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Adolfo Cayón: “I don't think art is for everyone”

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  • Mitsuo Miura, the painted memory

It is five past eleven in the morning and Adolfo Cayón (Madrid, 1971), is impeccably dressed in a smart yet casual brown blazer as he opens the door to his office for us, but not before apologizing for being five minutes late. Immediately, he sits on a sofa and in his relaxed but attentive posture one can guess a calm and intelligent man, with self-confidence.

For the rest, the interview takes place in the gallery that bears his own surname. An old converted garage, located at Calle Blanca de Navarra, 7. Scattered on the table, his latest acquisition: a series of sketches belonging to a famous cartoonist. They were found by chance in El Rastro in Madrid and perfectly exemplify the gallery owner's passion for graphic art.

Is being a gallery owner vocational?

Yes, although you always need some push. But if you don't want that push or you don't know how to take advantage of it, there's nothing left. Luckily for me, my father's interest in art caught on right away. At first, as a collector of graphic work and then, little by little, I got into the business after studying Art History. That made me develop this passion for galleries.

Taking into account that passion you mention, how is your way of understanding art?

A very simple definition, perhaps a bit limited, is that it is the expression of a creative will from which many doors open. Art has satisfied me personally many times since I was very young, and it still does. What is the art? Today, a world full of illusions.

About the prejudices that exist with contemporary art , do you consider that society is increasingly aware of it?

Unfortunately, there are many people who are absolutely not interested in art, neither contemporary nor classic.

Do you have to be a millionaire to buy art?

Well, that's not true.

So, do you think that every time is it more affordable to get a collection?

I also have to say that art has never been cheap. I don't think that the great collectors, both in Spain and in the world, thought at the beginning of their collections that they were going to buy what they ended up buying. A collection is something alive that matures. And that maturation lies not only in the power to acquire great works, but in the courage to do so.

On many occasions, gallery owners have been relegated to the foot of the art page while the artists star in the most visible face. Have you ever felt that your job has been undervalued?

I have never felt undervalued. There is always a more or less faithful public that likes the way you work. With that I stay.

As I pointed out before, only those who love art can come to value their profession .

I insist again that I don't think art is for everyone. It could be, but there are people who do not show any interest and who will never show it.

Adolfo Cayón with the artist Mitsuo Miura in the gallery –

Tell us about your work as a gallery owner.

It is the most satisfying way I have to fulfill myself both personally and professionally. I do what I do for satisfaction, because admiring a work continues to give me a satisfaction that nothing else gives me and for me that is fundamental.

Is gallery ownership a passion or an investment?

For me, the gallery is a business. The gallery owner must have the ingenuity to make a profitable business out of something as wonderful as art.

¿ Is it profitable in economic terms to run a gallery? Can you make a living from art?

Man, that's what I intend . Doing things right, you can live. Even so, I insist that we have a vocation to spread art beyond economic interest.

What What makes an art gallery so special?

The gallery owner's line of work. Today, with the number of galleries that exist in the world, doing a series of projects that no one else does and taking care of them in a special way turns an art gallery into a venue where the gallery owner's work is rewarded more than ever.

And yours?

Each gallery owner conceives a different personality to the project. At Cayón we channel projects somewhat to the liking of the gallery owner. Our line of work is to present exceptional exhibitions with a very special approach.

What reasons pushed you to open your own space?

You had to start sometime .

Was it clear from the beginning what the project would be like?

No, but if you allow me the simile, an artist is also not clear what a work is going to be like at the beginning. In fact, there are exhibitions that have been made years ago that, if I had done them today, I would have executed them differently. However, this is something natural, it goes hand in hand with personal evolution.

How would you define your day by day?

Whenever I don't travel, I'm here. Today, the telephone is essential. I think we have abandoned ourselves a lot to the use of the internet, but, for me, the call with clients is much more direct. A gallery owner must make several calls a day to do business. Although I am also delighted to leave the office and interact with the public.

Regarding the artists, do you prefer to bet on young promises or consolidated creators?

The first great creator who joined the gallery was Cruz-Díez, who was in his eighties. And that has inclined me a bit towards artists with maturity, I have always felt much more comfortable with these types of artists and even with their legacies. What's more, I've always felt comfortable collaborating with creators who have been my references when I was young, like Enrico Castellani. I have simply realized that I am doing the exhibitions that I would have liked to do thirty years ago.

What do you consider the main landmarks of Cayón?

All the projects we have done for Yves Klein, opening the gallery's headquarters in Menorca or working with legacies such as Enrico Castellani's.

Where does this fascination with Yves Klein come from?

I came across his work during one of my trips to Europe in the late eighties. As soon as I started college, I went to one of his exhibitions in London and I was blown away. It impresses me a lot.In life there are always several exhibitions that leave you very shockedand that you drag throughout the whole your career. Mine have been those of Yves Klein.

Interior of the Cayón Gallery in Blanca de Navarra, 7 –

You mentioned Cayón's headquarters in Mahón, Menorca. What reception did you have?

We were lucky to find a very unique space on a very special island. From then on, regardless of the public that spends the summer there, we have made exhibitions good enough to attract both national and international clientele.

And what kind of clientele is that that they manage to attract on the island that, for example, they do not achieve in Madrid?

More than capturing a different client, what Menorca allows us is to undertake projects that we could not develop in any other space. It is such a huge space, so historic and full of anecdotes, that each project that is developed there has to be much more ambitious than the one that is deployed in one of our two spaces in the capital.

Finally, what is your greatest achievement as a gallery owner?

Carrying a line that is not only distinguishable, but also very different and personal.

And any mistake you regret?

Throughout my career, what I have had, sometimes, has been some success. Errors, many.

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