A Guide to a Well-Functioning Artist-Gallerist Relationship

19 January 2021

A Guide to a Well-Functioning Artist-Gallerist Relationship

Czech contemporary artist Hynek Martinec, who often links the past with the future in his paintings, is well-known to a local audience as well as internationally. In 2020, he showcased his works next to Jeff Koons, Marina Abramović and Jenny Saville in Stockholm and Helsinki respectively. His paintings are currently part of the group show Vanitas in the Centre for Contemporary Art DOX in Prague.

Hynek received the prestigious BP Young Artist Award in 2007 for his hyper-realistic portraits. However, it was not only his exceptional talent that resulted in such a gratifying award, but also the immense professional support from his gallerist, Ben Tufnell, which helped Hynek to achieve such a successful career.

“I first met Hynek in 2013 when he was helping to organise a show of British painting at the Rudolfinum. I knew he was an artist, so I invited myself to his studio. He was working on 'Every Minute You Are Closer To Death', a really extraordinary large monochrome photo-realistic still life. I was blown away,” recalls Ben Tufnell, former curator at Tate who founded London based Parafin gallery in 2014. “We invited Hynek to do the inaugural show at the gallery because we wanted to do things differently and not just open with our biggest and best-known artist.”

Hynek and Ben both agree that it is a two-way street to maintain a good artist-gallerist relationship. “It is about trusting each other and agreeing to go in one direction together, even though you may sometimes disagree. Today's art world is a huge bubble in which you won´t succeed alone if you truly wish to grow and attract new collectors. It is at this time that the artist requires a leading gallery to step in and help. Without this assistance, you risk getting stuck in the studio and for the rest of your life selling the same paintings to the same people with little to no presence at museums or art fairs,” comments Hynek on the benefits of having a good representation.

It's not just about selling, although that is obviously very important. It is also about engagement and support - curatorially, intellectually, but also emotionally - and being proactive. Introducing new people to the work, generating conversations, making connections. I think it is also important to take a long-term view. Ideally, artist and gallery can grow and develop together,” says Ben. Parafin gallery has already organised two solo shows for Hynek and is currently planning the third, as well as supporting a number of museum projects internationally.

Ben Tufnell, Director at Parafin Gallery and Former Curator at Tate Britain & Hynek Martinec, Artist

Hynek Martinec
Flaying of Marsyas, 2019
Oil on canvas
170 x 240 cm