Natalia LL, Post-Consumer Art, courtesy: AnsAzura
Interview

Ans Azura: A connecting ground for Western, Eastern and Middle Eastern markets In conversation with Suzana Vasilescu and Andreea Stanculeanu

ANS AZURA is an online platform that highlights internationally-renowned, as well as lesser-seen, post-war and contemporary artworks from Central Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Ans Azura – founded by Suzana Vasilescu and Andreea Stanculeanu – was born out of a necessity to cast a stronger light on the importance of the artists from these regions.  It aims to gather better visibility and understanding of artists who have been overlooked by the Western market by enabling a transparent online platform that is easy to navigate. 

Łódź Kaliska, ‘Wachlarz’ (‘Fan’) (2004), courtesy: AnsAzura
Łódź Kaliska, Fan, (2004), courtesy: AnsAzura

As international interest in artists from these regions grows, we imagine Ans Azura to become a connecting ground for Western, Eastern, and Middle Eastern markets through the unveiling of a rich portfolio, inviting new audiences to participate whilst making it easily accessible throughout the world. We strive to build trustworthy online auctions, as well as bespoke private sales to enrich and offer a seamless service for buying and selling art.” – says Andreea Stanculeanu the founder of Ans Azura. 

Sylwia Krason: How would you characterise the post-war art from Central Eastern Europe? What makes it different from Western European art?  

Andreea Stanculeanu: The socio-political geographies of Central and Eastern Europe have witnessed turbulent historical periods. Namely, during this time unique artistic practices and remarkable works of art have been at the forefront of various individuals, groups, movements, phenomena and events that have shaped the history of art in the region since the 1950s. Even though a large part of these art practices emerged from a need for change, rebellion and escape, it is important to stress that these art practices have also achieved a highly visible status outside the CEE region over the last twenty years. This is reflected in their positions in national and global art history, whether in terms of their inclusion in public and private collections, their presence in the most important exhibitions of contemporary art, or their inclusion in current theoretical discourses in the field of contemporary art. Yet, this took place mainly in the context of institutions and academies. Artists, curators and theoreticians worked for the institutional valorisation of the work, which was certainly the most needed at a given time. 

The fall of political regimes led to the construction of new artistic infrastructures, the financing of regional collections, and the increased blurring of boundaries between East and West, consequently opening up to new markets. Nevertheless, the map of Central and Eastern Europe has always contained a specific, niche level of visibility and relevance in the context of the art market. 

If Western countries have been leading the contemporary art market for decades, the former Eastern Bloc has witnessed a fragmented and precarious economic ground, which disabled any market highlight or sustained interest in and for the region. Yet, the quality of the artworks and exciting potential to emphasise and uncover artists from CEE is enormous, and this is precisely what Ans Azura’s main focus is.

SK: If someone wants to start a collection that focuses on art from this region, what would be your 3 pieces of advice to do it smart? 

Suzana Vasilescu: First, I would say that they need to understand the eastern context. Second, I would advise to visit the countries and  reach the local art scene, as sometimes this is the most important when you are planning to build a collection  that focuses on a region. You need to be in direct contact with the people involved. And of course, always working with an advisor can save you time and money, this kind of person can provide you, apart from good local market intel, with access to works and artists, estates, and galleries. 

Nevertheless, follow the local or regional players – museums, galleries, online and offline auction houses and find references. Build trust and act on that trust.

Find favourite artists and follow them and their fellow artists, their generation(s). 

Edward Dwurnik, ‘Dlaczego zginął Sikorski’ (‘Why did Sikorski die’) (1983), courtesy: AnsAzura

SK: The upcoming auction “Polish Artists in the spotlight – Post-war generation in Central and Eastern Europe” focuses on Polish post-war art. Dobkowski, Dwurnik, Nowosielski, Kobro, Lodz Kaliska… I have mentioned only a few names of some of the most iconic artists in Poland. What is the process of finding such gems to put them under the hammer? 

AS: ‘At Ans Azura we are fortunate enough to have a team of art experts with over sixty years experience. Over the years, we have built an incredible international client base built on trust and market knowledge. This gives us first hand access to find such  remarkable gems Weronika Burgess – Polish Art Specialist for Ans Azura. 

