Art People | Director of the new art fair in vienna

Spark Art Fair | Renger van den Heuvel | 2021

SPARK Art Fair | Renger van den Heuvel

We are so excited! There is a new Art Fair in town! Renger van den Heuvel presents the Spark Art Fair in Vienna, launching and presenting an innovative and new format! 


Exhibitors participating at the Spark Art Fair are established and up-and-coming young galleries, showing over 80 solo presentations.

Participants will consist of Austrian galleries and a prime selection of international galleries. 

renger van den heuvel, spark art fair, contemporary artists, international galleries
Renger van den Heuvel | Image courtesy Spark Art Fair | Press department Joshua Köb  

SPARK will exclusively feature solo presentations by galleries, aiming at reaching and offering collectors, museums, institutions, and new generations of potential collectors and art lovers the unique opportunity to access brand-new artworks. 

All together on view will be three curated sections led by the esteemed curator’s Sabine Breitwieser, Tevž Logar, and Marlies Wirth presenting new media and digital art, international galleries, and post-war modern art.

Who is Renger van den Heuvel?

Renger van den Heuvel was born in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, in 1963.

He studied law, then worked for many years as a filmmaker and in the publishing industry in the Netherlands and Moscow. From 2012 - 2019 he was managing director and commercial director of the Vienna Contemporary art fair.

mar halle, vienna, historic building, events, fair, spark, 2021
Marx Halle | Image courtesy @Spark Art Fair  | Press department Joshua Köb  

How it all came to be?

Renger Van den Heuvel took off for about a year after he stopped working at the Vienna Contemporary art fair.

What he now had was time. 

Anything was possible. 

post war, collectors, museum, potential collectors, karl karner, kandlhofer
Gallery Kandlhofer presents Karl Karner, KSBrutbladd | 2021 | Aluminium, feather, egg, dirt, plastic material, lighter; right: Karl Karner | STARLight | 2021 | Aluminium, brick, moss, spruce, silicone, chain, dirt, hoofbalm, nose ring, shell

Photo by Killian FlitschImage courtesy Gallery Kandlhofer | Photo credit: @ Alexander Flitsch

The question came up whether he and his family would stay in Austria or move back to the Netherlands. 

They decided to stay in Vienna feeling it to be the right environment for them as a family. 

interview, story, solo presentations, brand new art, installation, art lovers, jakob lena knebl
Georg Kargl Fine Arts present: Jakob Lena Knebl  | Sarah 1 | 2020 | C-print | 120 x 120 cm | Courtesy: the artist and Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna | Photo: Christian Benesch | Grafik: Markus Pires Mata

It was clear to him that he wanted to continue with the arts, for the past 8 years he had built up quite an important network in Austria. 

It made sense to continue on this path, and being a foreigner here he says, can make things easier at times, easier to move things forward. 

When he first came to Austria, he was a complete outsider, it turned out to be a huge advantage for him. 

sabine breitwieser, tevz logar, marlies wirth, post-modern, art, digital
Sophie Tappeiner presents: Irina Lotarevich | The Tower | 2020 | Wood, cast tin figures, aluminium, stainless steel, screws | 160 x 141 x 74 cm | Courtesy the artist and Sophie Tappeiner | Copyright:@ Kunst-dokumentation.com

His objective from the start has always been to do a good art fair, and it is still his guiding principle. 

He tries to keep things simple. 

Especially since he has to think about, and be on top of everything. 

sophie tappeiner, irina lotarevich, sculpture, kunst-dokumentation com
Sophie Tappeiner presents: Irina Lotarevich | You seek to guess the secrets of my historiated liquid, shimmering skin | 2020 | Cast and polished aluminium | 10 x 17 x 4,5 cm | Courtesy the artist and Sophie Tappeiner | Copyright:@ kunst-dokumentation.com

He explains that as an art fair organizer, you need to be able to work with everyone, he sees his role as somewhere in the middle. 

He adds that it resembles the job a publisher has, you have to be able to overview and deal with all the different elements.

petra martinetz, sophia süssmilch, c-print, germany, cologne
Marlies Wirth | Curator | Interface | SPARK Art Fair Vienna | c)Marcella Ruiz Cruz | Image courtesy @Spark Art Fair | Press department Joshua Köb  

Renger Van den Heuvel spent last year reconnecting with the galleries and their gallerists, following up on relationships, discussing ideas, building on the idea of a new art fair. 

