Museum Stories

Art Fair for Emerging Artists: Interview with REA! ARTE

Amélie Pascutto 22 July 2020 min Read

REA! ARTE is a non-profit association based in Italy managed by 10 confident women. All passionate about art, they decided to organize a new type of art fair. REA!’s ARTE fair is nurtured by the core philosophy of the association: promoting emerging artists. Planned for October 30th to November 1st  2020 in Milan, this fair will be the first of its kind in the glamorous city.

A non-profit association created by women

B&W Photography of REA! Team. From left to right with Elisabetta Roncati, Maryna Rybakova, Pelin Zeytinci, Maria Myasnikova, Maria Ryseva
REA! ARTE Team. Left to right: Elisabetta Roncati, Maryna Rybakova, Pelin Zeytinci, Maria Myasnikova, Maria Ryseva. Courtesy of REA!.

REA! ARTE is an association created by a group of people evolving in the Milanese artistic sphere. Maryna Rybakova came up with the original idea. She quickly found collaborators who were thrilled by the project. According to the team, it is pure coincidence that all the creators of REA! happen to be women.

Although a common passion for art brought these young entrepreneurs together – they are all under 30 years old – they have diverse backgrounds. For example, Maryna Rybakova is an entrepreneur specializing in technology and finance in the art field, while other members of the team are gallerists (Pelin Zeytinci, Paola Shiamtani) and one is a curator (Laura Pieri). And others are art consultants (Antonella Spanu, Maria Myasnikova, Elisabetta Roncati) or in the art management industry (Tugana Perk, Bianca Munari, Gohar Avetisyan).

Screenshot of the video call interview with members of REA's board. From left to right, top to bottom: Maryna Rybakova, Pelin Zeytinci, Gohar Avetisyan, Biannca Munari, Tugana Perk, Paola Shiamtani
The REA! ARTE art fair: Still taken during the Zoom Interview with members of REA!’s board in June 2020. Screenshot by the author.

An association initially created in response to a void in Italy

Living and studying in Italy, members of REA! felt a certain frustration because Italian schools do not organize shows. Instead, these are generally arranged for graduations, however, degree shows are for art students and are a public celebration of their achievements as well as being their official entrance into the professional world of art. These events are not only for family and friends, but also for collectors, galleries, and cultural institutions who are looking for the next pearl of the contemporary art world.

Yet, for the creators of REA!, the problem goes beyond schools. Indeed, despite an active cultural life in Milan, they think there is not enough structure to support emerging artists. Thus, they decided to create an unconventional art fair to promote emerging artists.

REA! ARTE is focusing on emerging artists all around the world

Although the expression “emerging artists” is often used for its broad significance, REA! proposes an original conception of it:

In our definition an emerging artist is anyone who considers themselves as such, no matter the age or education.
It is someone who needs a platform to exhibit and showcase their work, and is having a hard time getting through the complex art world structure.
There are no specific criteria […] It is a question of self-identification we let the artists decide.

The REA! ARTE art fair: REA's Poster for their open call for artists
The REA! ARTE art fair: OpenCall Flyer. Courtesy of REA!.

With a rich cultural heritage, a strong historical legacy, and governmental financial cuts for the cultural fields, it is not always easy to get support for emerging artists in Italy.

Historically Milan and Italy, as a country, it’s a traditional academically oriented place for artists to be. Artists are trained to restore paintings or maybe do some traditional looking sculptures […] They would be employed just serving the restoration or just somehow helping this museum industry.

– Maryna Rybakova

The team of REA! decided to fill the gap. Their decision to open the fair to any artists worldwide is partly because the association is by nature an international organization. Indeed, all the creators of the association come from different countries or have studied abroad. But more than that, members of REA! know that in the art world, degree show or not, being an emerging artist is not always an easy situation. No matter the country.

Within the current economic context, galleries are less inclined to represent emerging artists, as they are perceived as risky investments. The 2020 Art Basel & UBS Report observes that emerging artists are 25% of the art dealers’ representation. The report also shows that this population only represents 28% of the exhibitions in museums.

The contradiction is that artists need to exhibit their work for it to be valued in the art market, but it needs to have a value to get exhibited, REA! aims to break this vicious circle and to push emerging artists’ careers forward.

