Andakulova gallery is a contemporary art from Central Asia with its current focus on Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.The gallery’s ethos is to promote innovative artists and to make art accessible to growing audiences in UAE. Founded in 2012 by an art dealer from Samarkand Natalya Andakulova, gallery’s goal is to cultivate the dialogue between the Central Asia and the Middle East by positioning art of Central Asia into artistic hub of UAE. Today this gallery is known for its well curated exhibitions program and diverse educational program that includes regular drawing workshops lead by local and guest artists as well as presentations on art as an investment and lectures on Islamic art. We have spoken with  Natalya Andakulova founder and owner of Andakulova Gallery

Is opening a gallery a dream of a lifetime or a good combination of circumstances?

I was born in the beautiful city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which is one of the oldest cities in the world,  founded in the VIII century BC. In ancient history, Art originated many centuries ago.Traditionally, discipline of art history emphasized painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, and decorative arts. For example, to garnish buildings dated to the VI-VII centuries, the walls were decorated with aesthetic paintings and reliefs and sculptures were used to furnish them. Samarkand was a key hub for the Great Silk Road. I remember when my grandmother took me to the market and presented to me a whole ensemble of architectural monuments: Bibi Khanum, Registan – blue domes, mosaics, caravanserais all remained in my memory. All this instilled in me is a craving for beauty and art. 

Vyacheslav Useinov. Caesurae of light during Fajr Salaat 127x250cm chi technique in silk and mixed media 2009

Andakulova Gallery opened its doors for the public in 2012. This was preceded by attentive work on the study of Central Asian art, meetings with artists, art critics and a great desire to present and show Central Asian art in the Middle East.

What would you recommend to aspiring professionals in the art market?

I would advise them to consider art as a lifestyle, live with it and love their job. If there is desire and passion, then everything will turn out properly. Art is very interesting and you can study it your whole life.

Working in a creative environment and with artists, was there a desire to start creating by myself?

I learned to draw for 3 years with the wonderful artist Mirzaahmedov Hakim, also at the Repin St. Petersburg Institute of Art, Sculpture and Architecture, where I studied Art History .  We were taught to draw and paint. Sometimes I draw and consider it my hobby.

Said Atabekov. A Steppe wolf, 105×70 C-print 2016

Is special education important? Please share your experience of “trial and error”, in what parameters to choose education and what is it not capable of giving, in order to become successful in the art market?

My first education was in physics and mathematics, and of course when I decided to do art it was difficult for me. So I decided to get knowledge in London, Christies Education. It was very useful but something was missing. My mentor Nigora Akhmedova advised me to get academic knowledge in St. Petersburg. Getting the proper education of course helped me a lot.  Now I am very pleased to have the credentials and degrees to give lectures on the History of Art, which I am happily doing. Therefore, I strongly believe education is important professionally, self-enrichment, and the opening of new horizons.

The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine have shown that art is looking for alternative sites. How do you see the development of art business, galleries – in particular, in the new world?

Everything adapts to current situations and so does art and the art market.  More paintings were bought online. Museums make virtual exhibitions that can be viewed from any device. Online lectures are very popular. There are a lot of platforms that provide a large selection of pictures. People are so intuitive that they will always find a way out and now we are observing that many people can draw information from the Internet at home: Harvard, MoMa provide free courses in various topics.

Bakhodir Jalal. Fashionista, 180x170cm acrylic on canvas 2018

Is a gallery still a hobby or a business? How to turn your art space into a working business model?

I don’t consider running a gallery as a hobby. I incorporate my time and energy to build up a successful business model.  A gallery can have many directions, being a business model, but the main objective of the gallery is to popularize artists, conduct exhibitions, work with the press, publish catalogs, books and educate the public about art.I truly thrive in connection with people and offer a meaningful piece to them, that they will cherish forever.

What other projects can be beneficial for business to art galleries, in addition to events, exhibitions and the organization of sales of paintings?

Conducting educational lectures; Work with construction companies on interior design; Rental of premises; Curation of exhibitions.

Andakulova Gallery specializes in the works of Central Asian artists. Why? How clear is this art in the Emirates?

The art of Central Asia has deep roots and has developed historically so much that it is a mixture of two cultures of the East and the West. Central Asian art is inspired by the greatest stories of the silk road. Apparently UAE  has vibrant culture and a home to many nationalities, showcasing internationally diversed fairs in the world.  The objective of the Andakulova gallery is to promote Central Asian artists in the UAE.

Almagul Menlibayeva. Red Butterfly, 71x101cm C-print 2012

History, culture and an excellent school have created generations of great artists in Central Asia, many of them are represented by Andakulova Gallery. The exhibitions that we hold represent various areas of creativity: these are photography, painting, sculpture and video art installations. I would like to separately mention artists from Uzbekistan such as Bakhodir Jalal, Timur D’vatz Zhavlon Umarbekov, Yura Useinov, Babur Ismailov,.Great modern artists from Kazakhstan Almagul Menlibaeva, Said Atabekov, Askhat Akhmediyarov, Saule Suleimenova. For each of the listed artists have given a important contribution in the Andakulova Gallery , and It’s a great honor to represent and promote these artists.

How much can the artwork of a recognizable Central Asian artist cost and can a purchase be considered an investment? Are the sales of works by artists from Central Asia known at the famous auction?

The cost of paintings can vary. I always advise you to buy paintings by contemporary artists. Paintings are not necessary to be expensive , for a reasonable amount, you can buy good artwork. The artists whom we represent have been represented at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions as well.  Many were exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and represented in museums around the World. Almagul Menlibaeva represent by Andakulova Gallery has presented her exhibition at the Grand Palais.

How do you see your business and the entire art market in 10 years?

Global art market has been dramatically reshaped over the last decades and I believe in 10 years the art market will be more dynamic and transparent. Andakulova gallery will also adapt to potentially disruptive technologies and the associated behaviour of the emerging market and become a well known gallery in International market.

If you did not become a gallery owner, what occupation would you choose?

I am sure that my work should be connected with beauty. At 15, I wanted to be a plastic surgeon and make the world more beautiful.Now, I am very happy when I see a paintings in the houses or in the offices, realizing that someone’s reality has become more beautiful. As Dostoevsky said, Beauty will save the world!


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