The Russian art market in new realities

From March 31 to April 3, 2022, Gostiny Dvor will host the largest contemporary art exhibition and international art forum Art Russia, organized by Synergy Corporation. The large-scale event will bring together 25 galleries, 65 independent artists, sculptors and photographers and 50 art experts. Kulturomania spoke with Elizaveta Frolova, co-founder of Art Russia.

– Elizabeth, what are the current challenges for the art industry?

– Now we urgently need to restructure the exclusively domestic market. In recent years, Russian works have been carefully studying the international market and thinking of branches abroad, actively attracting foreign speakers and foreign collectors. Now we have to focus again on Russian artists, collectors and speakers.

One sees no prospects for Russian art and the art market for the next two years, so works of art and private initiatives are closed or frozen. On the contrary, we have not canceled, we hold on and we believe that it is important to act now to continue the development.

At the same time, the challenges facing the Russian art world have become much greater in recent months. How to make sales when art is far from the first human need? What will happen to galleries in Russia in the coming years? And if the galleries close, how can artists reorient themselves to new realities? What should museums do when international projects close and international investors leave? And I’m only talking about the tip of the iceberg.

Tell us about your exhibitors, please.

– From the first year of Art Russia, we chose a non-standard form for the contemporary art exhibition, bringing together galleries and independent artists on one platform. This year the public will get to know more than 100 exhibitors: galleries and artists.

Works of art such as Nikolskaya Gallery, Askeri Gallery, Planz.gallery, B-Gallery, Art It Easy were announced among the participants in the third exhibition of contemporary art Art Russia. In person, independent artists from Russia, Germany and France will present their work. These are Anna Nemchinova, Alexander Zhernoklyuev, Alla Smirnoff, Anna Bo, Frank Herfort and many others.

The artists will present to the public works created as part of the re-examination of a variety of subjects: natural and artificial, new worlds of appearance, new aspects of surrealism, feminine nature and much, much more.

– How much have you changed the composition of the forum, the directions, maybe the topics?

– The composition has not changed much. Of course, individual foreign speakers will not be able to fly to us, but those who have confirmed earlier will speak online. And this is a form that is already very familiar to us, since in 2021 all foreign speakers were also only online.

As for the topics of the speeches, the ones that were topical remain. These are new media, NFT, ecology. There are issues that are now more acute, for example, the tradition of works of art, the representation of Russian artists on international online platforms, the future of museums and private art institutions in Russia.

New ones were added to them: the regional art market and its development, the future of galleries, etc. All these topics will be presented during the three days of the forum and will be carefully considered by experts.

– Do you already have some first thoughts about the future of Russian artists and galleries? Who will go in which direction?

– There are thoughts, there are no predictions. In conversations with a gallery owner, it becomes clear that not everyone will survive. A gallery is a huge investment and if at some point its customers have no time for art and there is nowhere to look for new ones, then the situation is miserable. In addition, large galleries have actively collaborated with foreign artists and collaborators, participated in international art events and, in the long run, relied on the international art market and collectors. Now the situation has changed radically: it is necessary to develop here, but, as we know, the Russian art market is still very weak. This means that not everyone will survive.

Artists are now in a difficult financial and emotional situation. Many are leaving, others are worried that they will not be able to earn money from their work in Russia if the abolition of Russian culture continues.

On the other hand, there are artists who are starting to look more actively at Asian and Arab countries, studying local markets and believing that everything will go well for them. I support such a positive and proactive attitude.

– Are you planning projects in the Russian regions?

– I think that development in the regions is possible only with large-scale state support, because the purchasing power of the regions is extremely weak.

We know that there are many artists in the regions, they have fewer opportunities than in Moscow, both in terms of exhibitions and the number of galleries represented in the regions, so, of course, they need events, they need good, high quality, great scale projects that will allow them to show their creativity, receive feedback on it and possibly meet collectors.

But a private initiative today can only implement such projects with the support of the state. Therefore, I would like to believe that we will receive support and be able to carry out large, interesting projects in the regions. More specifically, I believe it and then we will see.

Tatiana Filippova

Photo provided by the organizers of Art Russia

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