The opening ceremony of the second annual Armenia Art Fair took place in Yerevan Expo Center on May 31. 35 galleries and curators exhibited contemporary artists from Armenia, Iran, Belarus, Ukraine, Israel, USA, Spain and UK during the four days of the fair. From May 25 to June 2 Art Week was first introduced, a new format which stands for series of discussions on the topics of new art markets, the connection between art and new technologies, art and data.


Text: Margarit Mirzoyan


Regional Post talked to one of the most prominent guests of the fair, Dr Iain Robertson, the Head of Art Business Studies at Sotheby's Institute of Art. Mr. Robertson is an academic and a writer, with an impressive track-record of practical expertise and publications on art management, art market and on many other relevant topics.

Mr. Robertson is sure that there’s a misunderstanding of art, when people claim that it has nothing to do with business and many centuries of history quite vividly illustrate that correlation of art and money. There are examples of art being made for churches and other philanthropic purposes, but usually, art needs to have a “patron” or some commercial aspect to it.” Notion of art as a pure discipline it is an illusion. Art is a commodity of trade,” says Mr. Robertson.

In his opinion, this misunderstanding has its roots in the modern interpretation of what art is . In previous centuries, for an art to be considered an art, it should have to conform to certain criteria, however, since modernism these criterias have become quite wage. Previously, the artist was considered to be an artist if besides the talent, he/she was trained in a specific place, an academy or a school. Today, the image of an artist is simplified and it has become hard to define what is art in general, which makes people think that everything can be considered as an art. However, the role of fairs remained important up to present days. “ I think art fairs are unique ecosystems because without them there’s no viable market and the dealers are not strong enough individually and unable to promote them without a platform, without a larger entity. It’s very time consuming to go to every art dealer, so there should be a critical mass.”

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Armenia Art Fair 2019


When speaking of the particular case of Armenia market, Mr. Robertson highlighted that in has a huge potential, because the country and its culture are linked to Europe, Asia, Russia and when it all comes together a small corner of the world emerges, which is extremely attractive to everyone. Previously, he knew about various Armenian artists such as Gorki and Aivazovsky but he never thought that they were Armenians and all these names now make sense to him. “I read the catalogue about Medieval art in Metropolitan Museum in New York and suddenly realized that Armenia had its “cultural hand” on almost every aspect of modern and medieval art,” implied Mr. Robertson.

As a final remark. Mr. Robertson highlighted that if Armenia manages to create modern movement, for which it has a basis and If there’s a strategy in addition to it, Armenia can make it to the global art map. “This is the just the beginning for Armenia, If the next fair, the third one will succeed then you’ve done it. You’ve crossed the bridge. Then you develop a regional reputation and a national one.”