Art Yourself Gallery | The Voice of the New Generation Artist
In the past months, we became constant visitors of Art Yourself Gallery, Bucharest, which impressed us with its creative and challenging projects, concept exhibitions and great selection of artists. We recently talked to Elena Petre and Mălina Florea who, together with their team, make it all possible.
Art Yourself Gallery was launched in September 2011, with a clear mission to support young artists and offer consistent exhibitions to its audience. What has changed in the past three years regarding the mission of the gallery and its objectives and what were the most important phases from where you were then to where you stand now?
At the beginning we made group exhibitions or solo shows. I think now we evolved on concepts, promoting artists, find artists who can be the new generation voice in art, projects that combine different kinds of expression and approaches.
I think the difference is that we can be considered a voice for the young generation of artists and a space where everybody can feel relaxed but enjoying beautiful things and satisfaction of their work at the same time. I think we can say that important names of contemporary artists from different generations have something to say through us and we gain their trust with what we are doing. Art Yourself is a space for anyone who wants to say or taste something in art, artists or collectors.
What determines you to collaborate with an artist, so what would be the aspects you are most interested in when proposing or being invited to collaborate with artists?
We select very carefully our artists; we create platforms between them, through concepts that bring in the same space artists from different generations to communicate the same idea. I think the message, the style, the approach of them, the technique are the most important elements in our decision of working with an artist.
We feel the potential in young and unknown artists and we are trying to support them. For us, the essential is to communicate with artists at all levels, works, flexibility for our concepts and opportunities to discover more of what they are.
In a simple sentence, we want to be amazed by artists’ works and to give this feeling to other people.
Here I am exhibition
One of the things we like most about your exhibitions are the themes when referring to group exhibitions, as well as the way they are curated to best highlight the artworks, the concepts and even how the works interact with each other. We also appreciate the variety of techniques brought together – painting, digital art, drawing, installation. How important are these aspects to maintaining constant interest in exhibitions?
These elements make the difference on the market. We are bringing together different styles, different techniques, different ways of expressions from artists and these make our presence interesting, I suppose.
The themes for this year are more challenging than in the past years. This year we bring in the spotlight very simple, yet very exciting themes. We associate artists who are different in style, with a strong personality as artists, but they match together in a concept group exhibition. I think we are trying to do simple things amazing!
Possible Landscapes exhibition
In the past months, you launched several projects, one of them entitled 11172014 and consisting of 11 exhibitions, with 17 participating artists who share a variety of artistic approaches to form a unique vision and coherently represent a certain theme – so far, there were five exhibitions – “Here I am”, “Conflict of Choice”, “Impressed & depressed”, “Black Swan/ Highly Unexpected”, “Possible Landscapes”. How where the themes of the projects selected and how did it evolve until now regarding the interaction between artists and your plan for the project to generate a group identity? Also, please share with us some insights of what will follow in the next months and if all goes well – and we are certain of its success – how do you plan to continue it?
11172014 is one of the biggest projects of our gallery. I think we are the first to do this kind of project on contemporary market, on long term, so different each month for a year. It’s a challenge for us, and mostly, for the artists involved. We have 17 “voices”, the same every month, signing to be present with something new on every 17th. The artists involved in 11172014 are Aitch, Felix Aftene, Gabriel Caloian, Codruţa Cernea, Mihail Cosuleţu, Cristian Crisbăşan,Suzana Dan, Amalia Dulhan, Andreea Floreanu, Cornel Lazia, Ileana & Cătălin Oancea,Dragoş Pătraşcu, Tudor Pătraşcu, Radu Rodideal, Adrian Sandu, Bogdan Teodorescu, Ioana Ursa.
We all considered this project at the beginning that it’s a “new project’ proposed by a gallery. In December 2013 we had 3 or 4 brainstorming sessions with all 17 artists and the gallery team. We all proposed themes for the project. There were 34 proposals and after the first brainstorming we kept 14. With this “short list” every artist voted and we counted and the themes became final. We can say that this project is a team work, not just a gallery project. Everything is a team effort and ideas are take into consideration.
Conflict of choice exhibition
We have two photographers in 11172014 (Cornel Lazia and Cristian Crisbășan) and they proposed to make the “Portrait of artists” project – like this we started to promote and expose our 17 protagonists to the public from the photographers’ point of view.
But, after the first month, and the second, and the third….everybody, artists and us, we realized that it is more than a simple monthly exhibition. It’s a matter of who you are every month, it’s an image that you show to everybody, and it’s a challenge for all of us to “speak” through what we do on that month. It’s not just a new project; it’s a new perspective of what we can be every month, and how we can transform ourselves in something that we didn’t know we could be. Through this project we discover ourselves and our limits.
