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Max and Julia Voloshyn: “Participation in art fairs  is a long and hard work for the future”

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Max and Julia Voloshyn / Photo: Oleksandr Pilyuhin

SCOPE Art Show is a well-known in the United States and Europe fair that in the 17 years of its existence has gained fame of a takeoff pad for many young galleries and artists. Thanks to its innovation policy and active support of young artists and galleries, SCOPE has acquired the status of an influential event in culture that allows its participants to express themselves, meet and establish cooperation with collectors.

For the third time Voloshyn Gallery is the only Ukrainian gallery selected by SCOPE to presenting its artists in Basel, Miami and New York. This time Voloshyn Gallery demonstrated at its stand the artworks by Anna Valieva, Artem Volokitin and Mykhailo Deyak.

Especially for ArtsLooker, Roxana Rublevska has met the owners of the gallery Julia and Max Voloshyn to ask them about their participation in the art show.

Who are the SCOPE and the works of art presented there aimed at?

Julia: SCOPE was created for talented young artists and collectors who want to discover the affordable artworks made by new authors.

Max: At the same time we have seen at SCOPE and the works of famous artists: Warhol, Byenksi, Condo, Hearst. On average, the prices for artworks were sold at 3 to 200 thousand dollars. However, comparing SCOPE and Art Basel, taking place annually in June in Switzerland and the end of December in the US, the latter fair represents the works of art that are sold from ten thousand to several million dollars, depending on the author.

SCOPE is visited by the collectors who are not only interested in the “names”, but relying on their own talent or their consultants, prefer to discover the future “celebrity”. Many of the curators come to get new impressions with their young fresh views. It is not surprising that among the professional audience at the fair one can see the owners of the leading galleries, foundations and museums looking for new members and partners for their curatorial projects.

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SCOPE currently is one of the top ten most influential art fairs in the world. You visited it several times before Voloshyn Gallery became a regular participant of this art show. How has SCOPE  changed in the last 4 years?

Max: Namely when we participated in the SCOPE Miami Beach 2016, I came across an article in the famous American Timeout guide, where satellite-fairs Art Basel and Miami were compared. The article advised which of them are must-visit and in the first place. SCOPE was in the second place, ahead of the prestigious Art Miami, Untitled Art Fair. That’s not surprising, because in the last four years absolutely everything has changed. Comparing how the fair has changed since we participated in SCOPE for the first time, it has became much conciser and “cleaner”. New, more expensive and more convenient locations in more prestigious areas, the overall design of the whole fair are well-thought in each detail. Even the walls of each box are higher and made of higher quality materials. The stand presentations now  resemble the museum exhibition rather than an art fair. And all this plays a significant role in the presentation of works of art.

Julia: In addition, the curatorial selection of SCOPE participants is much stricter now. Now the project is managed by a different team. Moreover, the organizers invest large amounts in promotion, also raising its rating and it is very popular now. We could see it when during the VIP opening of SCOPE New York it was attended by so many visitors, they could hardly fit into a vast Metropolitan Pavilion, the same thing happened in Miami. The adjacent Untitled Art Fair pavilion was nearly empty, while the SCOPE pavilion was crowded during all six days of the fair.

Why most of the works presented belong to the local American masters?

Julia: Yes, in fact most of the works presented at SCOPE, are really Americans, but I wouldn’t consider it curators’ “discrimination”. This situation is connected to the fact that many galleries just do not want to spend money to participate, risking not to sell their works. Not all youth institutions, that lasted up to 5 years, can afford to attend art events of this level, because you have to invest no matter what will the final result is.

Max: I also believe that it depends on where you come from. In all three SCOPEs (Basel, Miami and New York) where we participated, there were presented the galleries from London, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Milano, Prague. Undoubtedly, when the fair took place in the US, most of the galleries were from Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago and other American cities, due to lower participation and works transportation costs for the local galleries.

I have to say that if the alleged authors and their works are strong, they are sure to get into SCOPE. But raising funds for participation is everyone’s own responsibility.

What do you think, creates the prestige of the fair?

Max: The exhibited works. They are the most important and they are attracting the desired audience of collectors, curators, gallery owners, and just visitors.

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How has Voloshyn Gallery managed to participate in SCOPE?

Julia: I think it is important to choose the exact fair, that is most in tune with the gallery activity. During ten years of Voloshyn Gallery existence, Max and I have visited nearly all the world art fairs and by elimination method chose the one that suits us most. Last year, we just applied to participate, not expecting anything, just out of curiosity, and we were immediately selected. What is important for the SCOPE team are not only the artists presented, what specific works you are offering, but equally important is the active involvement of the gallery in the art events. The organizers will surely inquire about the future curatorial projects, publications about them in the press and the history of history.

What difficulties may arise for the gallery during the preparation for its first art fair?

