An Exclusive Interview With David Whitley, The Whitley Art Gallery
The Whitley Art Gallery is a Member of the IADA (Irish Antique Dealers Association) and CINOA. The gallery promotes Contemporary Artists, 19th and 20th Century Prints, Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Edo period, and Contemporary Photography.
Q1. Where are you based and how long has the gallery been dealing in fine prints?
DW: The Whitley Art Gallery is based in the Wicklow Mountains near the pretty village of Enniskerry and operates on a Viewing by Appointment basis from an old schoolhouse built in the early 1820`s. The Gallery is predominately an Online Gallery selling Prints by Modern Masters as well as Japanese Woodblock from the 1800`s alongside the promotion of Contemporary Artists from Ireland and England such as Mark Kennedy. The collection has been built up over the last 40 years and the Gallery has been in operation commercially since 2009.
Q2. How did you start in the art business?
DW: The business grew out David Whitley`s passion for art and collecting. The Schoolhouse walls and drawers were, in fact still are, `over` crowded so it was a natural progression to use the 40 plus years experience in the art world to continue the pleasure.
Q3. Which artists / art movements do you specialise in?
DW: The Gallery does not set out to specialise as such but, as we only buy or promote work that we like, certain `threads` have developed. Good drawing, imagination and the power to engage emotions are to us the criteria for the works we promote. We hope that our collection shows this.
Q4. What were some of the first prints you bought and sold?
DW: Japanese Woodblock Prints were the first prints that we bought and sold. They still are amongst the best sellers because of their wonderful line, colourfully decorative aspect and great value which makes them easily accessible to many collectors. The works of the Japanese Artist Hiroshige (example: Fujikawa ) had such a huge influence on all Western printmaking particularly of the 19th & 20th Centuries. This can clearly be seen in the works of Whistler ( Battersea Bridge ), Bonnard and Vuillard ( Le Jardin des Tuilleries ) that are currently on our website.
Q5. Who is your personal favourite artist and why?
DW: That`s like asking me `What`s your favourite food` it`s so hard to pick only one ! My favourite artist is Mark Kennedy but unfortunately he didn`t do many prints so if I had to choose my favourite printmaker it would probably be Georges Braque ( for instance: Nature Morte a la Palette ). Braque enjoyed printmaking and took it very seriously, experimenting and making some wonderful images, some remarkably `painterly` like the aforementioned lithograph – `Nature Morte a la Palette` . Braque`s paintings are amongst my favourite so perhaps he marginally edges the number 1 spot in my favourite artists.
Q6. Which artists do you regard as some of the finest printmakers?
DW: Another broad question which is hard to be too specific about without leaving out so many. The `Master` is, of course, Rembrandt with Whistler close behind, both producing superb portraiture in which the characters of the subjects feel almost touchable. See Self-Portrait with his wife Saskia a wonderful etching by Rembrandt. For more quirky, delightfully imaginative prints Odilon Redon is quite remarkable in the subtle way he used etching and lithography to convey his unique vision.
Q7. If you could own just one print, which would it be?
DW: One of Edvard Munch`s woodcut`s of figures on a shoreline, probably `Melancholy I` or possibly `Two Human Beings. The Lonely Ones` both from the 1890`s. Munch was a very fine printmaker, as well as a painter and many of his woodcuts are startling images depicting human angst with incredible texture derived from his experimentation with different chisels, gouges and even fretsaws.
Q8. Which artists do you have in your personal collection?
DW: As I stated earlier; we only promote and sell works by artists that we like so you only have to look at our website to have a very good idea of the artists who feature strongly in our personal collection. So our private collection features the work of Picasso, Whistler, Hiroshige, Redon, Braque as well as works by Munch, Giorgio de Chirico and Utamaro. We also collect works by Contemporary Artists in particular, Mark Kennedy.
Q9. What are some of your latest acquisitions?
DW: Quite a few Japanese Woodblock Prints by Kunisada as well as an exquisite early 1770`s print by Katsukawa Shunso. Also the two lithographs mentioned already; `Nature Morte a la Palette` by Georges Braque and `Le Jardin des Tuilleries` by Edouard Vuillard.
Q10. What advice do you offer collectors when acquiring fine prints?
DW: I always recommend that everyone collects the art that engages them, the prints that keep drawing them back, those are the prints that will give them the most pleasure over many years which is the best investment anyone can make!