Gallerist Q&A - CFHILL

Meet Michael Storåkers, Michael Elmenbeck, and Anna-Karin Pusic, founding partners of CFHILL

Image of Michael Storåkers (MS), Anna-Karin Pusic (AK), and Michael Elmenbeck (ME), founding partners of CFHILL

Courtesy of CFHILL

How did you get into the artworld and what were your previous work experiences?

I am the former CEO of Bukowskis, the largest auction house in the Nordics. I am also a passionate collector of Nordic contemporary art and hold a master's degree in art history. My mother was my main inspiration, as she always worked with art and ran a gallery. I realised early on that I would rather interact with artists than finance people.

Art was something I was exposed to early on, as my father would often force me to visit museums, churches, and monuments. After studying in Florence and becoming an art historian, art became an obvious choice for my life's pursuit, due to all the magic it holds. For many years I was Head of all experts at Bukowskis and one of the leading experts in classic and modern art in Sweden. I also run large institutional collections of modern and contemporary art.

Working professionally with art was never my plan; instead, art has always been my passion, whether through graffiti in my early teens or as a dedicated collector for 25 years. I am also the founder of Bon Magazine and have facilitated global art collaborations between H&M and iconic artists like Alex Katz and Jeff Koons. Becoming co-founder of CFHILL was, therefore, perhaps a natural step where I can combine my passion and knowledge and share my insights from the art world.

Artist Charlotte Gyllenhammar in her studio who will be exhibited at CHART 2024

Courtesy of CFHILL

What are your responsibilities at the gallery?

I am the Executive Chairman and also Head of Contemporary Art at CFHILL. I am also responsible for the representation of artists, including Martina Müntzing and Charlotte Gyllenhammar, who will be exhibited at CHART 2024.

I am the CEO and oversee the daily operations, as well as manage important collections, which include selling, valuing, and purchasing art.

I am the Head of Exhibitions and Creative Director, focusing on building some of the most significant collections in the Nordics with international contemporary art.

Can you tell me about your first exhibition?

Our first exhibition in our new premises at Västra Trädgårdsgatan 9 was the group show 'Beautiful Escape' featuring Carsten Höller, Hilma af Klint, Paloma Varga Weisz, Christine Ödlund, and Ryan McGinley. The exhibition was a white-glove sale, with all works being sold and placed.

Beautiful Escape, Group Exhibition, Installation view, 2018. CFHILL's first exhibition in their new space which was a white glove sale

Courtesy of the artists and CFHILL

How do you balance the commercial aspects of running a gallery with supporting artistic careers and practices?

This question explores a concept that is very important to us. We prioritize the interests of our artists and collectors above all else, offering them comprehensive assistance and advice.

To our artists, we provide support and assistance in all their projects, even beyond the scope of CFHILL. This ranges from facilitating book launches to external creative projects, collaborations, exhibitions and loans. In this way, CFHILL offers complete and diligent service to both artists and customers, often extending beyond the traditional role of a gallery.

Our exhibition programme features artists ranging from recent graduates to established global stars. Our price range spans from $1,000 to $15,000,000 USD, ensuring a dynamic exhibition programme with varying levels of commercial appeal.

Hilma af Klint, 1913. Exhibited at CFHILL's first exhibition 'Beautiful Escape' in their new space in 2018

Courtesy of the artist and CFHILL

What sets the gallery apart in the contemporary art scene?

CFHILL functions as both a gallery space and an art advisory. In this sense, the hybrid nature of our work operates in both curating and selling—whether it is a major exhibition featuring one of our artists or a private sale to a client. This mission is supported by many years of experience in the field, as well as the dedication we extend to every artist and client.

What is your advice for someone who wants to start collecting?

We always spend a lot of time early in the process. People often say they do not have a specific taste, but as we discuss various pieces, their taste begins to shine through. At CFHILL, we are trying to create personal collections.

When purchasing less expensive art, it largely revolves around personal preference. However, with higher-priced pieces, we must carefully consider the financial aspects and potential outcomes in the art market.

Artist Martina Müntzing in her studio who will be exhibited at CHART 2024

Courtesy of CFHILL

How do you navigate the balance between the physical gallery space and online presence in today's art world?

We have seen our online presence and physical gallery space work hand-in-hand. As the art market evolves, the importance of online and social media proficiency increases, especially in promoting our exhibitions or private sales. Consistent outreach through media such as Instagram announcements and website newsletters, has proven beneficial to the success of our work.

By presenting the captivating stories of each piece in an online setting, we are able to enhance the overall experience of our audience in the physical gallery, making the art more accessible and meaningful in person. However, we still find physical gallery experiences crucial - there is nothing like seeing a work of art in person.

Kennedy Yanko, Moving Weight, Installation view, 2022. Yanko's first solo exhibition in Scandinavia was at CFHILL

Courtesy of the artist and CFHILL

If you were to open a gallery space in a new city where would it be?

There are many places we would consider, particularly Paris and Los Angeles. After Brexit, Paris really is the contemporary art centre of Europe, along with Milan and Brussels. We love the ambience. LA is an open-minded place, with many creatives from Scandinavia; we love that vibe. This choice would also be influenced by which global art fairs we will be working with at the time.

Exterior view of CFHILL

Courtesy of CFHILL

"People often say they do not have a specific taste, but as we discuss various pieces, their taste begins to shine through."

Michael Storåkers

Co-founder of CFHILL

Established in 2015, CFHILL is an international art space and art advisory in central Stockholm, situated in a 17th century palace. CFHILL operates as an independent and open source in a global network of artists, curators, galleries and collectors, with the ambition to create a dialogue across generations of artists.

Image of the CFHILL partners Michael Storåkers, Michael Elmenbeck, and Anna-Karin Pusic

Photo by Pierre Björk