains offering the standard tune of luxury resort life, or starred gastronomy experiences, or streets of designer stores with valet parking. In its place instead are charming independent hotels whose owners will tan with you, tiny restaurants with daily fresh-off-the-boat seafood and an unending coastline of secret bays and cliffs that are begging to be explored. These are all the things

that define an Italian summer packed into one island, which is why it appeals to the Italians who disappear from the big cities for all of August. Here, the concept of "dolce far niente" (the joy of doing nothing) reaches its glorious height, with days of only eating and soaking in the natural marvels of the island. STAY Hotel Chiaia di Luna Overlooking the Chiaia di Luna white-washed cliff is a

marshmallow-colored property sprawling down the main street that loops around the island. Ilia and son Giuseppe Stile are the friendly hosts who will more than likely chat and share island gossip with you over a coffee. Rooms are small and basic but on this island, it’s not about the rooms but about the space and facilities ­­­­— there’s plenty of room here to find your own private corner to soak in the sun. Grand Hotel Santa Domitilla Mere steps away from the island’s main center, this

hotel boasts its own heated jet-pool and hammam facilities as well as a fancy restaurant, Il Melograno. Service is tip-top and they can arrange just about anything — from boat excursions to spa therapy and treatments. Villa Laetitia A gorgeously appointed bed and breakfast styled property that is


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SIT BACK AND RELAX Clockwise from top left: Spend the afternoon indulging in the joy of doing nothing under a cabana in Grand Hotel Santa Domitilla; The nonchalant vibe of the island gives it a sense of authenticity; and the arrival port of Ponza is the bustling center of the island.

ever came off the fishing boat for the day. When picking the seafood, the kitchen will whip up the dishes to your preference. The owners are very friendly and will take their time to get to know you, so get ready for a long social meal. But then again, on Ponza, there is no rush to get anywhere. Mamafé Located to the north of the island, this is an excellent spot to catch the

sunset. Throw on a nice dress or shirt to blend in with the crowd, as this is one of the few places where the night continues with low-key house music and party vibes. EXPLORE Get On a Boat The big charms of Ponza are its gorgeous natural cliffs, beaches

situated among the homes of the locals. It is a choice jewel for many of the more design-inclined guests because of its owners — the Fendi family. EAT Ristorante L'Aragosta At this local favorite, be sure to ask for the Italian menu

and take your time — with some help from the internet. The English menu is an abbreviated version, with many of the specials missing, leaving you with just some basic choices of pasta and pizza. Order the fish of the day cooked "aqua pazza" style — a simple poaching technique that retains all the fresh flavors. Trattoria Un mare di sapori A family-run joint where the menu is literally what-


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and bays, and the best way to see all of this is to be on a boat. If you are already arriving to Ponza on your own charter, then you can plan your own itinerary to cover the different spots, but there are plenty of day-trip hires on the island that will take you out for a full-day adventure. Hop onto the boat with a group of Italians and get ready to make some friends as you dive into crystal clear waters and share a pasta at lunch. Rent an Electric Bicycle There is one main street that loops around the island and

because of the winding terrain, an electric bicycle is the best bet — unless you are up for a fitness challenge on a traditional bike. For about QR100 a day, you can take an electric bike out and ride from one end of the island to the other, with plenty of time in between to explore the area's parks and archaeological sites.

On Heritage

A Village of Truffles and Hazelnuts A gastronomical epicenter that is small but packs a punch. TEXT AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEBRINA ALIYAH

IT IS ACTUALLY A TOWN — a recently minted UNESCO Creative City, in fact. But it is with much affection and reminiscence that that the locals refer to Alba as a village because in a space where you can walk leisurely from end to end in about 20 minutes, it has all the cultural and neighborly charm that draws you in — just like home. For a place this small, it sure is prolific. Home to Piazza Duomo — the three-star Michelin restaurant where it takes months to land a reservation and is a year-round main draw for visitors, but Alba is one of the big pillars that makes up the Italian food export industry. Well-known around the world for its glorious white truffles and hazelnuts, it is the epicenter of Ferrero Rocher (producers of the Forrero Rocher chocolates) and an annual Truffle Cup championship that runs concurrently with the International Alba White Truffle Fair in November. An annual pilgrimage destination of sorts for truffle lovers, the market offers quite an experiential journey even for non-truffle fans, especially those who take an interest in small agricultural development and social tourism. A big part of the market is dedicated to stands by

individual truffle hunters who have come to peddle off their precious finds for the season. Truffle hunting is regulated in Italy and only these licensed truffle hunters are allowed to set about on their adventures into the forest twith dogs rather than the usual pig hunting companions to seek out the culinary treasures. Pigs tend to cause a lot of damage to the terrain and have been outlawed in Italy as truffle hunting companions, so the true stars of the region are the more gentle dogs with laser-sharp sniffing capabilities. Witnessing the dogs in action is a pleasant and exciting experience and many of the truffle hunters now are open to taking visitors along on their hunts. Wandering into the woods together, visitors are immersed into the hunt — which is a combination of the dog’s sense of smell and the hunter’s experienced sense of intuition in finding the precious truffle. The average price range for the coveted white truffles is somewhere between QR2,400 to QR5,000 a kilogram, while the summer black truffles start about QR240 a kilogram, depending on the size and type. These numbers though, are merely a rough guide, as the ultimate price is set

