Say what you will about Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, the young art dealer son of former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld. Though he has been criticized as a dilettante riding on a famous name, one thing is certain: the 27-year-old knows how to generate some serious buzz. Hot off the heels of a successful exhibition of Ivorian painter Ouattara Watts during Fashion Week, Roitfeld’s latest show is garnering attention as much for its chosen venue as for the art.
The exhibition will showcase works by French painter Nicolas Pol at a space most artists could only dream of showing: a private home owned by one of the world’s great art collectors on New York’s Upper East Side. The 45-foot-wide, 22,000-square-foot building also happens to be the former home of one of the city’s most notorious galleries, Salander-O'Reilly. Roitfeld convinced the new owner, real estate mogul Aby Rosen, to turn over two of the brownstone's five floors to Pol, who will install a never-before-seen series devoted to a fictional theme park he's calling Neverlodge.
"The whole curatorial process is different from anything we've done before — we're dealing with 12 or 13 rooms," Roitfeld told ARTINFO. The home, which is not Rosen's own residence but is owned by his real estate company, has now been taken over by a vibrant, graffiti-inspired series that looks a bit like what might happen if Gorky met Basquiat at a sinister Six Flags. Most of the paintings in the show are already sold or on hold at prices ranging from $40,000 to $60,000.
The exhibition is also significant because it is Roitfeld’s second consecutive show produced without his partner in crime, Andy Valmorbida, the young Australian dealer with whom Roitfeld mounted pop-up exhibitions by Richard Hambleton and threw glamorous art parties around the world. (All of Pol's previous New York shows, however, were produced by Roitfeld alone.) Valmorbida is now pursuing his own private dealership, Valmorbida & Co., based in Europe. "Like everything in life, people decide to make changes," Roitfeld said of the duo's decision to pursue independent projects, noting that they remain friends.
The world of Neverlodge is part brothel, part ticketed amusement park. "It's about vices, a sin-oriented place, but it’s also about luxury," Pol said of the colorful paintings. And indeed, what better location for such an exhibition than a disgraced gallery-turned-private mansion for sale? Though Pol says he's been pondering the series of paintings and sculptures for a long time, "when I saw the place, I thought that it made sense."
"Neverlodge" opens on March 6 at 22 E 71st Street in New York.