This article was previously published in Swedish.
Ya Gallery is clearly something beyond the ordinary. That stands clear after only a short meeting with its founder Pavlo Gudimov. Pavlo’s ambitions for Ya Gallery is anything but insignificant. He wants to bring large footprint on the Ukrainian art scene, not just here and now but in a very distant future.
But last fall Ya gallery unexpectedly came into the limelight. the gallery was burned down by an angry crowd. There has been a rumor afterwards that there was an exhibition about homosexuality, that caused the attack, but this was not the case. The trigger for the riot was that Ya gallery agreed to host a panel discussion, led by a gay organization, on the situation of homosexuals in today’s Ukraine.
– They had nowhere to have their meeting, so we let them use our gallery for their panel discussion. But apparently it was too delicate issue and many was provoked, says Pavlo. I’m pretty sure that anything like this could never happen in Sweden, right?
The young artist Volokitin Artem, who exhibited at the time of the attack, does not focus on homosexuality, even though his work can be provocative, though hardly by the tangent to a homosexual theme.
Artem Volokitin receives the PinChukArtPrize
Pavlo implies, however, that both Artem and Ya Gallery benefited from the attack. Both received attention and therefore got a new audience. But the gay situation is still difficult, said Pavlo.
Ya Gallery opened three years ago, but Pavlo founded a design workshop, or showroom, already 8 years ago. Ya gallery’s idea is to be able to work with the whole process, from the exhibition to the designing and printing the posters, the catalogs. Pavlo has tied five companies to Gudimov art project. They are publisher, designer or involved in contemporary art. He also implies that a major problem for contemporary art in Ukraine is that there is no infrastructure for art and artists. He hope that he with Gudminov art project can change that sitaution. Pavlo also stresses that the cross-disciplinary idea in Gudminov art project is what makes it strong. It creates a new creative environment and pioneering ideas cant there be created. Gudminov art projects publications is also the main sources of income and helps Ya Gallery to exist.
Ya Gallery with Pavlo Gudminov at the helm, also wants to change, influence and even to some extent determine how the Ukrainian art scene will look like in the future. Pavlo goes round the country to search for artists, young and old. The art he chooses is the one that does not trample already beaten tracks and he would not favor a few artists.
– Many galleries run only around 10 artists, but I want to have a broader base than that, he says.
He is not afraid to exhibit artists that never have had any exhibition. When I visited Ya gallery they exhibited two artists, two men in their 50s, that never had been exhibited before.
– They have an expression that fits our concept, says Pavlo.
– What do you mean by concept? I ask. That it is “Ukrainian” and fits the subtitle of “contemporary Ukrainian art”?
– Well, says Pavlo. The term “contemporary Ukrainian art” is an effort to give Ukrainian art a game room or space. And I want to help creating the content of that space.
– But is not “Ukrainian” just a word in vogue right now? What if it suddenly becomes obsolete, or really lame?
– Yes, I can admit that it is true, and to some extent we are using it as smart marketing. It gives the right sense, so to speak. We of course also sets out international artists. But there is also a huge lack of knowledge about Ukraine’s art scene, both inside and outside its borders. Can we participate in creating a knowledge bridge between artists and their audience I will be satisfied, concludes Pavlo before he hastens off to the next meeting.