Eleven gallery’s Charlie Phillips on his life in art

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Going all the way up to Eleven

Back in the early noughties, Charlie Phillips was one of the founders of Haunch of Venison, a Mayfair art gallery presenting works by contemporary artists. Very quickly, though, Charlie had moved on to establish his own gallery space, Eleven, which first opened its doors in 2005, initially in Belgravia and more recently in Twickenham.

In the years since, Eleven gallery has put on exhibitions of contemporary art by both established and new artists, including Breed’s Natasha Law, whose works are currently showing alongside pieces by Harry Cory Wright.

Charlie also puts more than a quarter century of experience in the art world to use by offering his services as an advisor to those who’d like to start or build on their art collection.

And in the last decade or so, Eleven has looked to expand the viewing of works beyond its gallery walls, collaborating with the likes of Anthropologie, Matches Fashion and Hari Hotel to exhibit art in unusual and unique locations.

We had a quick chat with Charlie to find out more about his life in art. This is what he told us about how his interest developed, the start of Eleven and what attracts him to Natasha’s work. Over to Charlie…

I was exposed to art from an early age, but I didn’t visit galleries and museums regularly until I started living in London. It was when I discovered Pop Art and the work of Andy Warhol, in particular, that my interest developed.

When I started working in the art world, the YBAs were just beginning to get some attention. It really was the start of the rise of Contemporary Art. It’s strange to think that it was only in the early 1990s that the auction houses started to have sales dedicated to Contemporary Art. I remember going to the Saatchi Gallery in Boundary Road which blew me away. White walls and huge open spaces which are now so common were not so then. And the work was so bold and in your face. I loved it. Charles Saatchi absolutely stirred up the art market. The Sensation and Apocalypse exhibitions at the Royal Academy are still two of my favourite shows.

Having previously co-founded Haunch of Venison, I decided to go out on my own in 2005 and opened Eleven Fine Art. At Haunch there were too many ‘curators’ and I wanted to be able to decide what I wanted to exhibit. It’s much easier to get behind the work of an artist if you truly respond to it. 

Natasha’s work was introduced to me by a good friend of mine. I took to the work immediately. Natasha combines a Pop Art aesthetic with great draughtsmanship. She has a wonderful eye and the lines she makes in her drawings can be both bold and subtle at the same time. She combines colours so well and I can happily stand in front of one of her works on aluminium for ages – they mesmerise me.

Images: Natasha Law