Q&A with Lena Evstafieva, founder of The Villa Lena Foundation | Limna

Q&A with Lena Evstafieva, founder of The Villa Lena Foundation

In the latest round of our art world interviews, we spoke to Lena Evstafieva, hotelier and founder of The Villa Lena Foundation. This non-profit organisation offers an acclaimed residency programme and supports artists from around the world working in a range of media, from visual art, music, and film, to literature, fashion, and interdisciplinary practices.

Portrait Lena.jpg Artwork pictured: Valerie Snobeck, Revolving Layers (Tongue Kissing), 2014, Peeled prints and burlap on plastic. Photo by Levgeniia Pavlenko.

How did you get started doing what you do?

Well, I had two career paths so far - one in the world of contemporary art, which I always felt was my calling; and then the second one - in the world of hospitality, which unfolded on me as a hurricane. I had zero experience and had to learn pretty fast on the go. But it was always important for me to retain that connection with the creative industries and culture, hence alongside my hotel, Villa Lena, we also have a robust residency program for artists.

What’s the first artwork you ever bought?

It was Pieter Hugo’s the Hyena series.

Screenshot 2022-10-06 223958.jpg Pieter Hugo’s photographic prints Mallam Galadima Ahamadu with Jamis (2005), and Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara (2005) from his series “The Hyena and Other Men”, hang in Villa Lena. Photo: Levgeni.

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started in the art world?

That you constantly need to follow it - it is a very dynamic place, and if you don’t keep up, you fall behind.

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

The way I see it, there seems to be a tendency to skew things to exaggerate - there is this bubble, there is this hot artist or NFT, and then there are concerns that the art market is just a place where a lot of speculation happens. Whilst this is a case in any market place, I also think that overall the art market is always consistent - the blue chip works always sell and are always coveted, and those collectors who have been building their collections with determination and vision will always have an incredible result on their hands, whenever their collection hits the market.

Which painter are you currently really excited about?

Swedish-born, London-based Sara Anstis. I was also really impressed by a few female painters we had at our Villa Lena Residency this year: Elisa Breyer and Soumya Netrabile.

sARA aNTIS .jpg Sara Anstis, Two Hills, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Fabian Lang.

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

She_curates* by Mollie Barnes

What upcoming exhibitions are you looking forward to?

There is a slew of exhibitions dedicated to Female Abstract Expressionist painters that are coming out end of this year or beginning of 2023, from Vienna to London to a few institutions in the US - I am really looking forward to them.

artwork Janine.jpg Artwork pictured: Janine Saul She Transient Dance, 2022 Screen printing on silk, installed at Villa Lena. Photo by Raphaelle Detheve.

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

Alberto Savinio - Giorgio de Chirico’s brother. His paintings are mesmerizing and mysterious.

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

You really need to look at a piece of art - before starting asking for information or reading anything - just really really look.

How do you gain confidence when buying art?

That was never an issue for me, lol.

The Villa-8f1794.jpg The Villa. Photo by Niklas Adrian Vindelev

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