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Soga auctions modern art for the fourth time

ART auctions are most flooded with bids for works by impressionists and the hot Russian artist of the day, but contemporary art is catching up fast. The SOGA auction house in Bratislava knows it.

Laco Teren's Great Guardian highlights the SOGA auction.
photo: Courtesy of SOGA

ART auctions are most flooded with bids for works by impressionists and the hot Russian artist of the day, but contemporary art is catching up fast. The SOGA auction house in Bratislava knows it.

Founded in 1996, SOGA is the country's first auction house, and it has been studying the contemporary art market for four years now.

Starting first with benefit auctions, this will be the second year it organises an auction of contemporary art under standard commercial conditions.

The auction will start on May 16 at 17:00. Until Monday, May 15, potential investors can see the 92 works from 52 artists displayed at the auction's venue, Panská 4.

Last year, SOGA sold 70 contemporary works for a record Sk2.7 million (€72,400), which was more than double previous years.

The situation in the contemporary Slovak art scene, SOGA's director Ján Abelovský says, is becoming similar to that in the Czech Republic and surrounding countries, where the number of artists able to earn a living through their art is quite high.

"The young names are starting to appear in our classical auctions as well, and their profile is increasing," Nina Gažovičová from SOGA said.

This is also because the organisers are skilled at accommodating investors' tastes. "Few would be interested in purchasing very modern works that use the latest technology trends, such as video projections, computer works, or experimental installations," Abelovský explained. "Therefore, we offer exciting names but rather more conservative works, such as paintings, graphic works, sculptures and objects."

Some works stay at home, some go abroad. Foreigners passing through the country are one group that bid at SOGA. Another is foreign collectors who have heard of a certain artist and come to purchase their work at a "home" auction. Local diplomats are also regular visitors. "Some embassies already have quite nice collections," Abelovský said.

Laco Teren's Great Guardian, which will start at a bidding price of Sk95,000, is currently the highlight of the auction. A satire of socialism, it is the artist's last work from the 1980s available on the market. The kinetic object Pulsing Rhythm by Milan Dobeš is set at the highest auction price, Sk350,000.

Abelovský thinks this year will not surpass last year's record, as a narrower selection of works is being offered. "However, I dare to say we could reach Sk2 million."

For more information on the auction, visit www.soga.sk.

ART SK will run another Bratislava auction of contemporary art at Bonjour, Apollo Business Centre on May 28 at 13:30. Between May 22 and 27, the works will be on show at Slovak Radio's UBS exhibition hall. See www.artsk.sk.

By Zuzana Habšudová

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