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Downtown Boys: Interview with Rudolf Budja Gallery

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On the eve of the launch of the Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque and Rudolf Budja collaboration at Rudolf Budja Gallery, we caught up with the designer (Arcila-Duque) and the globe-trotting gallerist (Budja) on the art of collecting, the future of the market and how each keeps his day job fun.

How was the collaboration with Rudolf Budja Gallery initiated? Juan Carlos Arcila-Duque: Mutual friends from Turkey introduced me to Rudolf and as soon as I met him I discovered an intrepid and well-informed gallery owner, with a clear vision of the world of art. To be able to go through his archives has been an incredible and humbling experience.

We hear Peter Marino’s recent exhibition the Bass Museum had an impact on this show.

JCAD: I’m a great admirer of Marino’s work, in particular his vision for luxury retail stores—a sort of architecture mixed with high-end design concept. I met Peter last year at the Paris Biennale where he told me a bit about the show in Miami. When I saw the exhibition, I was amazed by the monumental collection he has achieved and how he blended it with his new furniture collection.

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What is it about Marino’s work or the exhibition that caught your eye? JCAD: I have always been curious about solo exhibitions of architects and designers and how they are related with a new form of art, which involves “art, fashion, architecture, and design.” I think all interior designers and decorators like me, are inspired by the ergonomic approach of a fashion designer. When we design our spaces, we look at colors, textures and forms. That’s the reason why I admire Marino’s work—especially in all his fashion retail projects—all of these elements share a connection.

When did you begin collecting art and design objects? JCAD: I started my career as a furniture designer—my father was a furniture maker and somehow a designer as well. During my last years in NYC (I lived there for 10 years), I became involved with art. I loved the instant gratification of photography, and I started to buy some small pieces. In 1998, I curated an exhibition in collaboration with the Craft Council of England called “Form and Function” at a gallery in Chelsea.

And you used to have a gallery in Miami? JCAD: Yes, when I moved to Miami, I opened one of the first photography galleries in the Design District where I showed the work of worldwide famous photographers—such as Horst P. Horst, Peter Beard, Arākī, Helmut Newton, Albert Watson—mixed with French and American furniture designers such as India Mahdavi, S. Russell Groves, and Christophe Delcourt. My own designs were there too. I was ahead of my time and suffered a cruel defeat. “Art:Design Miami” is my first project merging art and functional art.

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What do you predict will be ‘the future’ of collecting? JCAD: I do believe the world is looking back to the classics. Too many geniuses disappeared because of a bad critic in the papers, the choice of museum not to show them or curators that never include them on their lists of must-have artists and designers.

When did you decide to specialize in Pop Art and what drew to you that niche? Rudolf Budja: It was when I came to Miami for the first time in 1986 and then I went to LA where I held a temporary job in a print studio and at night I was working in different clubs as a deejay. So, I was always with the artists day and night. I loved Pop Art and decided to open a gallery in 1988, in Graz, Austria.

How do you see your galleries in Austria in conversation with your gallery space in Sunset Harbor? RB: They are completely different. Austria is more a “Gallery” and we represent artists. In Sunset Harbor, it is like my playground and dance floor with storage space. You have to imagine a wholesale warehouse in Miami versus a Renaissance sophisticated gallery space in an old Palais in the middle of Salzburg.

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How do the tastes of your European and North American clients align and differ? RB: Europeans are a little more open and they do not often say “I” but in general is it my job to tell the collectors what to buy.

What do you see as the greatest market trend in contemporary art? RB: I think Warhol’s work sells very well as does Koons, Hirst, Wool and so on. We always have some interesting offers.

What can clients, new and old, expect from the new Rudolf Budja Gallery space in Sunset Harbor? RB: A lot of fun good opportunities to buy serious works by the best artists in the world. Cultural events with everything from classical music to hip-hop sounds and always a lot of fun. The main thing is that we keep this place private as our storage and surprise our friends and clients with new and interesting projects.

Text by Lauren Pellerano Gomez. This article originally appeared in Cultured Magazine.

Lauren Gomez