Julia: The gallerists have to understand that for the fair they are rather the client, than a partner. It is therefore important to carefully read each paragraph of the contract, which describes all the details of participation. If your carrier is late with pictures or broke the rules, you have to pay a fine. If it is necessary to use additional services such as individual box design or additional light – it will not be free either.

Does the cost depend on the value of the works that are presented?

Max: No, you can exhibit the works of art for any amount and pay only for rented space. It is important to realize that participation in fairs does not guarantee any sales, and the invested money invested may not come back. It is a long and tedious work for the future.

Some individual stands at fairs become a real event. How did you decorate yours?

Max: Last year, when we debuted at SCOPE Basel, we had a solo-stand of the artist Mykhailo Deyak. It is much easier than combining works of various artists, not related with one concept.

Julia: This time SCOPE New York 2017 a designer helped us to create the box interior in order to organically combine the works of all three artists in one area. As a result, our stand wasn’t left unattended. Even before the official opening, the SCOPE team members who are not easily surprised, came to acknowledge our expressive exposition.

For instance, the large galleries created decades ago, taking part in Art Basel, usually cooperate with the architectural agencies. They develop an individual concept of the exhibition space, attracting sophisticated technology. Before the exhibition, the real construction takes places there, and the galleries usually invest a lot of money in materials.

And then, you walk into such a stand and you feel how nice and soft it is to walk there, then you look, and the floor is covered with the most expensive carpets. Everything is taken into account to every detail, the light is set perfectly. Everything is there to reinforce the impression of the artist’s works. Each stand is a brand new unique atmosphere. As a result, you remember not only the specific works of artists, and in general every single gallery stand, the impression of the whole exhibition. Of course, very often the cost of the concept and its realization exceed the rent of the exhibition space.

Is there any internal competition among the galleries in the fairs of such level?

Julia: No, quite the contrary. Foreign galleries are trying to meet, lively share valuable advice and experience and even negotiate on further cooperation. If the works at one stand are being sold and someone else’s stand is left unattended, its owner simply analyzes what he did wrong. The following year, the gallery does not repeat the same mistakes and successfully presents its artists.

Is it important for the artist to visit the fairs? Why is it useful to appear there, even when you are not representing any of the galleries?

Julia: It is important for an artist to see his work on the scale of the whole world. This allows young authors to look broader, cease to be local and forget about some common myths and prejudice at home, to stop being afraid of criticism or accusations of plagiarism. The Ukrainian art environment must be integrated with the world and not be separated from it.

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Max: Visiting the fairs is useful at least because you start to see the world in a different way. You stop thinking that it ends outside Ukraine. The artist understands that the categories of “popular” and “commercially attractive” are very conditional. What may seem new in Ukraine, will not be perceived that in the United States. When our compatriots don’t see the art of other countries, they stop seeing clearly and lose the ability to think more globally.

Julia: The problem is that many of the galleries that failed to get to the world-class event, consider that for you there is also no point even to try. The situation resembles the theory of “Bucket of crabs.” If these animals alone could easily get out of the bucket, when there are many of them, it becomes impossible, because they start to pull each other down. Thus, the term “crab mentality” can be used to describe the favorite saying of the lazy people, “I couldn’t do it – neither can you.”

Is it true that some successful artists who are exhibited at fairs, employ the artists, creating on their own only sketches?  Does this means the author may not even be able to draw?

Max: We live in a world where it is not necessary to do everything yourself. If your ideas are ahead of time, the mechanical work can be trusted to apprentices. Of course, it happens infrequently. Although if the artist has the perfect technique and knows all the materials, it is easier to experiment.

Julia: In a gallery business the situation is similar. When we opened the gallery, we had to do everything manually, writing releases, inviting guests, generating the exposition, leading tours, but today the external professionals are involved. We think a lot about the strategy of our development, new projects, negotiating with auctions, fairs and collectors. In fact, it takes a lot of time and requires hiring more people.

The process of selecting participants in trade fairs stays unclear to the viewer. How does it work?

Maxim: As for selection, which is made by the art show curators, we can only speculate about that. New images, actual stories and ideas, the new methods and materials for their expression, new media – I think that usually the works that have a set of these features are selected by the curators. A fair of this level in no way should compromise itself, so the works of each artist are carefully selected and thoroughly studied. By the way, not all authors are accepted, once we submitted for approval several artists, and instead of one of the authors, the SCOPE curators asked us to offer someone else.

Julia: In New York, we presented the works of three artists, the works of two of them were successfully sold. We are very pleased with this.

We are waiting for fresh ideas from the Ukrainian artists to present their projects abroad and in the future. Also we recommend to follow the publications on contemporary art and art events in the world. On a side note, we also publish articles about our travels and business trips, and photo reports from museums and galleries we attend in order to expand the horizons of our artists and audience. We believe that the Ukrainian authors will be interesting and popular abroad, the most important thing is to work hard!

By Roxanne Rublevska

13.05.2017

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