THE HAN NEFKENS FOUNDATION
The Han Nefkens Foundation is a private non-profit organisation that was set up in Barcelona in 2009 with the aim of connecting people through art, across all its disciplines.
I don’t collect art, I collect experiences through art. Everything I do in this life comes from a very personal desire to connect with other people. What I seek is proximity. There is no better way to get this sense of closeness than art, since what artists effectively want is to share a vision of the world that is theirs but ours as well. A good artist knows how to turn something specific into something that others can identify with.
I began collecting in the year 2000, perfectly aware from the start that I wanted to share what moved me with others. That is why the works I acquired were given to museums around Europe as long-term loans and promised gifts; when I am no longer around these works will come to make up part of the permanent collection of each museum in question. Over the years I have gotten to know artists, dealers, curators and museum directors, and I gradually began to understand how the world of art worked. I realized that even artists who were fairly recognized occasionally have problems to finance the production of their work. This is why I decided to no longer purchase finished works of art, but to focus on supporting art production. Having started as a collector who shared a collection of work by artists whose prestige was on the rise, I was more readily able to find institutions willing to cooperate with the activities of the Fundació Han Nefkens.
The Fundació Han Nefkens has a very clear objective: give young (and not so young) artists the push they need for their careers to advance. We do this by supporting the production of new work, using our broad contact network with art institutions the world over to find platforms where this work might be seen.
As a foundation, we are lean and flexible, we don’t even have an office. In each project, we work with other art institutions who offer us their infrastructure and contacts. In exchange, we give them the opportunity to carry out a project which otherwise could not be done. We adjust to the needs of both the artists and the institutions we work with, so that each institutional collaboration is unique.
Our projects are in constant evolution since reality is never static, as we adapt to it, adjusting ourselves when necessary. We are a Catalan foundation, seeking to advance art in Catalonia by inviting artists from outside to share their experiences, as we do in the “Flow series” done with the Fundació Tàpies. To date we have organized encounters with artists from Kenya, China, Korea, Iran, India, Pakistan, Chechnya and Belgium. Furthermore, we invite foreign artists to organize workshops at the Escola Massana art school and the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Barcelona. We also encourage international experiences for Catalan artists by offering grants to study in foreign schools, such as the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers, both of which are in Amsterdam.
Thanks to our cooperation with various art institutions, we can show the work of artists from one country in others. For example, the work we produced in Thailand with the Chinese artist Zhou Tao (winner of the Han Nefkens Foundation-Bangkok Art and Culture Award), after being seen in Bangkok, was seen at the MACBA in Barcelona, in Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, as well as in New York, Geneva and Belgium. This work was also included in the exhibition “In Search of Global Poetry, videos from the Han Nefkens Collection”, seen in Shenzhen, China, and currently showing in Quito, Ecuador. The exhibition includes video work from my private collection, including Pipilotti Rist, Shirin Neshat and Bill Viola, along with pieces from younger creators we can call our own, like Arash Nasiri, Sojung Jun and the Catalan artist Bárbara Sánchez, providing these young artists an international showcase which would otherwise be hard to come by.
I feel fortunate to be able to share my passion for art with so many people all over the world. After all, passion for art is really passion for life itself.
The mission is to stimulate artistic creation in Barcelona by offering international artists an opportunity to create artworks and interventions in the city, and to promote other fields of contemporary creation.
The Foundation, which was created on the initiative of Barcelona-based Dutch writer and arts patron Han Nefkens, seeks to support contemporary creation through artistic patronage and other activities. Our work is targeted at boosting creation, stimulating the production of artworks and encouraging the exchange of artistic experiences in Barcelona.