Interviewed by OLEKSII DIDIHUROV
Omar, what was your first step into art? And why art in general?
Well, since I was very young, I knew that I wanted to be an artist, so I studied as an artist. And then I switched to being a curator. For many reasons, when I moved to New York, my work as an artist started to be much more conceptual in terms of practice.
Are you creating art on your own now?
So, just for you, my curatorial practice became so because I was an artist, and then it led me to collaborate with other artists. I started curating early in New York for a variety of alternative non-profit organizations. It was important to cooperate with other people I knew from my generation at that time.
Do you mean Cuban artists?
Not necessarily. Mainly Latin American artists: Mexican, Caribbean, Argentinian, Chilean.
Can you give us a couple of names?
Oh my God, I’m working with so many of them. Right now, I’m curating the gallery in Madrid, and I’m working with Hector García. He is 28 years old. He does performances, installations, sculptures, drawings, and this is his first solo exhibition. I feel empathy for artists who are emerging. I’ve also done the research, and I work with artists from Eastern Europe. For example, I had a solo exhibition of a Serbian artist a few years ago in New York. His name is Slobodan Stošic. Many things in Eastern Europe have connections with Latin American history because they have a similar historical evolution. My interest is to have a kind of global conversation.
We are glad that Ukraine is on your agenda to build the bridges.
I am looking for cooperation opportunities with Ukraine and have spent quite a lot of time exploring Ukraine. I discovered Voloshyn Gallery, which is perfect for promoting contemporary art in Ukraine. By the way, shortly, I will do a modern art exhibition in Mexico, in Guadalajara. We could do the same in Kyiv. Bring some artists from other places and put them in the conversation with Ukrainian artists.
Another area I looked at is the Caribbean. When it comes to art, many do not think about this region, considering it as a place for a pleasant vacation and nothing more. However, the Caribbean is a perspective region with 44 million inhabitants. How many people! This region has an incredible history, as many cultures meet here.
It is interesting for us to know how you usually spend your free time.
What do creative people prefer doing?
When I want to relax, I always hang out with people of art. And it’s always fun. Because when you do it with a passion, it doesn’t feel like work. When you have to organize an exhibition, when you have to write an essay, when you have to make sure that everything is in place, it becomes real work. I also like to travel. It’s boring to lie on the beach. I prefer the cities. I don’t know if I like the countryside as much as the city.
But New York and Miami are not alike.
Of course, these are different cities, and this is impressive.
I see that people inspire you. Let’s talk about educational programs.
Yes, I like to bring the wider community together. Art should be available to everyone, rather than to a small gathering for an Art TV. About seven years ago, I worked as a curator in Nicaragua. I invited several artists from different countries. The main goal of the project was live communication between the artist and the local population. One Mexican sculptor settled in the most disadvantaged area, where people live in a very peculiar way. He spent three weeks there and erected a monument. The local community has a beautiful new place today where people can meet, socialize and hopefully be friends.
So, you’ve built a bridge.
A bridge between the artist and the community, and also directly between the members of the community itself. The artist was allowed to demonstrate his talent and benefit society. Everything is interconnected.
How can you rate the Miami art market? Is there room for new players?
Miami is not only growing in terms of art. Miami is experiencing a construction boom. There are more opportunities for artists to work in public places. In addition, more and more artists are moving to Miami because it is a coveted place: there are good museums, not many non-profit organizations, but many serious collectors.
Can you recommend moving to Miami and trying to make art there?
Yes. The more talent comes to Miami, the better for Miami. The city is a little over a hundred years old. There will be a lot of work in the field of education and art. The authorities, the public, and the artists should have a helpful dialogue. Constructive collaboration is required.
What exactly can influence the development of art?
The main thing is that we must make sure that art platforms work all year round and are not seasonal events. There will be offers – there will be demand.
Could you please recommend your top three steps for the young and talented: what to do to succeed in the art market?
Be yourself! Do not look around, but be sure to communicate with colleagues and be aware of the art of different generations. Take the initiative and organize an exhibition with friends or people you know. Take part in all kinds of projects that are held in more modest spaces than galleries or museums. Get the audience’s attention!
It is necessary to balance between studio work and socializing. Be sure to visit exhibitions and other cultural events. Eventually, someone will invite you to the gallery. And when the curator sees your works of art in the art program, they may invite you to participate in the museum exhibition. Like this, step by step…
In our time, technology is of great importance. Be active on social media. I’ve been a curator for almost 20 years, but I don’t live in the past. I like to accept the present and strive for the future without being limited by the tastes and habits of one generation. Art is the only thing to which you must be unconditionally committed. Good luck!