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During our studies, travels and working all over the art system, Kooness team interviewed the two pillars of SUPRAINFINIT gallery in Bucharest, Cristina and Suzana Vasilescu, founder and curator of this young, vivid and interesting reality that deals with artists from Romania, their Country. 

Related articles: In conversation with Monique Meloche-In conversation with Catinca Tabacaru-In conversation with Dylan Gebbia-Richards

 

Vlad Nancā, Suprainfinit Window Project. Courtesy Suprainfinit.

 

When SUPRAINFINIT was born few years ago, in 2015, you have already developed various artistic projects, performances and events. When did you decide to have a permanent venue? And why you felt this need? 

When I opened the gallery in 2015 in Bucharest, I was actually in Timisoara doing the first edition of the well known now Art Encounters Biennale. This event was also a milestone for the art scene in Romania. So, at that point, I decided to open my own space as I had an important background in the Romanian art scene, and the decision with the gallery came organically after all the projects I developed independently as well as working for other galleries. Regarding Suprainfinit, I wanted to be more involved in the everyday process of running a gallery alongside setting a long-term strategy. I already had a list of artists in mind, some of them are still represented by the gallery today, and some of them are not. Things evolved naturally and there is so much I have learnt and realized during these four years.

The name SUPRAINFINIT was taken from a concept of the energetic collective Apparatus 22 (Erika Olea, Maria Farcas, Dragos Olea), right? Since when you have been worked together?

Yes, SUPRAINFINIT heralds the name of a plural and utopian universe created by artist collective Apparatus 22. Not only had they created the name, but also a poem that depicts this universe which later on got transformed into a sound work. We have started working together since the creation of the gallery, 2015, and prior to that in other artistic contexts too. 

 

Apparatus 22. Courtesy Suprainfinit.

 

Next year you are going to celebrate 5 years. For a gallery path five years still represent a young reality, but you already have been developed many projects, in a city as Bucharest, where there is – I suppose – lot to do and experiment around Contemporary art. Do you consider your gallery project still young?

Five years may seem like a solid timeframe, and yet there is never enough time to experiment and test ideas out. Highly important to mention is that, considering the contemporary art context of Bucharest, the galleries, as well as the independent art spaces, do or need to do the work of public art institutions but with less infrastructures and resources, so it is challenging, exciting and difficult at once. 
As for our gallery, we try to support artists and productions as much as possible, young, mid-career but also more established artistic practices. We did exhibitions with seminal Romanian artists, such as Florin Mitroi or Andrei Chintila, as well as with younger generations of artists both Romanian and international. As we have recently expanded the gallery programme with two peculiar ‘non-places’ in the gallery space, we can totally consider that the gallery project is still young. We seek to maintain a fresh, relevant and curious curatorial engagement. 

How was, at the beginning, the response to Romanian artists in the International art fairs? From 2015 until today did you see some changes?

Yes, totally, I see an improvement every year. Although I was used to the good feedback for the Romanian artists due to the previous gallery I was working for, they had a strong Romanian programme despite their base in Los Angeles. So I roughly knew the vibe around the Romanian artists in the art fairs, but of course there were a lot more other artists to show and this is what I did. Every art fair is different and we try to anticipate the directions and show the artists we think they fit the best in that particular context. Yet, it is like a lottery and you can never anticipate what will happen. We had amazing fairs and fairs that didn’t go that well, however, all experiences were good for the gallery track, visibility and institutional contacts. But of course, after 3 years of art fairs, people have started to be more aware of our programme. We are in contact with international collectors and magazines, so on the long run I think it’s a good strategy to participate at fairs, yet not rely on that only. There is life after the fairs, a consolidated gallery programme is crucial and these two, in my view, are sometimes more important. 

 

Peles Empire, Cleopatra. Courtesy Suprainfinit.

 

I read that, among all the activity you are developing as SUPRAINFINIT, last summer in June you also started a new project in a new space “underneath the main gallery” one. You name it “Saltmine”. It represents an interesting choice of work and approach, why did you open this new experimental venue? And what about “Sequence”, your window project, visible 24/7?

Yes, we are very excited about having expanded the gallery programme with two more ‘non-places’ inside the gallery space: SALTMINE – a salt room with a Lynchian-look in the basement of the gallery and SEQUENCE – a vitrine project in both window sides of the gallery. As lack of space (alongside infrastructure) has been an issue in the Bucharest art scene, finding an artistic function to these two ‘non-places’ came not only as an interesting decision, but also as a valuable tool in producing more space for ideas to emerge and exhibitions/immaterial projects to take place. While SALTMINE is mostly dedicated to temporary exhibitions & performances, SEQUENCE functions on new artist commissions that fit the very narrow vitrine spaces. SALTMINE started off with an exhibition and performance that addressed the notion of inferno understood as anxiety in contemporaneity, consumerist society, self-destructive life and was in conjunction with the summer group show, Becoming my extinction, in the main gallery space that tackled ideas on nature and extinction. Then Cristina curated a series of video works and new projects are due in the next year. As SEQUENCE is visible 24/7 and faces the public space around the gallery, other interesting questions arise and we try to keep those in mind when creating a dialogue between the inside and outside. Through these two new projects we aim to support more the local artists and thus create experimental frameworks for them and the gallery itself. Also, challenging the exhibition and performance formats is very integrated in Cristina’s curatorial practice, and since she joined the gallery she has brought a lot of energy into making all of these happen. 

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

I would have 3 recommendations: 
The first one, and maybe one of the most important, is that when you find a collector, eventually a potential collector, make sure to build a strong relation with that person. They are often the people that will support you and your gallery in difficult times. The second one that I managed to develop over time is that the artists of the gallery become part of your extended family and thus need to be treated accordingly, as they treat you the same in return. The third one, do not invest more in a space than in your gallery programme or than in your artists. 

Cover image: Cristina Vasilescu and Suzana Vasilescu

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

 

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