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Portfolio

Stefan Pollak

We met Stefan Pollak over a Brie torte that he had made for a party given in the loft of an Italian artist. It took only a few hours of discussion, and a nice Pinot Grigio, for Stefan to take on the challenge of making a curatorial selection Made In Germany

Between Berlin and Rome, Paris and Brussels, from communications to publication, a meeting in Leipzig with the most restless of our advisors… And, yes, the torte was to die for!

 

What is your professional background?

I trained as a graphics artist in Frankfurt on Main. I worked first in advertising agencies before founding my own communications agency with two partners. In 2002, I decided to leave Germany in order to live in Rome and that is where I turned to publishing, founding the contemporary art review DROME Magazine with Rosanna Gangemi in 2004.

When did your encounter with the art world take place?

My Austrian grandmother was one of the first women to study photography in Weimar, she always encouraged me to draw and to improve my eye, to find beauty where it doesn’t first appear to be and to learn to read images…

Thus, I visited a lot of museums and galleries from earliest youth. But my encounter as an adult with the world of contemporary art took place in Italy where, because of my review, I was led to deepen my interest in this complex and universal language that contemporary art represents and to meet with certain players.

What caused you to found DROME Magazine?

I have always had a passion for music, art, architecture and literature magazines. I was surprised by the lack of magazines, particularly in Italy, that would allow someone to learn in detail about artists who are less known by the general public. Thus, I had the idea to create an interdisciplinary review where the images would have the same value as the texts and where the readers could widen their interests. And since the internet had already become a primary source of information, it was essential that the quality of our product be impeccable.

A work that is perfectly printed will always be better on paper than on a screen. 

And today, a review must endure over time. That is why we have always sought to focus on sure values and not on trends. Each issue of DROME is thematic, which gives it the aspect of a collection. In fact, an old copy of DROME still today has all of its original interest!

Your point of view on supporting young artists?

This is an extremely sensitive issue. An artist invests a lot of time working in the hope of being able to exhibit his/her works and then hoping to sell the works in order to be able to continue working. This vocation must not be reserved only for those who possess the resources. Therefore, public support is indispensable.

The artistic heritage of a country is a source of revenue and a (large) portion of this revenue should be made available in order for young artists to be able to be productive. I think that gallery owners, curators and critics should always be conscious of their responsibility to artists. Beyond economic support, there is also intellectual support. Human contact is essential and represents a great wealth. In this regard, I remember the response of a collector of contemporary art to a dealer in classical paintings. He was asking her during a dinner – in a somewhat arrogant manner – why she invested in contemporary art. She responded:

Unlike your clients, I have the chance to know the artist.

Important encounters?

A lot of people were extremely important in my journey, and the journey is far from over. But to name only a few, I think particularly of the collector Franco Nucci (Fondazione VOLUME!), the gallery owners Armando Porcari and Fabrizio del Signore (The gallery apart), the collector and gallery owner Barbara Polla (Analix Forever) and Professors Maria-Luisa Frisa and Massimo Canevacci.

 

Your favourite memories of publishing the magazine?

My meetings with Marina Abramoviç, Ai Wei Wei, David Tibet (Current 93) and Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3).

 

What does Stefan Pollak do in his free time?

I have always been passionate about music and I play myself, so I dedicate a lot of time to this passion. But I also love contemporary theatre, dance, in short, I don’t have time to be bored. And I love to cook!

 

What was the last exhibit that you saw and the exhibit that most affected you in your life?

The last exhibit was Anna Raimondo, a young artist from Naples who lives in Brussels, after her residency at MAAC. It is difficult to say what affected me the most, but I was very moved by the exhibit by Jeremy Deller “Joy in People” in 2012 at the WIELS in Brussels.

A word on your curator’s selection?

A purely personal selection. The advantage of this project is that this is not a collective exhibit, which allows me to not have to follow a specific line – apart from the fact that the artists are working in Berlin, and even there I allowed myself the liberty to choose Marian Luft who lives and works in Leipzig – but I was therefore able to choose artists that I appreciate for their research and their backgrounds. I am convinced that this choice will be interesting for collectors, whether new or experienced collectors!


Photos: Miriam Klingl