IN VARIETY Clockwise from top left: A truffle hunter going into details of his find for the week; Truffles last up to seven days after being unearthed and are best kept covered.


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through lively and sometimes heated conversations between the truffle hunters and buyers, based on subjective considerations regarding the shape and smell of these rare fungi. “It’s a song and dance. The truffles have to be in the kitchen as soon as it has been found. The brief bargaining process is more of a timerespected ritual rather than a business affair,” he adds. The non-profit Ente Fiera Nazionale del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba was established some fifteen years ago to bring the fair and the city together in a move to tie the produce to the land. The move has also brought on many initiatives aimed at highlighting Italian excellence — a concept that the creative field is very proud of. Apart from the main fair set in the Museum of Alba, the local farmers and businesses have turned the whole town into one big festival space with produce and goodies from the Langhe region (in which Alba is situated). It is quite a tasty affair for visitors, with its never-ending samples of chocolates, sauces and fruits. And then there are, of course, the hazelnuts. Ferrero’s fame is closely linked to its wildly popular range of chocolate products that feature hazelnuts as its main ingredients. If they aren’t already in the truffle business, the residents of Alba are likely to be employees of Ferrero. On every corner of the city, most sweet artisanal produce feature the nut is some form or other. “It is a way of life here. There is an inside joke among us chefs on who can actually make a dessert without using any hazelnuts,” jests Gigrosi. Finally, ome must not forget the grapes that seal Alba as one of the dominating red wine regions. Home to some of the most prolific reds, including the Dolcetto, Barolo and Nebbiolo, there’s something for everyone as boutique wineries put their own twist onto the classics. The Arneis is the main star for white wines, while bubbly drinkers will be pleasantly surprised with the Contratto — a very old “metodo classico” producer that is hard to find outside of this region. So it is with no surprise that this year’s fair ended on a highnote, with the city being awarded the title of Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO — one of only 19 in the world, in a campaign led by Piazza Duomo’s starred-chef, Enrico Crippa. “It is so much more than CITY OF TRUFFLES just the glamorous setting, but we want to improve Clockwise from top left: At the outdoor market, produce from initiatives with other territories with similar cultural local farmers take centerstage; identities, and of course, we are very satisfied to be For aficionados, the quality of the wooden board for shaving recognized in world gastronomy,” says Alba’s Mayor truffles is the equally Maurizio Marello. The fair runs annually until the important matter; and the city is home to highly-rated end of November with the magnus white truffle as restaurants that specialize in the season's star, but Alba is a good drop-in all year truffles and hazelnuts. long for different types of truffles and its many highly rated restaurants and wine bars.


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November-December 2017


Point Taken

Back to the Future in Milan 48 Living With High-Maintenance Art 58

November - December 2017


In the architect Vincenzo De Cotiis’s Milanese apartment, futuristic furniture mingles with 18th-century finishes to create a home that’s entirely of the moment. BY NANCY HASS PHOTOGRAPHS BY SIMON WATSON PRODUCED BY TOM DELAVAN


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De Cotiis’s DC1604 daybed — covered in a mohair velvet that he hand-dyed to complement the soft pink of the frescoed walls — rests atop a resin platform. The wall-hung cabinet was also designed by De Cotiis. Opposite: the late Baroque-era landing outside the apartment shared by the architect and his wife, Claudia Rose.

November - December 2017



parody: the film director demanding the 40th take; the novelist toiling over a masterpiece for a decade in a darkened room; the artist slashing the canvas in despair over an errant brush stroke. But every so often a lucky few manage to escape caricature and that particular brand of madness in their pursuit of genius. Without drama or self-pity, they harness those meticulous impulses to shape a bold and


shining thing. And when they look at what they have achieved, they do what the Milan-based interior architect and furniture maker Vincenzo De Cotiis might do: smile slightly, shrug and break out a very good Barolo. Or they should, at least. ‘‘I get pleasure from simple things,’’ De Cotiis says. He runs a hand along the precisely joined edge of a massive table he has crafted from a patchwork of recycled fiberglass with silver-plated brass in the dining room of

