Tropical Wall Treatment: Postcards From Brazil




The economy being what it is (even if it’s recovering), opening a gallery devoted exclusively to Brazilian photography might not seem like the best business model.  Of course, you’re not Andrew Klug, a recent graduate from The Columbia Business School, who’s setting up shop in Chelsea, a neighborhood he calls, “The jungle of the art world.” After graduating in 2009, Klug partnered up with his best friend Alexandre Bueno de Moraes, a Brazilian businessman and a former New York restaurateur. Jointly, they opened 1500, a gallery devoted solely to editions from the Amazon. There was no higher rhetoric involved in the founding, no call for national patronage or institutional critique campaign for an ethnic trendiness. Klug and Bueno de Moraes are just two guys who have found what they’re passionate about.

As Bueno de Moraes spends a large chunk of time in South America, running 1500 Productions/Management, a photography agency based in Rio de Janeiro that shares a name with the gallery, you’re most likely to run into Klug sitting behind the desk on a Saturday afternoon. He may look as Brazilian as the photographs he sells, with his disarming tan and luxurious curls, but he actually hails from Canada, a fact that accounts for his rounded O’s and his charming earnestness. The space that he occupies is nothing revolutionary, being of the formulaic white cube variety, but his passion for his work is infectious: “Everyone’s talking about Brazil. Everybody loves Brazil. You don’t ever meet anyone that doesn’t like Brazil. I mean, you meet people who don’t like the French.”

The name itself is something of a problem (it’s derived from the year that the Portuguese arrived in the Amazon), and one could argue that Klug’s original interest in luxury retailing parallels the exploitation of the tourist economy. Yet, I could have stayed for hours looking at “Prestes Maia 47,” a photograph by the young artist Julio Bittencourt that documents that lives of people living in the largest squatter building in South America. The work is part of the inaugural group show ending on May 1, Brazilian, which features photographers represented by the gallery including Rémy Amezcua, Murillo Merirelles and Jens Stoltze. If you stop by 1500 now, you can see all of the works in the next exhibition, Horizons, which will feature six architectural photographs by Bruno Cals. Klug will have them rotating on the monumental Mac monitor located next to his desk until the show opens on May 6, and he’ll sell you an edition if you’re interested. The quality of the images is so good that I almost want to thank the guys at 1500 not only for introducing me to Brazilian photography, but also for inspiring me to buy my very first iPad.