'We don't mess around' - Catinca Tabacaru Gallery NYC

Gallery Owner and Director Catinca Tabacaru on art, artists and following that white rabbit...

How did you start your own gallery? What made you want to take that step?

I had spent my college and law school years in the dark room, and traveling around the world visiting museums and art sites, so the instinctual interest was always there. When I no longer wanted to practice law, art was the other thing I was good at so I dipped my toe in by interning at a gallery… it all snowballed from there as I spent the next 4 years curating exhibitions and doing art fairs. In 2014 I had gotten as far as I could without a brick and mortar space, so it was time.


How do you choose the artists you work with? For example, I noticed that the artists you work with come from all over the world, rather than just from the NYC art scene.

I choose them with my heart. When I see the work, I just know. Then it’s important for me to meet the artist. The human relationship is just as important to me as the one with the artwork itself. So I have that duality with all my artists: we’re all obsessed with one another both personally and professionally.


What do you think the role of the gallerist is these days? Do you feel like there is a lot of focus on art sales and getting art critics to review exhibitions positively or do you think there is still a real freedom to put together shows that you believe in, even if they might not be a commercial or critical success to start with?

The role of the gallerist is to create balance; to make sure all the different elements are coming together to create a healthy artist, a healthy gallery, and a healthy team. You need art sales as much as you need press as much as you need freedom, as much as you need artsy fartsy decisions. It’s my job to make sure there’s enough of each ingredient, both in the individual and the system to keep everything alive and thriving.


Gender, politics and identity seem to be recurring themes in your shows, why do you think it is important for artists to address these issues?

Each artist is unique. The only thing that is important is that they search for, find and develop their own authentic voice. That is the only real avenue to long term success.


Can you tell us a bit about your current shows?

They’re grand, sophisticated, and awake. We don’t mess around. The art has to matter. The show has to matter. If we’re not constantly getting better, there’s no point.


What advice would you give to someone who is starting up in the art world, as an artist or as a curator? How do you think they can get people interested in their work or/and projects?

There are so many answers to this and my limited experience certainly cannot fathom them all. My best advice is to follow that little voice inside your head, the flutter of your heart, and that rabbit in front of you that is showing you the way if you’re willing to see it.


If there was one thing you could change about the art world, what would it be?

I’d turn all weapons into flowers.


What’s next for your gallery?

Being known.


More information about the gallery and current shows can be found here.