The title of the current show at the Koncha-Zaspa art gallery is Kolo Zaspy (Zaspa Circle). The word “circle” has several connotations, including the sacred symbol of infinity. It is also often used to describe certain communities — e.g., friendly, professional, scholarly, or creative circles. A new circle, the Kolo Zaspy Art Gallery, was founded recently near Koncha-Zaspa, 15 km from Kyiv, and it is likely to combine a number of connotations. What makes it different from other art galleries is its size: the works on display occupy two large exhibition halls. The gallery is designed to hold both indoor and outdoor shows, the latter taking place in a small park.
The owner of Kolo Zaspy, Olena Starshynova, says: “This is our second art gallery after Kolo in the Pechersk district of Kyiv, which has existed for five years. The idea of a suburban art gallery was conceived while we were working on a creative project aimed at developing the subject of a Ukrainian landscape planning school. Naturally, such exhibits must be organized outdoors, against the backdrop of a certain landscape. So we decided to build a gallery with a small plot of land attached. We did it. The artists who are collaborating with us are the same ones with whom we collaborated when we were setting up the first gallery. Now our Kolo circle is expanding because we have more opportunities and a bigger space.”
In fact, space was what prompted Starshynova to consider the possibility of organizing thematic group shows at the new gallery. She has plans for a series of exhibits entitled “Geniuses from the Province,” “Forgotten Notables,” “Young Talents,” “The Contemporary Ukrainian Portrait,” and others. Since creativity demands maximum effort from the artists, the task gallery organizers face is to help promote these artists’ achievements among the public, because artists suffer terribly when their canvases remain in the studio where no one can see them.
The artist Anatolii Tertychny had this to say: “We were waiting for this event. I was happily shocked once I saw the gallery, with all those huge windows and the wall. I love Olena’s approach to the architectural design. Everything is simple but original. I believe that the opening of new art galleries is proof that the art market is getting underway in Ukraine. We must have this kind of market. We’ve been waiting for its emergence for a long time, so the launch of the Kolo Zaspy show is another opportunity to boost efforts in this direction. Moscow is all very well and good, but we are here, so we must live like people. It’s too bad that in our country artists are running from pillar to post. We must have something more stable, a system that will take proper care of talented individuals. Then each artist will have his place in the sun and know his own worth. This is what the art market is all about.”
During the opening of the Kolo Zaspy show the artists talked so much about the art market because they have all been working along these lines to one degree or another, so the new gallery is part of this project. Anyone can visit Starshynova at her home — in the literal sense because she lives in the building housing the gallery — explore the exhibit, and buy some art to complement an interior or exterior design.
A happy artist is one who has a lot of work. Ukrainian artists are only too well aware of the problem of market demand, and so is Iryna Osadcha, the owner of Kyiv’s reputed Irene Gallery. She likes the idea of setting up Kolo Zaspy outside Kyiv for people who do not go into the city often. It is a good thing that this gallery is in Ukraine; this way, more works of art will remain in our country.
“I think there is still a lot of work to be done on the building and the gallery,” Osadcha pointed out. She knows what she is talking about, because she opened her gallery in 1991 and knows all the tricks of the trade: “Every building needs a good manager, who can ensure proper maintenance, upgrading, and constant care. But even what has been accomplished in this particular case is interesting; it is in harmony with the natural landscape. Also, this is more than a gallery; it is a home. It’s like what they have in the West: a house with an art gallery, so the hostess can spend more time among the works of art. I like this structure’s unconventional design, which makes it stand out from other buildings, with its definite touch of good taste. I think this is the right way to go about educating our people, so that they can emulate this example and embellish their suburban homes with works of art.”
Osadcha is echoed by the sculptor Oleksandra Ruban, who visited and took part in the Kolo Zaspy show together with her creative family. She is convinced that works of art are just starting to become in vogue. Many people are building homes on the outskirts and can easily erect statues in their yards or gardens.
At the gallery launch, both artists and gallery people broached the subject of the Ukrainian government failing to support the arts. Osadcha said that art galleries are closing down in Kyiv, and artists are facing rising studio rentals. They also note that there are increasing numbers of individuals who know about fine art and sculpture, and who commission works of art.
Kolo Zaspy currently displays works by some 50 artists, mostly from Kyiv, but there are also works of art from the Crimea, Artemivsk (Donetsk oblast), and Vinnytsia. Among the works of famous artists at the gallery are those by People’s Artist of Ukraine Yulii Senkevych, Merited Artists of Ukraine Mykola Bilyk, Viktor Lypivka, and others. According to Starshynova, Kolo Zaspy was originally planned to engage and support artists from all over Ukraine. Therefore, this exhibit will be regularly updated. The organizers’ concept is steady evolution in order to expand the creative circle.