John Dodelande presents Ai Wei Wei, free Chinese artist
At just 29, French entrepreneur John Dodelande is at the forefront of the new generation of art collectors. His sought-after address book and impressive CV have enabled him to collect and promote contemporary Chinese art since 2008. His great pride: to be able to work in a totally independent way from other buyers, which allows him to develop privileged relationships with galleries throughout China that give him the opportunity to be, as he says himself: “free and independent, both in my choices and in my way of doing things”. This freedom and open-mindedness takes our businessman to unsuspected places. Today, he presents eclectic Chinese artists, such as Ai Wei Wei, in Tbilisi! We discover…
John Dodelande: an atypical journey and an unfailing curiosity
“I don’t come from a family of collectors. I was raised to be curious about everything – travel, people, art… I didn’t have just one mentor, I had several, and they were very important to me. In particular, Jean-Marc Decrop, who introduced me to contemporary Chinese art. Without him, I would never have had access to that market. Jerome Sans was also important to me, he always supported and advised me.”
J. Dodelande started his own business at an early age. “I started working when I was 17. Very early on, I knew that my personality was that of someone who needed to be very active. Although I don’t reject school work, what I really wanted to do was to start my career, to get involved in real and tangible things. I couldn’t wait. I believe in learning by doing. Having said that, I reject the cliché of the self-made man, because you never do anything alone – you learn from your encounters with others, from your partners, from your successes and, more importantly, from your failures.
Over the years, our man has learned to invest in promising projects created by renowned and emerging artists and has begun collaborating with galleries. “Today, there are some galleries, particularly in China, with which I have privileged relationships. I am not attached to any particular buyer group. I am free and independent, both in my choices and in the way I do things,” he explains. Well inspired, he has been able to support the latest generation of Chinese artists whose works are currently exhibited in Tbilisi.
Tbilisi, starting point of the exhibition “Constellation”.
“We chose Georgia as the starting point for our large-scale project through the history and tradition of the ancient Silk Road, but with a contemporary perspective. The Silk Road is an undisputed bridge between China and Georgia, so we thought it was an excellent idea to launch the exhibition here in Tbilisi. We hope that this will also help to create a dialogue between Chinese and Georgians. The works will be on display until mid-September, after which the exhibition will travel to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan,” explains Dodelande. “I would also like to say that curator Ami Barak has made a brilliant selection of artists for this exhibition. Three of these artists’ works will be shown at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which is a great first. ”
For J. Dodelande, Georgia has also proven to be a good place to run his business. He discovered the country nearly 10 years ago when he visited his friend Jean Frederic Paulsen, a French businessman based in the country. “I immediately liked this country. Tbilisi is well situated if you want to travel both in Asia and Europe.
Ai Wei Wei: Symbol of a generation of free Chinese artists
The Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery in Tbilisi, Georgia, is the place chosen by the collector for his exhibition “Constellation”, where one of his favourite artists, Ai Wei Wei, was presented. One might wonder how a young French art collector finds himself representing a Chinese artist at an exhibition in Georgia? In the case of John Dodelande, his artistic adventure stems from his curiosity. It is also the story of an affinity with a certain Ami Barak, a renowned art curator and critic, who over time became a friend.
“Constellation” was designed to be a showcase for contemporary Chinese artists who are influencing the art scene around the world. Ai Wei Wei is clearly part of this new generation of Chinese artists who transcend the politics of their homeland to offer an alternative vision and intelligent critique of modern society. The pieces exhibited in the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery in Tbilisi have been carefully selected from numerous collectors in Europe, Kazakhstan and China. By choosing a very eclectic mix of works by artists such as Ai Wei Wei, Hu Xiaoyuan or Liu Wei, John Dodelande wished to highlight the dynamism of the current Chinese contemporary art scene. He justifies the name of his exhibition “Constellation” by this unlikely gathering of stars of the Chinese contemporary art scene in a single exhibition.