Art Safari Bucharest, the largest annual exhibition focusing on the development of contemporary art, has successfully ended its 4th edition about a month ago. We talked with CEO Ioana Ciocan about the 2017 edition, when the Romania Journal supported the event as media partner. This year edition had significantly more visitors than the previous ones, was hosted by a special, meaningful venue, and boasted the most numerous events for children. What’s in store for 2018?
Art Safari came to an end. I saw you had more visitors than last year. What was special about the 2017 edition? What has been the feedback so far?
We are so happy that Art Safari gets bigger and bigger every year. This edition we had 27.784 visitors, a 13% growth compared to last year’s edition.
The urban reintegration of abandoned buildings is an important aspect that defines our cultural event. In 2015 the Ciclop garage, 2016 Dacia-Romania Palace and now Kretzulescu Galleries hosted Art Safari’s 4th edition with 7000 m2 perfect for our art exhibitions. We’re glad that every year Art Safari is getting more popular among art lovers and collectors so we are already looking forward to have the 5th anniversary edition in 2018. This edition came with so many new entries like: two exhibition catalogues (Luchian and the Independents catalogue & Notes on a Landscape and Pavilion Galleries catalogue), the Paralel Program represented by the HD installation Allegoria Sacra – AES+F, art workshops for kids and teens, Art Safari SHOP, a Colouring Book for children, young ambassadors program #ArtSafari2017, and the guided tours for children held by the Lauder-Reut Educational Complex students. Art Galleries Pavilion, ”Luchian and the Independents” Exhibition and ”Notes on a Landscape” exhibition were the main pillars for this edition.
Bucharest Art Pavilion has hosted a large Stefan Luchian exhibition marking his centennial. Did it catch the public’s attention? Are Romanians still attached by the national values, great artists?
After years of dictatorship it is very important to show to the public the real value of Romanian art. An artist as Luchian had to be celebrated properly and Art Safari decided to organize in his honor the most important exhibition from the last 50 years.
So we dedicated the Museum Pavilion this year to ”Luchian and the Independents” Exhibition and included 130 artworks from over 20 museums, as well as the most important private collections. The second floor was full of history and masterpieces and the public reacted really well, having a great feedback from our visitors and also from media.
Reviewing visitors a little bit, what were their preferences depending on their age? What did youngsters mostly prefer, classic exhibits or contemporary art?
Art Safari is very complex and every art lover finds for sure something that they prefer or like. Youngsters usually went to see the Central Exhibition and Art Galleries Pavilion. Also Luchian and the Independents exhibition had a great success at Art Safari 2017.
What has been the most visited gallery/exhibition of Art Safari 2017?
While walking around and climbing stairs all day long we’ve seen visitors at every level. People were curious to see what has Art Safari to offer this year and they checked everything. And it’s a pity to stop after you saw Luchian for example. We encouraged them to check every corner of every exhibition because it was worth it. Guided tours helped so much in exploring the space and even though we had 7000 m2 we don’t think that was a single space unexplored. We had also guided tours dedicated to Kretzulescu Galleries that were the Security headquarters until 2012. The history of the building was presented shortly to the public and they were invited to explore almost every corner in the building.
The edition this year dedicated an ample space and events to children. In a world of growing addiction to hi-tech devices and games, are Romanian kids returning to traditional games, to traditional play based on the direct contact with the surrounding world?
We are proudly developing the educational program from year to year, especially the one dedicated to children. This year we expanded it into two different areas: one dedicated to children with workshops at the 3rd floor (3-12 years powered by Metropolitan Life) and another one dedicated to youngsters at the 4th floor (+12 years powered by Rembrandt Art School). 1483 kids enjoyed our workshops and learned more about art through our guided tours, held by the Lauder Reut Educational Complex students. We were very happy to have with us the Israeli artist and caricaturist Hanoch Piven, who organized 2 collage workshops for families at Art Safari 2017.
Have you also had foreign visitors? Expats or foreigners visiting Romania at the time of the exhibition? How known is Art Safari among this public? Could it become a landmark event every year to boost the cultural tourism in Bucharest? What are your plans in this regard? I know you have a very prolific partnership and support from the foreign embassies to Romania…
Every year we are happily welcoming international visitors at Art Safari. We received the visit of Tate Modern, Beelden aan Zee Museum, specialists from art museums including Strasbourg, Stockholm, Warsaw, Vienna, Haifa, Paris, Johannesburg, The Hague etc. This year we invited artists and galleries from Russia, Austria, Sweden, Israel, Germany, Netherlands with the support of foreign embassies and cultural centers. Foreigners who visited Bucharest that time had the chance to see artworks from Romania and abroad too. It is our wish to have an international presence at Art Safari every year and we hope to influence the cultural tourism in Bucharest too.
This year, Art Safari was hosted at Kretzulescu Galleries in Bucharest. Every year you have a different hosting venue, in an attempt to bring forgotten places into the light. Tell us a little bit about Kretzulescu Galleries, its horrible history as Securitate HQ and its current situation nowadays. Did you goal regarding the building was somehow achieved by the 2017 edition?
Indeed, every edition comes with a new abandoned building. Our aim is to reintroduce the buildings into the urban circuit of Bucharest. In 2017 Kretzulescu Galleries (designed by G. M. Cantacuzino and Duiliu Marcu) were our host, built and furnished between 1940-1946 and among other activities, the building was supposed to become a center for atomic physics research. The coming of the communist regime sabotaged these plans, and in 1948, the day after King Mihai’s abdication, the Interior Ministry evicted those living in the building, which were the Kretzulescu family and the families of priests serving the church at that time. Shortly, a Security Unit had moved in the building, and later the Romanian Intelligence Service. The Security and the Romanian Intelligence Service have exploited the property until 2012, leaving it in a deplorable condition. And now, in 2017, we organized the 4th edition of Art Safari here, in the heart of Bucharest.
What about plans and intentions for next year? Could you disclose us what is the planned venue for 2018 and other details in terms of theme, exhibitions, guests, etc.?
Next year will be a celebrating year for us for many reasons. In 2018 we’ll focus on the Great Union Centenary and the 5th anniversary edition of Art Safari. At the same time our aim is to extend even more the educational program for children and the parallel program with an important international presence.