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ARTVILNIUS’14 starts today! 0

Vilnius, Lithuania
June 18 – 21, 2014

This year the Litexpo Exhibition and the Congress Centre are going to host 65 galleries from 18 countries: Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Latvia and Lithuania. The quality of participants in the  fair and the profile of the accompanying programme indicate that the 5th ARTVILNIUS Fair will, once again, demonstrate emerging traditions in the regional art market – all of which promises to be intriguing to viewers, gratifying to buyers, and beneficial to gallerists.

This year the creative director of ARTVILNIUS, Eric Schlosser, decided to add even more strength to an outstanding feature of ARTVILNIUS that has already been observed before, i.e., an increased focus on photographic artworks created by Lithuanian and foreign artists.

During the fair, art lovers will be offered an intensive programme and special exhibitions. From a thematic point of view, a solo exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of Antanas Sutkus promises to be very impressive. It will be accompanied by a photography exhibition featuring works by Stanikas, Paulius and Svajonė, presentations from the Lewben Art Foundation collection (Žilvinas Kempinas, Ray Bartkus, Aidas Bareikis, Kęstutis Zapkus) and the video art collection. In addition, visitors will enjoy a special installation by Vladimiras Tarasovas created for “Takas” (“the Path”), the traditional large-format exhibition of sculptures and installations.

This year, the organisers have identified topics for public discussions relating to the theory and practice of collecting. In addition, meetings with artists and presentations of films and art publications are, as usual, on the agenda for the ARTVILNIUS Fair, along with demonstrations from the Rupert Art Incubator, the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Centre, and the galleries from the Art Academies of Vilnius, Latvia and Georgia. met with the organizers of the fair and asked them the following quick questions:

What makes ARTVILNIUS unique among other European art fairs?

Geographically, ARTVILnIUS concentrates on both the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, as you can see from our list of galleries.
As to its form, around the gallery area a lot of space is devoted to artists' exhibitions (sculpture, video art, photo, installations), and its design was conceived to be much like that of an art exhibition – and avoiding that supermarket feeling that you get in most art fairs with stands.

This year the Litexpo Exhibition and the Congress Centre are going to host about 65 galleries from 18 countries. It is always intriguing to find out about the development of art fairs. Could you give us a concise review of the figures for the previous two years, and the number of countries participating?

In 2013: 50 galleries from 11 countries, 15 000 visitors; in 2012: 53 galleries from 12 countries, 17 000 visitors.

What have been some of the biggest highs and lows in the history of ARTVILNIUS?

The first AV took place in 2009, when Vilnius was the European Capital of Culture, and 90 galleries participated. In 2010, due to a lack of financing, AV did not take place. We believe that around 60 galleries is our optimal format, in terms of space (because we give galleries big stands) and in terms of being a pleasant experience for both participants and guests.

In which direction will the fair continue developing in the future? Are there any plans to improve or change its format?

There are no plans to change its format, but we're always striving to improve the overall quality of the fair in terms of participants, guests, programs, press coverage and visibility; and eventually, we'd like to also see an increase in sales figures. 

What is your forecast for this fair?

We expect more guests from abroad, more networking possibilities for participants, more visitors, and hopefully, more sales due to the quality and diversity of the works exhibited.

What are your commercial expectations for the fair?

As for sales, it is difficult to forecast and collect data beforehand. Especially taking into account that many sales happen after the fair. But we expect an increase in the number of visitors, and hope to reach 20 000.

The presence of which artists, galleries, collectors or institutions do you consider as the first signal of the fair's success?

15 more galleries and seven more countries compared to last year; an improvement in the quality of participants – such as the presence of artists like Jeff Cowen and Vladimir Mishukov; our partnership with the Lewben Art Foundation; an extended program featuring exhibitions from well known artists; the continued support of the City and Ministry of Culture…

Why don't we see Estonia among the list of participants?

There are not many interesting contemporary art galleries in Estonia, unfortunately. In the past, the Olga Temnikova gallery participated, but this year she is already participating in six international art fairs, so it wasn’t possible for her. We wrote to the Art Museum of Estonia, inviting them to participate in the Art Fair, but unfortunately, we didn't get an answer.

How interested are galleries from Western Europe in participating in ARTVILNIUS?

Those who have already participated come back with pleasure. We need better international visibility because the art fair is not yet well known, and neither is Vilnius.

Which participating gallery are you most proud of?

All of them!

What is the motivation behind the increased focus on photographic artworks in this year’s art fair?

Photography has become increasingly important in the art market; many fairs are only showing photos, and the proportion of photos for sale at contemporary art fairs has greatly risen. Add to this the fact that Lithuanian photographers are already well-known internationally – in large part, thanks to their association with the famous Lithuanian photographers from the 1960’s. We also continue to have very interesting young photographers. 
Photos are also usually more affordable, which is an interesting aspect for an art fair.

Tell us more about the solo exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of the renowned Lithuanian photographer, Antanas Sutkus.

Sutkus will be 75 years old on the 27th of June, and we decided to take this opportunity to celebrate him, especially since we now have an increased focus on photography. We have specially printed, in Berlin, nine works (some of which have never been publicly seen before) – in a much bigger format and in a limited edition of six prints – to celebrate women through the eyes of Antanas Sutkus, and to present him as an artist whose popularity will last throughout the times – because his work will always be contemporary.

What will be the stand-out events at ARTVILNIUS this year?