Culture / Art Republik

Marie-Pierre Mol of Intersections Gallery Puts the Spotlight on SEA Artists

Through a strong focus on memory and identity, Intersections developed an expertise in showcasing art in heritage properties.

Sep 06, 2022 | By Joseph Low

When did you first get interested in art, and how did it lead you into the business of being a gallerist?

Growing up in Paris in the Latin Quarter is like living in an open-air museum, and I already enjoyed art when I was a child. However, I remember very precisely when I became interested in art. I was a teenager and attended a guided tour at the Museum of Modern art in Paris. That visit was an eye-opener for me. I realised that looking at art was more than a spontaneous enjoyment because artworks could tell stories. Art has the power to open wide new horizons of knowledge and pleasure.

When was Intersections founded in Singapore? What has been the specific DNA of the gallery?

Intersections was founded in Singapore in 2012. The specific DNA was my passion for art, Southeast Asia and my personal enthusiasm for sharing what I love.

What differentiates Intersections from other galleries?

Intersections started as a pop-up gallery to allow more people to discover art in unexpected places and enjoy exhibitions as a unique experience. Through a strong focus on memory and identity, Intersections developed an expertise in showcasing art in heritage properties. One of the first exhibitions of Intersections, Abandoned Landscapes by Sharis Garabedian (France/Armenia), took place in 2013 in Geylang at Lorong 24A. A performance took place during the opening night. With this first show in a heritage property, visitors discovered one of the nicest rows of shophouses in Geylang and the spectacular interior refurbishment accomplished by various talented local architects.

Can you share the most significant pop-up events curated by Intersections in heritage places?

Drinks with His Excellency, Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore.

When the Residence of the French ambassador to Singapore approached Intersections in November 2017 to propose a selection of artworks, it was our most significant event. The French Residence, also known as Sandilands Buttery House, is one of Singapore’s most iconic colonial houses. It was designed in 1923 by architect Frank Brewer, and his domestic architecture was rooted in the Arts and Craft movement.

Since then, Intersections has curated five shows for the French Residence, encompassing artworks by Southeast Asian and international artists based in Singapore. All the selected artists have in common their focus on memory and identity. They successfully combine a conceptual and an aesthetic approach in which subtle poetic touches play a great role.

The French Residence’s living room with Hélène Le Chatelier’s Polaroid Ink series on the walls.

In 2019, Intersections was selected by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to curate an exhibition showcasing collaborative artworks created by Singaporean and Myanmar artists. This exhibition took place in a stunning heritage building; a huge villa built between 1915 and 1919 by a Chinese merchant and the artworks had to be in conversation with the unique architecture of the place. The STB commissioned nine artworks. Titled “The Time is Yours”, the exhibition encompassed artworks by Nicola Anthony, Aung Ko, Bart Was Not Here, Ulrich Lau, Marc Nair, Maung Day, Pang, San Lin Tun, Thu Myat, Thynn Lei Nwe and Wunna Aung. It explored identity and memory, the favourite subjects matters of Intersections.

Last but not least, in 2021, when the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) opened a campus at Kinloss House, a heritage building located on Lady Hill Road, Intersections was asked to curate rotating exhibitions. The exhibitions are designed to reflect the story of the building and engage with the students and the visitors on current subject matters. The first exhibition celebrated Singapore’s identity while the second exhibition, included in the Singapore Heritage Fest 2022, was about our relationship with nature through artists’ eyes.

What led you to develop strong expertise in the contemporary Burmese art market?

Artist Aung Ko, studio visit
A glimpse of artist Aung Ko’s studio in Yangon, Myanmar in 2016.

I visited Myanmar for the first time in the 90s and immediately fell in love with the country and its people. In 2011, when I started exploring the Burmese art market, I discovered a vibrant art scene, which was almost completely unknown to international collectors. I knew how challenging it would be to develop this market, but I was excited to take it on.

Myanmar has numerous talented artists. Where and how do you find new artists to exhibit, and what do you look for when considering a new artist to your gallery?

Marie-Pierre, Wunna Aung, Thu Myat
Marie-Pierre with Burmese artists Wunna Aung and Thu Myat.

Before the coup d’état, I visited Yangon several times a year to visit galleries and artists’ studios. I took pride in selecting all the artworks myself that Intersections would exhibit in Singapore. All the artists I represent must have something unique in their style or the subject matters they address.

Being a gallerist means working actively on positioning your artists, how do you approach that part of your work?

All the artists I promote are extremely well-trained, and I strive to position my artists, even the young and emerging ones, at the higher end of the market. For instance, I only show Intersections’ artists in prestigious art fairs or events such as SEA Focus in Singapore, Art Paris or Asia Now in France. I am proud to say that many of them have been noticed by museum curators during exhibitions that took place in my gallery.

Today, a lot of your business as a gallerist is being conducted online. What skills are required there?

I think that the most important is still the same: to be passionate about what you do and have a strong determination to succeed in sharing this passion. Making Intersections a digital gallery creates an opportunity to reach a wider audience. Moreover, Intersections’ interest in emerging markets naturally led me to explore new opportunities in the NFT market. Something is brewing and I have more exciting news to share soon.

Tell us about the latest exhibitions you have curated in Asia and Europe?

Mayco Naing, Women in Resistance street photos
Myco Naing, a participant in the Women in Resistance exhibition, showcased the photos she had taken during the spring revolution.

The latest exhibition I curated is “Look Up”, which is still on view at EHL (by appointment only). The exhibition brings together artworks questioning our relationship with nature and our commitment to sustainable development. Guided tours were included in the programme of the Singapore Heritage Festival 2022. Another major project was “Women in Resistance” at Neimenster Cultural Exchange Centre in Luxembourg. This exhibition showcased three women artists from Myanmar who had to leave their country after the 2021 military coup. Women in Resistance was supported by the French Institute in Luxembourg.

What is planned for you this year and 2023?

Jason Lim, Bad Company
Jason Lim’s “Bad Company”.
Jason Lim, Bad Company
Jason Lim’s “Bad Company”.
Jason Lim, Forest of Cowards
Jason Lim’s “Forest of Cowards”.
Jason Lim, Forest of Cowards
Jason Lim’s “Forest of Cowards”.

Intersections will participate in Asia Now in Paris come October 2022 with a solo show by the great ceramicist and performance artist Jason Lim. In 2007, Jason Lim was selected to represent Singapore at the Venice Biennale, he has extensively exhibited internationally but it is the first time he will showcase in France. I am delighted to announce that Jason Lim has created two new ceramic pieces for the upcoming show. With these pieces, Jason Lim succeeds one more time in pushing the boundaries of his practice by introducing organic elements in the ceramic. I am also delighted to announce Intersections’ participation in Sea Focus 2023 with two artists from Myanmar and a Cambodian artist. Last but not least, Intersections’ main new project is to launch NFT collections and to boost Intersections’ online activity.

Your favourite museum in Singapore?

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM), when Tan Boon Hui was its director. I had the privilege of meeting many of the curators who worked at SAM during that time. They are the ones who inspired me to do what I am doing today. I would like to mention David Chew, Khai Hori, Naomi Wang and Tan Siuli, who all curated groundbreaking exhibitions.

Your best advice to a young gallerist wanting to set up their own art gallery?

Follow your dreams!

If you were to name one mentor who has inspired you in your life, who would that be?

Without hesitation, Paul Durand Ruel, the gallerist of the impressionists.

For more information about Intersections Gallery, visit the website here.

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