In Ukraine people still usually do not speak aloud of a role of a gallery in an artist's coming of age. The hindrance is the superstition similar to the one which in the pre-Bolshevik epoch prevented people from speaking of icon buying; you could only "barter" it (for money of course). As they say, this art, it is our Sacred thing, and money should not be involved.

But now, if you are communicating with artists, you understand that for them the issue of interaction with a gallery is acute. In London, at least, it amounted to this; if you don't have a gallery - you are not 'represented' - you are a kind of nobody, you are a half-artist. Such a tough interpretation of the affairs has its grounds. Selection from an art dealer or Gallerist who spends his/her own time and money for the exposition and advertisement of the art, is a sign of acknowledgement and trust. Perhaps the first major occurrence to affect an artist's reputation.

But what matters is not only spending of money or love to an artist. A Gallerist may have his/her own view, a subjective one of course and it plays a special role in the forming of new trends. For example, one can't imagine the Leipzig school without the activity of the Gallerist Gerd Lybke, or Britart of the 90s without collector Gallerist Saatchi, or Moscow actionism without Oleg Kulik's Curatorship at the Regina gallery, or American art of the 60s without Leo Castelli.

It is possible that in Ukraine such a stage is drawing near, a stage of some renewal. It is likely that those few galleries that during stagnation years worked closely with artists will play a leading creative role. At that I don't want to overestimate the role of galleries. It depends, after all, on its artists' creative power; neither a gallery, nor a Gallerist, in my opinion, should catch the eye.

To the above said I can add a story of an acquaintance of mine, the film director Pavel Pavlikovsky; "A gallery as a work of conceptual art already exists. It is located in Karakalpakstan: it was built with government money and it is almost empty. The only exposition there is a photo report on the opening of the spaces."

Matthew Bown
writer, curator