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the 3,300-square-foot apartment in the city’s elegant Corso Magenta district that he shares with his wife, Claudia Rose. ‘‘I know how to be happy and move on. When I see something has worked perfectly, that is how I imagined it in my mind, I feel peace.’’ De Cotiis, who is on the cusp of his 60s, with a sprinkling of tattoos, Gucci loafers and a head of graying hair, has in recent years become known for his ability to turn raw industrial spaces into stylish hotels and retail palaces, often relying on found materials to complement the rough integrity of the structures. His work embodies Italy’s fluency with the lexicons of both decay and high Modernism, a complicated language that in the developed world might be shared only by the Japanese. In its embrace of the ruined and the incomplete as well as its celebration of the porous borders between eras, contemporary Italian design expresses an exquisite melancholy, unburdened as it is by a compulsion to tidy up, to constantly perfect, to refine and polish. Perhaps because he grew up in a country that offhandedly integrates its ruins and monuments into daily life, neither fetishizing them nor letting them be bulldozed for high rises, De Cotiis feels free, even compelled, to explore the ambient tension between crumbling antiquity and futuristic minimalism. He has collaborated with the architect Jean Nouvel on the seven-floor Excelsior galleria refashioned from an old movie palace in the Galleria del Corso, and created the shoemaker Premiata’s interplanetary-like flagship on Via Sant’Andrea. His aesthetic is simultaneously clinical and tumble-down: archaeological-dig-meets-madscientist-laboratorio. In his work, time periods casually collide and elide.

A wall-mounted work by Florian Baudrexel and a low table from De Cotiis’s Progetto Domestico collection hold their own against the dramatic period architecture. A thick silvered brass baseboard conceals outlets. Opposite, from left: De Cotiis’s cast brass DC1624 light hangs over a massive polygonal block of Brazilian marble which serves as a kitchen island; De Cotiis in his dressing room.

November - December 2017


‘It is very slow,’ he says of bringing such a space to just the right moment, one both timeless and out of time, ‘and there is no way to speed it up. Imperfection takes longer than perfection.’


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The dining room is dominated by De Cotiis’s sculptural works: a hanging light, an 11-foot-long dining table and low stools, made of seamlessly fused recycled fiberglass and silver-plated brass. Hanging on the wall is a set of theater props from the ’80s.

LIKE THE CLASSICAL sculptors whose work he grew up sketching incessantly as the artistic son of an army officer, De Cotiis believes that new, minimal objects must rise from the dust of antiquity. Progetto Domestico, the furnituremaking operation that he devotes much of his time to, has more in common with an artist’s studio than a manufacturing business. In an atelier several hours away in the Marche region, he produces — often alone, blowtorch or chisel in hand — one-of-a-kind or highly limited objects. Displayed in his gallery in the Porta Nuova neighborhood (the staff of his design practice occupy a back room) are massive wall cabinets with silvered planes of brass like the shell of a giant tortoise and undulating room dividers made of his favorite material: fiberglass scavenged from old boats, which he joins with richly veined marble from obscure quarries and waves of mirror-polished metal. He takes inspiration from his legendary countrymen Gio Ponti and Carlo Scarpa, both of whom exuberantly mixed high and low materials at a time when such combinations seemed daft. Those juxtapositions aside, what might distinguish De Cotiis’s work most is that every surface, no matter how humble — from the floor-scraping bottom of a metal table leg to the inside of a hollow fiberglass stool that nothing larger than a small mammal could squeeze in to inspect — is finished with a perfectly flush setting, the seams so invisible that it can appear as if one element has morphed into another. ‘‘True beauty is found in the parts you cannot see,’’ he says. The technique, which is a proprietary secret, makes the pieces feel both enduringly ancient and sleekly futuristic, as though De Cotiis can bend the time-space continuum as easily as he does heated glass and molten metal. That same time-warping aesthetic now informs his and his wife’s apartment. Until they moved, De Cotiis and Claudia Rose, a sultry extrovert who acts as her husband’s muse and business partner, had lived for more than a decade in an ’80s-era luxury building in Brera, a social and fashion center of town. But a couple of years ago, it became clear to both of them that De Cotiis yearned to create a home. ‘‘He needed a real canvas,’’ Claudia Rose says, ‘‘one that had the history to play with.’’ But it was difficult to find a place with the original details De Cotiis craved. Much of the city had been destroyed during the bombings in World War II and replaced by what she calls ‘‘houses of somewhat sad quality.’’ So they knew they had found what they were seeking the moment they stepped into the courtyard of the 18th-century structure, its exterior painted a buttery mimosa hue, and a row of nine quaintly shuttered windows looking

