It’s no mean feat to survive 10 years in the Australian commercial gallery world, particularly in Adelaide, but Hugo Michell has reached the milestone.
Since establishing the gallery in 2008 at the current Beulah Park location, Hugo Michell has built an impressive stable of artists at all stages of their careers and he credits these artists for his success.
“I think it really comes down to the artists. We are incredibly privileged to show the artists we do and it has been exciting that many of the artists have grown with the gallery,” he says. “I feel extremely lucky to work with the group of artists we do, and I am in awe of their achievements.”
In addition to his main gallery space, Michell operates a project space that gives many artists the opportunity to exhibit commercially for the first time. “I love working with emerging artists because everything is a first time. When you are working with a young artist and their work gets acquired by Artbank or a regional gallery and they can put it on their CV, that’s super exciting,” says Michell.
The project space gives Michell the opportunity to work with a broader range of artists. “I never wanted it to be a gallery that represented 40 artists. I feel like it is difficult and some artists get forgotten about but we love so many more artists than just our represented artists, so the project space gives us the opportunity to work with other artists.”
Reflecting on a decade of running the gallery Michell identifies some artists whose careers have grown significantly during that time. For example, when he first exhibited Richard Lewer’s work it was in the project space; this year, the entire exhibition was acquired by The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA).
Another artists, Justine Varga, had her first commercial exhibition at the gallery when she was 24 and her work is now in the collections of several major institutions including The National Gallery of Australia, AGSA and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
To celebrate the 10-year milestone, the gallery is holding an exhibition entitled Decade, which includes works by the gallery’s represented artists, the majority of whom have been with the gallery since the beginning. It’s a nice bookend to the opening show in 2008, which also featured works by the gallery’s stable of artists.
“The premise of Decade is to celebrate the artists represented by the gallery. Artists that we have worked with for a long time have made works that are personal for them and the gallery.”
For example, Lewer has revisited the archives from his first exhibition with the gallery in 2009, 10 Days in Gunbalanya, and has painted two more portraits, nearly 10 years on, that he thought should have been in the show is even painting in enamel which he hasn’t done for years. Lucas Grogan is leaving his mark on the gallery, painting a huge mural on the back wall.
After 10 years in business, Michell is firmly established in the commercial gallery scene and looks set to continue to present artists and artworks of a high standard that challenge his audiences.
“In a tough climate we have been lucky to grow each year, building our client base and our relationships with artists. The team at Hugo Michell Gallery love what we do, are passionate about the Australian contemporary art scene, and look to the future with enthusiasm.”
Hugo Michell Gallery
20 November – 12 December
Feature Image: Richard Lewer – The History of Australia 2018