BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander

Galila's P.O.C., Brussels, Belgium

Galila Barzilaï-Hollander at the collection headquarters, Brussels. Photo: Diego Ravier
Galila Barzilaï-Hollander at the collection headquarters, Brussels. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier

You bought your first contemporary artwork in 2005. How important is having the title of “collector” to you?

Not important at all. On the contrary, it makes me rather uncomfortable. I feel like I'm placed in a box wearing a uniform.

Had I been asked to provide my own definition, I would say, a cocktail of admirer, lover, devoted, enthusiastic, addicted to/of art.

Your collection, aptly named Galila’s P.O.C.–and meaning, passion obsession collection–is renowned for its distinct thematic categories, what do these include and how did these develop? Does this render an attachment in collecting rather to the themes than particular artists?

Since I never decided to collect, I had no clear or predefined vision of the act of collecting. It is also important to mention that my knowledge in contemporary art at that time was “below zero”. My late husband was an antique collector, “allergic” to contemporary art.

It all started by a pure, innocent and amusing misunderstanding–visiting the Armory Show in New York (2005), supposing it was an exhibition about armors. I bought my first work as an emotional echo to a very painful moment in my life, just a few months after my husband passed away. Less than half an hour later, I had experienced a sense of rebirth – back to life!

Discovering the contemporary art world in such circumstances brought me a sense of connection, energy and hope–a “Rendez-vous” with my inner self. Looking backwards now, I understand that the various themes in my collection are the “children” of this rebirth. Each theme finds its source in my personal, secret and emotional universe.

To cite only some of the major ones (without hierarchy) are Eyes, Books, Chairs, Money, Eggs, Watermelon, Measure (in the large sense), Interfaith, Cigarettes, Monochrome (black and white), Duality and a few more…

Providing an explanation on each theme would be a psychological strip tease. I am afraid I am too old for that...

In the process of selecting an artwork, what dominates my choice is the work itself. The name of the artist is brought to my attention only afterwards. That makes the collection a “Tower of Babel”. Worldwide artists, different cultures, speaking different languages, yet creating a wonderful dialogue among themselves. In French I would say “Vivre ensemble”.

Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier

In your opinion, what mistakes do young collectors commonly make? And what mistakes did you make when first starting on your collecting journey?

I feel the biggest mistake young collectors make is simply not trusting their gut feeling. I would simply tell them “Listen with your eyes”. I would also tell them, “It is right to be wrong”. It is only with the intuitive practice that we can experience, learn and improve.

The major mistake I made when I started my “journey” was exactly the few times I did not trust myself and accepted other people’s opinion (the future proved I was right …).

My message is very simple: Making your own mistakes, and taking responsibility for them is the best school.

Pre-pandemic, were you traveling frequently for the purpose of following the art world?

Yes. In the pre-pandemic time, I was constantly travelling from one country or continent to another without having time to take distance, digest or think.

What would you like to see shift in the Art World post pandemic?

My ideal post-pandemic world would mainly be focused on the distribution and frequency of the art fairs. I dream of turning most big art fairs into Biennales, while enjoying on a yearly basis a smaller, local and focused fair.

Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier

How/why did you arrive at the decision to share your personal collection within the realm of public view?

The major trigger was an extraordinary six month exhibition at the Boghossian Foundation (Villa Empain) in Brussels, 2014, titled A book between 2 stools. Approximatively 250 works were selected from my collection, mostly presenting emerging and mid carrier artists. The spontaneous emotional feedback I received from the visitors opened up my heart and mind, I felt and understood the joy and importance of sharing.

In addition, another “side effect” was the understanding and full awareness of the collector’s role in promoting their emerging artists (some galleries for exmaple, discovered and took over an artist they did not previously know about).

What has been the most challenging work of art in your collection, either for yourself or the public?

For myself there are 2 works by the artist Ry Rocklen, both dated 2015, titled:

1. Textylz Display Panel (White)

2. Black shower

These 2 works had been empowered by placing them in a very specific context (Holocaust), very far away from the original narrative of the artist. All agree on their symbolic power in this new context.

For the public, the most challenging work is a sculpture by the Spanish artist Eugenio Merino, titled Stairway to Heaven, dealing with the subject of interfaith.

What is a beautiful moment from Galila’s P.O.C., or your life as a collector that you would like to share with us?

Beside having the joy of seeing people leaving Galila’s P.O.C. with a smile on their face and hearing them expressing a sense of energy, positive thinking, hope, enthusiasm, etc., is that more than once I have I heard the following comment, “Thank you, your collection reconciled me with contemporary art”.

Which publicly accessible private collections would you recommend visiting?

The question is delicate to answer. There are so many great private collections to discover. Each collection has its uniqueness.

