London-based Art Curator Jane Neal Shared Her Insights on the CEE Art Scene

8 February 2021

London-based Art Curator Jane Neal Shared Her Insights on the CEE Art Scene

Jane Neal made her reputation as a leading expert on the contemporary art scene in Central and Eastern Europe. According to The Evening Standard, Jane brought a whole generation of young artists from Romania to world attention. “Until relatively recently, it was quite difficult for artists to emerge onto the international scene. The reason for this was often a disparity between the price points of galleries working with emerging artists in cities like London and New York, versus the local galleries,” explains Jane.

For these local galleries, it was difficult to raise prices for their loyal collector base, whilst on the other hand, the international players feared losing sales to smaller regional galleries also representing their artists. The situation began to change with the proliferation of art fairs where local galleries have an international profile and access to international collectors. Although it took a little time for the balance to be redressed, Jane has noticed rising interest of Western collectors in CEE art:

“The Western view used to be that Eastern European and Russian art was somehow retrograde and serving socialism through socialist realism, whereas they had new and progressive conceptually driven art associated with philosophy and cultural theory. However, local artists knew how to master the crafts of painting and sculpture, had a wonderful knowledge of art history and the theory as well as concepts to bring to the mix, too. Once Western collectors realised these benefits, they were intrigued!”

According to Jane, there are some really interesting artists working in Central and Eastern Europe. The region is known for producing a number of high-profile painters in particular. “The Czech art scene is going from strength to strength and Poland was always interesting and active. Romania has produced some wonderful talent. Generally speaking, the arts do well when either the government is quite liberal and endorsing of culture or conversely when it isn’t and artists and creatives are forced to react against conservatism, band together and fight for their work.”

To reach truly international level, the local art scenes need to invest in attracting and encouraging new and existing collectors to support their artists and galleries. These collectors need in turn to understand that their artists should acquire both a local and an international profile.

Jane will talk about recognising the great talent and discovering world renowned artists from this region in one of the EDUART START online sessions. She will also share some tips on who we should keep an eye on.

Adam Štech & Dennis Scholl at DSC Gallery, Prague
Curated by Jane Neal