Ana Patricia Gómez Jaramillo

We had the pleasure of meeting Ana Patricia Gomez Jaramillo, a gallery owner from Colombia. Her two important gallery platforms La Balsa in Bogota and Medellin, reveal a strong commitment to establishing a clear gallery path and strategy: valuable experience that this exceptional woman will share with us you can in our conversation:

When someone with so much experience starts a new artistic collaboration, what are your expectations from the artist? 

When we choose to work with an artist, we consider several general issues, such as the candidate’s background and education, and we are particularly interested in the professional commitment to keeping an ongoing and steady production. But first and foremost, we consider the quality of the work in its material and theoretical aspects.
We are convinced that artists, apart from absorbing experiences from their milieu (and from the greater world), obtain their best results when they have an open attitude to investigating their subject matter and techniques and, stemming from endless curiosity, involve themselves in different forms of ‘research’. This is not necessarily an academic pursuit; it is subjective and driven by a desire to explore, evolve, and discover new areas of practice and new philosophical perspectives and to extend the limits of their practice.

You rely on your colleagues but also take the opportunity to monitor all the details in the organization. What aspects of logistics do you pay attention to? 

I’m inclined to develop horizontal working organizations. This leaves some people perplexed, but I assume that when the deployment of individual capacities is welcomed, most colleagues are inventive and generous with their ideas. I focus on consistent practices, following through with the different processes involved, and making each project a collective experience where lessons can be learned. We analyze and review these procedures to constantly improve our collective work within curatorial and critical frames of reference.

You participate in international art fairs and have been successful at that. What are your experiences in selecting works? What is the key moment, the artist’s name, the particular artwork, intuition? What do you count on? 

Each art fair has its own specific personality, which arises not only from the curatorship and general direction involved but also from the specific location. As such, we try to gain as much insight as possible into the local collectors, art galleries, artists, and museums in the city in question and a perception of the general image and spirit generated by the specific environment. Thus, through trial and error, we have learned how different publics in specific locations respond to art, and we have adjusted our proposals accordingly. We also follow the participating galleries, press and magazine reviews, and general comments from visitors from previous years to different fairs. We try to visit different fairs before committing to participate.

We design different strategies accordingly, considering that having a few well-represented artists with several works is much better than many dispersed works. We always prepare a document and explore ideas in advance with the aim of developing a particular curatorial idea. Even if it is loose and general, as we count on a limited number of artists with whom we work on a permanent basis, it serves as a guideline for keeping our discourse and intentions within easily recognizable boundaries.

What advice do you have for colleagues just starting the gallery business? What are the qualities that you personally value and that have helped you succeed?

As in everything in life, experience is a great educator. It helps to set out with a program and a limited scope and then evolve according to the opportunities and the results. The most important qualities are order, consistency, and discipline. It is important to understand what niche of the gallery business you want to occupy and to have a clear idea of the image you want to project to potential buyers. Shaping a gallery is also a creative and analytical chore.

You have two galleries. Is Columbia’s gallery scene developed, or is it still adapting to global market conditions? How is individual contribution measured in promoting standards? Do you believe in collective capacities or individual paths?

Colombia is not a developed market but has distinctive characteristics that make it interesting. For one, the country had a very limited immigration policy, but in the 20th century, several artists and curators from different origins settled here and shook the local colonial, patriarchal provincial structures. Some artists, such as Fernando Botero, chose to develop their careers outside Colombia. Beatriz Gonzalez has recently become an international figure. Doris Salcedo had roots in other scenarios from early in her career, and others, such as Oscar Murillo, have always lived abroad. More recently, several younger Colombian artists have been very active in the international scene. We have a special interest in artists who, through contact with other countries, have broken the mold of local paradigms and education.

Over the past century, local initiatives were taken to promote biennales and art festivals (‘Bienal de Coltejer de Medellin’) and ‘salons’, such as the ‘Salon de artistas Colombianos,’ organized by the Ministry of Culture, plus a myriad of local national and international festivals.

The Colombian government’s stimuli have been historically somewhat limited and contaminated by politics, particularly in the actions concerning the support and sponsorship of artists abroad. In this sense, we feel that one of our objectives as a gallery is presenting Colombian artists to an international public, as well as to different audiences inside Colombia; this is the reason why we consider it interesting to operate in two cities. Mostly, exposure is a tool that encourages artists to leave their ‘safety zone’ in order to better define and refine their practice.

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