International art advisor in modern and contemporary art, with more than 10 years of experience in the art world in NY, Liubov Belousova moved to the south of France to open her own gallery. She had established Boccara Art Gallery, in New York two years ago and planned to branch to Monaco.I met Liubov three years ago, in Monte Carlo, at the opening dinner party for the Tennis Tournament. We had some friends in common and we both shared the enthusiasm for meeting new interesting people.
Kinetic sculptures by Evfrosina Lavrukhina, one of Liubov's favourite artists
You’ve been very difficult to reach. What are you working on at the moment?We’ve been very busy developing a programme called BAFA, which stands for Boccara Art for Artists. We plan to support young talents and take the artist's career to the next level with a six-months or one year strategic marketing plan, which includes various showings in galleries & fairs, and special projects around the world. Finding an appropriate gallery is one of the most important phases in an artists’s ascent towards success on the art market.
Did you grow up surrounded by art? What made you open your own gallery? I have been working as an art dealer in New York since 2007. After finishing my degree at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, I established a gallery in the south of France with my former husband. We had separated three years ago, he continued with Galerie Boccara antiques and I founded Boccara Art in NY in 2015, and immediately after, in Monaco.
Installation by Carlos Cruz-Diez
How difficult is to open a business in Monaco? It is quite complicated. I had to wait one year and a half to obtain the authorization. The art market here is not very developed and it is a bussness that involves big players. On the other hand, Monaco is a place that provides a lot of opportunities. Once you have established your business here, it’s a passport towards your clients’s trust. It’s a guarantee of your professionalism. And yes, of course, here in Monte Carlo you can meet the most important and richest people in the world; they might have lunch next to your table, at the coffee shop, so you can approach them easier. People are very relaxed here.
Who are the art buyers nowadays? There are two different typologies, and consequently, two different approaches, depending on the type of artists the buyers are interested in. We usually sell works by contemporary artists to customers who just visit our gallery, they discover something they really like and buy the work instantly. To sell the work of established artists we address the collectors. In this case we need a very different approach, since they are very sophisticated and therefore demanding.These meetings are very private, almost secretive. But if we manage to sell a Picasso once a year we consider the efforts are well worth.
Do you have many clients like these? Yes.
Are most of them from Europe? Yes, most of them live here, in the south of France.
What kind of artists do you represents? How do you select them? There are many artists who write to us, and it is quite difficult to choose. I always trust my intuition. I could say that I always choose the ones that envision the future. Every artist requests promotion and unfortunately we can not take care of all. And, of course, it depends of the market. I represent different artist in NY or in Hong Kong and I can tell you the markets are completely different.
Cinque and More, 2012, Evfrosina Lavrukhina
Traditionally artists were exhibited in galleries in a static way. How did the marketing strategy changed along with the digital age? Does social media have any impact in the art world? I started the Instagram for Boccara Art nine months ago. Here, in France, it is not so important, maybe because people are very conservative. But everyone else around the world is using this tool. We sell better in NY since we developed our Instagram account and many customers find us now through platforms like Artsy or Artnet.
Did your sales increased thanks to your online communication strategy? No, most of the deals are still closed by me in our gallery. But we have some wonderful connections to nurture in Hong Kong, New York.
Do you have a favourite artist? I don’t have a favourite one, but I like artists who create global projects. Like master of illusion, 94 years old, Carlos Cruz Diaz. Let’s take for example the chromatic structural facade he developed for the Kenex Plaza, in Panama. This is a project based on a tight collaboration with engineers and architects, with the purpose of achieving a real integration of art and architecture. A painting or a sculpture hanging on a wall in your living room is an intimate, personal pleasure, only yours. It is wonderful to invest in art for you and your family, but urban art works are made for everybody. They reach a much larger number of people. These are the generous artists with a greater vision. I strongly believe art is for everyone.
Do you usually participate in art auctions or fairs? Yes. We go to Asia Contemporary Hong Kong in September, to New York, to Scope Miami in December, to Singapore.
What about Moscow, your hometown? Do you organise exhibitions or art events there? No. It is very sad. Russia is a special world, but unfortunately a world which is not interesting at this time. People are interested in buying art, but they are too isolated.Technology is a must nowadays and in order to create something relevant one should be active, connected, well-traveled. Russia is really cut off from the world. It’s of course for a political reason, but this is another discussion. Russians have an appetite for the classic, the flamboyant and therefore, constitute a very special category of the art market.
Do you represent Russian artists? I have a single Russian artist whom I represent. Her name is Evfrosina Lavrukhina She is a visionary sculptor who creates kinetic, reactive works of art. She’s always avant la lettre. Her works have impressed the New York market, which is very highbrow. We exhibited her works this year in May, in NY and we had a cue at our stand.
If you were to be as rich and influent as Peggy Guggenheim what would you do?
Actually, I have this dream that keeps me awake at night. Probably you’ve heard of Portier Cave, a residential offshore urban extension project for which six hectares of land will be reclaimed from the sea. Among the architects involved in this amazing concept which will welcome more residents, is Renzo Piano, the creator of Centre Pompidou. This kind of major projects attract investors who are willing to integrate art into public spaces and this interests me more than participating in fairs. I am currently working on a presentation for this project in Monte Carlo. I really wish to exhibit some of our artists in open air. Compared to cities like New York or Miami, Monte Carlo lacks monumental pieces of art in public spaces.
Why should we buy contemporary art? Basquiat's painting sold recently for 110.5 million at Sotheby's in NY was purchased by two collectors in 1984 for 19.000 $. It’s a good investment.