PORTRAIT. From groom to gallery owner, the amazing journey of this art brut lover

Richard Solti, a former soldier and social worker, took over the prestigious JP Ritsch-Fisch art brut gallery in September 2022. He will participate in the European modern art and design exhibition in Strasbourg from November 25.

Incredible social and cultural progress. Richard Solti became the director of the famous Strasbourg gallery JP Ritsch-Fisch in September 2022. Born more than 25 years ago, it introduced art brut for the first time in Europe and is now one of the five most important places in the world in this field. The building’s new owner will present around 45 works for sale during the 26th edition of ST-ART, the European contemporary art and design fair in Strasbourg.

The gallery, located on rue des Charpentiers in the Alsace capital, was bought by Richard after several meetings with art market expert Jean-Pierre Ritsch-Fisch. “I became a collector and visited the store regularly“, the new director explains,”So I discovered that Jean-Pierre was going to retire and leave the gallery.“.

The former owner had difficulty finding a buyer. “He did not want this place to be abandoned. So we decided to build a project together so that I could take over the reins of the store.“, Richard says,”He had acquired experience and a network of collectors in France and around the world. All this could not be left in the past“.

Therefore, the art lover takes over the gallery in September 2022 and leaves his friend Jean-Pierre Ritsch-Fisch to enjoy a well-deserved retirement. A saint after a career that did not appoint him the director of an art gallery in the center of Strasbourg. Born to a Hungarian political refugee father and a disabled mother who could not work, Richard Solti grew up in a residential area in the Belleville district of Paris. With the bailiff visiting his home several times, he is not one of those art lovers born with “victory”.silver spoon in mouth“.

With the help of his parents, he gets a job as a bellboy in a Paris hotel, a job far removed from the art world. Richard then undertakes electrical training and gains his CAP step by step. A few years later, he decided to leave the capital to join the French army. “I was assigned to Lorraine, which was my first steps in the land of the Grand Esthe smiles.

I realized that some people can rebuild the world despite their difficulties

Richard Solti, director of the JP Ritsch-Fisch gallery in Strasbourg

On his return, the current owner of the Strasbourg art brut gallery knows that he is very different: “The army changed me, I rebuilt myself there“. She resumed her studies and became a social worker: “I was in contact with young people from tough neighborhoods, depressed women, and it was fascinating. I realized that some people can rebuild the world despite their difficulties“, he declares. Based on his experience, he began to develop a thesis on personal mythologies and biographical journeys.

He gets his passion for this art from his father. “He took me to the museum, made me discover different artists“, Richard says,”He also introduced me to classical music and chess. My father had a sense of craftsmanship“. An interest in raw art arose a few years later when visual artist Michel Nedjar and his doll discovered the “Spirit Chair.”I had a special aversion, but also an attraction to this reality“, he says. This hilarious encounter would lead him to become the prominent collector he is today.

According to Richard, Art Brut also reflects the world of people who are on the fringes of culture, often isolated or even interned in psychiatric hospitals. “By performing their works, they rebuild the world to be with us“he explains”I don’t care if they like it or not“.

It is also to honor them that JP Ritsch-Fisch decided to become the director of the gallery. “Having these places both excites and terrifies me“, he says, “With the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and inflation, there is some uncertainty.“. However, Richard puts all the luck on his side. Until December 17, he exhibits the amazing sculptures of the actress from the series “such a great sun“Catherine Wilkening.

The creativity of the actress directly tempted the collector. “There is something very dark, very broken in his works. We perceive a strong aesthetic dimension that reflects the difficulty of being a woman in this world“, analyzes the gallery owner, who is sure he wants to work with him for the next three years.

despite the desire to have only “parts you won’t find anywhere else“, Richard Solti wants to make art brute accessible.”It’s a jarring art and not necessarily decorative, but you have to give the keys to the public and tell the story of the artists.“, admits,”Some museum pieces are even affordable for a few thousand euros. Obviously, it remains expensive, but some canvases can cost several million“. An argument he will try to put forward at the ST-ART exhibition on November 25 to find potential buyers for his 45 works.

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