As ArtCatto celebrates its 10th anniversary, founder Gillian Catto reflects on the gallery’s story so far
ArtCatto in Loulé is celebrating its 10th anniversary and, like many businesses, has found this past year challenging. But the gallery has, as ever, created an exciting and diverse exhibition programme for this season, with shows taking place both at the space on the Avenida in Loulé and at the five-star Conrad Algarve hotel.
Gillian Catto is a remarkable woman who has been in the art business for 35 years. She opened The Catto Gallery in Hampstead, London, in 1986, at first specialising in Victorian Watercolours, but soon discovered that her clients were also looking for more contemporary pieces of artwork, which took her on a journey of discovery. The Catto Gallery went on to become famous for representing some of the leading artists of that period.
In 2008, Gillian Catto moved to Portugal to live with her partner, who is a solicitor, in Almancil. In 2011, she established ArtCatto in a beautiful old red building in the heart of Loulé. She took with her some of the foremost artists she had worked with in London and added new ones including a new generation of talented Portuguese artists, such as the award-winning Pop artist Pedro Guimarães.
ArtCatto also represents the highly sought-after and acclaimed British urban artist Dom Pattinson and the French painter of vintage americana, Alain Bertrand.
The gallery specialises in a range of sculptures for both interiors and exteriors. One of the most extraordinary players in that field is Jonty Hurwitz, an incomparable and unique sculptor that fuses art and science in a magical way.
The team at ArtCatto is dedicated to finding exciting new artists and to continue to expand and to offer a special experience to anyone coming to see the gallery or at the Conrad hotel. “I must say that I could not have achieved the success I have had here without my partner at ArtCatto, Frederic Ponte. Freddy is as passionate about the gallery as I am,” says Gillian Catto.
With the charming gallery set up in Loulé, she was determined to reach a wider audience and so began a creative partnership with the Conrad Algarve. Gillian Catto explains that her relationship with the hotel started when it was just a concrete shell. She now works closely with their terrific general manager Katharina Schlaipfer, who also has a great love for art.
The gallery has staged some amazing events at the hotel as Conrad Algarve has proved to be the perfect venue for more ambitious projects and sculptural work. You can see the amazing work of Jürgen Lingl, who uses a chainsaw to carve out huge blocks of wood into great animal pieces. His bronzes are also available. In 2019, the gallery created a sculpture garden. Once everything returns to a new normal, the hope is to recreate the garden into a magical world of sculpture again.
For this year’s programme at the Conrad Algarve, ArtCatto will be showing the Italian artist Tommaso Ottieri, who is a master of light-filled cityscapes, and the wonderful Israeli sculptor Nimrod Messeg, who creates beautiful pieces from iron. The gallery will also be showcasing at the hotel the Portuguese sculptor Rogério Timóteo and the talented Mark Evans, who works with blades to carve photorealistic animals and figures into leather.
At the Loulé gallery, visitors will find the British figurative artist Andrew Kinsman, Alain Bertrand, Pedro Guimarães, and Mário Henrique.
Later in the summer, they will be exhibiting works by the Dutch artist Alisa Lim A Po, the Portuguese hyperrealistic painter Gustavo Fernandes, and the humorous work by the French artist Thomas Bossard. You can see all this and more on the gallery’s website, along with special videos.
ArtCatto has a strong ethos of representing the very best art. They are committed to looking after their clients and recommend that they bring paintings and sculptures to clients’ homes so that they can live with the work for a few days, to see the art at all times of day and night. There is no obligation to purchase, as the gallery feels it is so important that people feel entirely happy with their choices.
Overall, a busy year ahead for ArtCatto as it celebrates its 10 years of bringing high-quality art to the Algarve. “Portugal has given me an opportunity to do it all again but, in a way, even better and with greater challenges,” states Gillian Catto. “It’s been 10 years of ArtCatto, and here’s to another 10.”
By BEN AUSTIN