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Introducing TEFAF’s Newest Exhibitors

From Mughal miniatures and antique tapestry to Himalayan art and contemporary ceramics, get to know the stories behind these galleries and their artworks
By Cheyenne Wehren  Sep 9, 2021
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This year’s edition of TEFAF Online welcomes 11 new exhibitors to the fold. Representing a variety of disciplines and art forms—from contemporary art, sculpture, and Indian art, to 19th century painting and horology—TEFAF’s newest exhibitors share the stories behind their galleries and presented works of art below.

De Wit Fine Tapestries

Within the historic Refuge of the abbey of Tongerlo in Mechelen, Belgium, one finds De Wit Fine Tapestries. Founded in 1889, De Wit and its team of twenty specialized art historians and tapestry restorers are led by the family’s fourth and fifth generation, who are all equally driven in their search for tapestries of quality, rareness, and provenance.

Presenting three tapestries during TEFAF Online, Pierre Maes—representing De Wit’s aforementioned fifth generation—shares the motivation behind their selection: “We present three exemplary pieces of their kind, from ancient to modern tapestries. We worked as if we were building a physical stand, in which we are convinced that the juxtaposition of old and modern tapestries complements each other particularly well.” Among their presented works is a mid-16th century Large Leaf Verdure tapestry representing an Earthly Paradise, populated with large, stylized leaves and numerous animals. “We are amazed by the extent to which this work transcends time through its abstract, surreal, and eminently modern aspect.”

Tenzing Asian Art

San Francisco and Hong Kong-based Tenzing Asian Art, specializing in early Himalayan art, was established by Iwona Tenzing in 2006. Partner Chino Roncoroni joined in 2015; together, they select pieces for their beauty and historical significance, reflecting the rich stylistic diversity of the Himalayan region and period. Tenzing and Roncoroni share a deep connection and strong personal ties to the Himalayan region, which underlies the philosophy of their gallery. “We believe that to truly comprehend this art, one must understand its milieu—the geography, history, culture, and people that brought it into being. We have undertaken countless research expeditions in the Himalayas, learning, connecting with people, and visiting monasteries and palaces in remote areas of Tibet, Nepal, India, and Bhutan,” Tenzing explains.

Tenzing Asian Art presents three examples of early Tibetan Buddhist art on TEFAF Online, which tell, in part, the story of the Buddha—a story of transcendence over fear and self-centered existence. “Buddhist artworks serve as objects of devotion and as visual metaphors. Imagery is a means to enlightenment in esoteric Buddhism, and these sublime representations exemplify that connection for us.”

Bruil & Brandsma Works of Art

Bruil & Brandsma Works of Art, based in Amsterdam, specializes in antiquities from the 14th to the 18th century, covering applied arts, artifacts, and unique works of art. “We are always looking for artworks that tell a story. These narratives enhance the objects and give us a unique insight into the past,” tells Rob Bruil, the gallery’s director.

Storytelling and craftsmanship are at the heart of Bruil & Brandsma Works of Art’s selection of three objects presented on TEFAF Online, as they explore three stories through sculpture. “We wanted to show the richness of the craftsmanship in our collection and the way stories interact with objects. Each of the sculptures was made with a different purpose for a particular audience. We chose to present these works because they are of remarkable and fine quality; the craftsmanship is expressed in the exquisite carving of the characteristic facial expressions, in the way figures are positioned, or in the way the materials, like mother-of-pearl, are used.”

Galerie Nathalie Obadia

Galerie Nathalie Obadia was founded by Nathalie Obadia in 1993 in Paris, expanding to Brussels in 2008 and a second space in Paris in 2013. Galerie Nathalie Obadia focuses on both emerging as well as recognized contemporary artists, but also represents the estates of historic artists such as Martin Barré, Shirley Jaffe, and Seydou Keïta.

Galerie Nathalie Obadia’s selection for TEFAF Online likewise illustrates the gallery’s dual focus. Three artworks are presented within a comparative context, likening them to the field of music. This includes a work by French artist Benoît Maire, who is part of the design and architecture collective KER XAVIER. His Chaise du Soir (2018), described by the gallery as “sculpture furniture,” echoes a rhythm between form and color.

Sèvres

One of the most revered porcelain manufacturers founded over 250 years ago, a lesser-known element in the history of the Manufacture de Sèvres is its role in the development of interior decoration and object design. Besides its privileged position under the king’s patronage, Sèvres played a pivotal role within the circle of the so-called marchands merciers, French decorator-dealers working directly with craftspeople. By developing new colors, materials, and techniques, Sèvres contributed to the emergence of new aspirations and usages within what one would now designate design. The continuous mingling between age-old expertise and contemporary taste has remained a hallmark of the manufacturer through collaborations with contemporary artists and designers.

Sèvres presents two contemporary works on TEFAF Online, illustrating the combination of ancestral ceramic techniques and present-day taste. One of the objects is the colorful Cabinet Chandigarh by Indian-British design duo Doshi Levien, which revisits the heritage of the French 18th-century cabinet as well as the work of architect Le Corbusier in Chandigarh, India.

