Elvira Lupșa: “All art pieces are not just abstract ideas, but also physical objects we integrate within a space. They are more versatile than we even imagine. We considered that it would be honest of us to have this type of search because people look for pieces also using these themes. We don’t represent artists, but works of art.”
After fifteen years of being away – 12 in France and 3 in New York – how did you decide to come back to Romania and start in 2015 an online art platform the selling works of emerging contemporary artists?
I was extremely curious to understand the circumstances I had been born under, but I hadn’t lived in but a short period of time. At the same time, I wanted to work with Romanian contemporary artists. I accepted the challenge to work with beginners, emerging artists. The dynamic of trust is perhaps the most important, because I believe we have a double advantage: for the artistic community, but also for the people interested in art.
Founding Unicat did not imply a high financial risk on my part, but it meant I had to accept that my income would be rather small. But, I felt I had to do this for the art community, mainly for the artists.
Unicat works as an online shop that sells contemporary art? Buyers do not wish to see their desired work of art first?
Unicat gathers together works of art I like and I believe I can sell. It survives from that small percentage of the sale. The sale percentage also varies and depends on the context and on my wish to sell a certain work. Many a time, I give up the Unicat percentage just to enable the sale. This happens if I believe very strongly in a certain artist and I try to promote him or her. To me, the greatest challenge is to settle a price for the works of art, because artists, the ones who never sold a piece and don’t have an exhibit portfolio, want to sell their first works for 2-3.000 euro. This is not really possible. An artist’s rate grows step by step. Most of the time, the enthusiasts want to see the art works.
Do you believe that in the future the art sales will be completed only online?
Not at all. Art must continue to be seen live for the different impact it has on the viewer in reality, not in a virtual space. The art platforms facilitate only the first virtual approach. People feel pretty scared of entering an art gallery and ask how much a piece costs, so they prefer to look online, where they can find more pieces and where all prices are in sight.
On the Unicat website you can also run a search after themes: blue, flowers&fauna, love etc. Is it easier for buyers to find what they are looking for using that selection?
Art has a spiritual meaning and it also pleases the soul and has decorative function. All art pieces are not just abstract ideas, but also physical objects we integrate within a space. They are more versatile than we even imagine. We considered that it would be honest of us to have this type of search because people look for pieces also using these themes. We don’t represent artists, but works of art.
Is contemporary art something incomprehensible, reserved to a limited elite?
Unfortunately, especially in Romania, art has remained for the vast majority an untouchable concept; something abstract that can be touched only on an elite level. People avoid to talk about art. They feel they can make mistakes and that the art speech must be left to experts, critics and art historians. This triggers fear when it comes to art objects, but also to exhibits and museums. In fact, art is not reserved only to elites and authorities. It is, by itself, not closed. It is created by artists in order to circulate and be savored by people. My vision regarding Unicat is to make art accessible and to bring it closer to people that don’t belong to the artistic niche.
What would you recommend to a young corporate couple wishing to make their first art purchase on the Unicat website?
Considering that their purchase is not an investment, nor is it made with the clear intention of reselling the art piece in ten years from now, but it is an emotional decision, because they want to embellish their house, they can buy three splendid pieces with 3.000 euro. First, they have to be patient, because counselling can take even one month. We can go together to visit art studios and portfolios. However, you can find pieces starting from 50 euro, for a small piece on paper. And you can also find an acrylic on canvas, for 3.500 euro.