London’s art scene continuously evolves, with new galleries frequently emerging; a notable addition is the Sarah Kravitz Gallery, established by British-born Polish Entrepreneur and gallerist Sarah Kravitz, who built a reputation by challenging traditional industry standards by organizing pop-up exhibitions highlighting emerging talent focus on female artists.
This initiative significantly impacted London’s dynamic art scene, fostering cultural exchange between London and Poland. Leveraging her extensive connections in Warsaw’s galleries and the broader art community, Kravitz has established a permanent gallery HQ in Soho Square, continuing her mission to disrupt the current art market and championing emerging artists.
For many years, the Polish art scene conformed to traditional patriarchal norms. Today, however, it reflects the country’s broader transformation, with women artists emerging as market leaders. Their prominence is not just reshaping the art market but is also a signifier of Poland’s overall progression towards greater gender equality
Kravitz’s choice to collaborate rather than form a core team brings a refreshing dynamic to her progressive approach. Partnering with influential Ghanaian curator Joseph Awuah-Darko, founder of the Noldor Art Residency in Ghana, and the UK-based Kowitz Family for her current residency and exhibition project, “Figure This.”
Artists from Sub-Saharan West Africa are a meaningful part of the dialogue of re-imagined narratives and are contributing towards evolving the single story surrounding the continent and its people.
The Noldor Artist Residency, Ghana’s first independent artist residency and fellowship program for contemporary African artists on the continent and in the diaspora, was founded by Joseph Awuah-Darko in 2020. The program invites established artists to develop a body of work over six weeks, after which works are exhibited at the Institute Museum of Ghana. Darko, one of Africa’s most influential art world entrepreneurs, is President of the Institute Museum of Ghana and has featured in Forbes 30 under 30.
“Figure This” was initially showcased during Frieze London Week 2023; the exhibition is currently on view at Bridgepoint Studios in Rye, East Sussex, until January 10, 2024, and highlights an eclectic mix of artists from Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Artists for the exhibition were chosen by Joseph Awuah-Darko, patron David Kowitz, and Sarah Kravitz. Each artist exhibits a profound understanding and appreciation of figurative painting traditions while actively engaging with and challenging these norms.
Sarah Kravitz’s residency, which focuses on emerging young artists, offers a platform for international talents. For Kravitz, it’s not just about showcasing underrepresented artists but also fostering new market leaders. This exhibition celebrates an unprecedented partnership between Sub-Saharan Africa and Central & Eastern Europe, marking the first of many collaborations expected to grow over the next decade. “Figure This” features a compelling mix of young painters such as Julia Kowalska, Preslav Kostov, Jakub Czyz, Nahom Teklehaimanot, Annan Affotey, Olatosun Samson Rotimi, Helena Stiasny, Aniela Preston, Edna Baud.
We had the opportunity to visit Kravitz’s residency exhibition in Rye, which was an enlightening experience. Kravitz, a long-time participant in Warsaw’s art community, sees the shift from far-right governance to a left-leaning coalition in Poland as a crucial moment for artists who have been historically marginalized. The Polish art market has been flourishing, witnessing a 24% annual growth since 2019, benefiting emerging artists and galleries. In contrast to the class-focused art scene in England, Poland’s art market is burgeoning, prioritizing talent over social hierarchy, and is ripe for growth.
The visibility of female artists in Poland is rising, as censorship in art institutions has slightly declined. However, despite these positive changes and increased chances of diversity following the political transition, significant progress still needs to be made. Kravitz is leveraging her influence in Warsaw and London to aid in driving this evolution in art.
Kravitz and Darko’s collaborative efforts echo the words of British romantic poet John Keats, “The excellency of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeable evaporate.” Underscores art’s intensity and transformative power for change; Gallerist Kravitz and Curator Darko are pivotal figures in this evolving landscape, continuously pushing for innovation and artistic expression.
Figure This: The Sarah Kravitz Residency Exhibition is on view until 10 January 2024 at Bridgepoint Studios in Rye, East Sussex