F2 Gallery's Fabien Fryns tells Mikala Reasbeck about his home, which functions as a private residence, office and public gallery.
My search for an art space began in 2004. I looked at 798 Art District, but didn’t really like the feel of it, so I turned to Caochangdi.
Some may feel that Caochangdi lacks the edge, spontaneity and coolness that 798 proffers, but I feel that the work here is both more innovative and of a higher standard. For these reasons—and despite the fact that the area was under the threat of demolition—I settled upon Caochangdi as the place for F2 Gallery.
It took only three months to complete the renovations—quite astounding. Under the impression that the renovations would only entail knocking down a few walls and a new coat of paint, I left the country to see to business elsewhere. You can imagine my shock when my wife sent me a photo of the structure with no roof to speak of.
Our office is nestled between the gallery space and our living quarters. I live and breathe art, so I feel no real need to separate my home and work lives. The only time this layout really presents a problem is when people pay more attention to, or are more interested in, my personal collection. That’s the problem with being a collector and a gallerist: everyone who enters thinks that every piece is for sale. Only the most intimate visitors are able to see all three sections of the space. This is because entry to the house can only be gained via the office, and the office can only be reached by walking through the gallery.
Our small team of workers shares the intimate 100 square meter space that is our office. My wife Lucy and I sit at a large desk beneath Shi Guorai’s wall-consuming camera obscura project featuring the National Stadium.
Every artist that F2 shows is represented in our personal home and office collections. These are teeming with photographs, sculptures and paintings, almost all by Chinese contemporary artists. Our office floors are dotted with Feng Shu’s large porcelain insects and anarchids from his “Post Period Insects” exhibition. Resting on a wall, just next to Chen Ke’s Children on a Slide mixed media creation, is a Lawrence Schiller print of Marilyn Monroe slipping on a robe.
Filling our office space is much easier. In some ways the 250 square meter space acts as a handicap. I really only need a 50 to 75 square meter space and four to five good pieces. Luckily, most people are past being impressed with big spaces. Now, they’re impressed by what’s on the walls—as they should be.