In London’s most prestigious Christie’s auction house exhibition hall an exhibition “Treasures of Kazakhstan” took place. It lasted from first to eights of September 2010. 50 paintings of Russian and Kazakh artists from the Kasteev Museum and 25 paintings from the private collection of businessman Nurlan Smagulov were presented. For only the first two days of the exhibition pictures were seen by more than a thousand people.
An interesting fact is that Christie’s opens the exhibition season in September. To see the beginning of the season aesthetes of art are going to London from around the world. After all, at Christie’s unthinkable deal are committed: buying and selling of the works of art for the fabulous price.
Annual turnover of the auction house is almost 2.5 billion pounds! And the first thing which true connoisseurs of art saw in the most prestigious European art site was “Treasures of Kazakhstan.” Among them – paintings by Pavel Filonov, Olga Rozanova, Petr Konchalovsky, Zinaida Serebryakova, Salihitdina Aytabaeva, Sergey Kalmykov, Janat Shardenov, Kenzhebaya Duysenbaeva etc.
This event couldn’t be ignored by representatives of mass media. Our journalists have been able to visit the exposition thanks to the national airline AirAstana. It’s management is always happy to assist in press tours organizing. By the way, national airline makes two direct flights a week in London. Seven hours of flight – and you are on the banks of the Thames.
There were a lot of journalists at the exhibition opening, so there were a lot of different questions for organizers. For example, “How did such idea come up?” This question was answered by the head of the Christie’s International Department of Russian Art Alexei Tiesenhausen:
- I often visit Kazakhstan because my wife is Kazakh. One day I visited Kasteev Museum. I was so impressed with the power and brilliance of the paintings, so the idea to show them in London came up and never left my head. I knew how difficult it is to work with state agencies (especially the former Soviet Union state agencies), but I contacted museum management and told them my proposal. This proposal was treated with the understanding, also wide support was provided. Negotiations to find sponsors and organizational issues have taken quite a long time, but the results exceeded all expectations. Kazakh masterpieces created a splash among the London public!
Pictures are priceless, but everything in this world has a price. How much money is spent on insurance? How much money is spent on the organization of the event? What is a price for a ticket to the exhibition? Could paintings be sold at the auction? The financial part of exhibition organization was very interesting for the media. The organizers honestly answered the questions, but held some information. Yes, all the works were insured. Insurance amount was about 1 million euro. The most valuable painting was insured for 100 thousand dollars. Entry is free, tickets to Christie’s have never existed.
Malik Ishmuratov, prominent businessman and philanthropist, who became one of the main sponsors of the exhibition, commented the situation:
- Why amount of sponsors’ spending is so important? Anyone who truly knows how to make money, never shun charity. In our case, there was no hesitation to support this event.
Malik Ishmuratov told story from his childhood.
“When I was a boy, I was attending the art studio. I was learning to draw. The best examples of rat were the works of our artists. When idea to bring to London came up, I immediately wanted to participate in project sponsorship. Cultural exchange is positive feature of the modern world.”
Malik Ishmuratov said that art is a source of inspiration and intellectual stimulation which brings nations together. It also serves as the foundation of cultural identity of the nation. “Treasures of Kazakhstan” is an invaluable contribution to the rapprochement between East and West.
All the paintings at this exhibition will be returned to their homeland – said one of the sponsors of the exhibition, the president of «Astana Group» Nurlan Smagulov. – Paintings will not be used for commercial purpose. The bottom line is that this exhibition allows Kazakhstan to present itself to Europe not only as a country known for Borat, natural resources and corruption scandals, but also as a place with rich cultural and historical heritage, spirituality and glorious traditions.
The opening was attended by Director of the Kasteev State Museum Bakhyt Seraliev, who has done a lot of effort for this project:
- I am filled with pride because the works of our artists caused so great interest from European experts. We’ve made exhibition in Europe for the first time since the creation of our museum. It is a pleasure that this exhibition was done in the year of 75-years anniversary of the museum. Also it pleased me because I recently celebrated my birthday, so this event is the best birthday present. And Christie’s has made a gift to our museum. Paintings were brought to England in frames, completely unsuitable for exposure. There were nodiverse dilapidated baguettes. So the auction house framed all the pictures properly. So they go back home in new clothes.
In his speech at the closing of the exhibition chairman of Christie’s auction house in Britain, David Linley expressed gratitude to the Directorate of the Kasteev State Museum and to the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UK, sponsors and guests:
- We hope that the “Treasures of Kazakhstan” were highly appreciated by our guests. Great symbiosis of East and West represented in these unique paintings cannot leave anyone indifferent. Moreover, by demonstrating their fine sensibility, combined with vivid originality and great artistic skill, the representatives of Kazakh art made the first step for the development of Western Europe art market. Time will tell was this step timid or solid.