Galila Hollander: a loving collector's commitment

26.11.2014 - Dries Tack

'Change your mind, take breaks, forget your sadness. Even if you've lost your loved one, the show must go on and you have to be a part of it!’ One year after the death of her husband, Galila Hollander, with these supporting words in mind, visited the illustrious Armory Show in New York. This telling moment happened ten years ago. Without any contemporary art background, this woman has built one of the most sensitive and extravagant collections shown in the most renowned museums of the world.

Could you tell us more about your first art experience in New York? As a couple, my husband and I collected antiques from all sources so I gained a sense of beauty. But that day entering the Armory Show, I innocently asked where was the armour with no idea of what was inside! I walked alone through the fair to discover myself suddenly surrounded by artists and their work. This almost shocking experience was like the rebirth of something that I had tried to hide all my life. A few minutes later, I bought my first piece of art for a few hundred dollars and I haven't stopped since.

Tanja Boukal, Let’s make money, copyright de l'artiste, Galila’sCollection Starting a collection was not your priority, was it? No, not at all. My first purchase was based on emotion and I still buy on that basis: heart, taste and a little bit of caution. The world of art is my natural environment now. My art pieces are like my children. Over the years, several themes have emerged but that was not obvious at the beginning.

Raw-­‐Edges,HoleontheFloor,2010,Galila’sCollection.©del’artiste/ photoNicolas Suk Where and how do you buy? I travel a lot following fairs and visiting exhibitions with a simple guideline: empathy and excitement. Creativity is my credo and guide, never money. I do things in my own way without listening or reading too much. I'm still an enigma to some galleries in how I project my interest. At the beginning, I was putting my hand over their mouths and telling them not to say anything. It wasn't snobbery, but my attempt to keep that kind of innocence of attitude - you know, that strange sensation in the pit of your stomach. The real challenge is to detect talent at first sight and if another collector or museum validates your choice, it's so rewarding for both the designer or artist, and me! I always remain surprised and a bit proud, I confess, to be asked by leading experts to support their artistic choices.

TéjoRemy,OlkeBolke,2008,techniquemixte,Galila’sCollection.©del’artiste/ photo:Nicolas Suk Unlike other collectors, you have a real friendship with artists and designers don't you? Yes! As I have said, their works are part of my family and it's a pleasure to stay in touch with most of the members. We exchange correspondence like close friends do, about life, art, design, feelings. Some of them are really famous and others are less well known, but they offer me an intense quality of inspiration for my everyday life. We share the same sensibility and most of the time I understand the meaning of the work better than themselves. My collection is my piece of art and it tells you more about me than I can say about myself. Life is full of great pleasures when you are open to others.

Daniel et Géo Fuchs, copyright de l'artiste ,Galila’sCollection Are you planning to show your collections as a project? Through the years, several topics (money, chairs, letters, watermelons...) have appeared without my knowing why but these things have created structure in my collection. I am regularly approached for loans by worldwide museums, cultural institutions and Biennales. The next step will be to find a place to settle down in a building that I own in Brussels. This huge project is dear and close to my heart - finding the perfect backdrop which will include both architecture and scenography.

BorisDennler,HeatherChair,2011,techniquemixte,Galila’sCollection.©del’artiste/photo:Nicolas Suk Kunty Moureau for Belgian Boutique 2014

Stefan Wewerka, ClassroomChair, 1970, Galila’sCollection.©de l’artiste/photo:Nicolas Suk

Maurizio Anzeri: Family Album. Broderie sur photographie, copyright de l'artiste , 2008, Galila’sCollection

PolQuadens,LivingChairblue,2009,chêne(massif),fibredecarbone,corian,laque,cuir, Galila’sCollection.©del’artiste/photo:Nicolas Suk