Boss does the chores for art's sake

Boss does the chores for art's sake

SINGAPORE - Galerie Michael Janssen Singapore in the prominent Gillman Barracks art cluster was a picture of restlessness last Thursday.

The first South-east Asian solo show by Chinese art star Ai Weiwei was due to open to invited guests in a few hours but the gallery still lacked a few finishing touches.

Mr Janssen, the gallery's eponymous owner, rolled up his shirt sleeves and jumped in to help, giving instructions to staff to not overlook details.

The 50-year-old German may be an established gallerist with international connections - his gallery's home base is Berlin - but the tedious task of preparing an exhibition for its VIP preview is not foreign to him.

After all, his journey in the art world began with such chores.

Taking a break from the bustle, the gallerist, whose roster of artists includes acclaimed German painter Peter Zimmermann and renowned American artist Lynda Benglis, tells Life! that he fell into the art business by chance.

The younger of two sons of a German city mayor and housewife, he was an art history student at the University of Bonn in the 1980s when a friend asked him to help with the setting up of an arts centre in Zurich, Switzerland. He readily traded school for an adventure.

He says of the experience: "There were about 10 of us, we had no titles and we did everything. We did the renovation, installing, talking to artists. I learnt the job from scratch. It was great fun."

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