Jennifer Guerrini-Maraldi is a leading expert in Australian Contemporary and Indigenous Art, and has been instrumental in its increasing prominence in the British art world. With a diverse collection of paintings and sculpture characterised by their bold patterns and use of colour, I spoke to her briefly as she prepared her collection for this year’s Masterpiece art fair, to find out more about her work and the gallery based in her Battersea home.
Tell me about your background as a dealer of Australian art.
I’ve always wanted to be an art dealer. I love New York colourfield artists from the 1970’s, people like Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock. I started with sales at Powell Street Gallery in South Yarra, a suburb of Melbourne, at the age of 23. At PSG, I showed works by contemporary Australian artists such as Jenny Watson, Alun Leach-Jones, Victor Majzner, Inge King, and David Wilson, to name a few. It was very successful; I sold art to museums, regional gallery collections, I was also a valuer for the Australian Tax Office, for tax deductions for clients purchasing contemporary Australian Indigenous Art.
Kenneth Nolan, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 1961.
What makes Australian art stand out, and why would you recommend it for peoples’ homes?
After moving to London in late 1978, I lost touch slightly with the Australian art scene, but on a visit back to Melbourne and Sydney over 15 years ago with my husband Filippo, I attended a Sydney Christie’s auction viewing. It was there that I purchased a Freddie Timms painting, and my passion for indigenous art was sparked.
Australian Aboriginal art stands out because it is real art, not just decoration. These works are part of the world’s longest and oldest unbroken culture – 60,000 years. The art contains the stories and dreamings of the people, and that makes them uplifting and full of soul.
Lily Hargraves Nungarrayi Yirringali, Turkey Dreaming, 200 x 300 cm, Acrylic on Linen, JGM Art Ltd
What is your favourite piece at the moment?
My current favourite piece is a large painting (acrylic on linen, 200 x 300 cm) by Lily Hargraves Nungarrayi. The Seven Sisters painting by the Ken family is another top choice of mine. I have many favourite pieces though, because I source all the art myself. Claude Carter and Lloyd Kwilla are two other artists who make work that I routinely like.
Ken Family Collaborative, Seven Sisters, 300 x 200 cm, Acrylic on Linen, JGM Art Ltd.
How would you describe your interior style? Your home is also your gallery, has this informed how you decorate?
When I designed the space in Battersea Square, I had two penthouse apartments arranged into one big space. I basically created a pale shell to show off the indigenous Australian art, so that the way the art is the decorating theme. To add to this theme, I have recently covered two 1960’s swivel armchairs in a new Pierre Frey fabric of Aboriginal design in black and white. In order to let the art take center stage, I installed a concealed hanging system and lighting system throughout the gallery.
Spirit Poles on display in Jennifer’s Battersea home.
Which pieces will you be taking to Masterpiece this year, and what is your favourite thing about the show?
Masterpiece attracts the best collectors and museum directors from around the world. Visitors are genuine buyers and collectors of the finest art, antiquities, and contemporary design available. To aid in this, Masterpiece has a very strong vetting committee to ensure everything is genuine and the “best in class,” not over-restored. This gives buyers and collectors enormous confidence in any purchases they make.
I am taking many works to Masterpiece this year from a variety of Australian artists. The Ken Family Collaborative work ‘Seven Sisters’ and the two Lily Hargraves Nungarrayi Yirringali artworks ‘Turkey Dreaming’ and ‘Witchetty Grub Dreaming’ are all works done in acrylic on linen which makes them bold and bright. We are also showing scultupres, including five ‘Mokuy’ carvings by Nawurapu Wununmurra. We also have a work using natural ochres by Lloyd Kwilla and a selection of bark paintings.
Lily Hargraves Nungarrayi Yirringali, Witchetty Grub Dreaming, 203 x 117 cm, Acrylic on Linen, JGM Art Ltd.
Lloyd Kwilla, Jumuwarnti – Many Waterholes, 180 x 150 cm, Natural Earth Ochres on Canvas, JGM Art Ltd.
Masterpiece is running until July 1st 2015. You can see the full collection of artists which Jennifer represents at jgmart.co.uk