by Maria Ivanov
Just like in other domains, the chapter “National Galleries” in the Republic of Moldova is taking its first steps on a development path towards other models, which could be considered successful. Although we have valuable artists in the country, no solid cult of promotion exists. In fact, artists themselves do not fully understand the importance and value of an encouraging partnership. Associated Professor, PhD, Tatiana Rașchitor, told, during a discussion on the given topic, the story about Iurie Matei’s initiative to “infiltrate” the concept of impresario within the Republic of Moldova. To no avail. Most of the times, the artists themselves, would break the deal signed with their agents and art galleries, exhibiting or promoting them. They would withdraw the creations for a certain reason and sell them directly. It seems that the entire environment is not yet ready for this type of collaboration, which could be beneficial for both parties.
However, there are a series of private galleries, that could be grouped into two categories:
- galleries open to promote various artists
- galleries opened for self promotion only
Although they start from different strategic points –from the desire to highlight as many plastic artists as possible, in case nr.1, and, in case nr. 2, from the impulse of self-promotion, based on the principle “if not me, then who will be concerned about me?”– this being a quite healthy and necessary principle in the Republic of Moldova.
Both types of galleries are important and of use to artists.
One of the most representative for the first category of private art galleries in the country is/was “Peperete“, founded in 2018 by Elena Popic, with the support of the family. The young woman is a graduate of Cambridge University in the UK, where she studied for a master’s degree in law. Back home, she set out to invest in the culture of the Republic. The gallery was located right in the center of the capital city, being easily recognizable, in an architectural monument-building dating from the nineteenth century. What made this gallery unique, was the fact that the exhibited artists were not chosen on the basis of personal preferences but based on open calls. The artists had to submit an application for consideration, and the conditions for admission to the gallery were based on international criteria and immediately after the evaluation, the accepted works were assigned appropriate prices. Exhibitions were not dedicated to technique or genre, they were very diverse, thus addressing a large audience of visitors. I say “was” because the gallery has ceased its activity, due to the pandemic.
Another gallery aiming at highlighting works of plastic art, not only from the Republic, is the “OU” gallery, created in 2016 by painter Vasiluța Vasilache and photographer Ruxanda Spatari and occupying mainly the cellar space within the ” Cocoșul roșu ” studio. The purpose of the gallery is both to encourage existing talents and to discover new ones, as well as to financially support local artists, exhibiting paintings, illustrations, and photography. “OU” was also affected by the pandemic; activity was suspended for a certain time, then the co-founders resumed it online, under another format, to keep the gallery alive. The gallery began to sell prints of the works of Moldovan artists on pillows, blankets and posters, internally and externally. This exhibition space is, however, an alternative one. Unlike the “Peperete Art Gallery”, a space that was exclusively destined for exhibitions, many other events take place in the “OU” gallery space, from book launches to performances.
Another representative phenomenon for the art galleries in the Republic of Moldova is the fact that they are sidebars to commercial initiatives. As is the case of the gallery affiliated to “MOLDECO“. It is one of the conditions that makes such a gallery able to survive. “MOLDECO” is an art-salon, founded by Stela and Sergiu Moldovanu in 2004, a very prestigious private company in the field of framings for fine art creations. The art salon also runs a space dedicated to the exhibitions of contemporary artists.
Another alternative space is the basement of the “Cartego” bookstore, an old basement in old Chișinău, ruined in ’41 -’42. The top of the building was renovated and even reconstructed several times, for in the second war the building suffered terribly, but the basement remained intact. The bookstore “Cartego” and the respective gallery in its basement was opened two and a half years ago by Natalia Blanari. Artists exposed in the basement are always selected by the Cartego team. Exhibited painters are not being charged, a but commission on the price of the sales, if any, goes to the library.
The same goes for the “Alexander” antiques gallery, founded by the spouses Alexander Neceainecu and Natalia Obada in 2000. Half of the exhibition space is reserved to the works by Natalia Obada, the rest of the space is given to certain artists with whom the founders have been collaborating for a long time.
Artcor is a multifunctional center for the development of creative industries in Moldova, a space for art exhibitions available to the artists for a charge, independent of the financial results of the sales during the run. AMTAP students are allowed to use the space free of charge.
From the second category of galleries, personal showrooms, we can list Andrei Mudrea’s gallery. It was created right in the painter’s workshop, holds exclusively the owner’s own unique pieces of art.
Another example is “Ad-Art” Gallery, founded in 2006 by painter Alexandr Djemelinschii. His works, anchored in erotic art and fantastic realism, fill the entire space, that also hosts literary evenings, musical soirees and even selling exhibitions for fellow artists.
The existence of these two types of private art galleries, alternative spaces, and personal workshops, designates the fact that the Republic of Moldova needs them, especially in order to strengthen the contemporary artistic environment, but also to educate the public’s taste for the art of today. For now, we are suspicious of contemporary art, because our eyes aren’t used to it. That is why we must break out of the canons, cultivate ourselves and be connected to reality, accepting the challenges of art. Only then, perhaps, will we have private art galleries able to sustain themselves.