And what about your joint venture with Baroque Books & Arts? What is the story behind the project and what are the benefits for both public and artists?
This joint venture came natural. Like breathing. We are very compatible in what we do and how we think. I can say we complete each other and both of us have something to learn from each other. It’s a beautiful association and a challenging one at the same time. They “provoke” us with different titles for new books and us with our concepts.
We found that art and artists can communicate directly with their titles to give something magnificent to the public. I think it’s a privilege for us and for our artists working for this professional publishing house. I can say we surprise ourselves every week or month with new ideas and projects that can combine books and art.
We already worked for some titles with our artists: Lux Lexicon volume – we commissioned Florin Pantilimon for the cover illustration, Gheorghe Fikl for a title that will be launched in autumn, Gabriel Brojboiu for two titles, also for autumn, Amalia Dulhan for Sublime Encyclopedia.
Starting with the Book projects, we developed a new one. And this is really new, for about one month. We launched the concept “Art Yourself by artist”. For each book title or for different projects, we commission our artists to “present” us in their vision. Who we are as a gallery in their mind. For Bookfest we commissioned Florin Pantilimon. For the White Galleries Night we commissioned Gabriel Caloian, Iași.
Florin Pantilimon – Art Yourself Gallery by artists
Also, in every volume launched by Baroque Books & Arts we are represented on the third cover with something adapted with the book title by our artists.
Like this, we all enjoying the pleasure of reading with the joy of watching.
These two projects were a challenge for us, for the artists and for all partners involved.
“Paper on” was a joint venture between us and Antalis company, one of the most prestigious paper company on the market who supported us with consultancy and paper for catalog. It was a project where artists had no limits for their imagination to work with paper in very different and spectacular ways.
Paper On exhibition
“White” exhibition involved 12 artists (Amalia Dulhan, Cornel Lazia, Bogdan Nedelcu, Alexandru Nimurad, Florin Pantilimon, Mihaela Obada, Ileana Oancea, Radu Rodideal, Adrian Sandu,Virginia Toma, Ioana Ursa, Ana-Maria Zaharia) and white works.
For “White”, Baroque Books & Arts publisher reissued the volume The Art of Simplicity, by Dominique Loreau, in white, limited edition, with white letters on white tracing, illustration supported by the 12 artists featured in the exhibition, cover being created by Ana Wagner. This limited edition was a joint venture between us, Art Yourself Gallery, the publisher Baroque Books & Arts, which partially reprinted this volume based on the concept of the “White” exhibition, Monitorul Oficial S.A., the government printing house, which supported the printing and Antalis, which provided the paper for both, the book and the exhibition catalog.
For all four of us was a challenge in terms of creating a unique exhibition and materials to sustain the concept. It was a real joy for us as gallery because we started to think this project involving 6 artists for the show and at the end we had 12 artists who exhibited for “White”, as many demanded to be included.
We think that this kind of requests shows us that we are more than a simple space; we are a challenge for them, with what we want to create for the public.
On May 15, 2014, The Art of Simplicity – White won Special Mention on The Most Beautiful Book / Graphic section category, to The Gala Book Industry in Romania “Good for print”, 3rd edition.
It’s an honor and a privilege that we could do this, with such amazing people.
We have more projects like those this year, but we will tell you about them at the proper time. We prefer to maintain the surprise and reveal the “stories” step by step.
You have a permanent exhibition of affordable art. What’s your opinion regarding the Romanian art market? Are there constant collectors to support artists, especially young ones?
Affordable art was created for all kind of public. I think the public is skeptic regarding their possibility of buying original art because of the budget. That’s why we create this space in our gallery to show that art can be for all of us, no matter the budget, everybody can find something to like and can afford.
With hundreds of artworks by many contemporary artists, with prices from 40 Euro to 700 Euro, anyone can be an art collector, whatever the budget. By showcasing, paintings, original prints, photography and sculpture, from the traditional to the contemporary, both by established artists and new discoveries, we really have something for everyone.
What are your biggest challenges as a Managing Partner of an art gallery?
To surprise the public with every new exhibition, to be different, to create concepts that count, to be seen like a voice, to maintain a certain standard for the public and especially for our artists, to overcome any limits, to feel that you can do something new every day. Everything and every day is a challenge. But it’s a beautiful one!
What is the schedule for this year at Art Yourself Gallery (new projects, confirmed artists for future exhibitions etc.)?
This year is a very busy one. We are already fully booked and making the schedule for 2015 which will be more surprising. We hope.
Photos courtesy of Art Yourself Gallery.