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François Ghebaly on L.A.’s Global Appeal

Ghebaly Gallery moved into its current home in 2013, after stints in Chinatown and Culver City. Now downtown, and sharing the building with Benjamin Millepied’s L.A. Dance Project, the gallery has a whopping 12,000 square feet to work with, and has mounted recent exhibitions with Aaron Fowler, Christine Sun Kim, Kathleen Ryan, and the late Channa Horwitz.

Currently on view at the gallery is the work of Kelly Akashi and Zhang Ruyi (the latter in the artist’s first  U.S. solo show). We spoke with François Ghebaly about his participation in this first edition of Frieze in L.A. and why the growth of the L.A. art market is more global than local.

WHITEWALLER: You founded your gallery in 2009. How has the mission evolved over the past 10 years?

FRANÇOIS GHEBALY: The scale and the speed of our operation has changed, but the mission is still the same: to support and further our artists’ careers, and to make a living for everyone involved.

WW: In 2013, you moved into a larger space downtown. How has the program of the gallery been able to grow in its current home?

FG: We moved to our new space downtown in summer of 2013, and opened in September with Neïl Beloufa.

Back in April of that year, Channa Horwitz had passed away two weeks after the opening of her landmark exhibition the “Orange Grid” at our Culver City gallery, and the following month three of our gallery artists were represented prominently at the Venice Biennale. It felt like it was time to move on to another venue, and to have a space that would keep our artists challenged.

Our Downtown space has allowed us to continue to be experimental with our exhibitions, but also to invite other entities, such as curator Martha Kirszenbaum’s project space named Fahrenheit, and Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA). We now share the space with Benjamin Millepied and his L.A. Dance Project.

WW: You’ve been around to see the rise of L.A.’s art and gallery scene. How would you describe the corresponding collector community in L.A.?

FG: To me, the local collecting community hasn’t changed that much in the past decade: Our clients here are still mostly from the entertainment industry. However, in the last 10 years L.A. has become an important international hub, and we get visitors from all over the world. The art industry has expanded dramatically and the growth here reflects a global trend, rather than driven by local collectors.

WW: Can you tell us about what’s on view at the gallery this month?

FG: This is our second solo show with the brilliant Kelly Akashi, who is presenting an ecosystem of anthropomorphic glass, bronze, and photograms. We are also presenting the first solo show in the U.S. of Chinese artist Zhang Ruyi.

WW: What are you showing at the first-ever Frieze L.A.?

FG: I am presenting a new major Sayre Gomez painting from his recent trompe l’oeil series, along with a new relief by Neïl Beloufa, a shelf by Kelly Akashi, and one or two of Kathleen Ryan’s gems fruits.

WW: What kind of impact do you see Frieze having on L.A.’s art scene?

FG: I think Frieze is a brilliant addition that has the potential to be that galvanizing moment that brings together our fragmented city for a week. Seeing this coming together will be great.




Whitewall spoke with Kelly Wearstler about the evolution of her practice, and why her projects are rooted in tension and synchronicity.
Whitewall's Winter 2024 cover story spotlights the artist just as his time with the L’Académie des Beaux-Arts Residency was wrapping up.


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