Arts / Culture

Secondary market art gallery, A Secondary Eye, has relocated to Sydney

Boris Cornelissen, a former contemporary art specialist at Sotheby’s London and Hong Kong, was a Covid refugee when he arrived in Brisbane in 2020 and opened a contemporary art gallery. “This very mysterious Sotheby’s expert named Boris popped up in Brisbane,” says Jesse-Jack De Deyne, a secondary art market specialist in the field of Australian Indigenous art who was also running a gallery in Brisbane. Instead of feeling threatened, De Deyne says he was intrigued. “The more that we talked the more we realised it made sense to become business partners.” In 2020 they founded A Secondary Eye, with the intent to further the Australian secondary art market (when buyers purchase works from other buyers, instead of from the artist directly). In addition to coordinating private sales, the business also operates as a gallery space and hosts exhibitions “While the auction market in Australia is strong, there aren’t many alternatives,” said Cornelissen. In the four years since the venture began, A Secondary Eye has sold works by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Tony Albert, Ben Quilty, Sidney Nolan, and John Olsen, among others, and placed artworks in collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and HOTA Gallery. A Secondary Eye has recently relocated to Sydney, and occupies a prime position on the corner of Queen and Moncur streets, above a flower store and cafe. From up on high, the gallery overlooks what has long been Sydney’s prestige strip for secondary market galleries and auction houses. The gallery opened with a solo presentation of Rover Thomas, spanning two decades of his career. As one of Australia's most important and influential artists, Thomas was the first Indigenous artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1990, alongside Trevor Nickolls. Titled “Rover: Master of the Kimberley”, the exhibition features many works never before seen by the public. De Deyne says that there is a level of responsibility when bringing a name like Rover Thomas to the public and has included several works that are on loan, and not for sale. “It is very important, in a single artist exhibition, to contextualise the works which are for sale with examples of the artist’s other work,” Cornelissen says. “That way you can best tell the story. We are fortunate to have collectors contribute works that are here in recognition of this being the first exhibition of Rover Thomas’ work in twenty years.” “When it comes to exhibitions of artists who are no longer living or working or practising, we feel it’s really important to include these works,” De Deyne says. “You don’t want the work to get lost or to be forgotten.” Rover: Master of the Kimberley runs until 14 June 2024  

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