Get to know Ebenezer Toyin Loye, Director of Chiefs & Spirits Gallery, and discover their variety of unique artists.
Wednesday 29 September, 2021
Meet Ebenezer Toyin Loye, the Director of Chiefs & Spirits Gallery before our upcoming Fair this October. It was a pleasure to chat with Ebenezer and gain further insight into the wide variety of mediums used by the artists he represents. As passionate as ever, he guides his gallery in to its 28th year – read on to find out more about his penchant for textural works and background as a member of the Nigerian Royal family!
First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born to a Royal House in Ijebu Jesa, Nigeria which makes me a Prince. After studying Fine Art at Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife, Nigeria; I worked briefly in Publishing before relocating to the Netherlands in 1991. I then established Chiefs & Spirits not long after in 1992.
Your gallery in The Hague occupies a gorgeous site. Could you tell us a more about the space and your city?
Our gallery (pictured below) is housed in a monumental building in the historic part of The Hague. We are fortunate that the area has a vast number of international institutions and is also home to the Dutch Government. Just a five-minute walk to the Palace of the King, The Parliament and near the Museum Escher and Mauritshuis Museum, where Johannes Vermeer’s most famous and universally admired painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is on view.
What inspired the name of the gallery?
I came up with the name Chiefs & Spirits because there is no chief without spirits, just as there cannot be a gallery without artists. The gallery is the chief while the artists are the spirits.
What unites the artists you represent? Do you lean towards artwork with a more tactile component?
I pay particular attention to artists that make use of ‘unusual’ materials. An example of this is self-taught South African artist François du Plessis, who was the first contemporary artist Chiefs & Spirits represented some 28 years ago. Africans are use to recycling materials and du Plessis collects brightly coloured edged books and sculpturally cuts them to create his body of works. They can look like large tree slices or vertically arranged landscapes. Contrary to peoples first inspection, he doesn’t paint the surface. Du Plessis instead varnishes the book with an ultraviolet ray to preserve them.
Stefan Gross is a master of stained glass, and his own medium. Could you give us some insight into his practice?
Rotterdam based artist Stefan Gross developed a material of his own called ‘oil plastic.’ He has extensively researched the behaviour of the plastics, oil paint and pigments with temperature and ultra-violet conservation. In his own words, Gross says ‘the world is a serious place these days. This is a problem I address in my work.’ He highlights the beauty and potential of industrial production as a reflection on the times in which we live.
To quote Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam Director, Blythe Bolton: ‘the instantly recognizable, irresistibly tactile works of the ‘master of plastic’, Stefan Gross, have impressed me from the very first time I saw his work’.
Over 28 years, the gallery has overcome and kept pace with the many changes in the arts. What’s your secret for success?
Passion – I do what I love, and I love what I do. I represent a select number of artists from all continents who are good at what they do. I see my artists as friends and family and I follow their artistic process, their pain and success. Running the gallery has been rewarding and our clients from all over the world see the value and collect from the pool of artworks I offer.
What is the artwork in your own home like?
At the gallery I exhibit artwork that I would hang in my own house – works that are timeless. My house is my paradise. I surround myself with nature and inspiring artwork and beauty in my home.
Which artists should we be looking out for at Chiefs & Spirits?
In addition to the artists I have mentioned above, we are presenting the work of Mathijs Siemens who is an up-and-coming Dutch artist. His artworks are a playful combination between different elements. He uses different layers of thread on top of each other, combined with colour and depth – truly hypnotising.
Mart de Brouwer has developed a new technique of painting on cut-out wood. He starts by using seasoned wood, burns and then paints it. As well as these wall objects, Mart makes puzzle objects, for which he uses many colours of paint. Last but not least Monika Radhoff-Troll uses recycled materials to construct her body of her work. Monika creates installations and her artistic vision is influenced by political and ecological concerns.
What advice would you give to someone looking to buy or collect art?
A good artwork should speak to you without explanation.
Catch Ebenezer on the Chiefs & Spirit’s stand (A16) at our next Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam (27 – 31 October), to discover the wonderful collection of artists discussed here and more! Browse some of their work online here.