Questions for Anaïs Lerendu | Limna

Questions for Anaïs Lerendu

How do you become a curator? What are the peculiarities of collecting emerging art? And how can we understand the ever-changing dynamics of the art world? We spoke to Anaïs Lerendu, Founder and Director of White Crypt, a London-based creative and experimental hub for international artists, and Curator at ARTIQ, an agency bridging the art and business worlds.

How did you get started doing what you do?

I studied fine art at university in France knowing I didn’t want to be an artist, but at that time I didn’t really know how to be part of the art world without being an artist! Then I moved to Paris for my MA, where I studied curating at the Sorbonne. It was such an amazing experience and I felt like I was finally on the right path. I worked really hard and did over 10 internships throughout my studies, from public institutions to commercial galleries and art fairs. At the end of my MA I moved to London with Erasmus and worked for a small gallery and Sunday Art Fair and a few months after I’d arrived I met an artist who introduced me to the space that I have now been running for 5 years called White Crypt. At the time I had just graduated from the Sorbonne and was so eager to curate shows with all the emerging artists I had been following that finding a space was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. White Crypt has now had over 20 physical exhibitions and special projects, and I have worked with over 100 artists. White Crypt remains my side-gig and I am also a curator for an art agency called ARTIQ based in London.

277372309_343836351039294_5349176145936626999_n.jpgInstallation View ‘To the Core’, 2018, White Crypt © Rob Harris

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started in the art world?

When I was a student, even during my MA, I felt like I wasn’t very much aware of all the jobs that the art world has to offer. I was studying curating and yet we were told that being a full-time curator was an almost impossible career path. I feel like if I hadn’t done all these internships I wouldn’t have had a clue of what to do at the end of my studies.

What’s the first artwork you ever bought?

One of my first purchases was a small painting by my friend and amazing artist Francesca Mollett. We curated a show together at White Crypt called ‘The Value of Liveliness’ and featured Francesca, Sophie Giller, Wendy McLean and Matthew Musgrave. The title of the show was drawn from Isabelle Graw’s essay ‘The value of liveliness’ and questioned the relationship one has with paintings in a society that is saturated by images. I had had my eyes on that painting throughout the exhibition and I had to get it - it’s really hard to resist purchasing artworks from artists you exhibit, and I have very little self-control when I fall in love with an artwork!

2. Francesca Mollett.jpgImage: Installation view, ‘The value of liveliness’, 2018, White Crypt © Damian Griffiths

Which artist are you currently really excited about?

I recently discovered the work of Salome Wu and I am completely obsessed with her practice. I have always been drawn to artists who produce works that speak from the depths of their beings and I feel like Salome’s paintings really speak to me. Her work examines otherworldliness through translations and ever-evolving reinterpretations of personal mythology, formed from her observation of time, fragility, and the interplay between reality and the unseen.

2.5 Portrait-of-Salome-Wu-Image-by-Liza-Molnar-1-scaled.jpgImage: Portrait of Salome Wu Image by Liza Molnar

What’s the last art-related Instagram post you liked or an account you followed?

I have become very fond of ‘Art Maze Magazine’ Instagram (@artmazemag). I feel like I like every single work that they post and I have discovered many artists I did not know - definitely a great platform for emerging art!

What upcoming exhibitions are you looking forward to?

‘Surrealism Beyond Border’ opened at Tate Modern and I still haven’t been to the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Royal Academy which I am also really excited about!

3. width-840_d1kRMkZ.jpgImage: Salvador Dalí, Lobster Telephone (1938), Tate © Salvador Dali, Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation/DACS, London 2022

Tell us about an artist who should be getting more attention.

In the Summer of last year we had a solo exhibition at White Crypt with artist Anna Hughes. I’d discovered Anna’s practice back in 2016 when I went to see her degree show at the Royal Academy. At the time, her work was very sculptural and I wasn’t aware that she was actually coming from a painting background. During the pandemic, Anna started producing paintings again, and her solo presentation at the space was a union between her sculptural and pictorial approach that embraced the space of the crypt to offer an immersive experience for the visitor to walk through ‘Sponde’s Garden’, a fictional story written by the artist about one of Jupiter’s moons. Anna’s work is rich in symbols and mythological references and speaks the language of the soul - I admire her practice and I really hope she receives the acknowledgement she deserves.

What’s the best piece of art-world advice you’ve ever been given?

When I arrived in London I went for coffee with curator Lisa Le Feuvre whom I’d met at a symposium I was working on in Paris. At the time I had just finished my MA and was about to look for a job - my first job - and she was telling how difficult it can be to find a job that fulfils us and pays for the bills at the same time. She told me that if there were things I wanted to do - curating, working with artists - that I should do them on the side of whatever job I find. And that’s what I did for 5 years, I built White Crypt, curated shows and worked with over a hundred artists and never expected my job to tick all the boxes. It not only paid off by rewarding me every time I was working with talented artists, but it’s also what helped me get hired for my current position as curator for an art agency. And now my job finally ticks all the boxes: I curate venues and work with talented artists… and it pays the bills!

How do your clients gain confidence when buying art?

I think that believing in the artists you exhibit is key and if you believe in them, your clients will see that and will feel confident in investing in their works. Until recently I had never really seen art as an investment - or at least I wasn’t buying art because I knew the artist would become successful, but rather because I just loved the work and because this person would also be my friend. I am still following my gut feelings and I only buy works that I love, but I have also noticed that several of the artists’ I bought works from are becoming more and more successful, and it feels good to know that maybe one day one of my little paintings will be a very valuable work of art.

277420448_5153489084697092_2833210550688547798_n.jpgWorks by Anna Gonzalez Noguchi. Installation View ‘To the Core’, 2018, White Crypt © Rob Harris