As Hans Ulrich Obrist wrote down in the catalogue of the showcase’s first edition, Nomad is the future of the fair. It’s to go to explore unconventional destinations, not to be always in the usual big cities
The first Nomad edition
The first edition of Nomad took place in Monaco in 2017 inside Karl Lagerfeld’s Villa La Vigie. A new approach to the idea of art fair was developed by the co-founders Nicolas Bellavance–Lecompte, architect, design curator, and gallerist, and Giorgio Pace, who is in the process of establishing his own museum and foundation, set to open its doors in 2023 in Termoli, Italy.
«Giorgio and I have different backgrounds connected to the contemporary art system. I am an architect and gallerist, while Giorgio is coming from the publishing industry, he launched Visionary Magazine in New York and worked with cultural institutions such as The Met, Venice Biennale, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum or Garage Museum in Moscow. We shared the vision to create a format that could mix design and art, two disciplines that complete each other very well. A perfect formula, that was not yet present in Europe».
About the idea of a traveling showcase
Nomad Circle is the first traveling showcase for collectible design and contemporary art. «The inspiration behind the creation of Nomad was the result of a long reflection and years of experience in doing fairs. It’s a nice dynamism but after a while I had the feeling that it was going to be a bit repetitive to go always in the same place with the same people. Even some situations, in terms of logistics, were very complex, for instance going to Basel in June or Miami in December, then in London during Frieze. During these fairs I talked a lot with my gallerist colleagues, and I realized that I wanted to offer a different format to experience art and design in a different way. A format that could change every year, with the possibility to explore new destinations and not be stuck in the white cubes of a traditional fair with its artificial lights. On the contrary, I thought about the potential of transforming majestic architectural locations into a temporary exhibition composed by a smaller group of gallerists who have the time to interact with the collectors».
As Hans Ulrich Obrist wrote down in the catalogue of the showcase’s first edition, «Nomad aims at exploring unconventional destinations, not to always be in the usual big cities. This quote by Obrist evolved in particularly with the pandemic: we create a much more exclusive experience, designed for a restricted number of people. Only technically we are a fair: we are an evolution of a format that existed for many years. Plus, Nomad’s structure allows an easier experience to new collectors, if you don’t have any clue about art and you walk in a big fair with all those hallways, all you can see is a lot of high-priced artworks on white walls. It can be disorienting. When someone walks for the first time into a Nomad venue, they can see rooms which look like home. We propose collectible design and contemporary art inside domestic environments illuminated by natural light where you can peacefully relate with the gallerists’ artistic proposals. It is also an opportunity for the latter to expand their contacts».
The discovering of intimate architectural treasures
«Nomad is all about the context and the destination, that’s why it is fundamental for us to find the right location, possibly not known so we can birth light to some architectural treasures from all over the world. It’s a research that Giorgio and I are doing. Every year our format becomes more and more precise, and I would say complicated too, because we need to have such a number of rooms with a right dose of atmosphere to be able to showcase inside them». Indeed, during the pandemic, Nomad was also to bring his ‘Circle’ virtually inside Pierre Cardin’s Palais Bulles, built by the Hungarian architect Antti Lovag. «This experience has been great for us and challenging at the same time, we realized it in partnership with Phillips Auctioneers and in collaboration with The Design Museum of London; each gallery could propose just one art or design piece. The palace, near Cannes, is quite exceptional. Pierre Cardin was still alive, and we had the opportunity to interview him during the realization of a short movie».
Nomad Capri, July 2022: a new location
For its 10th edition, NOMAD chose a new location. After the previous editions which took place in St. Moritz, Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in Venice, and virtually at the Palais de Bulles near Cannes, the event landed in Capri for its second 2022 spot.
Located in southern Italy, near the Bay of Naples and opposite to the Amalfi Coast, the Island of Capri is renowned as Roman Emperors chose it as the site to build villas with views to the cliffs in the Mediterranean Sea. In the nineteenth century, it became popular amongst European artists and writers, who gravited there, searching for inspiration.
Certosa di San Giacomo, the oldest historic building in the Island
NOMAD Capri will feature design and arts projects at the Certosa di San Giacomo, new venue and most historic building on the island.
«In July Nomad Circle will host its first edition in the Island of Capri at the rather unknown Charterhouse of St. Giacomo, a location of seven thousand square meters overlooking the Faraglioni, just few minutes away from the Piazzetta. The spaces are wide: the apartments of the Priore, the various monks’ rooms, the cloisters, and we will reopen for the first time the big park behind the main building. Nomad is also about reliving the original appearance of destinations with a past grandeur».
Built in 1371 by Count Giacomo Arcucci, on land donated by Queen Giovanna First of Angiò, the Certosa di San Giacomo is the oldest historic building on the Island of Capri. The complex is composed of three interconnected structures: originally an annex that served as a pharmacy and women’s chapel; a building for the activities of the lay brothers with storerooms, stables, and workshops. And the cloisters, including the Greater Cloister, lined by individual cells, and the Lesser Cloister, encircled by small rooms dedicated to monastic rituals. Nowadays the former refectory holds canvases by Karl Wilheim Diefenbach, a German artist, who, like many cultural travelers and artists participated in the Grand Tour in the 19th century.
Taking place between July 6th to 10th, NOMAD Capri will present the pieces of around thirty galleries.