An art market-friendly platform

Contrary to the myth, collecting art is not only for rich people. A younger and more diverse audience has appeared and changed the landscape. On the one side, there are the collectors with diverse interests and budgets, while on the other side there are the artists. The art market is the place that unites them, but it is often criticized for its lack of transparency. With their diverse background, the team is using all of their knowledge and network to help artists to better understand the art market.

Being an artist is too often considered as a vocation free of constraints, where one can live off one’s passion and ideals. But artists need money too. The truth is that it is hard for artists to live off the income from their art alone. They often have to take one or several jobs to make a living.

If artists use an intermediary dealer to sell their art their profits are reduced . Moreover, the art market being mostly based on speculation, prices can fluctuate, and lots of auctions are often only concerned with works by… dead artists!

Reproduction of the painting Salvator Mundi, painted circa 1500 by Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, circa 1500, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
This painting is the most expensive artwork ever sold. For more details, check this DailyArt Magazine article!

REA! members believe one should be able to live off one’s work, and an artistic practice is no exception. REA! pays special attention to the artist’s vision and will try to establish a relationship with the artist based on trust and mutual respect.

An original art fair model

The strength of REA!’s art fair is to push artists’ careers in ways they wouldn’t find elsewhere. REA! aims to be innovative in comparison to the traditional art fair model.

Firstly, only artists who are not represented are invited to REA!’s fair. In doing this, the REA! team do not want to push galleries and investors away but they want to give emerging artists their own space, and hopefully convince private collectors and public institutions to support them in the future.

And secondly, contrary to the traditional model, they make the fair into one big exhibition. The team keep the theme of the fair a secret , but they assured us during the interview that it will be spectacular.

The REA! ARTE art fair: Picture of Pelin Zeytinci and Maria Myasnikova at a table of a cafe during a curatorial meeting.
The REA! ARTE art fair: Pelin Zeytinci and Maria Myasnikova during a curatorial meeting. Courtesy of REA!.

When it comes to the installation of the fair and the exhibition […] there are no booths. There are no galleries that represent certain artists. It’s more like an ecosystem. The works work together. It’s more fluid to navigate.

– Paola Shiamtani

The philosophy of the association is to establish an equilibrium whereby everyone can benefit. In this regard, the team commits to being transparent: transparency for artists in the selection process, transparency for the public for whom the entrance is free, and transparency for potential buyers.

As for the prices of the artworks, the team decided to stay objective using a rigorous mathematical calculation:

It’s done using a simple mathematical equation where we use size and material. […] It’s the most basic value without having any sentimental value but purely just a financial value of the artwork.

It is not entirely our decision, it’s shared with [the artists].

– Tugana Perk and Paola Shiamtani

By creating a platform to help artists penetrate the art market, REA! intends to reconcile the relationship between artists and collectors that has existed for centuries.

A thoughtful enterprise

Although innovative, REA! is keeping some traditions. Like everyone in Italy, the team are well aware of the current health crisis. Yet, unlike other art fairs which canceled their physical exhibitions, like Art Basel, REA! ARTE decided to maintain theirs.

Yet, REA! is conscious that not all artists around the world will be able to get to Italy within the coming months. Therefore, they are considering different options for an online alternative for those who cannot physically attend the event.

The fair will take place in La Fabbrica del Vapore, which is architecturally, an industrial style space which can contain large artworks, and will also allow people to wander around safely. Nonetheless, alternative solutions have also been planned in case of a change of situation in the coming months.

The REA! ARTE art fair: Photography of the venue La Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan, interior picture
The REA! ARTE art fair: Venue La Fabbrica del Vapore, Milan, Italy. ArtRabbit.

With this much needed initiative to promote emerging artists, we can only wish the young proactive team from REA! ARTE, much success for their first art fair and hope for more fresh ideas like this in the future.

REA! FAIR info:

  • Event: 30 October – 1 November 2020, Fabbrica Del Vapore, Milan, Italy
  • Free entrance

The REA! ARTE art fair: REA's poster present on their website presenting important numbers of the fair: 100 artists, 1 curatorial team, 3 days, 1 art prize
The REA! ARTE art fair: Poster for the art fair. Courtesy of REA!.

Do you like the idea of the REA! art fair? Trying to keep up with the art market? Look for inspiration and read about these emerging artists:

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