Interview with Taymour Grahne, Director of Taymour Grahne Gallery
Taymour Grahne is the founder of Taymour Grahne Gallery, an international contemporary art gallery that opened in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood in Fall 2013. Half Lebanese and half Finnish, Grahne was born and raised in London, followed by time living in New York and Beirut. Grahne received a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Boston University and a Masters in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York. His international travels developed his deep appreciation for the global art scene, and his time in New York City solidified his desire to open his own gallery.
Grahne continues to be actively engaged in the broader Middle Eastern art world as a continuation of the blog he founded several years ago, Art of the Mid East, the first and most extensive blog dedicated to the study and discussion of contemporary Middle Eastern art. His experience in the region informs Taymour Grahne Gallery’s strong representation of artists from the Middle East, however the gallery roster is further expanded by Grahne’s interest in emerging art scenes across the world. Grahne, who was recognized by Modern Painters as one of the 50 Most Exciting Collectors Under 50, is active with museums and institutions worldwide. Grahne was also featured in Canvas Magazine’s Power 50-the region’s most influential cultural protagonists.
Dorothée Charles (D.C.): Could you introduce your gallery and the program you’ve been developing since 2013?
Taymour Grahne (T.G.): I opened my gallery in September 2013, with the plan of having a truly international program. Even though NYC is one of the global art capitals, the artists that tend to be exhibited in the city are American. I slowly see that changing, as the world becomes increasingly globalized, and I think the time is right to present artists from across the globe. I also place a great importance on museum acquisitions, and selling works by my gallery’s artists to museums, so we have managed to place work in some great American institutions, including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, the Nasher Museum, and the Newark Museum, among others.
D.C.: Fayçal Baghriche is the next show at your gallery. How did you meet Fayçal?
T.G.: We opened Faycal’s show last week, and his show will last until the end of June. It’s an incredible exhibition. I have known about Faycal’s work for a while now, and remember seeing his iconic “Souvenir” work at an art fair once, and after seeing the work, researched more about Faycal, and once I saw more of Faycal’s work, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to meet the artist—so we organized to meet at Faycal’s Paris studio.
D.C.: At the Armory, you dedicated your booth to Fayçal Baghriche and Lamia Joreige? Could you tell more about this “installation” and their approach?
T.G.: At the Armory this year, we presented a two-person booth: Faycal Baghriche and Lamia Joreige. We chose both artists because they each stretch the limits of documentary practice, incorporating poetic gesture and traces of the body in their work. The booth received an incredible response, and two of Faycal’s works from the booth are currently on reserve for a major NYC institution.
D.C.: The solo show of Fayçal Baghriche is entitled What Looks Back at Us. Could you explain the title?
T.G.: What Looks Back at Us refers to a 1997 book by Georges Didi-Hubermann. The three bodies of work presented in this exhibition feature a specific relationship between the idea of an original and its copy.
D.C.: The exhibition presents several works. On the main floor: a recent photography series made in the Atlas Mountains. On the lower level: a film The Message Project made in 2010 and a series of images censored from 2014. There is a tension between these works which question Oriental and Occidental perspectives, Eastern and Western cultures. Could you explain the relationship between these works?
T.G.: The back and forth between the works highlights a relationship between Western culture and other cultures. It is interesting how non-Western cultures, after having looked at and appropriated the techniques of the West, send back these transformed "Western" images, which is evident in the works in the exhibition.
D.C.: The Message Project film is based on The Message by Mustapha Akkad. In 1976, the filmmaker said: "I made this film because it is a personal issue. Its production is interesting, there is a story, a plot, a dramatic force. As a Muslim living in the West, I consider it is my duty to tell the truth in relation to Islam. It is a religion which has 700 million followers, and yet so little is known about it that it's surprising. I thought telling this story will create a bridge with the West." In 2010, Faycal goes further by establishing a dialogue between American and Arab actors and in questioning the boundaries of expression, culture and religion. How do you see this work from the original film, and over the situation today between oriental and occidental cultures?
T.G.: Faycal’s manipulation of the film is done in a very clever way. The Arab actors and American actors are conversing directly to one another about a very important topic: Islam. We see this direct dialogue between them. The film also highlights something else that is quite interesting: the breakdown of languages within families. Today, as more people move around the world, many are not passing on their mother tongue to their children. So what is happening, for example, is that people in their 20s are communicating with their parents in French, and their parents are answering them in Arabic, so Faycal also wanted to highlight this angle with the film.
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