Stephan Stoyanov started curating exhibitions in 1991 in Bulgaria and France. He moved to the United States in 1997 and joined CristinRose Gallery in Chelsea, NYC as a gallery director in 2000. He then managed Folin Riva gallery until the opening of his own gallery. Over the years, his program has focused on feminist works as well as new media and video.

His proposals have always been thought provoking and international in scope despite the risk and the challenges this entailed. Since his departure from the US, Stephan has continued his work in Bulgaria, where he also started dedicating to education via the organization of seminars and lectures, with the complicity of renowned art specialists internationally.

You have been participating in different art fairs. The next one is Cosmoscow this September. What are your expectations?

Cosmoscow is an amazing art fair and I am truly excited participating this year after missing on last year edition because of COVID pandemic and visa restrictions. I love Moscow, it’s people and have worked hard well in advance to prepare a spectacular yet thought provoking booth. My expectations are lowered due to the pandemic, however I hope to see my Russian supporters from the years before and meeting new and ambitious art collectors and of course Museum curators with whom I feel most comfortable.

Tell us about your initiative The Art Agency.

The Art Agency I founded in the fall of 2017. It is an art body which organizes both gallery and Museum exhibitions around the world. Aside from representing in the west artists like Aidan Salakhova, Rashid al Khalifa and others the company facilitates, brokers massive exhibitions in some of the most important Museums of our time, like Zurab Tsereteli’s Larger Then Life at Saatchi gallery. We are not limited to the ringer where we live.

 

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Despite the pandemic we are extremely active both locally and internationally. Visitors to Tbilisi, Georgia today (September, 2021) can see a blockbuster exhibition by Bulgarian born, Vienna based Iv Toshain. We also launched an exhibition at the new public library in Burgas, Bulgaria in August titled So Close and So Far Away with artists from Germany, Bulgaria, Russia and USA. This November I will be curating Zurab Tsereteli’s first solo show in Dubai at the prestigious Ayyam Gallery. We never stop!

What inspired you to be part of art scene?

Being a Gallerist is my lifetime conviction. I had a very successful gallery in NYC from 2002 till 2014. I express myself best through art. I can’t imagine myself anything else. Art is my best companion in this world.

What are your core values and drivers that you bring to the gallery?

Hmmm, there are several values and principle that are important to me. First and foremost is honesty to ourselves and to others, without honesty there is no original ideas and bold expressions.

Beauty is crucial but also I care about avant-garde thinking and being brave and critical to our existence both as individuals and society. Last but not least is work ethic. I believe that one needs 1% divine touch and the rest 99% is the hours we put in what we do. To me this is the formula to success.

What is your approach to selecting artists to show?

As I said earlier I love beauty. I find beauty even in sadness and the grotesque in life. I work with artists whose work touches on issues of our lives that are important to me like injustice in our society for example. I have been working with Aidan (Salakhova) for many years because she confronts our fears, dreams and fantasms with such gusto that I have rarely seen. Her work keeps me awake at night, makes me smile, makes me want to live. I also love different cultures and expressions.

Rashid Al Khalifa is one artist I really admire. He is from Bahrain and while his paintings and installations are inspired by the Arab mashrabia they Ecco op and kinetic art with an unusual mystic quality that one rarely sees. His installation was one of the hits and most favorite works to Muscovites at the last Moscow Biennial.

How galleries and art businesses have been transformed in digital world and what future you see in this market?

Despite my tendency to be a pioneer in the art world and to discover the future greats of our time I am deeply conservative when it comes to the digital world. There is yet to be discovered a formula of a successful digital business platform. The art business is a very particular business and requires a special personal touch so I am quite cautious in the digital world. In fact, I am far behind everybody in the field and it’s something I need to work on. As a matter of fact, the other day I was with my 3-year-old grandson and noticed he is far more skillful with an iPad then I am, that said, I think it’s a world that has a lot to offer to the art business and but the best solutions are yet to come.

Music, films and works of art are increasingly made with AI. Do you believe AI can replace human’s creativity.

No, I believe that nothing can replace human’s creativity. AI can be only used by artists like a paint and a brush, it’s a tool. The magic of human creativity cannot be replaced.

What is your opinion on the market for historical work versus that for contemporary art?

These two markets coexist and will continue to do so. In troubled times like now obviously historical works fare better then contemporary art. Contemporary art is for the brave and curious minds, however there is place for both in our lives.

What would you recommend to a buyer who is just starting to buy art?

I advise quite a few people and some institutions across the globe. I always say to my clients: “Buy with your heart but use professional advise if you have ambitious plans about your collection. Read, see, experience art”. Before making a decision always ask yourself: “Do I like it because it is familiar?”. In that case don’t buy or think it over. I find far more satisfaction in the unfamiliar art. And this me the person I have become.

 

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