And the avant-garde? Can it become as much a part of the world art market as, for example, the masters of the past?
It has already become that. It hasn’t fallen in price, and in terms of interest, the avant-garde is at its very peak. I think Russian expressionism also has the potential for significant growth. In 2015, there was an exhibition at the Neue Galerie in New York, which I provided half of the works for, with Ronald S. Lauder providing the other half. We brought Russian and German expressionism together: Larionov, Goncharova, Lentulov, Kuprin and Kirchner, artists from the two groups, the Brücke (Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). It was clear that these were artists of the same level, but Kirchner is significantly more expensive. That’s how it is for now. Now there will be large Goncharova exhibitions at the Tate and then in Russia.
Goncharova is actually the most expensive female artist. She’s even more expensive than Frida Kahlo. I agreed to support the exhibition at the Tate, which is very natural for me as a Goncharova collector, and I think prices are going to rise even more. The same applies to Larionov. Russian expressionism has great potential for growth. There are individual artists who can still grow in value on the world art scene.
Could your collection become an institution?
I'm thinking about it. There is a model — the aforementioned Neue Galerie by Ronald S. Lauder. Perhaps I’ll create two museums: one in Moscow, the other in London. My collection will be located on the ground floor, and exhibitions will be held on the first floor. There will be two museums of Russian art, which will work in parallel and exchange works and exhibitions — this is what I’ll probably start working on in the near future. But now there’s so much hassle with the import and export of artworks… It's hard both here and in England.
What do you think, who’s making the moves right now when it comes to promoting Russian art?
Enthusiastic gallerists such as Elena Selina and Vladimir Ovcharenko are doing a lot in terms of promotion. It seems to me that now the problem lies with the artists themselves, and not with anything else. It’s about their desire to study, work, go away for a while and actively mingle with the art world, to get into the Royal Academy, where Russians do not come to study. One example is Eddie Peake, who graduated from the Royal Academy seven years ago.
I bought two of his works for £20,000. Now there’s going to be a huge exhibition of his art at White Cube, after which his works will cost not £20,000, but £100,000, and then £300,000, and so on. And everyone says he's going to be like Andy Warhol. But our students aren’t there. Everyone’s sitting here, painting, living in their own world. But writing your own biography is a real struggle. It seems to me that the problem is different than what Dubosarsky identified as such — saying that collectors are to blame or someone else is to blame. Unfortunately, they themselves are to blame.
What about the cultural authority of our state?
We have outstanding museums now. The Tretyakov Gallery is becoming a distinguished museum before our eyes, again thanks to [its director] Zelfira Tregulova. Both Zelfira Tregulova and [Hermitage director] Mikhail Piotrovsky have a very high status. And the Pushkin Museum is at a very high level, too. In our country, the museum still has great power as a cultural institution.
What about the state itself, not the museums?
I believe that the freer a person is, the better. There are more and more draconian laws being passed that are restricting the import and export of artworks, which I am trying to fight. I bought a lot of paintings in the West and brought them here, and now they cannot be taken out. This is pure idiocy. I stand for free exchange, this way it would be easier to take artworks out of the country, bring them in and exhibit art. But in general, our state museums remain outposts of culture, and little has changed in this regard.