A Private View with Kit Kemp – Cristea Roberts Gallery Online Viewing Room

Day to Day

We have been working closely with and collecting from Cristea Roberts Gallery for over twenty years and it has been wonderful to look back at how the art has brought life to our interiors...

Whilst art galleries are shut until 12th April, we have been getting our art ‘fix’ by viewing some excellent online viewing galleries. Of course, this is not the equivalent of seeing and experiencing the pieces in real life, but we have enjoyed learning about artists, their work and their intentions behind it.

Taking a fascinating twist on this, the Cristea Roberts Gallery will be asking a number of collectors to share their passion and joy for buying and living with art, and how it inspires them. We have been working closely with and collecting from Cristea Roberts Gallery for over twenty years and it has been wonderful to look back at how the art has brought life to our interiors. Our rooms would not be complete without the artwork and it was a pleasure to curate this online viewing gallery.

Cristea Roberts Gallery is a leading international contemporary art gallery focusing on original prints and works on paper. I met Alan Cristea around the time when he founded the gallery in 1995 (in September 2019 the name was changed to Cristea Roberts Gallery). Alan has always had an open mind as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of the art world. If any young artist approached me for advice, I would immediately send them in Alan’s direction. His direction, his demeanour, his kindness and his enthusiasm is always inspiring and helpful. Some people only buy art for investment. Alan’s artists have always been there to be enjoyed and actually hung on the wall.

We often visit the Cristea Roberts Gallery on Pall Mall on the monthly Firmdale Art Walk, which is led by our Firmdale Art Ambassador, Olivia Patterson from Ham Yard, Haymarket and Charlotte Street Hotels.

It’s always so interesting to see how the art in the hotels takes on a different persona in a gallery space. On the last Art Walk I went on, we were lucky enough to be taken behind the scenes of the new gallery on Pall Mall, designed by Stephen Marshall Architects.

Ham Yard Hotel Bowling Alley

The first time I saw As Time Goes By, 2009, was at Howard Hodgkin’s studio in Bloomsbury just by the British Museum. We went to visit the studio and saw the two ginormous prints, each measuring over 20 ft long. We were in the process of creating a new build hotel in Soho called Ham Yard Hotel. The hotel also involved the creation of 12 shops, 24 apartments, an underground car park, restaurants, bars, meeting rooms and a bowling alley. I had never been in a bowling alley that I wanted to remain in for more than two minutes, so it was a trial.

I decided the only way to use all the fabulous space was to hang wonderful art. I realised that I had the opportunity to hang the two enormous artworks side by side. This is very unusual, and I was excited by this realisation on the plans. I oversee all the hanging of art in my hotels myself. It was a red-letter day when As Time Goes By was finally hung. It still gives me a little tug when I see it now.

It is a fabulous space, large enough to house the variety of activities a modern commercial gallery involves. We got to see some fabulous works in storage by Jim Dine, Julian Opie and Howard Hodgkins. The gallery is calm and neutral in colour and material with high ceilings. I was struck by the beautiful flow of art displayed throughout all areas.

In the online exhibition, we look at some of my favourite works, how each artist inspires me, the importance of original prints, how I collect, and my advice on beginning a collection. Let’s have a sneak peak at some of my favourite pieces…

Howard Hodgkin

Soho Hotel Terrace Suite

I love the immediacy of Howard Hodgkin’s work. That blast of colour that immediately affects my mood. His work reminds me of sitting in a fast car looking at scenes as I pass by at speed. There is movement, temperature, time of day and mood, isolated for a simple second as I whizz by. His work invigorates me.

Joe Tilson

The Whitby Hotel Lobby

I love Joe Tilson’s work. His feeling for mythology, science, ecology, health and our fragile balance within a network. Of course, I also love his sense of fun and way of looking at the world. I feel refreshed when I look at his work. He was the first to care about what we eat and drink and how we live. He was way ahead of his time. It would be interesting to talk to him about how we have slowly caught up with his ideas. I expect he talks to plants too.

Paul Winstanley

Haymarket Hotel Conservatory

I was introduced to Paul Winstanley’s work at the Basel Art Fair many years ago. I bought a painting of a view through net curtains looking out of a sixties style window frame onto misty trees. Everything about the painting deserves repeated viewing, the subtlety of colour, the apparent mundaneness of the view but also the absolute beauty of it is very uplifting. His work may not take the eye immediately but somehow it remains there. I like to look at his work over time.

Mimmo Paladino

Crosby Street Drawing Room

Mimmo Paladino’s work is strong and graphic. He plays with materials to create an arresting viewpoint. He even makes his own paper to print and paint upon. I never tire of his work, it is ageless, and I like to hang more than one piece in a room. His work can hold a room together by adding strength and bold interest. It looks as good in a very contemporary interior as it does in a traditional one. His work makes me want to ask many questions, to take pause and to think.

Julian Opie

The Whitby Hotel Gym

I remember Alan Cristea introducing me to Julian Opie’s work, as well as prints by Michael Craig-Martin. Alan’s excitement about the artists made me look twice. I usually like my art to look handmade, blots warts and all. These artists were the antithesis of this approach. It took me a while to catch on but now I am a proud owner of Julian Opie’s work. He is a valued presence in my interiors. There is precision and a story and a feeling of time held up to the microscope in each piece of work. I value them greatly.

I’ll leave you with my advice for collecting art… Take a deep breath and go for it. Buying a piece of art is always going to be memorable. All my favourite art has a story to it. I have only ever regretted what I have not bought, never what I have bought. We fade, but our art collections do not.

You can view the online exhibition until 9th March exhibition CLICK HERE.