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Esko Huk mounting one of his pieces. He is one of the artists to feature in the exhibition. Art Riddler

The Art Riddler 'What did I know about art or about mounting an exhibition? Nothing'

The anonymous patron outlines how he found himself supporting artists as a new exhibition runs this weekend.

An anonymous art curator known only as Art Riddler, is hosting an art exhibition in Studio 10 in Dublin this weekend, with one artist receiving €10,000 and another five also automatically qualifying for the next exhibit in 2024. All artworks submitted are reviewed by an independent expert, with the final decision going to the anonymous curator.

He has announced the final 50 artists who will be part of the exhibit and they include David Hamilton, Mary O’Connor, Peter Smyth, Sophie Vigne Welsh and Andrea Kavanagh. Here, he describes how he moved from knowing nothing about art to championing emerging artists…

I LOVE ART but I could not find the type of art I enjoy in the usual places. Emerging artists are hard to find – unless you actively seek them out – in the current contemporary scene, so I decided that I had to do something about this. From this, the Art Riddler was born!

The Art Riddler believes in giving emerging talent a chance to shine at the earliest possible stage in their careers. So, the choice is the Riddlers’; and it is a personal choice of contemporary artists.

Like most people, I like different things and I’m open to art that shows all its quirkiness and diversity. I’m not an artist myself but I admire and respect those who paint, draw, and create sculpture. My choices are from the heart, like anyone else’s. I see something and it attracts me, but it’s not just the art that intrigues me – I’m particularly interested in the person behind the art.

Telling a story

I feel the story behind the art is often lost and it’s such a valuable narrative as it’s often what brings a painting alive. I don’t look at past exhibitions or reputations, just at the pieces themselves.

Screen Shot 2023-10-06 at 08.43.43 Ger Kenny is one of the artists in the exhibition. The Art Riddler The Art Riddler

So that’s what started me with last year’s first Art Riddler exhibition and what an adventure that was. With no experience in the field, I just plunged in and the result was an overwhelming success.

I didn’t know what to do wrong, so all options were open – just as they are for the artists.

Last year I went to every art exhibition I could and realised just how little I knew about how the art world worked. It was a revelation, looking at things with the eye of someone who wanted to put on an exhibition. I saw the amount of work and care that needs to be put into such an event. First, there’s the call to artists to submit work. Then I had to look at each work and decide which one would work for the exhibit.

Screen Shot 2023-10-06 at 08.33.57 One chosen artist this weekend is Robyn Carey. The Art Riddler The Art Riddler

I really enjoyed the staging of the works. Each work had to have the space to breathe but some works seemed to me to fit naturally together as if one spoke to another. When this happened, I placed them together. The experience of curating the exhibition deepened my appreciation of art and the uniqueness of each artist’s vision.

Supporting artists

It’s difficult to describe the satisfaction that comes from mounting an exhibition of different artists in different media in the same space. When I told a core group of friends and family about my idea, they immediately got it. I trust these people implicitly and their obvious enthusiasm cemented mine.

What did I know about art? What did I know about mounting an exhibition? The answer was nothing.

In hindsight, this was my greatest asset. But it worked, and we now are running it again this weekend, while plans are in development for 2024. The response on social media has been great. There’s a fund of goodwill for artists out there, especially new artists beginning their careers.

Screen Shot 2023-10-06 at 08.41.37 Val O’Donnell is another of the chosen artists this weekend. The Art Riddler The Art Riddler

When I look at the lineup for the exhibition last year and this year, I realise that I tend to blend the genres, the emerging artist with the more established, sculpture with painting and graphic art. I noticed that there are many great artists whose work we don’t see and that provides us with the opportunity to give them the chance to exhibit together.

I was humbled by the fact that artists who applied last year and were not exhibited applied again this year. They have shown their faith in what we’ve done.

When we look at our audience, they are my generation or slightly younger, and all interested in art. Showing young art and artists gives the audience a chance to support the flourishing of the Irish art scene.

Screen Shot 2023-10-06 at 08.40.04 Sean O'Rourke is another chosen artist. The Art Riddler The Art Riddler

I want younger people to support young artists at the beginning of their careers so that we can nurture them and provide them with the space to show the world their unique vision. Last year and this year have been a complete adventure for me in the world of art. I hope it will continue.

The Art Riddler is an anonymous patron of the arts dedicated to supporting artists at different stages in their careers and fostering creativity. With a passion for showcasing exceptional talent, The Art Riddler has chosen Studio 10 Dublin as the venue for his exhibit, featuring the final 50 selected artists from diverse artistic disciplines. The exhibition runs from 6-8 October. More on Instagram and

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