Offering a jumpstart and assistance for local and international contemporary artists, Espace 22 is a Contemporary Art Exhibition Venue located in the heart of the Principality of Monaco.
Offering more than 700 events a year, the Principality of Monaco has always maintained a unique relationship with the artistic universe, mixing a great diversity of cultures and inspirations and welcoming a multitude of young creators and contemporary artists.
In 2021, Espace 22, situated in the very dynamic boulevard d’Italie, opened its doors as the first pop-up style gallery in the Principality. It offers a great platform for any young contemporary artist to compete for a time for a temporary exhibition.
How did the idea to start this concept come about?
“Well, it started with the space itself,” – starts to explain the Espace 22’s team. – “We had this amazing location owned by our group but it was never utilised. We were entrusted with the task to find an idea focusing on something cultural. In the beginning, we thought about doing pop-up shops and a lot of other different things. However, the best idea came from someone who was working in our office.”
How can you differentiate Espace 22 from a traditional art gallery?
“First of all, we are not specialised in art as we are not curators. We decided to open the concept to different types of artists, young and upcoming successful ones, basically to everyone interested in showcasing his or her talent. We took the idea from public shops that are limited in time and that open up as different shops throughout the year and we adapted it to Art. This is how we came to be a pop-up gallery.”
Although the performing arts have long had their privileged place in Monaco, the Principality has seen itself in recent years gain a place of choice in the contemporary art scene as well. Arousing curiosity, offering a prestigious place in the heart of the Monégasque city, sharing artistic values, and allowing visitors to the Principality to discover young talents, Espace 22 is considered a leader in this cultural revolution.
One of the uniqueness of the concept is that artists can have an exhibition space with flexible conditions for a time ranging from 2 to 12 weeks. They can enjoy an exceptional location in the heart of the city, on a very dynamic avenue with high traffic throughout the year.
Why do you limit the exhibition times?
“Based on our experience, a period of 2 to 4 weeks is enough for an artist to make a bold impression in Monaco, including an opening night, various follow-up meetings, and also communicate during the period.”
Monaco is the scene of many events that enthusiasts and collectors from all over the world are particularly fond of. In addition to the thousands of inhabitants of Monaco and the Principality, there are tens of thousands of visitors who walk the prestigious avenues of the destination, thus offering a great opportunity for young creators to be discovered.
What are the supporting tools that an artist can receive from your team?
“We provide the space that is at the artist’s disposal including materials, equipment, cables, TV and every other necessary tool to set up a successful exhibition. This allows the artists to take advantage of the novelty and prestige of our exhibition space in Monaco. Furthermore, our dedicated expert team also helps in the process of promotion of the artist and the exhibition.”
Espace 22, which is in partnership with both local and international media truly helps in boosting the artists’ presence. They also aim to help artists to develop their brand by creating digital content and including the exhibition as a Virtual Reality experience.
The digitalised 3D exhibition will be optimised for multiple platforms including smartphone, Google, computer, tablet, and whatever one wants to use.
This pioneering and included service opens up borderless possibilities for artists as they can invite people from all around the world for a virtual tour of the exhibition.
“Artists are treated with a full art management offer, helping them to establish digital and printed media presence as we are in partnership with multiple news outlets. Also, Monaco’s Office of Tourism is listing these events broadening up the merit of potential visitors and buyers for artists.”
Espace 22 creates also a dedicated page for each of its exhibitors and helps them to boost online sales of their artworks.
“One of our future plans is to launch a virtual gallery with the paintings and sculptures on the platform to generate additional sales for our artists. We are aiming at making them into NFTs as well.”
How long does it take to plan an exhibition?
“The best time frame is to start planning at least two months before the setting up of the contract. This way artists also have time to start communicating on their social media and network.”
What is your commission model?
“We do not take any commissions from the artists. Our goal is to support and push young talents, therefore, we only have a fee for the space. Artists can directly sell their art to the client.”
The team of Espace 22 is exploring multiple channels to boost artists’ presence and more importantly, to help them to secure earning in exchange for their artworks.
“Creating 3D concepts takes time with art, but technology and the latest types of screens allow us to showcase art in a way that the normal screen would not be able to do. This all has been developed and the technology is now available, allowing people to imagine the artwork in the augmented reality of their own living spaces.”
When it comes to art and artistic expression, the team of Espace 22 aims to be open-minded. In the past years, they hosted not only artists but also clubs such as the Bonsai Club of Monaco with spectacularly shaped miniature trees.
They also hosted charity exhibitions, one for the Association Fight Aids Monaco and a photographic exhibition of Olivier Anrigo about the Arctic for the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
What type of art sells best in Monaco?
“We see significant interest in photographs and pop art. Also, what I’ve noticed is that a lot of colours and different textures attract buyers here in Monaco.”
Do you prefer to host single or group exhibitions?
“We have both. It truly depends on the concept of the exhibition. Both options can be inspiring if it is organised well. For instance, our largest exhibition included 40 artists.
One important thing is that some artists don’t have enough artworks for a stand-alone exhibition, therefore, they are happy to share the space and unite promotional efforts with fellow artists. Also, sometimes friends come together to create something.”
What was your biggest challenge since the opening?
“Dealing with art was something completely different from what we did before. We had to learn about art but also about the local art scenery because artists have questions about the clients, the people in Monaco, what they like and what they don’t like. That took us some time to learn and understand.
Sometimes, we have to manage also the human being. It can be challenging because we are all different with different expectations. So one of the biggest challenges is to understand the needs, as we meet very different people and from a very broad section of countries, nationalities, and types of arts.”
During the past years, Espace 22 hosted artists not only from Europe but globally from Europe to Iran.
“One of the most challenging exhibitions from an administrative point of view was the exhibition that we organised for the Iranian woman artist, VERTCHY who belongs to this pivotal generation for whom the virtual permeates real life. It was her first solo exhibition in Europe. It was a great challenge and learning path for us to organise this event.”
Did your appreciation of art change during the past years?
“We were interested in art as everyone else can appreciate when seeing a nice picture or painting. But yes, of course we have now a better view of it.”
What would you consider the greatest success of Espace 22?
“From an emotional standpoint of view, it was the photographic exhibition for the Association Fight Aids Monaco. It was an exhibition of portraits of the residents of the Maison de Vie of Capentras, created under the impulsion of H.S.H Princesse Stéphanie.
The Maison de vie offers support during short stays to people living with H.I.V. and the aim of this exhibition was to give a place back to HIV-positive people and to share their experiences of living with HIV. We wanted to show the world how people who are living with AIDS can rebuild their lives.
Organising and seeing the exhibitions and the reactions was a truly emotional if not a life-altering journey, because we saw human faces behind this terrible illness. It was an interesting contrast because it was difficult for them to be in the photographs that are exhibited, yet it was inspiring because they were so happy to be there to meet with fellow HIV people.”
Supporting the local culture is a truly noble activity having far-reaching effects on society as a whole. Our philosophy at Living in Monaco magazine is that a country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor, as the two are connected and dependent on each other.
Culture is an important part and we need to safeguard it for future generations as well. And for this, we raise our hats in front of the team of Espace 22 who is working exactly with these intentions in their hearts and minds.