A London commercial gallery is being launched this week by a new face with a familiar last name. The new space, called Incubator, is directed by Angelica Jopling, the daughter of White Cube founder Jay Jopling, one of the UK’s most successful art dealers. Opening on 5 April in Marylebone, the gallery will focus on emerging artists and a programme of performance and time-based art.
"It started from a failed grant proposal that I submitted during my BA at Stanford University in California," Jopling tells The Art Newspaper of her impetus to start Incubator. "I forgot about it until I returned to London in the pandemic and felt isolated and without a sense of artistic community."
While this is Incubator’s first permanent space, it is the project’s third iteration, having taken the form of a series of six week-long pop up solo shows in Soho, first in 2021 and then in 2022. Incubator will now operate "seasonally", Jopling explains, with the forthcoming spring and autumn seasons dedicated to a quick succession of solo shows, each lasting two weeks. The spring season of shows will last from 5 April to 26 June and feature a number of young artists including Emily Wilcock, Kesewa Aboah and Graham Silveria Martin. The winter and summer seasons, meanwhile, will consist of longer group shows.
Central to Incubator will be a biweekly programme of performances, in which poets, dancers and musicians will be invited, often, though not always, to respond to the exhibition on display. Jopling says the gallery’s sole income stream will be from selling art. A graduate of the Courtauld University’s Curating the Museum MA programme, she sees herself as "both a curator and dealer", adding, "the commercial side of things is not my ultimate goal and drive".
Of Incubator's location, Jopling says she decided on the two-storey space, a former clothes shop in a Victorian building on Chiltern Street, after a larger one in Hackney, east London fell through—“a lucky accident”. The space is a few doors down from the Chiltern Firehouse restaurant, where White Cube hosts its well-attended annual Frieze week party. But this is a pure coincidence, Jopling says, insisting that the two businesses will be “totally siloed” and that collaboration with her father is “not her goal”. She further maintains that the client lists of the two galleries are separate and that the typical clientele of each gallery is "different".
Nonetheless, being a legacy gallerist has undeniable perks and Jopling acknowledges that her ability to learn the ropes of the commercial art world has been quite unparalleled. "It's been less about direct lessons and receiving business advice than it's been about the opportunity to grow up around artists and feel comfortable in those spaces, which has been a huge joy. But most of the practical stuff I learned through my MA and making mistakes during Incubator's first iterations."
If anything, Jopling is looking less at her father's business model than around at her peers involved in what she describes as "a very exciting time for the emerging London arts scene". She gives the young commercial galleries Rose Easton and Ginny on Frederick as examples of spaces whose ethos and programme she wishes to emulate: “Both of those spaces are doing very exciting things. I love how Ginny works with the tiny space, and the artists that Rose shows. Similarly, I want to contribute to the scene and also offer something fresh, challenging and unexpected.”