A Russian businessman and contemporary art collector, Roman Trotsenko, and his wife Sophia have teamed up with Russia’s leading contemporary galleries to build a $4m arts centre in an abandoned wine factory behind the Kursky train station, in the centre of Moscow. The five galleries involved in the project read like a Who’s Who of the best in Moscow: Marat Guelman Gallery, Aidan Gallery, X-L Gallery, Marina Loshak Gallery and Regina Gallery.
Mr Trotsenko approached the gallery owners at the end of 2004 with the idea for the centre, but a contract with the galleries was only signed last month. “The development is neither a charity, nor a business venture; it is a non-profit art development project,” said Mr Trotsenko during a tour of the cavernous wine cellars that he says will display art by this autumn. “In order to flourish, contemporary art needs infrastructure and a concentration of talent in one location, and this is what I am facilitating,” he said.
“We’ve long wanted to do such a project where the leading galleries were located in one area, like Chelsea in New York,” said Aidan Salakhova, owner of Aidan Gallery, who added that Mr Trotsenko is one of her clients. “But all the industrial spaces in the city centre are being gobbled up by developers, and if it wasn’t for the assistance of Roman, then this wouldn’t be possible.’’
The centre, to be called “Winzavod’’ (wine factory), is expected to be fully open by the end of the year. Besides gallery space, it will also have three cinemas to show art films, one large exhibition hall for major events, and workshops that will be rented out to artists.
“Winzavod will be Moscow’s first contemporary art district,” says gallery owner Marat Guelman. “New galleries are opening all the time in Moscow.”
To help the investors make a profit, there will be shops and restaurants. Each gallery will rent around 300 sq. m at a large discount for five years, but they must cover the costs of repairing and outfitting gallery interiors.
“Construction is moving at full speed,” said Mr Guelman. “Winzavod will allow each of us to more than double our current gallery space.”
As high prices for commodities such as oil, gas and metals fuel a rapidly expanding Russian economy, more and more of the new rich want to buy art. Moscow galleries are reaping the rewards, with record prices constantly being set for works of contemporary art. Ms Salakhova said prices for top-end Russian works have reached $300,000. Several years ago, values would have been five times less.
Winzavod is located a few hundred metres from the Yakut Gallery, currently the largest gallery in Russia with about 1,000 sq. m of space in an abandoned 19th-century natural gas cistern.
In 1989, Alexander Yakut and Aidan Salakhova opened Russia’s first contemporary art gallery, but parted ways in 1992.
Originally published in The Art Newspaper as 'Dealers to open art centre in former wine factory'