Interview: artmonte-carlo ambassador Safia El Malqui

Step into Monaco’s cultural spotlight with artmonte-carlo this weekend at the Grimaldi Forum, where elegance meets artistic excellence. Ambassador Safia El Malqui explains more about the event’s exclusive collaborations and meticulous selection process.

The 8th edition of the esteemed annual art event artmonte-carlo will open to the public this Friday at the Grimaldi Forum. Organised under the High Patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco, the event aligns with the Monaco Art Week, running from 2nd to 7th July. 

Notably, Charlotte Diwan, who assumed the role of Director of artgeneve at the start of 2024 following the unexpected departure of Thomas Hug, leads the artmonte-carlo exhibition. Both art fairs mutually enhance each other’s standing, consolidating the Principality’s position as a pivotal hub for the arts.

The art fair known as artmonte-carlo is closely associated with artgeneve. People from Switzerland often travel to Monaco for this event because of the strong connections between the two European art centres, home to numerous art galleries and enthusiasts. The events complement each other due to their seasonality—artgeneve in winter and artmonte-carlo during the summer—as well as regional focus. The smaller nature of boutique fairs, like those in Geneva and Monaco, also encourages more interaction between exhibitors and attendees.

artmonte-carlo 2024

Considered a pinnacle of artistic excellence, artmonte-carlo is a leading platform for ancient, modern, and contemporary art in Monaco and the French Riviera. A select group of 27 leading international galleries is showcased in meticulously designed scenography, and a significantly enriched program of special exhibitions fosters dialogue between the art market, collectors, and the institutional world, offering a unique and exclusive experience. 

Monaco Life recently spoke with Safia El Malqui, a Monaco resident and passionate art collector who also serves as the ambassador for artmonte-carlo. In our interview, she highlights the critical role of the fair in the Principality’s art scene, reveals exciting new collaborations, delves into the meticulous selection process for participating galleries, and sheds light on the latest additions and innovations.

Monaco Life: How significant is artmonte-carlo for the Principality art scene? 

Safia El Malqui: The artmonte-carlo exhibition holds significant importance for the Principality as a thriving hub in the contemporary art market. It stands out due to its unique format and exclusive clientele, which are explicitly tailored for art enthusiasts and collectors in the region. 

We aim to foster crucial relationships with key institutional and art market stakeholders. One notable collaboration is with the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) through initiatives like the artmonte-carlo F.P.Journe Prize. Sponsored by Watch Manufacture F.P.Journe, this initiative involves acquiring artwork at the fair, which is then donated to enrich the museum’s collection, directly impacting Monaco’s cultural landscape. 

We believe artmonte-carlo is a dynamic platform that aspires to promote meaningful local and regional partnerships that benefit local institutions and external sponsors. This approach also strengthens Monaco’s position as a vibrant centre for art and culture.

artmonte-carlo 2024

What is the pursuit of this art fair? 

The mission of artmonte-carlo is to unite the diverse ecosystem of the art market and institutions. It aims to serve as a significant regional and international platform, a unifying meeting point, and a key event for the global art community. 

How has artmonte-carlo evolved since its inception?

Since its inception in 2016, the fair has seen significant growth and evolution, culminating in what we believe is the ideal setup for the 8th edition: 27 galleries, committed partners who believe in the project, and numerous collaborations with regional institutions. Alongside the fair, a rich program of events is organised, promising an exciting and dynamic experience for all attendees. 

Today, the fair encompasses everything expected from such an event: a high-quality program of international galleries, events outside the Grimaldi Forum, and visits to institutional collections as part of our VIP program.

“This setting encourages visitors to make spontaneous purchases driven by passion and immediate connection rather than focusing solely on well-known artists.”

What would you say is the DNA of artmonte-carlo that distinguishes it from other art fairs?

I believe artmonte-carlo is characterised by its intimate and elegant format, offering a diverse array of high-quality artworks. This carefully curated environment creates a unique atmosphere, encouraging meaningful interactions among collectors, galleries, artists, and institutional actors, making the audience feel intrigued and excited about the event. 

Unlike larger art fairs, artmonte-carlo allows blue-chip international and local galleries to present exclusive, rather diverse artworks that differ from their typical artist roster. This setting encourages visitors to make spontaneous purchases driven by passion and immediate connection rather than focusing solely on well-known artists. 

artmonte-carlo 2024

Is there a group within artmonte-carlo who decides on the participating art galleries?

Yes, this year, we have a selection committee representing three different regions: Italy, France, and Switzerland. The primary criterion for selection is the excellence of the artworks presented by the galleries. 

A committee of professionals in the art market is crucial to guarantee an unbiased selection process. It is essential to have a panel of professionals independent of the organisation to guarantee an impartial selection process. This impartiality ensures that only the most compelling galleries are chosen to exhibit, reflecting the high standard of artmonte-carlo. The committee also closely examines the authenticity and provenance of the artworks, ensuring that the art fair upholds the highest standards of quality and credibility, making the audience feel confident in the quality of the exhibited artworks. 

Who is the typical attendee of artmonte-carlo? 

The archetypal attendees are art lovers, buyers, and collectors with a strong affinity for aesthetics and a significant purchasing power. These individuals are often seasoned collectors, connoisseurs, and influential figures in the art world who seek out the finest artworks to add to their collections. They are always on the lookout for unique and captivating pieces. 

What is the make-up of the standard buyer? 

The average buyer is typically a local Monaco resident who has a deep appreciation for fine art and the means to invest in high-quality pieces. Additionally, we attract an international clientele drawn to Monaco’s unique environment, which blends local sophistication with global appeal. 

This year, we focus on expanding our reach to collectors from surrounding regions such as the south of France and northern Italy. We also aim to attract tourists visiting Monaco and the Côte d’Azur, leveraging Monaco’s position as part of the Riviera, with specific attention to areas like Cannes, Nice, and Saint Tropez.

artmonte-carlo 2024

Is there a wide range of prices for pieces exhibited? 

We are proud to present a diverse gamut of artworks, ranging from €50,000 to several million euros, ensuring that there is something for every art lover, from seasoned collectors to those just beginning their journey in the art world.

What are the novelties for this 8th edition?

The 8th edition of artmonte-carlo will feature an exciting lineup of new local and international exhibitors. Renowned galleries based in the Principality, such as Almine Rech, Hauser & Wirth, Retelet, Moretti Fine Art, and Opera Gallery, will also be part of the fair’s program. They will be joined by esteemed newcomers, including Lisson Gallery, Lelong & Co. Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Larkin Erdmann Fine Art, ML Fine Art, Semiose and Wilde. These additions promise to enhance the diversity and richness of the fair, offering attendees a fresh and dynamic experience. 

The fair will have a different, more harmonised layout. It will feature a new lounge area designed by Ruinart and Roche Bobois, including a selection of art publishers such as Cahiers d’art and We Do Not Work Alone. 

This year, artmonte-carlo will further strengthen its presence in the Principality by establishing new collaborations, notably with Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Théâtre Princesse Grace, and Pavillon Bosio. 

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All artmonte-carlo 2024 photos by Niki Borisova for Monaco Life. Main photo of Safia El Malqui artmonte-carlo ambassador, and art collector, credit: SEM

See also: 

Monaco Art Week: The Walking Tour Part II