Kent Antiques

Founded in 1997, London-based Kent Antiques’s expertise lies in Islamic and Indian art, Orientalist paintings, and courtly objects from the 13th to the 19th century. “All works of art offered by Kent Antiques are ethically obtained from national and international private collections and trade,” shares director Mehmet Keskiner.

For their presented works at TEFAF Online, Kent Antiques has chosen three pieces representing different aspects of Islamic courtly life from different geographies of the Muslim world. “What motivated us to make this selection was the fact that all three pieces demonstrate the extraordinary richness and variety of Islamic art within the converging concept of reflections of Muslim courtly life,” Keskiner explains. Among them is a Mughal miniature, depicting a conqueror, possibly Alexander the Great. “It is a remarkable, cross-cultural example documenting the role of foreign historical figures in the history of Muslim painting.” 

Martin Beisly Fine Art

Martin Beisly of Martin Beisly Fine Art in London is driven by a personal passion for a specific period in British history. “My gallery exists to promote a specific school and period in British art history, namely pictures produced by artists alive during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). During this time, Britain’s dominance of world politics and trade allowed great national wealth to be accumulated. This extraordinary world stage and economic freedom allowed contemporary artists an opportunity to produce cutting edge works of art and explore artistic expressions that were financially impossible before this time.”

Beisly seeks out to showcase the range of artists who were active within this moment in history through his selected artworks for TEFAF Online: from Dutch-born, England-adopted Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema’s epic depictions of aristocratic Roman life to Edward Burne-Jones’s British, romantic symbolism to Hungarian artist Philip Alexius de László’s high society portraits.

Gallery Moshe Tabibnia

In Milan’s Brera district, the artistic center at the heart of the city, one finds Gallery Moshe Tabibnia. Founded over 35 years ago, the gallery focuses on antique carpets, tapestries, and textile artifacts. The gallery’s collection includes and preserves significant textiles from a historical and artistic point of view.

On TEFAF Online, Gallery Moshe Tabibnia presents three carpets representing the artistic styles connected to three dynasties—the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal Empires—and which bear important collectors within their provenances. Their Double-Niched ‘Transylvanian’ Rug, an Ottoman carpet from circa 1600, was once part of the collection of the archaeologist, philanthropist, and great carpet collector Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962).

La Pendulerie

In the heart of Paris, one finds La Pendulerie. Founded over 35 years ago, La Pendulerie’s galleries are dedicated to antique horology, as well as decorative bronzes and antique works of art. “La Pendulerie also features a selection of preeminent art works, including exceptional bronze furnishings such as candlesticks, candelabra, firedogs, bronze-mounted objects and chandeliers, all of which have conserved their original gilding,” shares Edouard Guérin, junior partner at the gallery. A key period in La Pendulerie’s focus spans a century-and-a-half, from the middle of the reign of King Louis XVI to the Bourbon restoration.

For their selection for TEFAF Online, clocks remain at the heart of La Pendulerie’s presentation. Three clocks tell the story of the fruitful period in Paris during the last two decades of the 18th century, when the economic and social context allowed artists and artisan great creative freedom—a period which Guérin describes as “arguably the most inventive one in the history of European decorative arts.”

Ceysson & Bénétière

Ceysson & Bénétière was founded by François Ceysson and Loïc Bénétière in Saint-Étienne in 2006 and has since expanded with locations in Paris, Geneva, New York, and Luxembourg. Representing contemporary masters and young talent, the gallery has a particular focus on artists of the Supports/Surfaces movement—three of whom they present during TEFAF Online 2021: Claude Viallat, Daniel Dezeuze, and Patrick Saytour.

“The artists we can bring together under the somewhat reductive—so singular and exceptional are their works—yet so convenient term of Supports/Surfaces movement, have without a doubt constituted the ultimate vanguard of modernity,” shares the gallery’s Loïc Garrier. “The works of these artists are characterized by their questioning of traditional materials, aiming to deconstruct painting of its traditional attributes and turning it into a force of change.” To understand the connection between Ceysson & Bénétière’s presented works, a quote by the artist Viallat might say it all: “Dezeuze painted stretchers without canvas, I [Viallat] painted canvas without stretchers, and Saytour the image of the stretcher on the canvas.”

STEINITZ

“The gallery is a family experience,” shares Benjamin Steinitz of STEINITZ, whose parents founded the—first—Steinitz gallery in 1969. After running a gallery with his brother Paul in New York, Benjamin Steinitz returned to Paris to work with his parents. After his father’s passing, he started his own gallery in 2009, where he now works with a passionate team of 30 to offer a variety of exemplary antique works of art. “We are all very passionate antique dealers. The eclecticism of what we represent—from discoveries in antique furniture to painting and sculpture—is an important part of our gallery’s DNA.”

TEFAF Online is the first fair Benjamin Steinitz takes part in with his own company, and strong antique pieces are at the core of his presentation. This includes a terracotta of Amalthée et la Chèvre de Jupiter (circa 1786) by Pierre Julien, a modello for the white marble sculpture made for Queen Marie Antoinette’s dairy at the Château de Rambouillet.

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