From the collector
The story of this catalogue began at a Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul on September 12th, 2021. A woman asked me, in English, if the seat next to me was free. Go ahead and speak Russian, I answered. We got talking. Her name was Tanya Vasilenko, and she turned out to be an artist from Kyiv who was flying to an exhibition of hers in New York. Myself, I was en route to Niamey, Niger. It became clear that we both loved art – Tanya as an artist, and I as a collector. She was impressed by the photos of my paintings on Facebook and the stories behind them. You’ve got to make an exhibition, she said; people have to see this art and read about it. It’ll be interesting.
This is not a typical electronic art gallery; it’s a launch pad of sorts for a planned future exhibition of paintings and stories from the traveller who bought them. Like any tourist, I’ve had the urge to buy souvenirs, which are an established and lucrative business in most countries. Initially they were plates on my wall. I quickly ran out of space and I turned my focus to smaller plates. But this, naturally, did not fix the situation. I can pinpoint two reasons for my chaotic acquisition of folk art – either that I really liked the art, or as an act of support for the local people, for whom the sale of crafts and paintings is often their only source of income.
It was 2014 in Central America that I met Angelina Quic, a Guatemalan artist who makes bird’s eye view paintings. One work of hers caught my eye, and I bought it. It was then taken down from its frame, rolled up and packed away – I thus learned that paintings were fairly easy to transport.