Cuturi Gallery is one of the most exciting names on the commercial gallery front. Established by Frenchman Kevin Cuturi, the year-old outfit relocated from Pacific Plaza to the heart of vibrant Kampong Glam last October and its new digs are impressive: a 4,300 sq ft shophouse comprising seven studio rooms in addition to the exhibition space on the first floor.
The gallery showcases works by established and mid-career artists from both Singapore and around the globe, but it’s also come to be known as a hotspot for supporting young talents.
Its residency programme “c/discoveries” aims to – among other things – help aspiring names become full-time artists by providing studio spaces and tools necessary for them to produce artworks. It’s not just about the artists though.
Says founder Cuturi: “I also want to develop a new generation of buyers… What I’m hoping to add to the Singapore art scene is not only a platform for established collectors, but also young and first-time buyers. It works in tandem with the fact that we actively support young artists, and because their works tend to be more affordable, we can have the young buyers supporting the artists – both grow at the same time.”
On his background
“My background is not at all art-related; I studied physics in London and I subsequently went into things such as banking, startups and Amazon. Art is something I’ve always been passionate about since I was young and when I was able (to afford it), I grew more interested in the artists whose works I could now acquire. But even before I bought my first artwork, I have always been interested in art history, so it was always at the back of my mind to open a gallery.”
On why you don’t need training to appreciate art
“I don’t have a specific category of art that I’m drawn to. I think to appreciate art, you should stay very curious and very open-minded and be able to see everything – even works that you might not like at first sight. You don’t need a degree or anything like that.”
On what he hopes to add to the Singapore art scene
“I like to say that Cuturi is a ‘next-generation gallery’. I’m not saying what’s out there (in the art scene) does not work. On the contrary, I think it does – that’s why it’s still there. Usually what doesn’t work, closes. I just want to add a bit of a fresh perspective to what an art gallery (can be) and how it can work.
Additionally, I also want to develop a new generation of buyers. We always get very happy when a buyer tells us that this purchase is their first artwork instead of say, a watch. What I’m hoping to add to the Singapore art scene is not only a platform for established collectors but also young and first-time buyers. It works in tandem with the fact that we actively support young artists, and because their works tend to be more affordable, we can have the young buyers supporting the artists – both grow at the same time.”
On how he finds young artists for Cuturi’s c/discoveries programme
“It’s not a one-way street. It’s not only about the gallery selecting the artist – there needs to be a right fit between the gallery and the artist. I may be very keen on a particular artist but we might not be the right place to help develop that artist’s career, and vice versa. I always tell artists that if a gallery does not wish to collaborate with them, it’s not rejection and not because their works aren’t good. Rather, it’s mostly about the fit; it’s not our place to judge. At Cuturi, we look at artists whose works have an interesting narrative through different mediums.”
A piece of advice for young artists looking for gallery representation
“Continue creating and be true to yourself as an artist. Make sure you understand the scope of the particular gallery you’re hoping to work with and look at the kind of artists they’ve been showing for the past five or 10 years so that you have a really good and thorough understanding of how they operate.”
Here, Cuturi recommends four rising Singapore artists to know now and why.