Some of the galleries that participated in the last edition are: Angela We-ber Möbel, Zürich; Etage Projects, Copenhagen, LeLab Experimental Atelier, Cairo; Galleria Luisa Delle Piane, Milan; and Format, Oslo.
A throwback: Nomad Circle St. Moritz, March 2022
For its fifth time in Engadine, NOMAD chise a place full of cultural suggestions linked to historical figures such as Giacometti, Anne-Marie Schwarzenbach, Nietzsche, Segantini Alberto and many more: St. Moritz, and in particular Chesa Planta Museum, in nearby Samedan, which became the location for the 9th edition of the event. «Every year we say it’s the last one. We receive requests to go in other alpine destinations, but the galleries are the first to ask us to come back in St. Moritz. They love the set-up and the surroundings. Of course, our vocation is to often change locations, but sometimes is nice to come back in a certain place. For this new edition we have reached a maturity connected to the knowledge of the place, in planning and organization activities, etc.»
In March 2022, Nomad presented a polyhedric program: twenty-two galleries featuring a selection of contemporary collectable design and art. «We are a platform open to everyone as long as they have a program and have done at least three exhibitions. For our ninth edition in St. Moritz, we were pleased to be hosting returning galleries as well as new ones. From Rio de Janeiro, Mercado Moderno returned with the best of Contemporary Brazilian Design. From Milan, we were excited to see Galleria Luisa Delle Piane, LOOM Gallery, Dimoregallery and Galleria Rossella Colombari, representing the most exquisite Italian contemporary art and collectible design. From Oslo, Golsa and Format exhibited Norwegian craft and furniture. We also welcomed Maniera from Brussels, who presented a contemporary take on Shaker furniture, in the Chesa Planta garden. From Zurich, we have seen exhibits with prestigious design and art pieces by Angela Weber Möbel and Larkin Erdmann. The Londoners David Gill Gallery and Tristan Hoare Gallery brought sensational sculptures. From Copenhagen, Etage Projects and Galerie von Bartha presented unique designs and collectibles with special attention to outlines, atmospheric shapes and materiality. Furthermore, the New Yorker Thomsen Gallery focused on the ‘Golden Age of Japanese Basketry’. Also, from Piacenza VOLUMNIA presented design objects from the established Mid-Century panorama. The Monegasque Musegallery finally made an ode to the ‘North’ and from Cairo, and LeLab Experimental Atelier presented The Wave by Khaled Zaki, a large solid chestnut sculpture weighing almost 500 kg».
Nomad Circle also interacted with the numerous realities of the art system present in the Engadine, unveiling twelve special projects including exhibitions by Christie’s, Fornasetti, Loro Piana Interiors, McCabe Fine Art, Elie Top, YALI Glass, Altai, FNA concept Gmbh Francesca Neri Antonello, The Gallery of Everything, Dior Maison and Pierre Yovanovitch, which presented unique creations for the occasion. «We found the perfect way to generate content and engage the local actors by scheduling activities of our daily program inside their spaces. Moreover, we involved a curator who selected few works from multiple prominent galleries in the Engadine Valley to curate a central exhibition, in one of the biggest spaces of Chesa Planta. For this edition the curator was Theo Niarchos. With TRACES he seeked to celebrate the rich history of this palace, by creating a dialogue between contemporary selected pieces and the fascinating, nostalgic story of the building, as well as the traces of the people that once inhabited it».
Nicolas Bellavance–Lecompte is a Canadian contemporary design curator and architect based in Milan, Italy. His commitment to collectible design and architecture drove him to found Carwan Gallery in Beirut and Athens, the first contemporary design gallery of the Near East, where he has served as Art Director since 2011. Between 2018-2021 he was Art Director of the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia design department, the historic bronze foundry in Milan. Bellavance–Lecompte has curated more than sixty–five design exhibitions for private galleries, museums and institutions.
NOMAD Capri, 2022
NOMAD Circle 10th edition will be held in Capri, at Certosa di San Giacomo, from Wednesday July 6th to Sunday July 10th, 2022, from 5 to 11 pm. As per every edition, NOMAD Capri is going to involve galleries from the art and the design sector.
Among the participating galleries: Alfonso Artiaco (Naples), Angela Weber Möbel (Zürich), Carwan Gallery (Athens), Galleria Fonti (Naples), Gallery FUMI (London), Mercado Moderno (Rio De Janeiro), Objective Gallery (New York, Shangai), Spazio Nobile (Brussels), Studio Trisorio (Naples, Capri), Thomsen Gallery (New York), Unno Gallery (Mexico City), Volumnia (Piacenza).
Among the special projects: A Moment in Time (Istanbul ’74), Coralia (Draga & Aurel + Rossana Orlandi), Genetic Variations (Christian Pellizzari), Glaze Obsession/Faceless Body (Officine Saffi Lab), Grand Tour (Zazà and Galleria Federico Vavassori), Hand Written Stories – The Capri Letter A Presentation of Patricia Urquiola’s Design (Curated by Gianluigi Ricuperati/Nova Express, powered by Aspesi), Isola (James White, presented by Marco Voena, Edmondo DI Robilant & Oscar Humphries), Jewels of Abstraction (Lauren Adriana), Julian Schnable, Ogni Angelo ha il suo lato spaventoso (presented by Marco Voena and Cy Schnabel), Magica Naturae (Elie Top).