Mazel Gallery Singapore's director Kevin Troyano Cuturi picked white-coloured furniture to complement the artworks in the living room. PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Location, location, location – this is usually of utmost importance when it comes to house-hunting. But for French expatriate Kevin Troyano Cuturi, his ideal home is one with lots of space, and plenty of walls.

After all, Mr Cuturi is Mazel Galerie Singapore's director and he wanted to fill his home with his collection of art. "My home is like an extension of the gallery," says Mr Cuturi, who moved to Singapore almost two years ago.

Mazel Galerie originated in Belgium in 2010. It opened its Singapore gallery at Pacific Plaza in 2017.

Mr Cuturi found his ideal apartment in Bukit Timah. An added plus is that the three-bedroom apartment overlooks greenery. "Being in tropical Singapore, of course, it only made sense to live near the greens," he notes. On less-humid days, he is outside, enjoying the breeze on the balcony.

The apartment's expansive walls allowed for Mr Cuturi to showcase his art, and he has left no wall uncovered.

Mr Cuturi, who studied physics, didn't have an interest in art when he was a child. He recalls collecting Star Wars toys, before moving on to rare posters to decorate his bedroom walls with. He started building up his poster collection, and graduated into buying art. "A piece isn't just about the colours and the subject, I like to discover the intellectual aspect behind it," he explains.

Mr Cuturi in front of a charcoal painting by Valentin van der Meulen. (Right) Impression Chair by Julian Mayor. PHOTOS: NG SOR LUAN

"I buy only pieces that speak to me," he adds, saying that his first proper purchase was an oil painting of a scene in New York, six years ago. He won't say how much he spent on it. "It was way too much, but I loved it and bought it. I still remember and cherish that moment."

He has only brought his favourite pieces with him to Singapore, and he has about another 40 back home in Europe.

Mr Cuturi reveals that before he hung up the works, he walked around with a gadget, to test the humidity levels around the apartment.

"If you want to decorate parts of your home which are very humid, don't have paintings. Consider a bronze sculpture instead," he advises. "Bronze also suffers from humidity, but less so than other mediums such as wood and drawings."

So far, he hasn't had any issues with humidity and mold on his artworks.

He doesn't have the air-conditioning on the whole day, but he usually has the balcony door open in the mornings. None of the paintings are covered behind glass. He advises against it. "It is a bad idea, because the glass will trap any moisture and spoil the art."

Most of the artworks in the apartment are by artists which the gallery represents. For example, in the living room, there is A Praying Mantis by French artist Stéphane Pencréac'h, in which a ghostly figure of a woman appears when viewed from the side under bright light.

Also in the living room is a piece of an African baby by French artist Valentin van der Meulen. It looks like a black and white photograph, but most visitors are surprised to find that it is charcoal and blackstone on paper.

Mlle-Z by Hubert Le Gall is both a bookshelf and a piece of art. PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

One of Mr Cuturi's favourite piece is Mlle-Z by French artist/designer Hubert Le Gall. Upclose, it functions as a bookshelf, but take a few steps back and the eye sees the silhouette of a woman. The piece is made of wood, which was treated against humidity. The piece was so big that the contractors had to use a crane to haul it up and through the kitchen windows to get it into the apartment. Mr Cuturi jokes that, thankfully, the apartment is on a low floor.

He keeps his choice of furniture simple – mostly made of wood and in shades of white or beige, so as not to steal the attention from the artworks.

Ostrich by Vincent Corpet. PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Some of the art pieces that Mr Cuturi collects double as furniture, such as the Solaris Chair by British artist Julian Mayor. This particular chair is made from pieces of mirrored stainless steel welded together. Depending on where you stand, the chair changes colours as it is being reflected.

In the guest room, there is another piece by Mayor, called the Impression Chair, which is made of plywood, and the seat is shaped like a bottom. "I admire the craftsmanship that goes into making this."

He doesn't invite clients to his home often, because they want to buy the artwork off his walls. "These are all my personal pieces, so they aren't for sale," he points out, preferring them to go to the gallery instead. He does, however, have friends stay in his guest room. According to him, the experience is like living in an art gallery. However, he does have a set of rules for them. For example, anyone who wears jeans is not allowed to sit on the Impression Chair, because the studs will mark the wood. "My friends know how much I love my art, so no, I've not broken any friendship because of my house rules," he adds.

His advice to those learning how to appreciate art is to visit many art galleries and museums and to attend auctions. "The more you look, the more you are able to benchmark a piece of art for its value and have a better understanding of what kind of art you like."

And when it comes to buying art, Mr Cuturi says: "If you love it, and can afford it, buy it. But don't wait too long. If you think too much, you may lose the chance to get it."


This was originally published by The Business Times. Click here to read the original story