Elena is a writer, art market observer and gallerist at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
How did you first get involved in contemporary art?
My first memories of art were the halls of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, where I grew up. In the vast museum, which stretched along the embankment, one could always wander into a room of Picassos or Rembrandts and find oneself quite alone. It was there that my love of art began. The room with two Matisse’s, Dance and Music, was always my favorite. At the time, they seemed enormous and overwhelming. I remember how the flat color planes seemed to radiate with depth.
What was the first piece you ever bought or were gifted?
I organized a student art show in my college and after that a couple of artists gave me works as thanks. I have always appreciated the work which I got from artists, since it’s the most personal.
Tell us about what drew you to the Dasha print you got from Exhibition A?
When I saw the print, I was intoxicated by it. I loved the voyeurism it evoked and the fantastically ambiguous tension – the figure blurring into sweeps of color and lines which seemed to melt away. Even the title, I don’t want any problems, none what so ever, lolls you in playfully but is really quite deviant.
I was also intrigued by how she makes art history tactile, without subscribing to anything in particular. This work definitely echoes Schiele and Matisse. It occurred to me whether Dasha, who was also born in Russia, might have looked upon the same canvases as me and drawn inspiration from a common source, half way around the world. That is a question I would love to ask her.
As a Twitter user, how do you see that informing someone’s overall art experience?
Initially, I thought Twitter was similar to all the other social clutter, but over time I have grown to regard it as an incredible medium across which to discuss art. All social media hype aside, it allows you to engage with people you wouldn’t interact with otherwise and has radically changed the ability for dialogue between artists/critics and their audiences. It lets people connect over ideas rather than social circles, in real time. It livens stale criticism with fresh though and educates in an effortless manner while catalyzing connections in the real world. The interactions are meaningful because you are forced to be concise (a virtue in art writing), and because your opinion is put forth in a public domain.
I love to follow the livestream during an art opening or performance – you get instant access to everyone’s initial responses. To me that’s really neat and as a writer, I find it invaluable.
Tell us about an exhibition you are looking forward to seeing.
When the MoMA finally installs Marclay’s The Clock. I have been waiting to fill in the missing hours I have not yet seen. I am also excited for the MASS MoCA show this summer – Oh, Canada! which will be a survey of the contemporary arts scene north of the border (my second home!)
Do you have a favorite art trip you’ve gone on?
I think all my trips end up as art trips – whether intended or not. Last summer, when hiking the narrow canyons of Zion National Park in Utah, I gained a wholly different appreciation for Richard Serra’s work, which I had seen only a week prior at the Chelsea Gagosian.
The Sarah Lucas and Louise Bourgeois Nuds show at the Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens also stands out as a recent highlight. Set amongst the Bronze Age and Cycladic artifacts, the show was brilliantly insightful and more provoking that the ‘juxtapositions’ museums usually strive for.
Artist quote or words to live by?
I make the rules of the game, then attempt to play it. If I seem to be losing, then I change the rules. – Michael Snow 1961
Follow Elena on Twitter @elenasoboleva