Пост обновлен 30 окт. 2019 г.
1. Being the owner of the Podorvanov Art Gallery targeted at Western collectors and investors, you should know everything about such a project. Ilya, could you tell us about the ins and outs of modern art gallery business?
- Each art gallery sets certain goals and objectives. To achieve them, a program of activities, tactics and development strategy are developed, which determines the structure of a gallery, its functions and types of activities.
Usually, a gallery looks like this: there is a certain gallery space where the works of artists are exhibited. There is a widespread system of supervisory control, when a certain fine art expert conducts exhibitions, writes professional texts, engages critics and journalists, gives interviews. Such a person helps to present this or that painting in the most favourable light, thinks through the presentation and decides where to hold it, at an exhibition, or in open spaces.
Art dealers play a significant role as well. They represent the interests of artists and build relationships with collectors and museums, galleries and auctions that might be interested in the artists’ works. Some art dealers can predict market trends, while others are able to even influence them. They help to better finalize paintings and sell them at a profit. All in all, sales technology is a topic for a long discussion.
And finally, a gallery tries to unite the artists it is interested in. They usually work in one and the same technique, and the quality of their paintings meets the gallery's expectations. After all, they are artists who create the image of a gallery, being its key figures.
2. Do you manage to make money promoting works of young and little-known artists?
To make money is an overstatement. While the name of an artist is unknown in certain circles, it is unlikely to earn lots of money selling their works. It is only possible when the artist has developed an internal program, chosen the artistic field and begun to work hard.
To effectively collaborate with a particular artist, we need a work plan. This is the difficulty of interacting with young, aspiring artists. At the age of 21, a person cannot yet say for sure whether they will devote their life to it or keep it as a hobby. The selection of artists in the portfolio of the gallery program is another story. You should not always bet your bottom dollar on skills. Talent does not determine everything and neither does money.
As for such movements as surrealism, abstractionism or avant-garde, there are not so many relevant fine art experts in Russia ready to appreciate young talents. Young artists pour out their emotions and experiences on canvas, and then show their works to older artists to understand how professional the works are and if they may be commercially interesting. And the youth faces an incredible thick wall of misunderstanding, denial and negativity.
On the other hand, it works as a filter: if a person understands that they really like creating, if they put their soul into it and want to develop themselves in this direction, then we are ready to support such a master, because they have every chance to succeed.
It is important to support artists at the very beginning of their career. The philosophy of Podorvanov Art Gallery is to give the artist freedom of expression. The only thing we suggest is which artistic fields are trending. But we try to do it as rarely as possible, so as not to throw them off their own vision. This is the essence of the unique interaction: we promote an artist, work with Western galleries and auctions, and all that is left for them to do is to invent and create.
3. Since the beginning of the XXI century, the investment attractiveness of the art market has increased significantly. It has certain features that allow investors to consider this option of asset allocation as the most promising. What are its features in your opinion?
This is not quite true, because the investment attractiveness of art has always existed. Christie's auction house, for example, is more than 250 years old. In the 21st century, other processes were launched, because art objects have become international commons. The spread of the Internet has broken all barriers. Today, an artist from Hong Kong can exhibit in New York, the works of an artist from Africa can be exhibited in London, while the author's physical presence is not necessary.
The characteristic of an object is that it exists physically. For example, if you invest in a company's shares, there are many parameters which their value depends on. The company may go bankrupt and disappear, and your money will vanish as well. An art object will exist forever. It can both depreciate and appreciate in value for a period of time.
An interesting fact is that even if a collector buys an artwork for a fair amount of money, and then it depreciates, the work still remains with them. A connoisseur may enjoy the painting, give it as a present or keep it for the descendants. A connoisseur is passionate and adventurous. If they love art, enjoy interacting with artists, then they will continue doing it throughout their life. A contemporary art collector is someone who purchases works of art for aesthetic pleasure, regardless of the price. They know the ropes of the society artistic life, visit exhibitions, follow the life and work of artists that is why they buy exactly what they like.
4. Nowadays, it has become typical of gallery owners not only to select finished works, but also steer the artists who are the most promising from a commercial point of view. Sometimes an artist creates an artwork as it is, but a gallery owner sells a certain performance that fits into the standards of contemporary art. Could you, please, tell us about other peculiarities of the modern art market?
Each artwork comprises a number of aspects affecting its value: the name of the artist, the visual component of the art object and the history behind it.
The fame of the artist consists of several components: participation in exhibitions, art festivals and performances, when a person invents and does something, which is sometimes provocative and extravagant. But all these, both positive and negative, form the artist's popularity, when they become a trademark through unusual self-expression.
The artwork's history may be different. For example, a painting was created during an interesting historical period, with the use of peculiar methods. It might have been painted with bullets in a battlefield or on unusual surfaces, e.g. mirrors or boards. I have one remarkable work in my gallery. First, the author painted a self-portrait, and then a picture atop. And you can see the first work in a certain light. He seems to look at us through a veil of colors, having a nonverbal dialogue with us. It turned out a mysterious story: why did not he like the portrait, why did he paint it over, and what did he mean by that? What did it look like originally? What is important is the history of the work creation, what exactly happened to it, who was the owner.
5. In 2018, sales in the global art market amounted to about 67.4 billion US dollars, making it the most successful year for the art market over the past decade in terms of sales volume. What countries are the main market players?
Here we can talk not about countries, but about the galleries themselves. If a gallery was founded in a particular country, it can operate in different markets around the world. The largest number of galleries is probably in the United States, the UK ranks second, and China third. Russia is not even in the top ten. I want to point out once again that a gallery is an international business. For example, Larry Gagosian art gallery operates in several countries. It is an international organization, and it is made especially for the convenience of collectors and gallerists, for expansion and dominance in the market, for strengthening influence and authority.
This kind of business appeared in Russia relatively recently, in 1990s. Now there is a new growth, young gallery owners create new art spaces in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar and other cities. The first Russian galleries rooted in the local market, but they do not actively enter the international market. Podorvanov Art Gallery initially latched on to the Western market of New York, because the main deals are stricken there. It is also the center of attraction. The competition is higher there, and the attitude to the artist is different. Russian young artists usually struggle a lot due to the fact that the adherents of the old school hardly ever understand them . A person should be a dissenter to a certain extent to create such works and to evaluate them.
6. The modern art market is undergoing big changes, which are related, for example, to the latest information technologies, with the borrowing of certain elements from show business, especially from the fashion industry. What prospects do you see for the art market development?
Absolutely right, many ways of the artist's promotion are taken from show business. Every pop artist has a team that "makes" him or her. The same happens in the world of fine arts. Artists alone are unlikely to be able to achieve great results, because an individual creative person does not have all the opportunities that an art gallery has, being a complex system. The meaning of coexistence of a gallery and an artist is in the team work. We interact with each other, look for growth paths together, suggest interpretation, points of interaction. We arrange shootings and interviews, work in social networks, do everything that may increase the artist's popularity.
The prospect of the art market development is connected with the fact that today's artist can become famous abroad. A crucial point here is language support. If you work in Romania, but do not give interviews and do not write descriptions to paintings in English, do not exhibit on English-speaking platforms, it will be impossible to fight the way to the top.
Today, since all barriers have been broken, open-minded artists are welcome, those who seek to do something more than what is in demand in their hometown. They should also think big and come up with ideas suitable for the entire world.