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Pilar Corrias will open an expansive new London gallery in Mayfair this October, replacing her long-time premises in Eastcastle Street, Fitzrovia.

The new gallery, at 51 Conduit Street on the corner with Savile Row, will open during Frieze week in London with an exhibition of new paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist Christina Quarles (from 10 October to 22 December).

“Finally I can talk about it, I was keeping it quiet until all our ducks were in a row,” Corrias tells The Art Newspaper. “It’s a really big step for us, moving from Fitzrovia. I was looking for a long time but when I walked into this space, I saw it had fantastic volume—the ceilings are really high, about 17 feet, and it has great proportions.”

The 500 sq m, two storey space is currently being renovated—the new design overseen by Cowie Montgomery Architects—and will contain two public-facing gallery spaces, a private viewing room, library and offices.

Corrias opened her Rem Koolhaas-designed gallery on Eastcastle Street in 2008, when she established her business, with a show of Philippe Parreno’s work. Then Corrias worked with a handful of artists, including Parreno, Keren Cytter and Tala Madani. Now it represents 34 (two-thirds of which are women) including Quarles, Tschabalala Self, Shara Hughes and Shahzia Sikander.

Corrias says moving location “was a step that needed to be taken” and that she was getting “very angsty” about finding a space in Mayfair. “I’d been in Fitzrovia a really long time, but I also wanted a bigger, better and more central space. We’ve grown with the artists we represent, and, as they have become more successful, the gallery has to reflect that.”

Christina Quarles’ 2018 exhibition, Always Brightest Before Tha Dusk, at Pilar Corrias

Do artists want a gallery with a Mayfair address? “Absolutely,” Corrias says. “It’s about the artists but it’s also about the gallery itself, and as a gallery I want to be able to grow and improve.”

The move, says Corrias, has been on the cards for a while: “Because of the pandemic, I thought I’d be able to find a new space really easily but that wasn’t the case—it took two and a half years. That’s how 2 Savile Row came about [the premises taken on by the gallery in 2021), because I couldn’t take it any longer and I wanted somewhere in Mayfair. Obviously, that [relatively small] gallery wasn’t going to be enough, but it came out of my frustration about not being able to do it quickly enough.”

That gallery will remain open, while Eastcastle Street is to close. Savile Row, a smaller, more traditional space set within a townhouse, is quite different to the new Conduit Street gallery, which will be “big and contemporary, all concrete floors and high ceilings”—ideal for artists to “use and abuse”, Corrias says. “The Savile Row gallery will not be a lesser project space, just different—it might be that we show big paintings by a young artist in Conduit Street and smaller works by a more established artist in the smaller gallery.”

Many of Corrias’s artists, Quarles included, have become very sought after in recent years, inevitably increasing competition from other galleries. Asked if the move is motivated by a need to keep up with the multi-national mega galleries, Corrias says: “I don’t see it as a matter of competition, more of a natural progression as a gallery. I don’t want to be in that gallery in Eastcastle Street forever. The gallery has risen to another level and we don’t have space for all our staff, for example.”

Quarles joined the gallery in 2017 and this will be her fourth solo show with Corrias. “Christina has grown up with us,” Corrias says, citing recent institutional solo shows at Hepworth Wakefield (2019-2020), South London Gallery (2021) and, currently, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin (until 17 September). “I’m going out to LA to see her soon,” Corrias says. “I’m excited to see what she will produce.”

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