Home Magazine MeetMe#30 | VOLTA 2020

We had a conversation with director Kamiar Maleki, who is now in charge of VOLTA and PULSE art fairs. Kooness wants to underline how important is for the art market to be driven by a patron of the art system and a collector. Maleki represents, in fact, different sides and approaches towards the contemporary art system: he could be on the side of the galleries and on the one of artists. In this short interview, the director explains us about the importance of the historical VOLTA fair, and about its developments during these years and how “Running an art fair right now is more than just about the showcase: it’s about cultural tourism”.

Voice to Kamiar Maleki and his “cultural tourism”: a patron of the art system now in charge of VOLTA and PULSE.


Yaw Owusu Cover everything else, except US 2019, Steel plate, aluminium foil, gold leaf, American pennies, 48 in. diameter. Presented by Gallery 1957, Accra


Dear Kamiar, you are worldwide known as a collector and patron and, also thanks to your experience with Contemporary Istanbul in 2016/2018, a right director for an art fair. Last November you were in fact called for the role of director for both VOLTA and PULSE art fairs. What are the challenges for this new turn of events?

Thank you very much for your kind words. Indeed this is an exciting new challenge for me and Ramsay Fairs who have acquired the fair in October. For us, we always wanted to be a boutique art fair in the heart of NYC. VOLTA has a rich history of attracting some of the best young galleries and showcasing mid-career artists that have great talent but might not have the opportunity to show at the bigger fairs. Over the last few years this might have dwindled down but we are extremely ambitious to position ourselves as one of the best satellite fairs around. With over 360 art fairs in the world, our challenge remains the same, to create an amazing showcase so that galleries and artists can sell art at the highest possible opportunity. Through careful curation and with a slick selection committee which we are still developing this will be made easier.


Hiva Alizadeh Untitled No. 14 - Noma d Chants 2019, Synthetic hair on canvas, 125 x 93 x 3 cm. Presented by The Flat Massimo Carasi, Milan.


Do you think the art system needs more art fairs to spread the work of artists and galleries?

As long as the fair does what it sets out to do, I don’t see why there should be a sudden cull of art fairs. Running an art fair right now is more than just about the showcase. It is about cultural tourism. People have less and less time to visit galleries in their own hometowns but prefer to visit an art fair in a city they love, or in their own city where they can see all the galleries in one space. Again: as long as the quality is upheld there will be more art fairs popping up. We believe that in our vision. 


Emma Bennett Sorrow sits here 2019, Oil on oak panel, 25 x 20 cm. Presented by Charlie Smith London, London.


Regarding both VOLTA and PULSE, you said that the focus will be on “emerging art and artists”. Do you think it is important to invest in this specific area?

We want to showcase amazing art, while my expertise might be in emerging talent, I also want to focus on undervalued mid-career artists or galleries that have a great program, but don’t make it to the great fairs hopefully establishing them for them to be able to apply to bigger art fairs in the future?
Which suggestion would you give to collectors, galleries and art lovers who just started to visit art fairs?

Go into an art fair with open eyes. Try to be symmetrical with the floor plan, that way you won't miss out on some amazing galleries. Always buy what you love. Don’t be afraid to ask galleries questions as that’s what they are there for and if you have any further questions go back home, study the artist and keep in touch. If those artists work is not available try to find out what other galleries he or she works with.

Cover image: VOLTA director Kamiar Maleki. 

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