Landlord Evicts Art Dealer Who Supported Political Prisoners

The dealer says the landlord's explanation is bogus.

Marat Guelman.Photo via Twitter.
Marat Guelman.
Photo via Twitter.

Russian art dealer Marat Guelman has been ordered by his landlord to leave his Moscow gallery and claims he is paying a price for hosting an auction there in support of political prisoners.

Guelman held a fundraiser on October 18 in support of a dozen prisoners who participated in a 2012 protest when Vladimir Putin resumed the presidency of Russia.

The landlord claims Guelman’s art gallery, which occupies a former winery in Moscow’s Winzavod art center, is behind on the rent, according to a letter seen by the Moscow Times.

“Obviously, the [real] reason was the auction,” Guelman wrote on Facebook, according to the Times. The letter orders Guelman out by November 5, even though he had previously negotiated with the landlords to stay in the space under the condition that he use it only to show art.

In 2013, when Guelman was director of the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art (PERMM), he mounted a show of works that censors said ridiculed the Sochi Winter Olympics. That show was shut down by the authorities.

Guelman says that the same thing happened when he hosted Moscow’s architecture conservation movement at his gallery.

Moscow Premiere, the country’s only LGBT film festival, was shut down this past summer amid a toxic environment for that community, and replaced with a “positive, youth-oriented” alternative.

Discouraged by the political situation, Guelman himself actually moved to Montenegro in January, setting up a new venture, the Dukley European Art Community.

Sofia Trotsenko, who directs the art center, said that holding non-exhibition activities, including political ones, according to the Times, violated Guelman’s lease.

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