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A new place: Who and why opened a Contemporary Art Gallery Avangarden in Kyiv

Avangarden Gallery & Wine Bar opened in the building of the former book factory «Zhovten» on Sichovykh Striltsiv Street in Kyiv in October. It was founded by art manager Karina Kachurovskaya, curator and photographer Svetlana Levchenko and investor Anton Mazny to form a community and introduce contemporary Ukrainian artists.

Karina Kachurovskaya told about the concept of the gallery, why it took her 10 years to realize the idea, her plans to exclusively represent local artists and about contemporary Ukrainian art, especially for DTF Magazine


About the creation of Avangarden

The idea of opening a gallery and restaurant under one roof came to Kachurovskaya during her third year at university. She wanted to create a meeting place for people with creative professions and businesses. Karina envisioned it as a community-building point and exhibition space with a large library of books on culture, a collectors’ club, and a bar where she could gather with like-minded people in the evenings.

«I sincerely love people, I am fascinated by the study of history and culture. I firmly believe that creative thinking helped man emerge from the cave and reach the cosmos. So the more there are projects that help socialize and unlock a person’s creative potential, the more effectively we can fight mediocrity», the gallerist explains.

It took Kachurovskaya 10 years to found Avangarden. She took a job at a gallery «for practice» right after university, because she didn’t really believe in intensive courses, but decided to figure out how the art system worked on her own. Karina worked as a project coordinator, ran a private collection, organized cultural and educational projects and was involved in PR management. She has been working as an executive director of the Contemporary Art Collectors Club for the last several years. She simultaneously created the concept, organized presentations and detailed the business plan of Avangarden all this time.

Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine
Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine
Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine

Svetlana Levchenko was the first to join the team of the future gallery. Karina Kachurovskaya and Svetlana Levchenko realized ideas for Avangarden projects in different locations, without waiting for the gallery to get a physical space. Then they were joined by investor Anton Mazny.

Avangarden positions itself as a commercial gallery that makes money by selling paintings. All of the works in the exhibitions can be purchased.The gallery also has an open pinacotheca with printed graphics, small format paintings and photography. All items are accompanied by the necessary documents, certificates of authenticity.

«I know for sure that in order to start your own collection, you don’t have to have all the money in the world, but nothing will work without excitement and passion for art», Karina Kachurovskaya is sure.

She believes that ideally each gallery should have its own pool of artists, whom the gallery produces, takes to art fairs, and who are involved in exhibition activities. Then, according to Karina, a gallerist can trace the dynamics of price increases for an artist’s work and objectively analyze the cause-and-effect relationship.

«But that requires an exclusivity agreement. The artist has to have confidence in the gallerist and stable sales in order to sign it», Karina explains.

She adds that the gallery already has such a pool, but so far without exclusivity contracts. Avangarden has been operating for less than a month in its current form, and in her opinion it would be unfair to limit artists to working with it: «I think we’ll get to that through real action and sales, not promises».

Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine

Avangarden distinguishes two main categories of visitors. The first one is art collectors: there are patrons, philanthropists, founders of funds supporting the development of culture and artists of Ukraine. The second category is «progressive creative crowd, those who are passionate about the art world and love to eat good food».


Why does the gallery need a wine bar

«The wine bar is part of the exhibition space and cultural code, as well as a stage for creativity. Art permeates every aspect of life in this place, from the visual environment to the communication with the project moderators and the serving of food», Karina says.

Avangarden sought to assemble a team in which bartenders and waiters could keep the conversation going about contemporary art and «become a guide not only to the menu, but also to the current exhibit».

Kachurovskaya also specifies that the bar is not only an additional income, but also the associated costs.

«The restaurant business is very complicated. It requires a lot of energy, time, love, and most importantly, people who are willing to share it. A guest will always notice a fake smile. Authenticity is important in a restaurant as it is in art», she explains.

Kachurovskaya herself worked in the hall as a waitress for a few days so she could talk to guests in person. She wanted to get feedback, comments on the menu, and questions that visitors had about the works in the contemporary art exhibition.

«Sometimes people come to us to hold a business meeting and then stay and go to the exhibition space afterwards. Young guys do the opposite. Often many of them purposefully come to the exhibition and stay for lunch or dinner afterwards. That means our concept works. The place becomes a beacon for those looking for meaning», Karina tells us.


About the Ukrainian contemporary art market

Kachurovskaya describes the issue as painful as a paper cut. And she adds that she is tired of discussing the lack of attention from the state to cultural issues, the lack of a museum of contemporary art and competent relations between art market actors.

Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine
Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine
Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine
«This is a fight against windmills. There is a need for fundamental changes at the state level in the legislative framework, the allocation of the budget for the development of culture, the restoration of museums and the repair of roads leading to cultural sites. But most importantly, Ukrainians themselves must be interested in culture and intellectual leisure. The responsibility for the future lies with each of us», the gallerist reflects.

Moreover, in Karina’s opinion, there is more genuine and real in Ukraine in contrast to the art market of America, Asia and Europe, where commerce, marketing and PR-technologies are more important than art itself.

Avangarden Gallery | Photo by Anton Orekhov, specially for DTF Magazine


About the first exhibition

It was a group exhibition of Ukrainian artists Untitled Era with works by Vasylyna Buryanyk, Victor Melnychuk, Vasya Dmitrik, Artem Volokitin, Eugene Samborsky and Dima Krasny. They are united by the idea of cognition of human nature, creative work, rethinking values through personal feelings rather than external authority.


What else to expect at Avangarden

The gallery already hosts film screenings, themed dinners and parties.

The space plans to organize educational projects, lectures and classes on different artistic practices in addition to the exhibition program in the future. Individual and group journeys with visits to the main art events of the world will start in 2022.

Галерея Avangarden | Фото — Антон Орехов, специально для DTF Magazine
Галерея Avangarden | Фото — Антон Орехов, специально для DTF Magazine
Галерея Avangarden | Фото — Антон Орехов, специально для DTF Magazine


How an artist can get into Avangarden

You need to send your CV, portfolio and project concept to the gallery’s email address [email protected]

Avangarden Instagram | Address: Sichovykh Striltsiv Street, 23a


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