November - December 2017


onto the street from the second floor. The entrance to the apartment is at the top of a curved mahogany stairway that opens onto a well-preserved late-Baroque landing with travertine floors and hand-stenciled walls that resemble flocked wallpaper. Such period signifiers bend, bleed, even explode as you step over the threshold into the apartment itself, where one feels immediately transported — perhaps to an alien planet with a distant parallel past, perhaps to an alternative present. A previous tenant had dropped the ceilings and covered the walls and the 200-year-old parquet floors, but De Cotiis stripped the original surfaces back once more, revealing generations of peach or light gray plaster, uneven and ghostly, rich with centuries of history. The faded frescoes on the vaulted ceilings, bordered with delicate moldings, hint


of original shades of umber and steel blue. As delicate as such operations are, though, the most difficult thing might be knowing when to stop: How far to go back? How much to let show through? A hint of the Napoleonic era, a sliver of Art Nouveau? It’s an instinctual process for De Cotiis, who uses his graceful hands like divining rods, touching the surface, feeling its age, its stories. The walls, left untreated, leave a fine sift of plaster dust if you brush against them; to inhabit the space means becoming part of its very life, to be written into its history. ‘‘It is very slow,’’ he says of bringing such a space to just the right moment, one both timeless and out of time, ‘‘and there is no way to speed it up. Imperfection takes longer than perfection.’’ De Cotiis also restored the apartment’s ornately curved archways that had been

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adorned during the 18th century with then-fashionable faux marble effects and later painted over by a previous owner; he painstakingly chipped at the layers, revealing as much as possible of the elegantly faded pattern without destroying it. THE SENSE OF nuanced antiquity he has

cultivated exists in radical counterpoint to the apartment’s spareness. ‘‘We might be the most minimal people on earth,’’ says Claudia Rose, who frowns slightly when describing the haute bourgeois home she grew up in in nearby Pavia, with ‘‘a lot of heavy curtains,’’ fine paintings and gilding. ‘‘We love empty space,’’ she says. There is plenty of it here, beneath the twisted brass light fixtures by De Cotiis that hang like polished Tinkertoy clouds. The few pieces of

In the master bathroom, a 19thcentury bronze figure of Apollo sits atop a customdesigned sink sheathed in slabs of Brazilian marble. Opposite: a generous dressing room with a handdyed velvet daybed.

November - December 2017


Period signifiers bend, bleed, even explode as you step over the threshold into the apartment itself, where one feels immediately transported — perhaps to an alien planet with a distant parallel past, perhaps to an alternative present. furniture, including long, low, pale peach velvet sofas and coffee tables inlaid with glasssmooth discs of rich veined stone, are switched out often. Neither he nor his wife believe in growing overly attached to objects; the horizontal surfaces are kept as clear as a cutting board, and Claudia Rose sometimes comes home to an entirely different apartment, its interiors transformed by her husband’s endless redrafting. Resin platforms, cast off-site in large rectangular sections and then joined so they appear as a single sheet, cover the floor in place of carpets. The whitish one in the dining area, beneath the monumental table with its angled underside of silver-plated brass, is inlaid flush with the floor; others, like the ones in the library and bedroom, where the couple spend their meager downtime under rumpled slate-colored linen sheets drinking Champagne and streaming ‘‘Breaking Bad’’ and ‘‘Downton Abbey,’’ are raised to define the space more clearly. Paradoxically, the master bath is the most sensually dense space: The walls, counter and sink are made from the same rare dark green and pink marble from Brazil favored by the severe Viennese architect Adolf Loos, whose 1908 manifesto was called ‘‘Ornament and Crime.’’ It is as moody and mysterious as the pre-monsoon sky over Goa. ‘‘You have to know when to be strong instead of subtle,’’ De Cotiis says. De Cotiis eschews subtlety on another subject as well: He seems severely resistant to the commercial path of creating fabric lines or mass-produced furniture. So uneasy is he with self-promotion and image-burnishing that he rarely photographed the pieces he made for Progetto Domestico until a year or two ago, and never kept much of an archive — he just let them go out the door. ‘‘They are still within me, so I never really worried about having the evidence,’’ he says. Few photos exist of either the cult clothing line, Haute, which he produced in the mid-aughts, or De Cotiis, his sheepskin-, chain-mail- and ripped-cashmereheavy follow-up. ‘‘I did it because I wanted to experiment with the process, to feel it, to do it with my hands,’’ he says. ‘‘I didn’t really think about the future or holding on to what came out of it.’’ Lately, Claudia Rose has tried to rally him to build a modern, multiplatform business, but really, she doesn’t want to push very hard. ‘‘You cannot change the heart of an artist,’’ she says, laying a hand on his bare forearm. ‘‘And why would you want to ruin that kind of joy? People are always asking him to do a carpet, some bed linens. But he just looks at me with that face. That face! How could you let unhappiness into his life?’’


