Saras Rachupalli began her career in tech. But, having experienced all that Wall Street had to offer, the granddaughter of one of India’s most prolific painter’s felt pulled towards the art world. This June she combined her experience of working with tech with her passion for art to launch Kovet.Art, a trailblazing gallery initiative that supports and represents emerging artists from the UK’s top art schools. As well as selling art, Kovet.Art functions as an incubator offering mentorship and guidance, helping young artists to navigate the art market. We spoke to Saras about her move into the art world, her art world heroes and the future of art and tech!
Your background is in tech and finance, when did you know you wanted a career in art?
Although I studied engineering and Finance and worked on wall street and loved the rush, I kept getting back to my roots which was always art! All the incredible museums, gallery shows, and artist talks in NYC always filled me with abundant curiosity, joy and inspiration to a point where it was my ventral tether, my lifeline. I chose to live on the Museum Mile for a bit and preferred going to art shows and art parties rather than the never-ending night outs!
My grandfather, P.T. Reddy, was a prolific painter and sculptor and an incredible force in the Indian Modern Art scene, starting the very first artist group ‘The Young Turks’ in Bombay, India. His larger than life energy, passion, dedication, and vision always stuck with me.
I only realized when I left for New York to study and work, how much art was an integral part of me. It is my core; I cannot live without it. I then studied Contemporary Art, Art and Finance at Sotheby’s and Christies when I moved to London, I was unfortunately confronted with some dark times in my personal life which made my transition into the art world more natural. And then came Kovet.Art so I could share the joy of discovering artists and living with art, directly working with high calibre, rising emerging artists, while disrupting the traditional gallery model and showcasing their extraordinary work!
Can you tell us about Kovet.Art?
Kovet.Art is a purpose and an impact driven creative gallery that combines curatorial expertise and technological innovation to present thought-provoking online exhibitions. Launched in summer 2020, Kovet.Art specialises in exhibiting collectible artworks by emerging, high calibre artists graduating from leading UK universities like the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins.
I built the idea with a team that has diverse art and technology experiences. We launched in the midst of the pandemic and are incredibly grateful for the enthusiastic response. Kovet.Art is even mentored by the Mayor of London’s Office for business growth, London & Partners.
Our first show ‘Delineating Dreams’ – based on surrealism – highlights eight rising talents in a VR space which you can explore on our website. We provide mentorship and guidance to our Kovet artists and carefully build their profile and help them sustain and grow their market.
We welcome established collectors and the art curious to explore and feel the joy of discovering a rising, an investment worthy artist before the artist is catapulted into the established or even the blue-chip art scene! We have a growing art advisory arm too, where we work with hundreds of emerging artists for clients collecting exciting art and also host regular events.
In parallel with the curated exhibitions, Kovet.Art is launching The Art Vault: a direct global access to a selection of curated, collectible artworks, where clients can discover and acquire works by rising talent directly from the website. For its debut, The Art Vault will present a selection of 2020 graduates from UK’s leading fine art universities. The art curious can now have direct access to explore and acquire artworks filtering by preference of size, medium, genre, and emotion.
Why do you think it is important to focus on artists at the beginning of their careers?
Emerging artists offer a compelling view into the rapidly evolving contemporary art scene! Their voice that reflects the now, the zeitgeist and many interesting artists push the boundaries of discussion from conscious revelations to heritage and activism, as well as innovative media experiments. This also becomes the most accessible price point for an established or emerging collector. The joy of discovering an artist before they are catapulted into an internationally recognizable name is priceless! On the other hand, they are potentially a large investment. Not only are you championing an emerging artist who spent their time dedicated to practicing fine art, but also participating in their journey. Many of the top collectors had an important hand in developing careers of emerging artists which in many cases raised their investments. I always say “Collect art that resonates with you, makes you ask questions”. If it goes up in financial value, that’s a great bonus. Given that more people are looking at art as an alternative asset class – now is the time to rethink and invest!
Which emerging artists should we have on our radar?
Artists are at the core of our ethos – Sotheby’s discovered our artist Loreal Prystaj, a Royal College of Art graduate and published a talk with her during the auctions where parallels were drawn with her work and feminist icons Ana Mendieta and Francesca Woodman. Prystaj is an incredibly strong artist exploring the self through her body and relationship to the environment with the fourth wave eco feminism at the helm. Photo London recently included a talk with our artist Tom Faber in their VIP Programme where we delved into his recycled worlds of collage and video, drawing on his art history studies at Cambridge University. Our artist Kristy Chan, a Slade graduate, is now at residency in Leipzig creating a fascinating body of new work with oil on canvas. Then there’s Christopher Pearson, a Central St. Martin’s graduate who is creating metallic carborundum prints, on the concept of infinity and frozen time. In addition, Giovanna Petrocchi has shown at the Benaki Museum, Athens and the Photographer’s Gallery, London. All these artists are award winning and will do very well in their artistic career. Our other artists include Janet Waring Rago and Max Gimson, whose unique and powerful visions are growing on our audiences as well.
Who are your art world sheroes?
Too many to name! I am very inspired by Amrita Sher-Gil – an Indian-Hungarian artist. She was heralded as the one of the greatest avant-garde women artists of the 20th century who melded her western modalities of painting with traditional Indian themes. I also made an acquaintance with Lebanese painter and sculptor Saloua Choucair’s work at the Tate when she had her solo show and was blown away by her abstract sculptures where she included poetry, architecture and elements of Islamic art and interestingly saw more of her work at the Sursock Museum in Beirut, Lebanon last year.
Kara Walker’s incredible work on violence and identity is visionary, while Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid’s child-like freedom in exploratory works is stimulating. Rina Banerjee is another rising artist whose curious installation works I had seen at the Venice Biennale a few years ago. I am also a big fan of Katy Hessel of the Great Women Artists podcast and recently I met Paola Ugolini an eminent feminist curator through my friend and Chief Art Officer Camilla Grimaldi. We worked on a talk with Kovet.Art together and gosh, I have a crush on her – she is a powerhouse with ‘on point’ ideas, sublime intellect, and unmatched humility.
How do you think art and technology will continue to merge?
Technology is intrinsic to our lives now. I have always been passionate about merging my three interests – art, business and technology because it makes sense, art should be accessible, and we are here to break barriers in democratic access. We used VR gallery rooms, have e-commerce integrated online gallery providing international access and very soon we will be integrating AI for matching the needs of the collector and blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technology) for provenance. Especially during the current pandemic, the art world including museums, auctions and galleries have quickly moved to using the virtual realms to push the conversation on art internationally. Instagram has been a game changer for the artists and the art industry while new media art is continuously experimented with. The opportunities are endless!
What are your hopes for the future?
I do really hope more people are able to access and enjoy art – more families, kids and teenagers enjoying art. Growing amount of literature proves that it does have a direct impact on one’s well-being. Museums, galleries, and other institutions play a colossal role but now it’s all about the artist and voice of the artist! I would hope for the governments all over the world to prioritize funding the arts sector as it is an immensely critical industry not only generating cultural capital but billions of pounds in revenues. We want established collectors to investigate and get involved in the emerging art scene but also the art curious to learn more and engage more! We want to inspire, influence and impel people to resonate with beauty, but also express urgent concerns as drivers of change which is a critical role of art especially in these incredibly tough times.