Branded “the most well-connected man in London” by The Times and “London’s hottest art dealer” by GQ, Jean-David Malat is an art dealer and personal advisor to everybody from members of the Royal family, to pop superstars like Madonna, film legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay, rock icons like Bono and fashion VIPs including Kate Moss.
You’ve just opened an eponymous gallery in Mayfair – can you tell us more about it?
I opened my gallery in Mayfair in June 2018. It’s a 400 sqm gallery over two floors on Davies Street, one of the best streets in London, next to Claridges and Berkeley Square. I am dealing with my primary market, established and upcoming artists. My first show was with Henrik Uldalen and the show did fantastically well.
You’re originally from Paris – what brought you to London?
I came to London in around 2000 to work with a fashion designer and straight away loved the city and its energy, so never returned to Paris.
We hear you’re a Tate patron and support The Serpentine Gallery, what does this involve?
Yes, I am involved with these museums because it is important for an art dealer to be connected to these institutions. I am always pleased to support them, and even to give special tours or talk with them about projects.
Who is your favourite artist, dead or alive?
I have a few favourite artists in my head. I think at the moment it is the artist that I am doing a solo show with this October: Zumrutoglu. He is going to be huge. He is an unbelievable artist and a safe investment. This will be his first UK solo show and is inspired by the dark works of Joseph Conrad.
Is there anyone you’ve discovered who has since blown up?
I will say Henrik Uldalen was really unbelievable with the last show in June. We sold his work to some important foundations. And members of the royal family of Norway – where Uldalen is from – came especially to visit our exhibition. The show sold out and now we have a waiting list for upcoming works
Which is your favourite gallery in the world, and why?
The Tate Modern is my favourite by far. I love the building and the collection – I could stay there all day.
Where is your favourite place to eat in London?
Cipriani opposite the gallery. It has the best pasta in town and I always go for the same dishes.
How do you like to relax?
On the weekend, mostly on Sunday, I go to the gym at the new Soho House White City. I also go swimming, followed by a nice breakfast with friends and family.
Were you ever an artist yourself?
I am not, I don’t know how to draw but I have the ideas in my mind so I am always pleased to direct some of the artists that I represent.
We hear you market your artists in unusual ways – can you give us some examples?
We receive hundreds of applications monthly. We look at them and when we choose an artist, we give them full attention and exposure through our gallery and through art fairs. Unfortunately, we only want to represent 15-18 artists so there are not too many spaces available. We create an inclusive atmosphere at my gallery; advising my network and showing works by new and legendary artists beside each other.
How do you know when you’ve come across a great artist – is it just a gut feeling or is there a science behind it?
It is a feeling and teamwork, we have long discussions. We are looking at opportunities and what we can do with them now and in the future.
What’s in store for the future? Should we expect more JD Malat galleries?
In store is the Zumrutoglu exhibition in October, followed by Santiago Parra in November. Yes, we’re probably going to expand in the US with an opening in Los Angeles in 2020 and then Berlin.