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The original shutters allow light to filter into the sparsely furnished bedroom, featuring a low platform bed and a leather chair designed by De Cotiis.

November - December 2017


PAUL LEONG, A YOUNG banker who lives in downtown


Manhattan, spends an unusual amount of time thinking about square watermelons. He wonders where to get them, how long they’ll last, when they’ll next be in season. This is because two years ago, Leong bought a work by the Los Angeles-based artist Max Hooper Schneider called ‘‘Genus Watermeloncholia’’: a bioengineered square watermelon in a glass case filled with water. The watermelon is connected to an LED sign that is positioned so that it appears to be transmitting the watermelon’s depressive thoughts: ‘‘This is all a mistake,’’ for instance. Leong doesn’t quite know why he bought it, only that he was curious how the work might look in his apartment, with its sculpture of a miniature tank by Lutz Bacher mounted to seem as if it’s driving up the wall over the entrance to his bedroom, or Stefan Tcherepnin’s life-size Cookie Monster statue, which dominates the guest room. Since buying the work, however, Leong has lived with the watermelon in his apartment for a total of only six weeks. The original melon degraded quickly, and another replacement, ordered from Pennsylvania, was damaged during shipping. It turns out square watermelons aren’t easy to track down. He’s looked into having one shipped from Japan, where they are cultivated as a kind of curiosity. The artist and his gallery have also talked to growers in California and Australia, among other places. Recently, Leong showed me where the work used to be installed, inspecting the spot forlornly, as if something essential had gone missing. At that point, he’d been waiting eight months for a new watermelon. Not long after my visit, I got an excited email: The artist’s gallery had confirmed that an Amish farmer named Ernest in Lancaster County, Pa., had some square watermelons on the vine. They’d be ripe in a couple of weeks. Leong planned to buy a few backups, hoping they might get him through next spring. He admitted to me that it’s ‘‘comical’’ to be spending so much time thinking about a watermelon — but that was also why he was attracted to Schneider’s work in the first place: ‘‘I was drawn to the humor of it,’’ he says. CONTEMPORARY ART has long been a status symbol,

and collecting it has always been elitist by its very nature.

But the idea of art as pure financial currency is a relatively new concept, one introduced by the vast, speculative, cash-infused network that the art world has become in the last few years. What we know and understand as the art world feels increasingly like a wasteland, one of shell corporations and free ports, in which collections are housed in tax shelters masquerading as private museums, expensive paintings are invested in and resold for fast profit and monetary worth is always threatening to overshadow philosophical value. Some collectors, however, have responded to the resulting existential malaise by deliberately collecting art that is difficult to live with, refusing the notion of art-asinvestment and embracing work that is not easy on any level, art that until recently would only have found a home in a well-financed institution that had the resources to maintain it. These are works that are difficult not merely in a conceptual sense but in reality as well, works that require as much time and energy as they do money, works that are ephemeral and unwieldy and often extremely messy. This is the sort of art that can die, rot, dry up or just disappear. For these collectors, the effort that such works demand is a matter of pride, and living with them an act of resistance — even though many of them don’t fully understand what they’ve gotten themselves into until they begin the complicated process of trying to share space with their new acquisition. If collecting art has come to be seen as the ultimate projection of status and convenience, difficult art inverts the relationship between owner and owned — living with challenging work is a daily exercise in humility, a willing rejection of time, money and the practical comforts of the domestic setting. The director John Waters says, ‘‘Contemporary art’s job is to wreck, to ruin what came before,’’ and this is art that is capable, quite literally, of destroying one’s life. Waters, who has made dark comedy out of cannibalism, coprophagia and castration and has been collecting since the 1960s, is drawn to art that would ‘‘hate me if I let it.’’ For nearly 20 years, he has devoted a portion of his Baltimore home to a room-size installation by Gregory Green. Known for his ‘‘Bomb Rooms’’ — intricate, hyper-detailed constructions that resemble a terrorist’s hideout abandoned in

In an age of art-as-trophy, a few collectors seek out — and live with — the most difficult art they can: works that rot, disintegrate, challenge and even fail to exist in physical form. What it’s like to share your home with art that doesn’t love you back.



