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In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea we have our fair share of world class museums, galleries and auction houses. So why can it seem so hard?Saras Rachupalli, CEO and Founder of Kovet. Art is on a mission to change that for everyone with a creative curiosity, especially when it comes to supporting the emerging talent coming out of our leading colleges right now. Looking towards a future artworld ecosystem, Kovet. Art combines art market expertise with a rigorous development and artist liaison programme, representing a closed number of top-class art degree students to develop their practice and profile in credible and authentic ways.

The framework is twofold, and it seems a good model of how selfcultivating such an ecosystem could be.

Firstly, Kovet.Art aims to support young, promising and collectible artists through a critical stage in their creative and commercial development. Secondly, the goal is to nurture seasoned collectors as well as those ‘dipping their toes’ for the first time, through a series of ‘Kovet Club’ events, talks and panels. Delineating Dreams, the first

exhibition in Kovet.Art’s schedule opened in June 2020, featuring work by eight artists of exceptional talent, coming together to highlight the dynamism of the UK’s emerging art scene: Kristy M Chan; Tom Faber; Max Gimson; Candice Jewell; Christopher Pearson; Giovanna Petrocchi; Loreal Prystaj; and Janet Waring Rago.

Born into a distinguished lineage of creative visionaries, including poets and painters, Rachupalli certainly has credibility. Her grandfather was the notable P T Reddy, a key artist of his time who played a significant role in the evolution of the pivotal “Modern Art” movement of Europe in India, and who in 1941 formed a group of ‘Bombay Contemporary India Artists,’ branded as the now prolific ‘Young Turks’.

“I can easily say those were some of the best and happiest times in my life,” she says, “hanging around my grandfather (P.T. Reddy)’s neck while he was painting in his airy studio and listening to fascinating stories from novels my grandmother was writing. ‘Thatha’ (granddad in Telugu) was a prolific painter and sculptor, he was an incredible force in the Modern art movement in India and an inspiration to me – unknowingly.

“And I only realized when I left for New York to study and work, how much art was an integral part of me. It is my core; I cannot live without it.”

It wasn’t necessarily the call of the art world that first took her to New York – instead, it was technology and finance. But it’s through these combined great passions that, so delicately combined, her new venture has sprung. As a child, she says, she loved physics and “gobbled up every article on science and technology in the local papers and the libraries. We are talking pre-internet, kids.”

After following a natural route to studying Electronics Engineering, she then received her Masters in a finance-related course at Columbia University. Graduating in 2008 – a “perfect year to start your career in Finance!” she jokes – she saw major institutions including the Lehman Brothers crash, their office closing and the press buzzing as she walked over to her new job as a finance consultant on 5th Avenue. She went on to work with the C-suite in the beautiful and historic building of ‘One Wall Street’ which was right next to the NYSE - and the bank she worked at also sponsored some stellar shows at the Guggenheim and the Met.

Saras soon realised she loved art, business and technology almost equally. So, after a move to London, time spent studying at Sotheby’s and also a post-grad on the Stanford course on Innovation, the time was ‘ripe’.

Although cogs were turning many years ago, as it has turned out, Kovet.Art is now launching during the biggest global pandemic of our time, when galleries, museums and auction houses are closed to the public. Of course, this was not always the plan.

Saras explains:

“We were always technically – with art and technologically – with solutions, driven to find the most relevant way to present the high calibre fine art carefully sourced directly from UK’s top universities.

The world quickly shifted early this year into a crisis fighting an unusual enemy. After assessing, we felt that the role of art becomes even more critical at a time like this – as a refuge, inspiration, and a solace. The art industry has quickly moved digital; digital exhibitions were not at all common up until January!

This shows great resilience, creativity and forward thinking, restoring the confidence in what was once thought of as a slow-moving industry. We have gone few steps further to add a Virtual Reality (VR) show to extend the feeling of discovery and three dimensionalities as much as possible. We are also developing ideas on increasing engagement from the art curious. We are moving our panels and talks to online only for global access and as soon as the government regulations safely allow gatherings, we will have in person seminars, events and studio visits via our ‘KLUB’ - and, of course, a launch party!”

Force to be reckoned with though she is, no woman is an island. Alongside Saras is an expert team of leading art market experts including Averil Curci, Director of Curation and Artist Liaison, and Chief Art Officer Camilla Grimaldi, co-founder of contemporary photography gallery Brancolini Grimaldi and advisory board member of Photo London.

Curci, who has worked with both emerging and established artists for over a decade,

is the driving force behind selecting Kovet’s artists. The selection process is a careful one, involving portfolio reviews, studio visits and interviews. Kovert.Art has structured their programme around four yearly exhibitions, and her search for talent continues actively throughout the year, with new artists recruited and added with the launch of each exhibition. She says:

“When recruiting artists, I try to have a broad overview of their whole practice to date. I’m especially interested in a practice that shows a strong visual language and artistic voice. Sensitivity to the medium and innovation in technique are also important. At Kovet. Art we really value artists that push the boundaries of their practice with ambition in credible, original and meaningful ways.”

There is no doubt that the way in which we are interacting with art and artists has changed dramatically. Collectors must rely on digital means to communicate, but this doesn’t necessarily mean things have to lose a personal touch. Camilla Grimaldi, with extensive experience in the art world as gallerist and international art advisor for over 20 years, has a keen understanding, not only of the needs of the artists, but the expectations of collectors. While lockdown continues, she ensures that collectors have the best access and insight possible, not only through social media and traditional newsletter communications, but also Kovet talks and the Kovet Klub.

“There is exciting news for Kovet Club,” she says. “Subscribing collectors will have direct access to a VIP preview of our exhibitions and participate at our panel discussions and talks. We are working on a strong, exciting agenda of talks; inviting curators, artists, collectors, professors and art enthusiasts.”

As a London-based company, Kovet.Art has chosen to begin in the UK, where they are fortunate to have some of the world’s most outstanding fine art education. However, the team has ambitious plans to expand in time internationally, into leading artistic hubs such as Paris, Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Tokyo.

For now, we look forward to attending their first talks and events, including Delineating Dreams, their inaugural exhibition. Following this, four seasonal shows each year will enable any collector, anywhere, to discover and collect works from the artists making their mark, whilst, at the same time, becoming part of the vibrant Kovet community.

Although an online platform for the time being,Kovet.Art will also, when possible, be hosting physical pop-up exhibitions, initially in central London. Regardless, on or offline, Kovet arrives at an opportune time, in a post-COVID world increasingly driven by cultural and emotional values. Artists need to be nurtured; collectors and art lovers need to be inspired.

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