The founder of Russian Art Week talks about promoting Russian art and culture in the UK and working to bring together the academic and commercial art worlds.
Why did you found Russian Art Week?
Twice a year Russian art sales take place at the major auction houses in London. But if you are a collector coming from Moscow or St Petersburg there is no one place to find all this information. As I already edit the popular online arts magazine Russian Art and Culture in the UK, I decided to set up a new online platform for Russian Art Week. We list all the sales, exhibitions and events going on, rather like TimeOut, but focused solely on Russian art and culture. This month we also published the first ever guide to this event.
What big events are taking place during this week?
Over the next few days there are a series of Russian sales at Christie’s, Bonhams, MacDougalls and Sotheby’s in Mayfair. There are also a series of exhibitions on Russian art. For example, the Saatchi Gallery has two huge shows focused on Russian contemporary art and Soviet art from the 1960s to 1980s. Several galleries such as Erarta, Regina and ArtMost are also presenting one-man exhibitions of contemporary Russian artists including Alexei Kallima and Gennady Zubkov. Calvert22 even commissioned a new work from Alexander Brodsky. In addition there are a number of cultural events going, for instance Pushkin House will launch the English translation of Victory Over the Sun, a book which inspired an opera staged at the beginning of the 20th century by the Futurists. Also several plays by Chekhov are being shown around London theatres. So there are a number of Russian cultural things going on in London this November which we have grouped together under the banner of Russian Art Week.
What is the reason it has been so successful?
To be honest I was amazed at the positive reaction we have had to this project. All the galleries, auction houses and dealers have been hugely helpful. Ultimately we all are interested in Russian art and culture and want to promote it in the UK. I think though that before, when all of these different initiatives were happening, there was maybe less awareness of each other’s projects. Also there has been a traditional separation between the commercial and academic worlds. By having the new website and guide we can bring everything together in one place and make Russian Art Week much more accessible to the public. This way hopefully everyone knows what is going on!
Why is Russian Art Week in London?
London is a huge centre for the art world. Also there is a large émigré Russian community here and many wealthy Russians have second homes in the UK. Then there is the number of galleries and auction houses which offer Russian art. All these factors have contributed to Russian art being popular in London and Russian Art Week being a success.
November 22-28 www.russianartweek.co.uk