M. H.







a hurry — Green was a cult figure in the ’90s, but after 9/11 his career stalled. The work Waters owns, which occupies a small, windowless chamber that he calls his ‘‘John Wayne Gacy Attic,’’ is titled ‘‘Work Table # 7, Baltimore’’ (1998). It seems to include everything required to make gunpowder — mostly materials that can be purchased at a hardware store. (The key ingredients have been replaced with yellow cake mix and salt.) Waters drove Green around Baltimore to purchase supplies (bundles of wire, a kitchen timer, a metal can of denatured solvent alcohol), and to the thrift shop, where Green bought a map of Baltimore’s baseball stadium, which stands in for the hypothetical target. There is also a sprinkling of pubic hair, harvested from Green’s then-wife. The room is roped off and Waters doesn’t enter it — the installation remains untouched, even by his house cleaners. But sometimes there are issues. The director hosts an

annual Christmas party, attended for years by Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore’s former mayor. Prior to the festivities, their security details do routine checks of the house, and inevitably an agent new to the task stumbles upon the room upstairs. ‘‘You should see their faces,’’ Waters says. ‘‘I always have a Gregory Green catalog right next to it, just in case: ‘Hey, this is art! This is art!’ ’’

A fish tank, or ‘‘live ecosystem,’’ by the artist Pierre Huyghe sits in the foyer of Eleanor Cayre’s Manhattan townhouse.

THE IDEA OF LIVING with art that is inconvenient arguably came to prominence with the rise of conceptualism in the 1960s and the first wave of people who attempted to buy such work, which has always posed theoretical challenges: How to install a concept? And, more importantly, what exactly are you buying? In the 1970s, the legendary collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel, civil servants who amassed and stored more than 4,000 important contemporary works in



make the work fit alongside Rose’s pump house. Eventually, a team of tile setters spent 10 days in the blazing Texas sun fitting the giant piece into the ground. ‘‘It was the darnedest thing you’d ever seen,’’ Rose says, cheerily. Why give your house over to something like this? For San ­Francisco-based Norah and Norman Stone — who own many pieces that are not, as they say, ‘‘domestic-size’’ — the work is simply more important than logistics. They’ll buy a piece they like and figure out the details later. (Their endgame, according to Norah, is to donate most of their collection to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In the meantime, they’ve drilled a cave into a hillside in the Napa Valley, where they display some of their especially unwieldy works.) This uninhibited approach occasionally results in strange dilemmas, as was the case with one of the Stones’ purchases, a 1993 installation by Jason Rhoades, ‘‘Jason Rhoades and Jackie Rhoades-13 Booth Cologne County Fair.’’ Filling a former staff bedroom, it is a kind of autobiography of the artist’s life up to that point: a room jammed with artwork and objects from his childhood, like his 4-H club tie and cap, and the accouterments of his mother’s occupation as a decorator of state-fair booths. (‘‘I guess he did some outdoor things, because there’s an air gun as part of this installation,’’ Norah Stone says, a little perplexed.) Rhoades also placed a charcoal grill inside the piece, on which he cooked links of sausages during the installation, leaving one on the grill in homage to some of his major influenc-


their one-bedroom apartment in New York, bought Robert Barry’s seemingly impossible-to-own ‘‘Closed Gallery’’ piece, in which the artist had three dealers shutter their galleries for the duration of his show, each sending out notices that contained statements like, ‘‘During the exhibition, the gallery will be closed.’’ The Vogels paid $250 for the piece, and received the three invitations in a single frame. But as conceptual art has matured, it’s also encompassed a wider variety of forms and possibilities, becoming more elaborate, more popular and more costly. Conceptual art may never have a life on the secondary market, but that’s part of the point; the very challenge of containment, of realization, is part of its value. How, after all, do you live with art that is either ephemeral or exists merely as an idea? How do you realize, in physical form, a notion? Purchasing an idea contradicts an industry that is predominantly concerned with owning and displaying objects. Of course, the inverse of owning an idea is owning something that may in fact be tangible, but also too unruly, too impractical, to live with comfortably. In 2004, a D ­ allas-based collector and philanthropist named Deedie Rose bought an enormous sculpture, ‘‘Warped Floor,’’ made of fired clay plates and sand, by the Minimalist sculptor Meg Webster. Awkwardly shaped, the color of an unripe peach and about the size of a Manhattan studio apartment, the piece seems to evoke an eroded river basin; when Rose saw it at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, it had been installed on an armature, hovering in the air, so she hadn’t fully comprehended how big it was: nearly 500 square feet and six feet deep. She intended to put it outside, in the ground, and even flew a bewildered Webster out to Texas to oversee its installation by a construction crew. The artist returned home after a week of trying to

es, like Dieter Roth and Joseph Beuys, who also incorporated perishable food into their art. But after a year or so, the Stones were showing the work to a visiting museum conservator when they noticed that the sausage had grown spores of black mold that could spread through the whole house if not contained. Rhoades had to return to reinstall the piece in a different room, covering the perishable portions in a glass case, letting the sausage rot in there. The meat came to resemble a dirty gym sock, draped across the grill. The couple considers the organic, if rancid, aspect of the piece a profound part of its meaning. The work has, Norman says, ‘‘the presence of Jason,’’ who lived hard and died suddenly in 2006. ‘‘It’s very much alive, in a sense,’’ Norah says.

