ART Interview 2021
The ELECTRIC x Getty Images Gallery new exhibition showcases more than 25 of history’s most acclaimed photographers, including Hollywood portrait photographer, Michael Ochs, and features images of Muhammad Ali, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe. The centrepiece of the exhibition is an exclusive new retrospective of famed American photographer Slim Aarons called GOSSIP.
TNC spoke with Electric founder Jai Francois.
Hi Jai, thanks for talking to TNC, how have you been keeping during these strange Covid times?
Very well thank you. Just trying to stay as positive and upbeat as one can right now.
Has this time offered you any new creative opportunities?
The pandemic has definitely encouraged a change in new ways of working. It’s also been a time where you’ve had to adapt to overcome challenges to actually meeting in person to get things done. For us, we were lucky in a sense, that we were a new gallery birthed during the pandemic. So from day one we always new there were going to be hurdles to get over. This just pushed us to make sure everything digital was as robust as possible from day one and we had to think through all options and eventualities on what we wanted to do with the gallery space.
Congratulations on the launch of Electric x Getty Images, how does it feel to be able to open your doors to the public after everything that's been happening?
It’s great to finally be open and able to exhibit works again. It was a very stop-start at the beginning, opening our doors for a mere 16 days only for the lockdown to shut us again. It’s also lovely to see real people in the gallery enjoying the works commenting how it helps make life seem normal again. We’re very proud of the small part we can play in bringing normality back.
The exhibition also features a new Slim Aarons' retrospective 'GOSSIP', what is it about Aarons' photography that makes him stand out so much?
The real stand out for Slim’s work is the access he was given which allowed him to capture these iconic shots. He managed to be become so well trusted by the rich and royalty that the snapshots into these people life’s were like nothing else seen before at the time. Not like it is today where everyone can flaunt their wealth, status and more via their own social media. Slim was the only outlet to be able to see how the “other half” lived.
Poolside Gossip (Photo by Slim Aarons_Getty Images)
"It’s one upside to everything that’s going on, high streets are struggling so landlords keen to support new ventures and offer favourable terms."
What are some of the biggest challenges you face when putting together an exhibition like this?
The main challenge is trying to decided what images to display. Just in Slim Aarons archive, there are around 100,000 images! Unfortunately, we don’t have that much wall space haha, and neither the time to go through that many images. The Getty archive is so rich it was a struggle trying to select 35 images to display in the exhibition.
Have you always been interested in art?
I started collecting art in my early twenties seriously and the real passion has developed from there. Now I’m at a point where there’s literally no wall space left at home as my collection has grown so large. It’s addictive when you keep seeing new pieces you want from new artists. My fiancée no longer sees the funny side when new pieces of work arrive at the house.
How did Electric Gallery come about?
I’d wanted to open an affordable contemporary space for a while and during the pandemic, I stumbled across a location and retail unit that I thought could be perfect for Electric Gallery. And with Covid looming we were able to secure a great deal on the premises. It’s one upside to everything that’s going on, high streets are struggling so landlords keen to support new ventures and offer favourable terms.
Who has been some of the emerging artists you have been brought to Electric Gallery?
We’re working with lots of the leading names in the affordable modern print art space which is great and also looking out for emerging artists.
One in particular who we’ve just started working with is Times New Roadman. He’s only just started and is already building up a great following with celebrity collectors of his work.
What do you look for when you're looking at works or new artists?
The difference is what we’re after. Something that just initially hits you and makes you laugh, think, gawp, or slightly confused. It’s that initial reaction that art can have on you, and when it happens I just go with my gut.
Of your latest exhibition is there any one piece that really speaks to you?
Poolside Gossip by Slim Aarons. For me, it's so iconic and just needs to be seen. That’s what it’s hanging in the window and measures 60x40inches! Big powerful being photo.
Finally, what do you hope visitors will take away from this exhibition?
I hope they get a real sense of the power of photography and also how vast the Getty archive is. Hopefully, it may even encourage some to get into photography, who knows maybe the next Slim Aarons will have graced our exhibition.