Between November and December, he took his bicycle and cycled through Vienna, speaking to about 25 galleries about his new plan, sharing with them his ideas and new concept. 

elisabeth and klaus thoman, johannes wohnseifer, bronze
Christine König Gallery presents: Nancy Spero (1926-2009) for the Utopia / Post War section | The Acrobats | 2001 | Handdruck und Druck collagiert auf Papier - unique hand print and print collaged on paper | 50 x 245 cm | Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Wien

The response was positive, the opportunity was there, and so the Spark art fair was born.  

The fair would never have been possible without the support of the local art community, he stresses, that was why at the beginning a lot of emphasis was set on bringing the key Viennese galleries on board.

christine könig, thomas reinhold, nancy spero, unique hand print
Christine König Gallery presents: Nancy Spero (1926-2009) for the Utopia / Post War section | The Acrobats -Close up | 2001 | Handdruck und Druck collagiert auf Papier - unique hand print and print collaged on paper | 50 x 245 cm | Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Wien

The plan, he tells me, was for the Spark art fair to take place at the beginning of May, but due to restrictions and the pandemic, the fair was postponed to June. 

In the future years, the fair is planned to take place at the end of March. 

The choice fell for March as there are no other art fairs taking place in Vienna at that time, so the Spark will be filing a hole.

martin janda, nilbar güres, photography, mixed media, fabric, artist
Sabine Breitwieser | Curator | Utopia | SPARK Art Fair Vienna | (c)Franz Johann Morgenbesser | Image courtesy @Spark Art Fair | Press department Joshua Köb  
“The ID of the Spark is that it's a place of production. To see works for the first time at the Spark, that's my ideal.“ - Renger van den Heuvel

The innovative concept that differentiates the Spark art fair from others, is that the galleries will be showing only one artist, with an emphasis on new work. 

This he believes allows the visitors to experience a more in-depth connection and focus on the work presented, as well as the opportunity to view new contemporary art.

gallery winter, vienna, laurence weiner, original artwork, unique piece
Christine König presents Thomas Reinhold | 2021 | Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Wien

The fair will take place at the historic Marx Halle. 

It is a gorgeous building made from red bricks, metal, and glass, inside a 20,000m2 space, the ceiling held up by high metal pillars.

gallerie exile, nschotschi haslinger, ceramics, modern, art, brand new
Inside the empty Marx Halle | Image courtesy @Spark Art Fair | Press department Joshua Köb  

The gallery booths will be built around two such pillars, forming four booths. 

The booths will have a different layout than what we are generally used to seeing. They won't have the usual rectangular shape, but they will be more like an open form, resembling an open book.

At the time we spoke, Renger Van den Heuvel had not yet seen all the work, nor had all the galleries. 

He tells me that many artists are still in the process of working and finishing up the artworks they will be presenting. 

ernst koslitsch, spark art fair 2021, gallery raum mit licht, contemporary sculpture, emerging artist
The Raum mit Licht gallery presents Ernst Koslitsch | Not yet titled (Studio view in progress) | Image courtesy @Ernst Koslitsch

He reassured me that even though he had yet to see all the work, this was not a problem, explaining that there is a constant dialogue and exchange between him, the curators, and the gallerists.

The exchange taking place upfront and in-depth, working together closely and bringing it all together with the utmost professionalism. 

contemporary art fair, austria, spark, emerging artists, raum mit licht
Tevz Logar | Curator | Perspectives | SPARK Art Fair Vienna | (c)Jaka Babnik | Image courtesy @Spark Art Fair | Press department Joshua Köb  

He is very excited that there are also artists producing sculptural work exclusively for the Spark art fair, finding inspiration in the special architecture of the Marx Halle. 

georg kargl, fine arts, jakob lena knebl, art gallery, austria, booth
Gallery Martin Janda presents the artist Nilbar Güres | The Eye | 2018 | C-print | 139 x 170 cm | NG/F 105 | Courtesy Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna

This year due to the pandemic the concentration lies on the Austrian market, but there are also international galleries expected to participate. 

In the future, the Spark Art Fair will be presenting national and international galleries, focusing on central European galleries, differentiating itself from the Contemporary Art Fair that concentrates more on Eastern galleries. 

collectors, collecting, museums, institutions, universities, innovative
Gallery Martin Janda presents the artist Nilbar Güres | Mutter Maria über dem Bügeltisch | 2019 | Mixed media on fabric |  76.4x 78.4 cm | NG/P 109 | Courtesy Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna

I asked how the new Spark art fair is attracting novice art enthusiasts.