SK: The team of Ans Azura have not only international experience but also broad expertise in the art market from Central Eastern Europe and the Middle East. So, tell us who is behind Ans Azura? 

SV: Ans Azura started with a small team, led by Andreea Stanculeanu and Suzana Vasilescu, who are also the founders of the platform.   But Ans Azura is far more than 2 persons. We are an experienced team of international gallerists, art historians, art advisors, and regional art experts. All of us are passionate about increasing transparency and access in the art world. 

Natalia LL, Post-Consumer Art, courtesy: AnsAzura
Natalia LL, Post-Consumer Art, courtesy: AnsAzura
Natalia LL, Post-Consumer Art, courtesy: AnsAzura
Natalia LL, Post-Consumer Art, courtesy: AnsAzura

SK: Suppose I want to buy a work of art via Ans Azura. What should I do?

AS: We designed a platform that is very friendly to any user. We invite you to enter our platform https://ansazura.com/ and create an account by accessing the SignUp page or by clicking here: https://ansazura.com/en/customer/account/create/

We have simplified as much as we could the account creation, following the European AML rules but keeping most of the KYC process for a later stage, at the point when our Buyer is the successful bidder.

Once the bidding starts online, on May 19th, you can bid directly on your favourite artwork(s) or you can place an Advanced Bid which will be automatically executed by the platform, according to the set-out increments progress and only if there is a higher bidder.

On May 26th, at 6 pm CET, the Auction Room will open on the platform and the bidding will continue with a live-streamed auction having Tom Best as our auctioneer and host. You will be able to access the Auction Room simply by clicking on the window marked with “Enter Auction Room”. There, you will be able to bid directly – in real-time, via phone – if you appoint Ans Azura to bid on your behalf in the Auction Room by sending an e-mail to ansazura@ansazura.com or via an Absentee Bid – by filling in and signing the “Absentee Bid Form” available on your account and sending it to ansazura@ansazura.com

For any step, we are happy to assist so just get in touch with us.

Winiarski, Natalia LL, courtesy: AnsAzura
Ryszard Winiarski, Spatial object, courtesy: AnsAzura

SK: I have heard a lot about some of your auctioneers’ excellent performances who make the evening of selling an unforgettable experience. Tell me more about these emotions? 

SV: The emotions are always behind the screen, as we are doing live-streamed auctions, which means we don’t have our public in one room. But the emotions for the team are the same, because all our auctions come with something special and we always want to meet as much as possible the needs of our clients. Especially if we have clients bidding over the phone, and we know they want a work very much, then we fight together for the work. And of course, we have Tom Best, our auctioneer, with a huge experience in auctions. He was the youngest auctioneer at Christie’s in an evening sale. Tom is incredibly talented and he has this special ability to feel exactly the rhythm of the auction – he seems to know exactly when to move forward with a lot, or when to wait a bit longer. It makes all the difference in the world.  

SK: We live in times where art buying is not just an investment but more and more a lifestyle. What are your observations on the new wave of young art collectors? 

AS: The young art collectors are the very proof that art buying is a lifestyle, just as you mentioned. Their need to integrate art in their lives, their dynamic in their relationship with art, their curiosity and desire to educate themselves and to collect art and expertise equally, is one of the main reasons we started this platform. They motivated us to give it this particular shape and structure, to work together with a strong team of experts and art advisers  to curate it and to give it substance.

Katarzyna Kobro, Standing Woman Nude, courtesy: AnsAzura
Katarzyna Kobro, Standing Woman Nude, courtesy: AnsAzura
Kobro, courtesy: AnsAzura
Katarzyna Kobro, Standing Woman Nude, courtesy: AnsAzura

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About The Author

Sylwia
Krasoń

Founder of Contemporary Lynx (2013). Editor-in-chief of the Contemporary Lynx in print and online. The art historian with a Master of Arts degree in Arts Policy & Management (the University of London, Birkbeck College) and Master of Arts in History of Art (Jagiellonian University in Cracow).

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