October 2018


Dear Alessandro,

I was full of excitement when I received your invitation to exhibit at Nam Project. The following letter, however, outlines the disappointing sequence of events that followed.

The prospect of an international solo show is quite tantalising for a young artist and sitting on the train with my aunt at the beginning of 2017, I eagerly responded to your first message. The length of time between your invitation and the proposed opening date was short, and I was slightly worried about having enough work ready, but I was optimistic. Also, my girlfriend and I had planned to be travelling to China on that date. But we decided we could push our planned departure back and shorten our trip for this — it being a solo show in another country and all.

You and I confirmed the date. The exhibition would open March 15th. For certainty, we even re-confirmed a few days later. With the date set, we booked our flights to Italy and onwards to China. So you can imagine my frustration when you emailed several weeks later to say the exhibition dates had now been changed to later in the month. You asked “…if that was a problem?” and sadly it was.

The cost to change the flight was too great. After numerous calls to the airline it became apparent that we were going to have to travel to Milan two weeks before the exhibition now opened. Missing my own opening was inconvenient but it didn’t sadden me too much. However, when I learnt that my mother and sister - in addition to my girlfriend - had also booked flights to Milan for the original dates, that did sadden me.

A silver lining was some time in Milan with my family during which we could at least hang the exhibition. Rather, we could have hung the exhibition, if you had organised the courier to collect the work on the agreed date, ensuring its arrival in Milan on time. However, and again frustratingly, you did not book the collection for that date, and with each passing day in Milan we waited for the work to arrive and with each passing day, it did not. Until it was finally time to leave with no sign of the work.

It was a sombre trip. Embarrassing for me, as Family Gibbs traipsed around Milan. However, it was still a solo exhibition and there would be photos. Which, thanks to these very considerate changes of date, would remain the only way I would ever see my exhibition. During the months that followed, I frequently asked you for these mystical photos. I describe them as ‘mystical’ as the question of their existence became increasingly uncertain the more I asked.

From the beginning my frustration mounted. Email exchanges took an unreasonably long time, often with two or three weeks between your vague responses. Finally, after three months of waiting, you sent me some images — a grand total of five, to be exact. These five images, apparently the only in existence, were so tiny and pixelated that most had to be discarded.

Talking with other artists who have exhibited with you, there’s a theory that you don’t get a photographer to take exhibition shots but instead just take some on your phone. I can believe that. Sometimes in my more fantastical moods, I wonder if the reason you don’t want to send over photos is because the exhibition never actually took place. Or maybe it did but for a much shorter period than planned. Plausible, as when I arrived in Milan you presented me with another surprise, casually mentioning that my show would be taken down for a week in the middle to hire the space for another exhibition. Maybe my work just never went up again?

Finally the most taxing part of this painful and protracted experience was the task of having my work returned to London. After my initial enquiry, I was subjected to seven months of emails, messages and phone calls, each received with your uniquely frustrating and unprofessional method of replying weeks or months later…if at all.

Several dates that you mentioned the work would be shipped came and went, and several exhibitions I was planning to take part in had to be ducked out of because I didn’t have the work.

One excuse you provided was that the import laws had changed regarding crating regulations so a new crate would have to be made. Another time the courier for the entire region was simply not allowed to ship to the UK.

I was somewhat amazed when, on that unexpected day ten months after my show had finished, you finally sent me the tracking number. A week later, a battered and bruised crate, the exact crate I had made previously, showed up at my studio (apparently those crating laws had changed back). Some side beams had been cracked off, as if someone had taken a sledge hammer to it, and it was held together by three or four lazy screws and some packing wrap. The icing on that cake, a painting was missing.

When you sent me that tracking number, I thought it was the welcome end to our relationship. I spoke too soon. Now, almost two years after our first contact, that is how it remains — you have completely stopped replying to me and I have no idea where the painting is.

The most plausible scenario is that you sold it and pocketed the cash, as when I sent you an invoice for the painting a few months ago, you surprisingly said that you would pay it. However, your offer to pay the invoice minus the shipping costs was not only offensive but also in breach of our consignment agreement.

The other possibility is that the painting is just sitting in your gallery and you somehow failed to put it in the crate. This option is perhaps more depressing as it would take an unrivalled level of incompetence — even more than you’ve already demonstrated.

Either way, I urge you to reconsider your career as a gallerist. At the very least, please treat your future artists with more respect. This is no way to run a gallery.

There is so much I want to know about you and why you choose to run your business the way you do. I daydream about the verbal slurry I would sling on you were we to cross paths, but those words shall remain unslung. So with that, I will continue being “a failure”, as you so kindly put it, and hope that one day you do enlighten me and/or pay (in full) for my painting — the latter would be more appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Alex