What started as a complementary project for the MB&F watch brand, the M.A.D.Gallery has now become a world-renowned arts space. Now, marking five years since its inception, the M.A.D.Gallery is continuing to open doors for a niche group of artists and founder Maximilian Busser speaks with Buro 24/7 Middle East on the relationship between his watches and his art gallery as well as his hopes for the local arts scene... 

Congratulations on the 5-year anniversary of M.A.D.Gallery. What is the secret to the success behind your arts project?

The secret is that we are not looking for success. My idea was to showcase mechanical art so that people will start understanding what we're trying to do at MB&F. So it's a way of decoding what we're doing. There was no commercial point to it. I was just hoping we wouldn't lose too much money.

Would it be correct to say then that you created M.A.D.Gallery as a complementary entity to the MB&F brand?

It was a parallel world. Basically everything you have in the galleries are parallel worlds. The artists are kindred souls; people who create not because they think somebody is going to buy it but because they need to do it. We create because we love it and because it's so cool. That's what art should be.

10 minutes with Maximilian Busser MB&F M.A.D.Gallery

What are your thoughts on the arts scene today?

I've got a big battle with modern art and contemporary art. Too often, it's now skewed towards being a business. Art for me should not have a financial component to it.

But artists have to make a living...

Agreed. For me, in my creative process making the MB&F watches, I don't care if anybody likes it or buys it. It's about expressing. Then, you have to find ways to get your art understood by others. But if you start creating something thinking "oh people will like it", you become a marketer. And that's why all of the cars and all of the watches look the same today. I believe, thinking of the client is what's killing art. Do something because you think it's extraordinary.

Where do you hope to see the local arts scene develop and how do you think you can contribute to the scene?

The local arts scene is very vivid. This autumn, we will be showcasing the works of two local street artists. We also found an Emirati kinetic artist whom we are working with to create a whole collection for an exhibition. We are there for any artist who connects with what M.A.D.Gallery stands for.We contribute to the local landscape because we opened a door that has never opened. I'm at a point in my life, I just turned 50, where giving back is as important as creating.

You now see a lot of luxury brands, watches and handbags, that all try to fuse what they do with art. What are your thoughts on that?

I have to be careful what I say here. It's a dangerous line when artists start mixing their art with commercial collaborations. For the artist, they have to be extremely careful in how they associate their name. Every artist owns that responsibility.

What have you learnt from your experience as the owner of a watch brand and an art gallery curator?

What I realised over the years is that what makes my heart beat faster often makes other people's hearts beat faster. And it might not even be for the same reason. I see people who love my work or other artists' works, for reasons that are absolutely not mine. And I love that. 

10 minutes with Maximilian Busser MB&F M.A.D.Gallery

Now, discover the Air Drive exhibition that's now on at M.A.D.Gallery, Dubai.