Right: a sculpture by Darren Bader, owned by the New York-based designer Andrew Ong. The work is ‘‘activated’’ by putting guacamole into the sound hole of a French horn. Opposite: a ‘‘bomb room’’ by Gregory Green, in the Baltimore home of the director John Waters. The highly detailed installation appears to contain everything required to make an explosive.

HOW AND WHY people collect is often a symptom of a given cultural moment. Abstract Expressionism changed the terms of painting, and in doing so, created its own kind of intellectual capital, in which Pollock’s splotches of color became a new language that was necessary to understand in order to be considered visually literate. Collecting now has the reputation of an opportunistic pastime, a way of accumulating trophies, and living with difficult art both is and isn’t a remedy for this — to maintain a conceptually rigorous or hard-to-install art work is on one level a thankless labor of love, and on another a kind of particularly elite humblebrag: Is there a more outlandish statement of privilege than lamenting how the water in your Jeff Koons installation is growing mold? Still, the truly arcane might be the final frontier of serious connoisseurship, and one artist who has emerged as a paragon for collectors who appreciate a struggle is Darren Bader, a conceptual artist who even a decade ago would have been considered rabidly noncommercial. Recently, however, he’s become a favorite among adventurous collectors because his work, as he put it to me, questions the very ‘‘notion of ownership, and also impermanence.’’ One work, ‘‘person sitting in passenger seat of car,’’ is a person sitting in the passenger seat of a car — any car, any person, anywhere. Another work, ‘‘16,937 USD,’’ is $16,937, ‘‘kept/taken/destroyed/used/ found/forgotten anywhere,’’ according to the artist. Many of Bader’s pieces exist in intangible forms, often only as a certificate with accompanying text and instructions. His art is a specter slyly haunting a room rather than occupying it; with Bader, one thinks more of the mind creating the work than of any particular object. One of his best-known pieces is called ‘‘chicken burrito, beef burrito.’’ It is, in fact, a chicken burrito and a beef burrito, ‘‘placed on the same axis,’’ according to its certificate, either stacked or next to one another. It was first installed at the Museum of Modern Art’s Queens outpost, MoMA

PS1, in 2012, as part of the artist’s solo show there. The burritos, sitting on a windowsill in an otherwise empty gallery, took on a surreal beauty — recognizable as what they were, but stripped of any usual meaning: two beige lumps slowly collapsing in the fading sunlight. They were replaced with new burritos once or twice a week throughout the show’s nearly 16-week run. I asked Bader what inspired the piece. He responded in a way that made me think he regarded the answer as obvious, or at least unimportant: When the museum asked him for a piece to show, he visited PS1, and while standing in an empty gallery with the show’s curator, asked, ‘‘How about some burritos?’’ Bader’s works are, crucially, funnier than his conceptual forebears and can veer awfully close to surrealism. A lot of difficult art is at its core mischievous, and the relationship between the artist, work and collector becomes necessarily playful: If an artist makes a work that seems ostensibly impossible to keep in a house, chances are there is a collector out there who will gladly accept the challenge. Andrew Ong, who has designed a number of commercial galleries, owns Bader’s ‘‘French horn with/ and guacamole (or other ‘sauce’),’’ which is a French horn filled with guacamole. (Bader’s instructions are fairly o ­ pen-ended and mention the possibility of using a different ‘‘sauce’’: ‘‘If the owner of the horn is feeling adventurous, s/he can try to fill the entirety of the horn with any number of potable liquids.’’) The piece was briefly part of Bader’s PS1 show, and was then displayed at Frieze New York by Andrew Kreps, Bader’s dealer. The gallery brought bags of tortilla chips to their fair booth so that visitors could sample the dip. The piece now sits, usually empty, on a pedestal in Ong’s Manhattan apartment, though he and his husband will ‘‘activate it’’ — meaning they’ll spoon guacamole into the sound hole — about four times a year. Ong, a native


PERHAPS THE HASSLE of living with

difficult art is, above all, an attempt to find absolution from the sins of the art market, and of materialism generally, by embracing the esoteric. It’s easy to forget in 2017 that one of the long-prevailing theories about art since at least the 19th century has been that it doesn’t necessarily serve a practical purpose; that its point, to quote the English critic Walter Pater, is ‘‘frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass’’ — money, then, becomes a superfluous part of the conversation. Eleanor Cayre, an art advisor and collector, buys and sells quite a lot of art, but insists that money trivializes it. I met her last May at her townhouse on the Upper East Side, where prominently displayed in her foyer is a ‘‘live ecosystem’’ by the artist Pierre Huyghe, which she bought in 2014. The work resembles what it essentially is: a regular fish tank. Yet it took close to 10 people — employees from Huyghe’s gallery and his studio, aquarium engineers, an

