The Manifesto Interview: Gallerist Michael Lett

By Andrew Glenn

Gallery owner Michael Lett. Photo / Babiche Martens.
Gallery owner Michael Lett. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Gallerist Michael Lett cuts a handsome, stylish and powerful swathe in Auckland's contemporary art scene. His eponymous gallery, opened 10 years ago when he was 25, represents important artists including Michael Parekowhai and Shane Cotton, as well as a younger generation of artists, like Imogen Taylor and Zac Langdon-Pole. Lett recently returned from a successful trip to Art Basel Hong Kong, the region's most important art fair, where he staged a show for artists Simon Denny, Martin Creed and others. We caught up with him at his beautiful new gallery space on K Rd, which opens today.


FASHION
Designer: I can't wear any of it, but locally I think Thistle Brown is a genius in the making.
Store: Dover Street Markets.
Online store: Oki-Ni.
Swim shorts or speedos? I prefer shorts on me, Speedos on others.


Sans; Chanel Cuir de Russie. Photo / Supplied.
Sans; Chanel Cuir de Russie. Photo / Supplied.


GROOMING
Product you can't live without? No-Doze.
Moisturiser: Clinique with an SPF 21.
Perfume: During the day, nothing. Chanel Cuir de Russie on special evenings.
Shampoo: Sans [ceuticals].
Toothpaste: Whatever came with the last hotel room.


CLOTHES
Shoes: Currently? A very shabby pair of white leather Converse.
Shirt: Cosmic Wonder from Everyday Needs.
Jeans: Acne.
Blazer: Undercover.
Wallet: A very old, very grubby Louis Vuitton.


TRAVEL
Favourite destination: Kaiwaka, where a good friend and I have a small cabin.
Favourite hotel: Les Trois Rois in Basel.

I've never actually stayed there ... the wait list is apparently in the thousands, but the bar over the Rhine is incredible.
Airline: Air New Zealand. Love.
Snow or beach holiday? Beach.
First, business, economy, private? Sadly I do not know the joys of private. But I think I would like this most of all.
Luggage: Samsonite - however, if Louis Vuitton wants to send me a new wallet gratis then my preferred choice would become Vuitton.


The Frick. Photo / Supplied.
The Frick. Photo / Supplied.


ART
Artist (past): This is tough. Can I pick two? Felix Gonzales-Torres and Piero Manzoni.
Artist (present): Even tougher. I like/respect/covet too many. Martin Creed has to be a good one to pick.
New Zealand artist: Truly impossible. I'd have to say all the artists I work with and those I collect - if I can.
Museum: The Frick in NYC (above), The John Sloane in London.
Gallery: So hard. We went to Naoshima last year and the Chichu Art Museum is mind-blowing. This is, however, beaten hands down if you can call what Donald Judd did in Texas a gallery.
Art Fair: Nothing looms larger than Art Basel ... or any of the other fairs with "Basel" in the masthead.


Ortolana in Britomart. Photo / Babiche Martens.
Ortolana in Britomart. Photo / Babiche Martens.


FOOD
Restaurant: Ortolana (pictured above). Award to best service goes to Monica and Jonathan.
Bar: Cocktails at the Sugar Club. Beers at Urge.
Cafe: Dizengoff.
Dish: Any fresh pasta with truffle and raw egg yolk.
Death row meal: A bowl of grapefruit risotto from Al Paradiso in Venice.


SPORT
Sport: Is group fitness a sport?
Sports team: The All Blacks, the NZ Falcons.
Snowboard or ski? Sadly neither, although I'm quite good at sitting by roaring fires, drink in hand.


- VIVA

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