Have You Met... Alexander Levy

Originally founded in 2009 as the Berlin branch of the Hamburg gallery LEVY, alexander levy is the gallery’s two-year old reincarnation that aims to present young artists with an experimental edge. I spoke with the director Alexander Levy to find out more about the gallery's work and its upcoming projects. 

How did it all start with alexander levy gallery?

Alexander: My father has a gallery for over 4o years in Hamburg. In 2009 he decided to open a second branch here in Berlin, in the same location we are in right now. I started working here as a director of the gallery for two years. But then, after a while, I figured out that I wanted to do things differently. I started to include young artists like Felix Kiessling already in 2010. That was the first solo exhibition of an artist that I picked. From then on I developed the program of this gallery, which included more young, experimental and conceptual art. In 2012 we opened the gallery under the name alexander levy and had some reconstructions going on. The gallery exists for two years now and has a new program.

What is the difference between the new and the old gallery?

Alexander: The artists which are right now in the program. I included some of the artists from my father's program into mine as well, but the art I am showing now is more experimental, with more contemporary artists of my generation, more photographs and conceptual art. My father had a more traditional program based on surrealism and pop art.

How much of an influence was your family in your choice to become a part of the art world? Does you father still interfere in the gallery work nowadays?

Alexander: I started in the music business . I worked for four  years for Warner Music. I was always surrounded by art; that is maybe why I took it for granted in my youth. Working in a different field showed me what an important part art has in my life and I took the chance to work for my father. He was a huge influence definitely, throughout my whole life. I traveled a lot with him. Thanks to him I got into art and we are still talking a lot about different things, but he is not involved anymore in any decisions regarding this gallery.

What is your background?

Alexander: I studied media management and at the same time worked at a company. I did this for four years. The art related studies I did by myself. I read books and had the opportunity to travel a lot, to see a lot of art at the art fairs and museums. This is how I gained my experience.

John von Bergen / image courtesy of alexander levy

What is the main curatorial strategy at your gallery?

Alexander: It is kind of a personal thing how I find new artists. They have to catch my attention on a personal level first. I am interested in artists who are kind of changing perception of things. Maybe that is connecting all of the artist I worked with. But I do not say that I am only into paintings, or sculptures, because a lot of artists are working in so many different media. You can not just focus on the medium, I think, but more on an idea.

What are your upcoming projects?

Alexander: Right now we are packing the stuff for ARCO, the art fair in Madrid that is starting in a week. We are going to show Felix Kiessling, Ekaterina Burlyga and Vicky Uslé. After that we will be working on the next exhibition by the painter Daniel Mohr who is going to show his new work, some smaller installations. Julius von Bismarck is taking part in an exhibition at the Hamburger Kussthalle in May and is part of an exhibition at the Kunstverein Wolfsburg in March.  Then we are going to have an exhibition by Felix Kiessling during May for the Gallery Weekend, which we are already organising and trying to prepare because it is going to be a little bit more complicated. Those are the projects for the near future.

How would you like to see your gallery developing in the future? Do you already have some long term plans?

Alexander: In the first two years I focused on the work here in Berlin in order to make this place more powerful. Now we are working towards the international area. It would be nice to take part in some special art fairs, to make it possible for the artists to be more included in the international exhibitions. Institutional exhibitions are planned for some artists too. The aim would be to get strong international exhibitions for the artists I work with and to have more international audience.

What influences or inspires you in your work?

Alexander: On the one hand it is probably my father, on the other hand other galleries, but I would not name one. It is more about the way of working with the artists. Sometimes those are long-term relationships, maybe for the rest of your life, so you can also develop long-term projects. It is not about having certain role models as the influence, it is more about the idea, how the galleries should work, and about having a good relationship with the artists, developing projects with them and being helpful. 

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