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40 Beautiful Things: Gallerist Barbara Paci on fine art

Whether its something as small as a colourful hull or a commitment as great as a saloon full of masterpieces, the affinity between the art world and superyacht has long been strong. Few know this as well as Italian gallerist Barbara Paci, who after studying at the University of Florence and working at some the country’s top museums, founded her own art gallery in Pietrasanta and has often been called upon by owners, designer and builders - such as Heesen - to complement their stunning yachts with her beautiful artworks.

“Mine is one of the few galleries in the world that specialises in contemporary sculpture. So my interests are mainly directed towards artists, historic masters or young talents, who deal with the “third dimension” in their work,” explains Paci of her gallery, which currently represents artists including Fernando Botero, Kan Yusada and Igor Mitoraj who draw on Pietrasanta’s historic industries of bronze and marble to inform their artworks. “Following the artist through the process of designing, creating and finally proposing to a collector of contemporary sculpture is priceless and makes us truly unique in a global art scene that is too often seen as pure business. We give the collector something more - passion, knowledge, culture, tradition!”

For Paci there is no doubt that artworks have become more important to the process of designing and owning a yacht than ever before - a factor she puts down to the increasing amount of time owners now spend on board. “In recent years architects, designers and owners have come to consider superyachts as second sumptuous homes that need works of art in line with their personalities and concepts making it necessary to curate real contemporary art collections on board,” she explains.

“My gallery was among the first to develop “pilot projects” with the most important shipyards in the world, among which my well-established collaboration with Heesen undoubtedly stands out. Our being an Italian gallery translates into creativity and a centuries-old tradition of creating works of art. With Heesen we have found that the same principles can be interpreted through its Dutch values of rigour, perfect organisation and a willingness to look to the future.”

One of the most notable products of this collaboration was an exhibition held at the Saatchi Gallery in London to celebrate the unveiling of Heesen’s Project Maia (now Omaha). Due to the gallery’s association with the finest contemporary art, Heesen asked Paci to suggest two young artists to offer their interpretation of the yacht through fine art resulting in a dynamic video installation by Michelangelo Bastiani and a pictorial representation of the sea and sky created in oxidised iron by Alessandro Busci.

It is pieces such as these that Paci believes are the future for art on board. “Traditionally people have only expected to see pictorial works on a boat but, I believe today, sculpture represents a real must on board a newly conceived yacht. The important thing is to find a professional with enough experience to both fully understand the wishes of the collector and also foresee the fundamental rules and requirements of safety on board.”

Of one thing Paci is sure however - the place of art at home or on board is going nowhere. “A house or a boat without art is like a body without a soul - devoid of that irrational and magical vision that only artists can conceive,” she says. “If a piece creates that feeling in a certain place and for those people who inhabit it, then the “miracle” is accomplished!”

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