Interview with Liubov Belousova, CEO and Founder of the BOCCARA ART Galleries
Liubov Belousova. Courtesy: Boccara Art Gallery
Today, you have five physical galleries: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Miami, Los Angeles, and Monterrey (Mexico). What was the path that led you to this worldwide presence?
I started working in the art business with my former husband in 2003. He was a French antique dealer, and we had galleries both in Paris and in Moscow. In 2007, I launched BOCCARA ART Gallery, which is devoted to MODERN & CONTEMPORARY ART.
In the following years, we had a lot of changes. I moved all of my business to the United States, and the spirit of adventure brought BOCCARA ART to Mexico.
What was the chronological order of the openings of your galleries?
The current Manhattan Gallery was opened in early 2016. The Brooklyn Gallery was opened with Matthew J. Barash in 2018. In the same year, we debuted in Monterrey. The gallery there is managed together with Cesar Sanchez. Our space in Miami launched in 2019.The Los Angeles Gallery was created with Hyun Ae Kang in 2020.
How do you manage five galleries that are open all year round?
We've always invested significantly in engaging the local art scenes where we had a presence. For this reason, every gallery was encouraged to source artists locally and share their work with the other branches. Each gallery is free to operate and make program proposal. However, the decision-making for programs at each gallery is centralized. Artist approval, work selection, choice of Art Fairs, themes, and dates of exhibitions in the galleries - come from the main Manhattan office.
Cesar Sanchez and Matthew J. Barash Courtesy: Boccara Art Gallery
Why the choice of this multi-seat presence?
In addition to the extensive and varied curated program of exhibitions within our galleries and exhibition spaces, we participate in around 12-15 major international Art Fairs each year, including in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Palm Beach, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. It is mostly the fair market that helps us understand the need for a presence throughout the year in the cities where we have chosen to focus.
Do you plan to open other exhibition spaces soon?
I do. We are ready to open in Chicago, but COVID-19 has postponed this operation until next year.
Now that the galleries are closed, what projects are you working on?
We are currently working a lot with institutions, museums, and foundations. Besides, we are strengthening our online presence daily. We are present in nine online marketplaces. Furthermore, we launched an online shop on our site. We are investing heavily in digital technology. We can now offer video tours to our galleries. From their living room at home, our customers can take advantage of a guided tour in any of our galleries, and these services will help us in our work even after the crisis.
During these quarantine months, how is the art market evolving?
The market had an increase in online inquiries, but it was accompanied by strong requests for discounts. It's a very specific time;? during which great deals can be made.
In addition to an art dealer, you are an established collector. Are you also buying art? This is a very good time to buy. I have made some important acquisitions.
Speaking of the collector story, when did you buy your first work of art?
I started collecting in 2005. That was a magical year during which I began to buy art and immerse myself in the world of contemporary art.
What are the names of artists in your collection?
I have works by Wang Keping, Jim Dine, Jules Olitski, Victor Vasarely, Salvador Dali, Alexander Calder, Chu Teh-Chun, Emile Gilioli, Antonio Segui, and others.
Art Miami Willem de Kooning, and Victor Vasarely sculpture. Courtesy Boccara Art Gallery
And among contemporary artists?
Our galleries highlight an important collection of historically influential artists, while simultaneously dedicating its spaces to emerging artists as well. I have played an important role in the careers of Hyun Ae Kang (next year we will do her retrospective in the Muzeo Museum in Anaheim, California), Kim Seungwoo, Kim Jeong Yeon, Evfrosina, and others.
Of the artists you represent exclusively, which ones are you showing off in the coming months?
We still have the exhibitions that we opened earlier this year, and we are enjoying the ability to guide online video tours in our galleries to present artists and show exhibitions. In our Manhattan space, we are currently presenting works by Yu LanYing, a famous Chinese ink painter. The exhibition was launched in early March as part of Asia Week, New York, and will be on view until September 2020.
The Brooklyn gallery showcases works by Kim Jeong Yeon – a famous Korean artist, who, unfortunately, couldn't come to the opening because of Corona virus and the flights and borders restrictions caused by the pandemic. The Mexico gallery continues to showcase work by Hyun Ae Kang. The exhibition was launched in January 2020 as part of Las Artes Monterrey Art Festival and Pre Maco Monterrey. In the Miami gallery, we are presenting selection of important works by Jules Olitski, Jim Dine, Antonio Segui, Wang Keping, and others.
Antonio Segui, Wang Keping, Raul Vernerin and Hyun Ae Kang. Courtesy: Boccara Art Gallery
Your gallery has very strong exhibition activity. Which is your favorite art fair among those you participate in?
Certainly Miami Art Week. We are always happy to participate in Art Miami.
And what is the fastest-growing art week?
I would say: Los Angeles. We love to participate in the LA ART SHOW and plan to participate at FRIEZE LA. We have very good clients in LA and are growing our presence. That was the reason to launch a Gallery in LA earlier this year.
And about the Asian Art Fair Market, any advice?
The KIAF Seoul and FineArtAsia Hong Kong are our favorite fairs in Asia.
Simone Peulpin, Jules Olitski and Wang Keping. Courtesy: Boccara Art Gallery
ZonaMaco 2020. Courtesy Boccara Art Gallery