Nevertheless there are two collections I feel personally connected to, similar to chemistry between two strangers. One is the collection of Mr Joop Van Caldenborgh who is behind the Voorlinden Museum in Wassenaar in the Netherlands. The other collection is the Collezione La Gaia in Busca, Piemont, Italy.

Again I insist, this is very personal and does not exclude so many other wonderful collections.

Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier
Exhibition view of OVERDOSE at Galila's P.O.C. Photo: Diego Ravier

More Information on Galila's P.O.C.

Collectors (61)

Nadia & Rajeeb Samdani

Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Martin Margulies

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse – Miami, United States of America

Christine and Andrew Hall

Hall Art Foundation - Reading, USA & Derneburg, Germany

Qiao Zhibing

TANK Shanghai and Qiao Space - Shanghai, China

Christen Sveaas

Kistefos Museet, Jevnaker, Norway

Noemi Givon

Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Michael Buxton

Buxton Contemporary - Melbourne, Australia

Seth Stolbun

The Stolbun Collection – Houston, USA

Jochen Zeitz

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) - Cape Town, Africa

Dominique & Sylvain Levy

DSLCollection – Paris, France

Andrea von Goetz

Sammlung Blankenburg – Hamburg, Germany

Gordon Elliott

The Elliott Eyes Collection - Sydney, Australia

The Vague Space

Christian Kaspar Schwarm on the first solo presentation of his collection at the Weserburg Bremen

Anita Zabludowicz

Zabludowicz Collection – London, United Kingdom

Anastasios A. Gkekas

The Office Collection - Nicosia, Cyprus

Rik Reinking

WAI - Woods Art Institute, Wentorf bei Hamburg, Germany

Maria Didrichsen

Didrichsen Art Museum – Helsinki, Finland

João Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz (IFF) - São Paulo, Brazil

Julia Stoschek

Julia Stoschek Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Maurizio Morra Greco

Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Italy

Christian & Karen Boros

Sammlung Boros – Berlin, Germany

Timo Miettinen

Salon Dahlmann – Berlin, Germany

Marli Hoppe-Ritter

Sammlung Marli Hoppe-Ritter – Waldenbuch, Germany

Désiré Feuerle

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

Gudrun & Bernd Wurlitzer

Wurlitzer Pied A Terre Collection – Berlin, Germany

Corbett Lyon

Lyon Housemuseum – Melbourne, Australia

Geert Verbeke-Lens

Verbeke Foundation – Kemzeke, Belgium

László Vass

Vass Collection – Veszprém, Hungary

Daisuke Miyatsu

Dream House – Ichikawa, Japan

Samara Walbohm & Joe Shlesinger

Scrap Metal Gallery – Toronto, Canada

Charles Riva

Charles Riva Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Venke & Rolf Hoff

KaviarFactory – Lofoten, Norway

Alain Servais

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Ivo Wessel

Sammlung Ivo Wessel - Berlin, Germany

Ramin Salsali

Salsali Private Museum – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Vittorio Gaddi

Collezione Nunzia e Vittorio Gaddi – Lucca, Italy

Miguel Leal Rios

Fundação Leal Rios – Lisbon, Portugal

Gertraud and Dieter Bogner

Kunstraum Buchberg – Gars am Kamp, Austria

Bob Rennie

Rennie Collection at Wing Sang – Vancouver, Canada

Heiner Wemhöner

Sammlung Wemhöner – Herford, Germany

Lin Han

M WOODS – Beijing, China

Kenny Goss

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, USA

Karsten Schmitz

Arbeitswohnung Federkiel – Leipzig, Germany

Devon Dikeou

The Dikeou Collection - Denver, USA

Thomas Olbricht

ME Collectors Room Berlin/Stiftung Olbricht – Berlin, Germany

Mera & Donald Rubell

Rubell Family Collection – Miami, USA

Pétur Arason

Safn – Berlin, Germany / Reykjavík, Iceland

Steffen Hildebrand

G2 Kunsthalle – Leipzig, Germany

Rafaela Seppälä

RKF Collection – Helsinki, Finland

Frédéric de Goldschmidt

Frédéric de Goldschmidt – Brussels, Belgium

Daniel Teo

The Private Museum – Singapore, Singapore

Claudio Cosma

Sensus – Luoghi per l’arte Contemporanea – Florence, Italy

Michał Borowik

Michał Borowik Collection – Warsaw, Poland

Herbert Gerisch

Herbert-Gerisch-Stiftung - Neumünster, Germany

José Berardo

Museu Coleção Berardo – Lisbon, Portugal

Bärbel Grässlin and Karola Kraus

Sammlung Grässlin - St. Georgen, Germany

Joëlle and Eric Romba

Rocca Stiftung – Berlin, Germany

Myriam and Amaury de Solages

Maison Particulière – Brussels, Belgium

Friedrich Gräfling

Sammlung Fiede - Aschaffenburg, Germany

Benjamin Genocchio

Fair Director at The Armory Show