French Riviera is the new gallery space that has recently opened on London’s Bethnal Green Road. The name, taken from an earlier installation created by the founders Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski, stands out in blue neon from the surrounding newsagents and betting shops determining a new East London art landmark. This month the small but nicely turned out space has played host to the inaugural show Horizon Hypnotique featuring work by seven artists including Richard Parry and Tai Shani. Get yourself down for the final week and don't miss out on the finnisage with a special closing party performance by Lucy Woodhouse aka Advert break at 6pm on Saturday 26th. The performance is an extension of Woodhouse's Andre Breton inspired work 'I Cannot See The […] Caught in the Forest', in which she asked strangers on the street of Bethnal Green Road if they would have their passport photograph taken whilst imagining the future. Mixing projections, found street sounds and other pieces of music and noise, Woodhouse explores the subconscious and the self.
French Riviera founders Samuel Levack and Jennifer Lewandowski discuss their collaboration…
How did you and Sam come to work together?
We met at art college, became friends on the first day and were working together several months later. That was over 10 years ago. Our practice works as a collaboration because we're a great team, but it was never really planned.
What kind of work do you make as artists?
We want to make everything. Our practice ranges from installations, performative events, photography, text, music and books; to work for gallery exhibitions, curating and occasional happenings. Currently we're working on a series of films, which are portraits of people dancing. And, of course, the gallery - French Riviera.
Do you think the balance will shift now that you run a space as well as making work?
Yes, but we hope that it will help it grow, we don't like to limit the type of works we make and see the gallery as an extension of our practice, it allows for a broader collaboration.
Will the gallery have a particular focus with regards to the artists you choose to show?
We are generally more interested in art that cannot be so easily categorised, artists who are crossing over disciplines in their interests and ideas.
How did you find the artists featured in Horizon Hypnotique?
The selection was based on the artist's aesthetic and their personalities rather than asking for specific pieces. It was also important that they were not tied to a formal relationship with another gallery, so that we were presenting our own and the other artist's visions rather than showing what is already out there.
Have any of the artists made work specifically for the show?
Yes, most of the works actually. Alex Ressel's publication 'English Avon for French Riviera', Lucy Woodhouse's 'I Cannot See The […] Caught In The Forest' a portrait of Bethnal Green inspired by the surrealist work of the same name by Andre Breton. Richard Parry's 'Art Zimbabwe One Hundred Trillion Dollars' a screenprint of a banknote on mirror. Beatriz Olabarrieta's sculpture, 'Flatten pentagram may slide thru' and Kris Emmerson's 'Off the shoulder of Orion'. As well as our own new photographic works and screenprints on glass of dancers, taken from the series 'In Babylon, End of Love'.
What galleries in London do you most admire?
Sadie Coles, Matt's Gallery, Maureen Paley and X Marks the Bökship which has just reopened as a space on Cambridge Heath Road - we're very much looking forward to seeing the projects there.
What's the future for French Riviera?
It's currently under speculation! As soon as we get a minute to work it out we'll let you know.
Open Friday - Sunday 12 - 6pm
309 Bethnal Green Road