A drive to delve deeper
Rolla Wazni, Director at Kamel Mennour, Paris reflects on the path that led her to the visual arts, while telling ArtScoops what she thinks today’s collectors are looking for and how Covid-19 is likely to reshape the art market of the future
You have a well-documented passion for several areas of the art world, from fashion and interior design to the visual arts. How did you decide which areas to focus on as your career progressed and did some segments hold more attraction than others?
I have always had a keen interest in aesthetics and a particular appreciation of fashion; this was my initial path, but curiosity led me further into interior design until I found my true calling in the visual arts. Doing my MBA in Drouot helped me realise how intriguing and rich the world of art is, going beyond pure aesthetics into an understanding of the history and cultures of the world.
You’ve worked across a variety of markets over the years. What particular characteristics have you noticed about the MENA market in terms of the art coming out of it and what collectors are looking for?
At the beginning of my career, I was a Director at Carpenters Workshop Gallery, before moving to become Director at Kamel Mennour. In both galleries, my target was the MENA market and collectors from the region. Although I worked primarily with design and Western artists, I also followed the Middle Eastern art market. We’ve definitely witnessed an increase in Middle Eastern artists and collectors from the region supporting these artists as they feel that these works are part of their cultural heritage. On the other hand, you can also see that these collectors enjoy diversification, with the result that they are also curious to discover and explore Western design and artists whose work is being offered by galleries in Europe.
Covid-19 has had a major impact across the art market. How have you adapted to maintain business continuity at Kamel Mennour Gallery and do you think some of the changes you’ve made will remain in place post pandemic?
Covid-19 had a strong impact across the art market and the world in general. There has definitely been a shift in the communication and the dynamics at work. Of course, one of the things that must be mentioned is how art fairs and exhibitions, which were the pillar functions for galleries to connect and display artworks, were brought to a halt. These activities were key to creating a relationship between the gallery, the collector, the artist and the art community in general. Covid-19 meant all of this shifted to virtual means. Technology has helped to ensure the continuity of this relationship, translated into a different mode of communication. On the positive side, we can reach a larger pool of collectors and discuss and share the artworks in different ways, where even the collectors feel that we are more accessible. I believe some of these new digital exhibitions will continue, but we also miss the human interaction and the live visuals of the artworks!
On this note, do you think some of the more far-reaching aspects of digitisation, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), will move mainstream?
I believe that the art world has shifted into a more digital dynamic and this will only develop further as we head further into the future. I definitely think that there will be space for NFTs to grow in time, especially with artists that deal primarily with digital mediums. As for the more traditional visual arts, I think that NFTs will have a harder time disrupting the space. Personally I am a traditional soul - I am still fascinated when standing in front of an artwork and experience a burst of different emotions. I think we will all have to wait and see!