Iryna and Valeria Ivanova are mother and daughter, as well as business partners, founders of Nebo Art Gallery and Nebo Booklab Publishing.
A. When did the idea to open the gallery appear and how did all this start?
Iryna: Since childhood, I have been fond of painting. I collected cards with famous paintings, laid them out at home, knew many world artists. Later there was a long interval in studying art, and once, when I was taken ill with pneumonia and was forced to stay in hospital for a month, I returned to art. There was enough time and it was an opportunity. For a month I immersed myself in books and realized that the knowledge I had was not enough. Then I decided to go to study at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Kyiv to become an art expert. At the same time, I also began to collect paintings.
After graduating from the academy, I felt the strength to deal with art professionally, but we started our gallery activities with a rather narrowly focused topic. We opened a gallery of Georgian painting. And only 4 years later we turned into the contemporary art gallery entitled Nebo.
B. Did you see any specific mission in the gallery's activities at the very beginning? What goals did you set then? Did you manage to achieve them?
Iryna: The initial mission was banal. I intended to make the world better. For a long time, we had an art school and a lecture hall; I wanted to organize a certain community around this place with interests and detached life. Being involved in art is a kind of refuge for a person. Now the mission remains the same. We have strengthened our focus on the search for young artists and helping them in their further career steps.
C. How do you look for “your” artists? What do you concentrate on during the selection?
Valeria: First, it is a thing of inspiration. In addition, we have to pay attention to more boring things such as market analysis, preferences of our client base. Someone comes to us by chance. For instance, several times a year the gallery team and I attend browsings at the Academy (National Academy of Fine Arts). It is an event where students show their course/diploma projects. That way we began to collaborate with most of our artists (with Mykyta Tsoi and Oleksii Shcherbak, for example).
D. What are you proud of over the years of work?
Iryna: Organization of international exhibitions, participation in fairs, long-term cooperation and friendship with artists, support for young artists, collaboration with Academy of Arts.
E. Tell us about your future plans, what do you want to focus on in the coming years?
Iryna: We want to invest more resources in young artists, move forward, and develop the gallery in association with them. In addition to it, I would like to renew the close work with artists with whom we have lost physical contact due to the pandemic, for instance, with Andrii Zadorin, Serhii Hrynevych. Among the global aims for the future is the presentation of the young Ukrainian artists on the international stage thanks to fairs, exhibitions, etc.
F. What attracts you to Ukrainian artists? In what way they can be interesting to the world?
Iryna and Valeria: Their professionalism, immediacy, clarity, and fearlessness can fascinate people from other countries. Especially young artists express all these traits. We found it out in the context of one of our favorite projects called ‘Spadkoiemtsi’ (‘Inheritors’). It is an exhibition of young artists. We discovered these talented people during the screenings at the academy. The artists in this project are not limited by the framework, they are not yet burdened with commercial successes and they are full of that freedom, you excitedly work with!