From top: the physical manifestation of Robert Barry’s 1969 legendary conceptual art piece ‘‘Closed Gallery’’; Meg Webster’s nearly 500-squarefoot sculpture at the Texas home of philanthropist Deedie Rose.


electrician — a month to install. ‘‘Everyone had an opinion on everything,’’ Cayre said. There were debates over how to set it up. The studio wanted the water to ‘‘get used to the tank’’ before they, as they said, ‘‘introduced the living.’’ She spends about $1,000 a month maintaining the work because, she said, ‘‘It’s such a joy to live with.’’ The tank was designed to contain three horseshoe crabs, an arrow crab and a large rock that seems to float, barely jutting above the water’s


­ alifornian, says he has ‘‘a love for C guacamole, so I do make it myself when we activate it.’’ When it’s ‘‘not activated,’’ guests will invariably ask who plays the French horn. Neither man does.

This is art that is capable, quite literally, of destroying one’s life.

Right: Max Hooper Schneider’s installation, featuring a square watermelon in a glass cube. The watermelon must be replaced as it rots.

surface. The artist and his studio specify that the crabs ideally be fed shrimp, but every other day Cayre feeds them chopped fish because, ‘‘We keep kosher here.’’ The fates of the creatures in the tank are, of course, inevitable. On my visit, the arrow crab, a spidery, unloved reef dweller, was, in fact, dead at the bottom of the tank; it was the fourth time one of the crustaceans had died in about three years. As I talked to the owner of what was likely the world’s most expensive dead crab, I came to understand Cayre’s frustration over people being more concerned with prices than with art itself. On one level, it’s easy to dismiss Huyghe — if you’re going to buy a fish tank, why not just buy a fish tank? And yet I can’t recall a time when I’ve ever looked at a fish tank and felt compelled to ponder some dark and unavoidable truths about life and death — but I couldn’t help but do this with the Huyghe. The artist’s work seems to have as much in common with a regular fish tank as Duchamp’s urinal has with an actual toilet. Cayre and I moved to a sitting room on the second floor, where a Sturtevant copy of a Jasper Johns flag hangs over the sofa and, as if divulging a secret, she mentioned a work she has that is, and will forever be, impervious to the art world’s obsession with monetary value: a Tino Sehgal. The Berlin-based performance artist known for his ‘‘constructed situations’’ is perhaps the most difficult of all living artists to possess. Sehgal trains participants to enact his instructions, which range from baroque (two people kissing in threehour shifts) to sarcastic (performers dancing around visitors to a museum and chanting ‘‘Oh, this is so contemporary, contemporary, contemporary’’). He once described his work to The New Yorker as a means of addressing the question, ‘‘Can something that is not an inanimate object be considered valuable?’’ ‘‘It’s nothing,’’ Cayre said of owning a Sehgal. ‘‘You basically buy air.’’ To acquire the work — ‘‘technically’’ — she had to meet with Sehgal in person so that he could ‘‘transfer’’ it. Sehgal refuses to travel by plane for work-related matters, so in 2016, she flew to Paris, where the artist had a show at the Palais de Tokyo. The work exists only theoretically (and in an email from Sehgal’s dealer). Called ‘‘Those Thoughts’’ (2005), it involves Cayre and her husband, a real estate developer, throwing a dinner party, and at a certain point getting up from their chairs to switch

seats. The one problem is: She hasn’t been able to get her husband to take part in the performance. ‘‘All he needs to do is get up and sit in another chair and he refuses to do it,’’ she said. A little wistfully, she added, ‘‘One day, perhaps.’’ I could see why a person would be suspicious of this, but in an age in which art is as commodified as oil, the idea of owning a work that is a secret, that in many ways doesn’t exist, feels both precious and, literally, invaluable. We might not have been able to see the Sehgal, but we both knew it was there, and after she told me about it, the whole house felt different, like some unanswered question was lingering in the air, waiting to be answered.


The Illustrated Interview

William Wegman

What do you look like?

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

What did you eat for breakfast today? Coffee.

My flat feet.

Do you have any pets? Topper and Flo.

Have you ever owned a pet other than a dog?

Do you play sports?

Who is your favorite cultural icon?

What scares you?

Everything but basketball.

Dame Edith Sitwell — I mean, Joan Rivers.

Jury duty.


The artist William Wegman, who has a new book, ‘‘Being Human,’’ out now, and an exhibition, ‘‘Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism,’’ coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in January, sketched his answers at his New York studio with a fine-point Sharpie.



What makes you laugh? Badminton.


The new S-Class.

Feel Intelligent Drive.

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