|Stanislav Plutenko / Publications|
Art amateurs discover a new Russian talent
RUSSIAN art has flourished
in the heady atmosphere of freedom since
the end of the communist era. Now a pair
of amateur enthusiasts have beaten professional
art dealers at their own game by bringing
an exciting new talent to the attention
of the West.
The powerful works
of Stanislav Plutenko went on sale in the West End
of London last Thursday.
British buyers of the paintings by Plutenko, 35,
a fast-rising Russian artist with no specialist
training who started his working life designing turbines,
had a remarkable coup to celebrate.
The coup's roots
are in the early 1990s when Russia began
to loom large in the careers of Alan Hendrickson
and Geoffrey Roughfon, who are businessmen,
scientists and art collectors.
sponsored show of Plutenko's works at the Institute
of Contemporary Arts (ICA), The Mall, was their
They had set
up a successful software business in Moscow
which entailed monthly visits to the Russian
capital, but as the business grew it made
vastly greater demands on the time of Hendrickson
and his colleagues.
there was still lime for art. The two partners
discovered Plutenko's works
in a gallery named Arbat-34, in a district
of Moscow where art, craft and antique shops,
proliferate, and immediately bought the three
paintings by him on offer there.
them because I liked them, but I must admit
I also thought the day might come when I would
make a profit on them, says American-born
Hendrickson, who enthusiastically changed his nationality
as a gesture to Britain which gave
him the opportunity to make his first million.
visits to Moscow, Hendricfcson and Roughton
found themselves in keen competition with several
other western private collectors who had also
discovered Plutenko's work. The artist had one-man shows
in Stockholm, Helsinki, Ulm in Germany,
other exhibitions in Russia and at private
galleries in America.
invariably sold as quickly as they came off
the easel, and the partners often arrived
at the gallery in Moscow only to find
there was nothing available. They eventually
resorted to paying the gallery owner
a sight-unseen reservation fee,
and over (three years managed to build up
a small collection of Pliilcnko's paintings.
1995 Hendrickson and Roughton were able
to meet Plutenko, suggested the idea
of a one-man show in London and offered
to finance it on a private
agreed and reserved his output for the next
year as the basis of the show (which runs
at the ICA until October 1). All the 42 works
on exhibition are for sale, with a mixture
of owners; prices vary considerably, from f2,000 to
cannot be accused of selling his sights
too low: his posters for the event
refer to the first London show of works
by Russia's leading contemporary artist.
Ever a realist,
Hendrickson knows that many thousands of pounds
in expenses commitments to the arlist,
gallery staffing, publicity, framing and so on
have to be accounted for before a penny
of profit comes the organisers' way.
The Plulenko oeuvre
is a portfolio of glossy, magical
fantasy by an artist who knows he can
call lor atttention by means of his bizzare
images that sometimes suggest Dali, and then
by the sheer power of drawing
and painling technique. You get a lot
for your money.
back at the dacha, Russian dealers are reported
to be spending much more time and effort
on home ground in Moscow and St Petersburg.
This is believed to reflect the increasing
confidence of an expanding group of Russian
collectors who try to impress their colleagues
with the symbols of success: the houses,
cars, holidays in the West and paintings
such as glitzy 19th and 20th century works
by Aivazovsk, Repin, Chepik and Shishkin: from a few
thousand pounds to f150,000.
a well-travelled British dealer, said in Moscow:
People now realise that the market is here
and prices are now almost on a level
with those in the West.
the weekly Antiques Trade Gazette quoted a Russian
banker at Sotheby's Russian auction last December. Asked
why he had bought one particular portrait, the banker
replied: Âåñause it was expensive.
|Stanislav Plutenko / Publications|
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