MEET BENEDETTA LEONE, ART ADVISOR IN DUBAI
Benedetta (Bebe) Leone
After years of traveling between Bangkok, London, Paris, Milan, in 2012 Benedetta settled in Dubai where she works as Art Advisor for Galleries and local private clients.
A conversation with Bebe
How long have you been in Dubai?
I arrived here in 2012 with Ale, my husband and Nora, my firstborn who was only two and a half years old at the time. We lived for a while on the Palm Jumeirah and in 2017, since my family had expanded quite a bit by then, we moved to a beautiful house where we still reside now. It’s in Al Safa 2 which is a somewhat old-fashioned residential area that I have always been incredibly fond of.
What work are you mostly involved with these days?
I work as an art advisor and I deal mainly with the purchase and sale of contemporary art works on behalf of individuals interested in investing in works of art and creating a collection.
How did your journey into the art world begin?
I grew up immersed in art, in a family whose love for beauty has always been an integral part of our everyday life.
It came naturally to me to decide on studying art history at university although later I integrated my studies with a master’s degree in business studies and thus combined two fundamental elements for my work; those being the in-depth knowledge of painters and painting techniques combined with the knowledge of market dynamics.
My work as an art advisor came about purely by chance, when a dear friend asked me to choose and manage the purchasing of all the artwork pieces for her new home.
How has Dubai’s outlook on art changed over the years?
When it comes to contemporary art, which is my specialization, I can safely say that this sector to date is undoubtedly dynamic. Countless new galleries have emerged in recent years, bringing international artists to the local scene on one hand and giving more global credibility of local Emirati artists on the other. Opportunities and facilities to promote art and culture have increased. Let’s take for example Alserkal Avenue, the hub of contemporary art in Dubai, which, in the last five years, has more than doubled in size.
I have only been living in Dubai since 2012 but I truly believe that in a few years, interest in contemporary art will have made a great leap forward thanks to the joint efforts of galleries, exhibitions and art conventions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and to the great support of the government.
How important is art at home?
For me, art at home is fundamental because it reflects the very soul of the house. But it happens that sometimes artwork is considered a mere accessory, completely unnecessary and therefore it often goes neglected. This is a real shame because a beautiful work of art undoubtedly has the power to increase the value of the space it’s adorning, while emotionally stimulating and engaging the viewer.
A very common misconception lies in the exigency of a high budget in order to purchase a good piece of art. This is far from the case and by leaving it in the capable hands of real experts, art advisors and galleries, you will be sure to receive valuable advice on what to invest in. Perhaps, you’ll be lucky enough to come across some emerging artists who are still affordable and whose artwork could prove to be an excellent investment in the future.
Tell us about your house in Dubai! Is it how you have always imagined it to be?
Yes, it is exactly how I imagined it!
I believe that it is the right balance between a house that has been designed following a precise style with the intent of giving the necessary space to my beloved art collection and that of a welcoming family home in which the children feel free to take the rein of their spaces. Apart from mama’s living room of course, which they know only too well not to disrupt!
What is a detail that can make a difference in a house, making it more personal and welcoming?
I love fabrics very much, in all their variations. From curtains to ‘mezzaris’ (a big square of handprinted fabric) and tablecloths. You can really have fun with fabric; give a warm touch to a space or an accent of colour and be daring with provocative and irreverent prints.
Organizing parties is in your DNA! Could you tell us about the one that gave you the most satisfaction?
Because my wedding reception was a very simple affair, we had the most fun preparing the baptism reception of our three children. Although they have all been baptized in Capalbio at our family home, we wanted a personalized party for each of the children. Nora, the eldest, wanted a typical country lunch in which lavender, beat music and a three-tier cake were protagonists. Bernardo had a chic dinner, inspired by the Orient, with Moroccan mint tea and couscous served under the stars and Rudolfo, the little one, opted for a cheerful apero-dinner dedicated to mouthwatering Southern Mediterranean food that resulted in wild dances and dives in the pool at midnight!
You also orchestrated Secret Dinner… What are the main ingredients for a perfect evening?
Usually I start by choosing a theme. I find that to be very helpful. Having a common denominator for the evening leads to a concordant choice of menu, decoration and also of the guest list. Having a theme and following it, is fundamental as it renders everything simpler and harmonious.
What is your advice on receiving friends and making them feel welcome and comfortable?
Definitely good food and wine. And music. And a lavish table prepared with joy, colour and attention to detail.
Your speciality number when you have guests… What are your go-to arrangements?
I have to admit I use the mix and match method a lot when setting the dining table! It is essential that all the products used are refined and of good quality. And of course fresh flowers! Always make sure there are many, many flowers
For enquires, informations and to get some ipso visit @bebeleone