Spotlight: Dealer Elena Ulansky on the Pleasures of Helping Would-Be Collectors Connect to Art
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What You Need to Know: As a child, Swedish-born art dealer Elena Ulansky wanted to become an artist. As an adult, she actually went on to a successful career in finance—but remained passionate about art and found herself engaging artists and curators in whatever ways she could. Then, a few years ago, she pivoted back to her first passion and earned a Master’s degree in painting from New York Academy of Art. Now, Ulanksy has transitioned once more, this time into the role of dealer.
With her business partner, Nitin Gambhir, Ulanksy founded Tethys Art earlier this year. The gallery, which has so far hosted three pop-up exhibitions in the Hamptons, shows emerging artists alongside internationally recognized names, including Keith Haring, Richard Prince, Jonas Wood, Cindy Sherman, and Barbara Kruger. One of Tethys’s core tenets is to create a learning environment that brings together artists, art lovers, collectors, and curators alike. Currently, Tethys Art is pursuing its next exhibition opportunities in Aspen and Miami this winter, along with Cannes and Venice for next year.
Why We Like It: For each of Tethys Art’s first three exhibitions, Ulansky worked with a curator to create exhibitions that facilitate discussion and introduce new perspectives: Its most recent exhibition, “Les Femmes,” a group show curated by Indira Cesarine, which closed in September, explored the contemporary narrative of the female gaze, including works by Cindy Sherman, social-media sensation Leah Schrager, pioneering feminists Robin Tewes and Grace Graupe-Pillard, alongside a crop of emerging women artists. Right now, Ulansky is exploring projects relating to NFTs, which she believes are here to stay.
In Her Own Words: “I would love for my role to be the conduit that allows people to see art as a way of linking human consciousness. Art is a way to start a conversation that is more nuanced than the typical ‘I’m a Republican and I’m a Democrat,’ this or that. Right now I’m working on putting together some group shows that I help spark curiosity in people who haven’t collected before. In one of our shows this summer, a Ph.D. student studying the history of the feminist movement, bought a work that spoke to her, her very first art purchase. That’s the beginning of her art collection. To me, one of the most inspiring things a person can do is to engage with people who haven’t been exposed to art, who maybe don’t understand why someone should buy it, and help them find a personal connection.”
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