After seven years, Galerie Samy Abraham in Paris will close following its current show, “Le Bon Coût,” a group exhibition featuring all nine of the artists currently represented by the gallery alongside a few others. (The show’s punning title translates as “The Right Cost” but can also be construed, based on its pronunciation, as “Le Bon Coup,” which could mean, depending on one’s intention, “The Good Robbery” or “The Good Fuck.”)
“I didn’t want it to be the funeral,” Samy Abraham, the gallery’s founder, said of “Le Bon Coût,” which will continue showing works from the gallery’s storage alongside new pieces before it closes May 19. The show was conceived partly as a meditation on the gallery’s closure, and its aesthetic is raw: crates enlisted to hold artworks—some of them open, some of them closed, some open on one side—are included. “It’s not a conventional show, with one piece by one artist. It’s more unorthodox. It’s organized as a reflection of the situation. The idea is not to hide anything.”
Abraham said his decision to shutter the gallery owed in part financial difficulties, which prohibited him from working on projects he wanted to show and also from accommodating his artists’ needs. “Having opened in 2011, I’ve always—and only—experimented during a harsh economic situation,” he said. “It was always something I could deal with, this balance between desires and projects. The situation, economically, became too complicated—it took too much of a place in my work, and also in the relationships I could have with my artists. Once the economy conditions the way you work, [the gallery] cannot be anymore.”
The situation Abraham described is familiar among many mid-size galleries around the world. A swath of spaces showing work mainly by young or emerging artists have closed in the past few years, citing a variety of reasons, many of them economic. Recent shutterings within just the past few months include Real Fine Arts in New York, Marc Foxx Gallery in Los Angeles, Bugada & Cargnel in Paris, and David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen.
Galerie Samy Abraham opened in 2011, and went on to become one of the most important spaces in Paris’s Belleville neighborhood. Currently listed on its roster are Lisa Beck, Bruno Botella, Emilie Ding, Genêt Mayor, Lena Hilton, Bruno Jakob, Nicholas Milhé, Jean-Marie Perdrix, and Shila Khatami.
When the gallery announced last week that it would be closing, a colleague sent Abraham a note that said, “Vie d’un prince, Vie d’un chien,” or “Prince’s life, dog’s life.” In other words: although galleries show at glamorous international fairs while dealers travel the world and artists garner attention, paying the bills can prove a challenge. “For the last two or three years, everyone is wondering how to reinvent our model,” said Abraham, who added that he might continue working with his artists in other capacities. “Everyone is asking! Honestly, I don’t have the answer—otherwise I wouldn’t have closed the gallery. But I can tell you everyone is very anxious.”