celine mo
"Untitled Self Portrait With Banana Cream Pie 2" (2016), Joe Nanashe

In the Know: Catching up with Celine Mo of Brooklyn’s Victori+Mo

Victori+Mo gallery exhibits contemporary artwork in New York’s art destination, Bushwick. Located in the renowned 56 Bogart building, the gallery’s exhibits range from sculpture and mixed media artworks to installation art. We caught up with Celine Mo of Victori+Mo about her current gallery focus, art world trends and new developments in the art market from the gallery’s unique perspective.

Celine Mo on Recognizing Trends

AL: What trends has Victori+Mo noticed from recent artist studio visits? Are there any emerging recent stylistic developments that you’ve noticed or that have caught your attention that you can share with us?

Celine Mo: I feel like I’ve seen a lot of artists experimenting with really unconventional materials which I find super interesting. I love the idea that artists can look at everyday materials and see the creative potential. For example, I went to the studio of Matias Cuevas the other day and he makes these really beautiful abstract pieces by burning carpet. How crazy is that?! I’ve also noticed a lot of artists using bright bold colors and very flat surfaces.

For me, I definitely tend to be drawn to work that uses color and materials in different ways and embodies concepts that make me question my reality. I think the best type of work should speak to me aesthetically, but also address ideas that important to our culture.

celine mo
“Black Nets” (2016) by artist Amie Cunat. Courtesy of Victori + Mo.

AL:Victori+Mo ’s current exhibition, Meetinghouse, is on view at 56 Bogart as a part of a multi-gallery sculpture exhibition through May 27. Can you tell us a bit about the artist, Amie Cunat, and how she incorporates an intriguing blend of Shaker history and bold, brilliant jewel tones? How did the exhibition come together and what about the artist’s work initially drew Victori+Mo in?

Celine Mo: Amie is a Brooklyn-based artist who first became interested in Shaker culture while she was doing a residency near a Shaker town in upstate New York. She was fascinated by their ability to customize furniture and other objects to function in respect to the architecture of Shaker spaces. Shakers are actually very experimental in their use of color, and Amie really took that notion and transformed it into her own visual language.

Working with Amie was pretty much a no-brainer. I initially saw her ceramic works at Spring/Break Art Show because I loved the color and shapes. Then I reached out for a studio visit to learn more about her pieces and when I saw how diverse her practice is, I became even more enthralled by her work. She works in all different types of mediums including ceramics, cardboard, and painting, but they are all clearly in her aesthetic. When we asked her if she would be interested in doing something in the gallery, she had this idea to rebuild a Shaker meetinghouse to scale and we were like “We’re totally in!”

Eric Standley layer laser-cut paper to create an infinite maze. Courtesy of Victori + Mo.

AL: Victori + Mo has a reputation for being a trendsetting art gallery with an unflinching eye toward a decidedly contemporary aesthetic. What influences have inspired the gallery? Are there any modern artists and/or post-war American artists in particular that have inspired your program? What would be five picks for the gallery’s dream roster from 20th century American art history?

Celine Mo: Wow! Thank you so much. The people who have inspired and influenced us the most would definitely be our artists. They all have this passion and ambitious creativity that fuels the gallery. There are definitely modern and post-war American artists that I love and who have inspired me to be a part of the art world, but they don’t directly influence what we do or show at the gallery. However, if I had to choose from 20th Century American artists, I would definitely love to work with Judy Chicago, Cindy Sherman, Dotty Attie, Robert Gober and Walter De Maria.

On Finding a Place for Celine + Mo in an Evolving Market

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“Lead Stacked: Stone” by artist Myles Bennett. Courtesy of Victori + Mo.

AL: What challenges face galleries focusing on contemporary art in 2018? How has Victori + Mo surmounted recent challenges and what opportunities are you looking forward to in 2018?

Celine Mo: That’s such a difficult question because the art world is so varied and complex, but I think the biggest challenge for smaller galleries today is the lack of support from bigger galleries, especially in the explosion of art fair culture. It feels like the world is becoming more polarized in every aspect, including the art world, and the challenge is to overcome this continually widening gap. I think through more collaborations and recognizing that we all share a part in the equity that makes up the art world, we’ll be able to overcome this challenge. We’re constantly trying to work with other galleries on interesting projects and collaborations and I’m excited for the opportunities that it will provide!

AL: How do you feel the gallery model is evolving in the current art market and online sales climate?

Celine Mo: I’ve always had such mixed feelings with online sales. A part of me loves it because we’re able to share and sell work through these incredibly innovative platforms, such as Artsy, with people who wouldn’t normally come into the gallery. But the “purest” side of me still believes that art can only be fully experienced in person, which is why I’ve been so interested in creating immersive experiences for our audiences. I think online platforms are great tools for discovery and I think it’s fantastic how far we’ve come in terms of technology.

To me, the traditional gallery model is a bit outdated. The idea that “these are MY artists and MY clients” is ludicrous because great collectors won’t only buy from one gallery. However, if I can guide these collectors to other galleries and artists I love and respect, I believe that we can all rise for the betterment of the art market.

AL: What role does Victori + Mo play as an advocate for your artists, and how do galleries need to continue to advocate for their artists looking ahead?

Celine Mo: Our goal as a gallery is to really try to push our artists to do things outside their comfort zone and I think that’s where we’ve succeeded the most. I want them to feel like they are able to anything they want in the gallery. As the gallery, if one of our artists has an unfulfilled idea, it is our job to make that idea happen. Galleries should challenge their artists rather than restrain them because as people participating in a creative field, we need to be supportive and creative ourselves.

About the author

Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert is a curator, arts marketing consultant and editor.

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