He answered that the focus lies on lowering the threshold by presenting solo exhibitions, therefore allowing the new generation of young collectors circles and art lovers to reach a deeper understanding of the artist and their work on view.

Another element to attract young people is a digital new media section that is created by the curator Marlies Wirth, who is also curator at the MCC.

art lovers, featured art, spotlight, contemporary art, fair, messe, wien
The gallery Martinetz presents the artist: Sophia Süßmilch | Dreams are my reality | 2021 | Oil on canvas | 165x135 cm | Courtesy the artist and MARTINETZ, Cologne

There they will present different art-forms, where digital is an important element.

It can be in the process of making an art piece, but also by the way it's being presented. 

The Spark art fair is truly a great event to look forward to, a great opportunity to go out and celebrate. 

After all the restrictions the galleries and the artists are looking forward to exhibiting, meeting, and exchanging again. 

kunst messe, spark, marx halle, neu, zeitgenössisch, interview, exklusiv
The gallery Martinetz presents the artist: Sophia Süßmilch | Heimatliebe | 2020 | C-Print | 45x30 cm, 5+3AP | Courtesy the artist and MARTINETZ, Cologne

Art lovers get to experience a great new art fair, go out, see all these amazing artworks, in one of the most beautiful settings in Vienna. 

I can't agree more with him when he says it's going to be incredible!

international, national, viewing room, new media and digital art
The gallery Exile presents: Nschotschi Haslinger | Not yet titled (Studio view in progress) | 2021 | Ceramics | 43 x 32 x 18 cm | Image courtesy the artist and Exile Gallery Vienna

FUTURE PLANS

An event hall is in planning. It will be built by the Marx Halle.

Renger and his team are planning to create spaces for pop-up exhibitions and events in the front of the hall. 

All of this he explains fits into the city's strategy of not solely offering art and culture in the first district but also in its outskirts.

gallery elisabeth and klaus thoman, spark artfair, vienna, online art platform
Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman present Johannes Wohnseifer | All the sculptures of a year (2017), 2021 | Bronze patinated | 27,5 x 27,5 x 27,5 cm | Edition of 3 + 1 AP | Photo: Johannes Wohnseifer | Courtesy: König Galerie, Berlin & Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman, Innsbruck/Vienna

The project is still in the conceptual phase and planned for somewhere around 2023, and too early to be very concrete, one thing is sure though, Renger van den Heuvel's plans are bigger than just the art fair.

I asked what one good advice he would pass on to my artists: 

“I know for me, it's always about finding learning from others and learning your own voice. And if that voice is strong enough, you have to be patient. And so someday out there someone will recognize your talent”
gallery hubert winter, lawrence weiner, contemporary art, fair, vienna
The gallery Hubert Winter Gallery presents Lawrence Weiner | WEST AS EAST EAST AS WEST | 2012 | Faber-Castell pencil, inkjet on folded pasted archival paper | Diptych, 100,5 x 69 cm each | Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna

One last question:

Q:"Back to the old or onto the new?"
A:"Onto the new! always onto the new!"
munchies art club, contemporaryart, emerging artist, post war, media
The gallery Hubert Winter Gallery present Lawrence Weiner | PULLED ALONG & THEN ALLOWED TO DRIFT ON THE BANKS OF THE DANUBE | 2009 | Language + Materials referred to - Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter, Vienna

Date and Location of the Austrians new international Art Fair

24-27 June 2021
Marx Halle
Karl-Farkas-Gasse 19, 1030 Vienna

For more on the Spark Art Fair


Instagram: Spark Art Fair

Website: Spark Art Fair

Follow the galleries and artists on Instagram:

@ Georg Kargl Fine Arts

@ Jakob Lena Knebl

@ Sophie Tappeiner

@ Irina Lotarevich

@ Galerie Martinetz

@ Sophia Süßmilch

@ Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman

@ Galerie Hubert Winter

@ Exile Gallery

@ Nschotschi Haslinger

@ Christine König Galerie

@ König2 by Robby Greif

@ Nancy Spero

@ Galerie Martin Janda

@ Nilbar Güres

@ Galerie Kandlhofer

@ Karl Karner

@ Gallery Raum mit Licht

@ Ernst Koslitsch

A very big thank you to the galleries and their artists who were so kind to share with us the work they will be presenting, allowing our readers the opportunity to get a sneak peek of what's to come!

I thank Joshua Köb from the Spark art fair for arranging a zoom meeting with Mr. Van den Heuvel and my biggest thank you goes out directly to the amazing and incredibly impressive Renger van den Heuvel for taking the time to talk to me, what an honor!

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