13 Mar Igor Voronov: “Only schizophrenics steal paintings”

According to Forbes, Igor Voronov’s collection is worth $50 million. But how did he make it? We will give you a clue.

How did you start collecting art?

I was really surprised when realized that paintings can change a room, an interior, so this is what induced me to start collecting. In the USSR, when I was very young, art was uninteresting. Actually, it’s quite hard to fit socialist realism into interior design. I guess, people felt it in their bones. There were a lot of paintings in the museums, but nobody collected them. Though, I like socialist realism a lot. When in the 1990s we began developing independent Ukraine, we were given an opportunity to buy something, to keep an eye on artists’ works. And this is when I started making my collection. There is nothing unusual in it. I possess canvases of currently active artists and those who have been working since 1980s. Not all of them, of course, but a lot of them.

Do you consider paintings of contemporary Ukrainian artists as an investment?

No, I do not. And I’ve said it many times. I bought paintings of artists, whose works now cost a fortune, when they were estimated at several hundred dollars – and at that time I didn’t think about their price in a couple of years. Of course, when I’m asked for advice, I tell friends to buy at the auctions works of the artists that cost millions – not hundreds of thousands dollars. This is the case when the purchase can save money invested in it.

Do you still work with Evhen Karas? Does he help you to create your collection?

As regards Evhen’s assistance in making the collection, it’s not exactly true. The thing is that I’ve known him as a head of the gallery for many years. I’ve always understood his expositions, they’ve always been solid. I liked the way Evhen displayed paintings in his gallery – that’s why I often bought them. And concerning systematization of my collection, well, it’s true – Evhen had his hand in it, plus we are friends. We turn to each other with different issues.

How can a painting of a young artist become a part of your collection?

You see, I really don’t think that being a part of my collection can build artist up. If an artist thinks so, then he should just create good paintings. My collection is truly diverse. And I am not certain that every canvas in it will make history of art or will be valuable in the future. I buy young artists’ works quite often, and they were especially relevant at the point when our maîtres started overestimating own work. You know, it’s always difficult to talk to an artist about the price of his work. You are afraid of offending him. Though there were situations when I had to stop bargaining with artists as the prices demanded by them became absurd.

You will agree that paintings deserve to live. Has it crossed your mind to have an exhibition, for example, at the Mystetskyi Arsenal?

To begin with, there is not enough room for my collection at the Mystetskyi Arsenal. You know, now I just don’t want it. This has nothing to do with intimacy or with the fear of showing works of art that mean much to me. Sometimes I give museums pieces from my collection.

Have you ever considered building a museum for your collection?

Indeed, there are such examples even in our country. But this should be done in a clever way, you need to understand what you show and to what kind of audience. For example, should a collection of icons – no matter how great it is – be displayed at the museum? Maybe, its place is in the church… To me, it’s excellent that many modern museums are being used for lectures and public discussions. I think that popularization of art is very important and right thing to do. What is happening at the “Spiritual Treasures of Ukraine” museum or at the PinchukArtCentre is really exciting.

You have surrounded yourself with art, do you feel its influence on your family? What does your leisure time look like?

When we travel abroad, visiting museums is always in our to-do list – no matter we are in a big city or a small town. As regards our family, our daughter Anya is very artistic, unordinary person. She is always in the process of learning something new, engaged in some activity. I myself wasn’t like that when I was 10 years old. I was into sports. While my daughter reads a lot, writes, sings. To me, she leads an interesting life. Maybe she will change when she grows up. But for now we are not willing to break her, make her do something different – Math for example. We get along very well.

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