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Interview

April 18, 2007

Javier Peres

Five years after opening his first exhibition space in San Francisco, upstart art dealer Javier Peres runs galleries in Los Angeles and Berlin and has more branches on the way. His savoir faire secured both assume vivid astro focus and Terence Koh spots in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Peres talks with Artkrush contributing editor H.G. Masters about the good life in Berlin and what it takes to be in his stable of artists.

AK:  After launching Peres Projects in San Francisco with shows of Bruce LaBruce and assume vivid astro focus in 2002, you relocated the gallery to LA's Chinatown, opening with Terence Koh's first solo show in March 2003. Under your aegis, those artists have flourished. What do you look for in artists?

JP:  I am interested in many different things in the world, and artists who share those interests and address them in their work in original and thought-provoking ways intrigue me. If they're hot — or simply sluts — then that's even better.

AK:  As a gallerist, you're known for a hands-off, even indulgent approach. What gives you the confidence to let your artists run loose?

JP:  It's all about trust — very much like a master-servant relationship; except in our case, we never make clear who is who.

AK:  You have a second space in Berlin. What attracted you to the city?

JP:  I came to Berlin because I've loved the city since my first visit here — I was five years old, competing in gymnastics. Also, Germans are über-hot, which never hurts. Before I opened my gallery, I had lived in Berlin for a year because Kirstine Roepstorff, the Danish artist-goddess whom I represent and who is also one of my dearest BFFs, was already here full-time, and we were joined at the hip. I was like, "Fuck, I need to keep myself a bit more busy when I'm here." Ta-da! The gallery was born.

AK:  Why did you choose to locate your gallery in the traditionally Turkish neighborhood of Kreuzberg over the more established gallery areas in Mitte?

JP:  It was a no-brainer: I mainly hung out in Kreuzberg, and I wanted to have my business where I was already spending my time. I looked at spaces all over the city, and the space I chose was the best for what I wanted to do. It's big. Now, a bunch of the better galleries here have also moved to areas outside of Mitte. You're welcome Berlin!

AK:  Do many of your artists spend time in Berlin now?

JP:  All of the artists that I represent spend time in Berlin. Most spend between two and six months a year here working on projects. Dean Sameshima, Terence Koh, and John Kleckner all have studios and/or production facilities here.

AK:  We hear you're incorporating an alternative project space in a warehouse near the gallery in Kreuzberg. How do you think this kind of space, which is prevalent in Berlin, will complement your commercial activity?

JP:  Everything I do is commercial — I just run my business my own way. The additional 4,500-square-meter space allows me to try out new things, like roller-skating parties, performances, large-scale sculptures, and maybe even the opportunity to exhibit tids and bits of my own collection.

AK:  Many dealers open gallery spaces in cities where they want to tap into the local scene. At the moment, none of your artists are German. Any plans to pursue German artists?

JP:  I love Germans, but I've never thought much about an artist's nationality when deciding to work with her or him. I much prefer that they be beautiful and fun.

AK:  How often are you in Berlin? What's your impression of the city's art scene?

JP:  I'm here as much as possible — currently that amounts to as much as 75% of the time. The city has an amazing art scene. I think it's top-top, like, the highest level for the world.

AK:  Your new quarterly publication, Daddy magazine, is both a catalogue of your artists' work and a pictorial essay linking Terence Koh to Yves Klein, Nate Lowman to Bruce Nauman, and assume vivid astro focus to Sol LeWitt. What's the plan for the next issue of Daddy? Will it continue as a venture to promote gallery artists or branch out to encompass others?

JP:  Daddy is meant to be for you. My galleries' artists are for you. Daddy will always be for you. The next issue will be very lady-heavy, like lots of stuff about ladies, the things ladies like, and the things guys like about ladies. In fact, I'm calling it Lady Daddy to keep the lady spirit. Of course, guys can be very "lady" — in fact, some of my favorite guys are more my favorite ladies. But Daddy is as much art journal as it is propaganda, no different than any other mainstream or independent art journal or magazine — without naming any, of course.

AK:  Though you don't have a gallery space in New York, you're supporting Terence Koh's Asia Song Society (ASS) and many of your artists are based in New York. Why did you decide not to open a gallery there?

JP:  ASS is a cooperative project between Terence and Peres Projects, so I sort of do have a presence there, but to call ASS a gallery isn't accurate. ASS is for projects and events, things that can happen when both Terence and I are there. We also make dirty little films and movies there, but those can happen with or without me. I'll open a gallery in New York another year, but not this one or the next.

AK:  Peres Projects is opening a venue in Athens this summer. What's the plan for that venture? Will it be a permanent space?

JP:  Peres Projects Athens is a dream come true. I love Athens and Greece in general; it's the gate to our culture as Western people. I'm doing a temporary project there so that I can be there more often, enjoy the wonders of the city and the country, see friends there, and have more friends come over. In fact, the first thing we're doing at PP Athens will be to celebrate my 27th birthday on July 7, 2007 (07-07-07) with a big bash. It'll be a lot of fun. A few days after, Terence and I — and I think Dan Colen too — will go to the Canary Islands for an exhibition that Terence is doing at the museum there. In the years to come, I want to do temporary exhibitions in the Bahamas as well as East Africa — maybe Somalia or Eritrea.

Dean Sameshima's Numbers, a series of silk screens of pornographic connect-the-dots, is on view at Peres Projects Berlin until April 21. At Peres Projects Los Angeles, Matt Greene's exhibition The Defenders of Reality runs through June 9.

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