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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”
One last question:
Q:"Back to the old or onto the new?"
A:"Onto the new! always onto the new!"
24–27 JUNE 2021
KARL-FARKAS-GASSE 19, 1030 VIENNA
AUSTRIA’S NEW INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR
For more on the Spark Art Fair
Instagram: Spark Art Fair
Website: Spark Art Fair
Follow the galleries and artists on Instagram:
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!