A gentle conversation with Boris Vervoordt, Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp
March 3, 2016
One of the most prominent art and antique fair, TEFAF, is about to kick off, for all the connoisseur and aficionados around the world, that’s almost like a once-a-year gala to get together, celebrate and exchanging their passion, of course very likely, hunting for something unique and rare objet d’Art from this incredible event without leaving their empty hands back home. As a guest, certainly it’s exhilarating to see some new and one-of-the-kind pieces, and as an exhibitor, their preparation work from behind-the-scene is way more complex that a guest can understand, yet, the result of seeing someone entering your booth, having a smiling face and delightful experience back, that is something much valuable not just sharing a bit of artistic and historic knowledge, but eventually, making some likeminded friends as well.
Something very interesting that whenever I think about TEFAF, my mind always comes up with one of my dear friend Mr. Boris Vervoordt, Operation Director of Axel Vervoordt Gallery, which he founded in Jan 2011 as part of the Axel Vervoordt Company, perhaps it’s the business he is in and relevant to such event, I also think that because of his intense travel schedule that made him one of the busiest gentleman in art and antique sector that I have ever known. One day he’s in Miami for an exhibition, the next day back in Antwerp to work on the new office project, then heading to Asia for another exhibition, so on and on. His seemingly intense work schedule always fascinates and amazes me as I always wondered how this artistic gentleman can handle all these, as an ambassador of his father’s company also his art gallery, to deliver the aesthetic and vision to their loyal followers around the world, at the same time, expanding this artistic business to the next level.
I have been one of the fan of Axel’s work for quite some time, the distressed sophistication interior design interprets by a mix of exquisite and unique antique, furniture and authentic materials, the result is a serene and spiritual atmosphere that provides a romantic and soothing effect. Such aesthetic and taste also being replicated to the art that curated by his gallery, something that offers the similar effect that touches people’s core and their emotion by liberating their mind to a surreal yet tranquil place, enables one to think, mediate and even focus from the hectic and sometimes chaotic surroundings.
It’s very funny to say that but whenever I met Boris, it’s always a rush catch-up (besides the very first time we met, along with his father which I promise myself to greet this legendary designer in person and show him how much I appreciate his great work.), despite the rush, the soft-spoken Boris always shows his kindness and warm gesture, manage his jetlag but the same time, patiently elaborate the characteristic of each art work and the bio of the artist with so much passion that exudes from within. For this time, I am delighted to have a conversation with Boris, having him to share his insight about art and modern gentleman:
My Modern Darcy: Hi Boris, I am truly thrilled about your new office in Kanaal, congratulations! How’s everything going now and how do you like this new location?
Boris Vervoordt: Thank you, it is a great location for the new office, actually it’s not too far from the old one which is only from one building to another. It is in the heart of the building as where we are with lots of light and lots of windows, so we can see everything happening around it, I like this ‘inside-out’, no-secrets feel, for an organization, it is very important to have that kind of mobility, where you can see things from in and out. We are also be able to create a space where you can be more by yourself, very silent with lots of windows, a silent place to work and to concentrate, that’s also interesting as well.
MMD: Can you share with us about how art, interior design and even the great work from your father influence you both professional and personal way?
BV: That’s a big question, could be like a book! In general we both influence very much by the idea of making this world a better place, by creating something harmonious, we always try to find a way to harmony. When I was a kid, me and my mother were influence the most because of the environment that we are living in, so I never really know anything else from the beginning, and from the beginning it’s always about sharing, sharing moments with friends and artists that come over, and I am always fascinating by the artists that come to our place and they will tell me things that are created, and that creates the fact how we started, to do something to create a life for the artists and friends.
MMD: With your intense travelling schedule, how can you manage to balance yourself from the amount of work in different countries and time zones, at the same time, maintain your passion and interest of art or even discover new talents?
BV: It’s a challenge, it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about during the holidays, like: “What can I do?”, “What should I do?” and “What should I do less?”, because it comes with a talent and it is beauty really drive me and my passion, I don’t mind working hard and travelling, I like to travel, getting out from home and do different things. In terms of maintaining, I think it’s about concentrate to your inner strength and take a deep breathe that the moment is there, try to be now, also not delaying things. I like to have this face-to-face interview for example, so I like to meet people in person, maybe that’s also the reason why I like to travel around the world that I prefer to have this (face-to-face) conversation rather than email, it’s the same thing when I talked to artists, collectors and interior design clients, I like to go there and meet them, that’s why I am in the plane all the time. It’s a more about a constructive dialogue.
MMD: Can you share with us some of your favorite art / artist as well as interior style?
BV: For me, my favorite art is art that brings peace to the world, art that might grow from a pain, into a solution. For interior design, there isn’t a favorite, what’s critical is to be authentic, and it depends on the mood I am in myself, the place where I am and the company I am with, I will have a different favorite. If I am in certain cities then I may like certain authentic classical interior, but if I am on the beach in Southeast Asia surrounded by Coco trees, then it doesn’t have to be. It’s something become stylish when there’s a harmony, the architecture and the location, and the sense of it, wherever the harmony is, there becomes stylish.
MMD: What do you think of the significance of a gentleman to learn to understand and appreciate art and design?
BV: I think more and more that design had become part of culture not necessary for male or female as gender itself becomes very vague, whether it’s fashion or interior design or style, it’s kind of interesting to see how society become so much more multi-faceted, multi-cultural, multi-everything, and that’s why it makes a lot of sense that I don’t see that’s something specifically male or female, I think we are all male and female into one ‘body’, you can totally be authentic and understand that what’s the right thing to do when you are involving design.
MMD: In your opinion, what are the great qualities of a modern day gentleman should have?
BV: Appropriateness, a modern day gentlemen – it is about gentle as a being, as an example but not over-ruling, it’s about getting the right sense of balance and true elegance, and it’s also the sense of harmony, for example it’s appropriate to dress in certain event. Appropriateness makes you a true gentleman and allows you to be welcoming for the people you meet.
MMD: Do you have any advice for young talents who wants to enter the art, interior design and even antique dealership business?
BV: I think it makes a lot of sense for young people to do that, if they are really passionate about it, they should do it. Nothing has been reinvented probably since mankind invented the wheel, either in architecture or interior design, there’s no major shift. The only way to do a great job is start studying about the past, you cannot do things only by computer but you have to travel a little bit, to the museum to see the architecture, or city like Pompei, basically nothing has changed.