Text: Melissa Loughnan Images: KALIMANRAWLINS
“Some people wanted champagne and caviar when they should have had beer and hot dogs.” – Dwight Eisenhower
KALIMANRAWLINS is the latest commercial gallery to open in Melbourne. Unlike any other pre-existing gallery in Australia, the space has been converted from a 1950s industrial garage, with a slick steel and glass door opening onto pristine white walls and a ply-lined ceiling designed by ROOM11. The space is also equipped with a library, large stock room and office. The gallery is positioned in South Yarra, just opposite the recently opened Tristian Koenig Gallery on Ellis Street.
KALIMANRAWLINS also tastes like no other gallery — with a menu almost in exact contrast to the famous sausages-in-bread and Grolsch beers of Richmond’s recently closed Hell Gallery. Both directors, Jarrod Rawlins and Vasili Kaliman, have extensive histories in commercial art dealing through other partnerships and solo enterprises in Melbourne and Sydney, through Uplands Gallery and Kaliman Gallery respectively.
Their opening exhibition, simply titled First Show, was an introductory survey of their stable of artists that yielded some sensitive aesthetic comparisons — such as the juxtaposition of Robert Hunter’s Untitled 9/2010, a gentle, layered, predominantly white geometric painting, with an intricately detailed (or ‘modified’) orange ping pong ball from Matt Hinkley (Untitled, 2011).
KALIMANRAWLINS represents a roll-call of early-career to established Australian and international artists including Daniel Boyd, Jon Campbell, Steve Carr, Jon Cattapan, Nadine Christensen, Simon Denny, James Deutsher, Tony Garifalakis, Diena Georgetti, David Griggs, Matt Hinkley, Robert Hunter, Anna Kristensen, Amanda Marburg, Moya McKenna, Tim McMonagle, Manuel Ocampo, Séraphine Pick, Tony Schwensen, Renee So, Glenn Sorensen, Michelle Ussher and Ronnie van Hout — with further announcements to come.
Melissa Loughnan caught up with Vasili and Jarrod to discuss the opening of their new space and upcoming projects.
Melissa Loughnan: Can you give me some background on KALIMANRAWLINS: why you decided to open a gallery together, your shared interests and motivations, your artists, and on the gallery space itself?
Jarrod Rawlins & Vasili Kaliman: KALIMANRAWLINS came about when we were having lunch at a mutual friends’ sheep station in Central Victoria. The whole lunch had this super-entrepreneurial vibe to it (along with very, very nice caviar) with other people making all these really interesting conversations about certain aspects of the art industry in Australia, and it just came to us that opening a partnership was a really good and obvious idea. It had to be that obvious otherwise it wouldn’t have got off the ground. Our shared interests and motivations are obviously running galleries and presenting great artwork. We are both really interested in the history of private galleries around the world, how they operate, and the role they play in the art world.
ML: How would you define your roles at the gallery: do you have distinctly different responsibilities/skills, or is everything shared?
JR & VK: We do have different roles. Jarrod looks after things like tracking down the right wines for our dinners, ordering caviar, stuff like that. Vasili looks after IT and communications. The rest of the things seem to just fall in place. After you combine the experience the two of us have at running a gallery, and working with people like Olivia Barrett, things just fall into place. It leaves a lot of spare time for reading and listening to music. When you eat pate and drink champagne everyday for lunch it starts to become a really nice lifestyle.
ML: Will the new space still have the capacity to host experimental group exhibitions, such as the Espresso Yourself exhibitions that were characteristic of the Uplands program?
JR & VK: Yes, you will definitely see some great, fun, smart group shows. This part of the program is very important to us.
ML: What was your reasoning behind opening in South Yarra?
JR & VK: South Yarra is almost half way between the Simon Johnson store at Chadstone and the Simon Johnson store in Toorak Village, so it makes getting the caviar a lot easier than being on the North side of the river. And Vasili has such a big sneaker collection that requires regular feeding and there are good sneaker shops around here. Also, we like South Yarra, we liked the building, it suited our purposes.
ML: Are any aspects of your gallery fit out modelled on existing Australian or international galleries?
JR & VK: No. The gallery was done by an amazing group of architects called ROOM11. We started with a blank piece of paper, we brought nothing to the process in terms of what we knew or had seen. It was important for us to work closely with the architects and builders to accommodate the needs of a gallery, but we had no pre-existing ideas.
ML: Could you tell me about some of the exhibitions you have coming up at KALIMANRAWLINS?
JR&VK: No. Anticipation is a wonderful thing.
Simon Denny, Supported Video Aquarium Equivalent with School of Fish and Coral Double, 2011, wood, metal, aquarium backdrop, plexiglass with protective plastic, screenprint, television casing, fluorescent lamps, faux aquarium-rock, 161 x 111 x 31cm
Moya McKenna, Lick, 2011, oil on canvas, 41 x 56cm
James Deutsher, Sonny and Isabelle (Prologue: Rita), 2011, steel, chrome, powder coating, wool, bone, digital print on silk, mint, 202 x 96 x 66cm
Glenn Sorensen, Will She (For Clarice Beckett), 2011, oil on linen, 30 x 40cm
Séraphine Pick, Untitled, 2011, oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm
Robert Hunter, Untitled 9/2010, 2010, acrylic on board, 122 x 244 cm
Matt Hinkley, Untitled, 2011, modified ping pong ball, diameter: 3.3 cm
Images courtesy of KALIMANRAWLINS
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Text: Melissa Loughnan Images: KALIMANRAWLINS