Questions for Magda Sawon | Limna
May 13 • Questions for • Words by Limna

Questions for Magda Sawon

In the second of our Questions For, we’re talking to Magda Sawon of Postmasters Gallery.Founded in 1984 in NYC’s East Village 🇺🇸 (and now in their 4th location in Tribeca due to rising city rents) with a second outpost in Rome 🇮🇹, they have an illustrious history of supporting young and emerging talent in both traditional and non-traditional media.

How did you get started doing what you do?

MS: I have a very boring, solid Art History degree but at that time (1970s) contemporary art by living artists was cut out from the field — so I left academia, left communist Poland and opened a gallery in New York. My interest was always to work with, look at and think about the art that is of this moment and engages new forms of creative expression. Art that is not yet EVALUATED.

What’s the first painting you ever bought?

MS: Wrong question – buy not only paintings. I don’t buy. Collecting, non-speculative collecting, is about living and being enriched by art. I live with art for 36 years and through close to 400 exhibitions. [It’s a] huge privilege to see and think everyday about the art on my walls. I don’t have a need-to-own gene. I bought a few Jonathan Laskers early on, [and a] few other “bankable” artists later – that I sold to keep going whenever crisis hit us.

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started collecting?

MS: I wish there was more adventure in collecting and in the market. Money is not good for progressive art – it tends to privilege familiarity.

What’s the most misunderstood aspect of the art market in your opinion?

MS: [The] Art market is not smart, [it] equates monetary success with actual historical value (talking about Modigliani as well as current “art stars” like Damien Hirst or Beeple for that matter as historic pillars of art is a joke. Please.)

Amadeo Modigliani, Christina, 1916

Which painter are you currently really excited about?

MS: We just showed Marta Kucsora a young Hungarian artist – intergalactic, pure abstraction, enormous scale. Her “chemical kitchen” paintings have a sense of ambition and push the medium into a new zone. They are also refreshingly different in the context of overwhelming figurative works that we are drowning in at the moment.

Marta Kucsora, Untitled 06, 2021

What’s the last art-related Instagram post you liked or account you followed?

MS: @kensukekoike. Japanese artist [who] never disappoints, playful, incredibly inventive.

What upcoming exhibitions are you looking forward to?

MS: Kenny Dunkan – extraordinary work from Guadaloupe-born, Paris based artist we first worked with in PostmastersROMA.

Kenny Dunkan, DUAL CONITIONING SYSTEM, LOTTA BODY SET AND TWIST, 2018

Tell us about an artist who should be getting more attention.

MS: Eva and Franco Mattes – from web 1.0 to 3.0, pioneers, disruptors, always ahead. Their current show at Fotomuseum Winterthur is an exhibition I wish I could travel to see in real life.

Eva & Franco Mattes, Dear Imaginary Audience Installation View, Fotomuseum Winterhur

What’s the best piece of art-world advice you’ve ever been given?

MS: “Buy what did not sell from the show, what nobody wanted.” - Ileana Sonnabend

Andy Warhol, Ileana Sonnabend, 1973

What gives you most confidence in an artist and their work?

MS: There has to be something unfamiliar, irritating, something I don’t understand about the work - but also something that is truly connected to this moment in time.

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