Space Gallery St. Barth launched a decade ago when Maria Angela Ventura (right), an Italian art collector and veteran of the industry who is a disciple of legendary art dealer Holly Solomon, met Natalie Clifford (left), then the director of Eden Rock Gallery in St. Barth who had been responsible for many collaborations between Eden and other blue-chip galleries including Gagosian and Mary Boone. They launched the first Space Gallery in St. Barth and added a permanent gallery on Broome Street in NYC in 2018. Today, the women have created a roster of established and up-and-coming artists and have participated in international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale. Maria Angela is currently in Monaco and Natalie just got married, but they generously took time out to answer some questions. They are also agreed to graciously host my first exclusive shopping event with designer Sisi Li of Nells Nelson tomorrow. So don’t just come for the clothes, Sisi has worked with the gallery to highlight some of her favorite art and Caitlin who works with Maria Angela and Natalie will be on hand to answer any ?s you might have.
Jennifer Alfano: What drew you both to work together and open a gallery?
Natalie Clifford: We had collaborated on a couple of projects at a gallery I was running and worked really well together. We developed a friendship socially and I [Natalie] had decided I wanted to open my gallery and wanted to do it with a partner. I spoke with Mari Angela about the idea and she loved it and immediately got on board. We had a clear idea on what we wanted to do and within 3 months we had the concept, the space and our opening roster of artists and opened three months later.
Victor Matthews April abstraction no. 4, 2021, Pigment painting on primed raw canvas (24 x 24 in | 60.96 x 60.96 cm)
Jennifer Alfano: What unique perspectives do you both bring to your work?
Natalie Clifford: I think we very much have a similar mindset and both a very strong work ethic – it never stops! We are in tune in many ways and that makes working together easy. Also we love what we do, so it is a pleasure and a vocation rather than work. We operate from different locations to each bring different collectors into the world of Space Gallery. We are both very social and enjoy meeting people and sharing our passion with our collectors for art and the artists we carry. I think authenticity sums us up and our collectors feel this.
Jennifer Alfano: How does your gallery in St. Barth differ from the one in NYC?
Natalie Clifford: Both our galleries have the same philosophy of creating a welcoming space. We want to stand apart from the traditional art gallery that can be cold and intimidating and unfriendly. Our galleries in both St Barth and NY attempt to create a meeting place for like-minded people who want to discover beautiful art and learn more about art. In both spaces we have created a less traditional space which encourages our clients to linger, ask questions, learn and enjoy as they discover the artwork and build their collection. St Barth in many ways has an even more laid back mood being on island, but NY attempts to create the same vibe in a city setting.
Nadia Fanelli People on the beach, 2021, Oil and acrylic painting on canvas with resin finish (27.56 x 39.37 in | 70 x 100 cm)
Jennifer Alfano: What do you look for in an artist?
Natalie Clifford: First and foremost we have to love the artwork of the artists we represent. We mentioned authenticity before and if you are representing and exhibiting an artist, it is essential to love and believe in the work. Clients and collectors sense if this is not the case and we want people to love the artwork they are putting in their homes as we love and select carefully every piece and every artist.
Jennifer Alfano: What has been inspiring you lately?
Natalie Clifford: We are in full preparation for the next solo show at the NY gallery so are super excited and inspired by the pieces Giorgio Pasqualetti has been producing – a celebration of the 7 wonders of the natural world – coming late October. Additionally, we are very excited for our 10 year anniversary and renovation of our St Barth space to mark this landmark for the gallery.
Arno Elias Black & White Elephant #3, 2021, (Edition of 9) Limited edition black and white c-print photograph (60 x 60 in | 152.40 x 152.40 cm)
Jennifer Alfano: Who is Space Gallery’s clientele?
Natalie Clifford: We have an international clientele as St Barth and NY welcome visitors from Europe, North and South America and a little further afield. We also have collectors of all age groups from those just starting out and building a collection to those with established collections. We have a wonderful circle of collectors who continue to work with us to add pieces to their homes and collections.
Jennifer Alfano: Who have been some of your popular artists?
Natalie Clifford: The success of the artist really depends on the client – we have collectors who are drawn to photography uniquely and others who prefer painting, so it really varies. Some of our best-sellling artists are Hunt Slonem, Arno Elias, Sophie-Alexia Joly de Lotbiniere, Hugh Arnold and Jean-Philippe Piter.
Sophie-Alexia Joly de Lotbinière The Village, 2016, Acrylic painting on aluminum (48 x 24 in | 121.92 x 60.96 cm)
Jennifer Alfano: What’s next for Space Gallery?
Natalie Clifford: 2021/2022 holds a host of wonderful exhibitions in both of our spaces, continued art partnerships with Eden Rock St Barth and other residential and design partners. Consolidation of our artists and the addition of some new faces and artwork to our line-up. We also have our renewed and enlarged space to reveal on the island and several museum projects at home and abroad. You will be seeing more of us in Europe from November onwards. Please follow for news!!