Belsize Park art lover opens a new gallery on Regent’s Park estate
- Credit: Archant
Claas Reiss has weathered lockdowns, pandemic restrictions and customs headaches to open his debut show of Jule Korneffel’s abstract works next month
Opening an art gallery during a pandemic hasn’t been easy for Claas Reiss.
After delays caused by pandemic restrictions and shipping artworks from America, his venture opened on November 2 in a former newsagents on the Regent’s Park estate - only to close the next day.
Now as the second lockdown ends, the public can finally enjoy the inaugural exhibition ‘All that kale’ by New York based abstract painter Jule Korneffel.
Reopening on December 3, it will “give art deprived Londoners an opportunity to finally look at great paintings again”.
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“I did have a moment wondering ‘is it the right time for this project?’” says the Belsize Park resident. “But I kept my motivation to provide a place for new work by promising artists. It’s probably the only gallery anywhere near here, but anyone who’s interested in collecting art and wants to see young artists, can come down from the posh areas to Regent’s Park Estate.”
Reiss started collecting art when he moved to London 21 years ago to work in the City. He also took evening classes and acquired a passion for painting in oils.
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A patron of Hampstead’s Camden Arts centre, he collects Korneffel’s work.
“I went to see it in New York and immediately fell in love. It’s minimalist but for me painting should be very gestural and you can see big brush marks across the canvas.
“She layers 10-15 acrylics so the paintings are very deep and subtle, you have to see them in the flesh.”
He adds: “Some distinguish between figurative and abstract but for me it’s about process and application, I need to see paint brush strokes and the energy of the artist.”
The gallery sprang from being at a crossroads. Reiss wondered whether to become an artist but decided opening his own space “ticked the boxes”.
A frequent visitor to graduate shows and art fairs, he has a mission “to find the gems, the new talent”.
“My own aesthetics aren’t determined by the art world’s, I don’t care about race, gender, or place, I look at paintings and artists and what moves me. I want to make a contribution to the eco-system helping young artists to find an audience and show their work.”
While the big galleries support established names, he feels the art world must invest in emerging talent or it will die. His downstairs Project Space London will offer just that space.
“Young artists have nowhere to show their work when they have left university. I have gone to shows in industrial spaces in the middle of nowhere, but at my gallery young promising artists just out of uni can show their work 10 minutes from central London.”
All That Kale by Jule Korneffel runs until Jan 30 2021. Opening hours Wed to Sat 11-6 by appointment. Claas Reiss Gallery 96 Robert Street, NW1.