New Kid on the Block: Sapar Contemporary

Sapar Contemporary“I have two daughters, both of whom are involved in art,” says Raushan Sapar of the new Sapar Contemporary gallery on N. Moore. “One is a painter, one is a photographer. When I decided to learn more about what they’re passionate about, I discovered I have feelings for it, too.”

A psychologist by trade, she met her partner in the gallery, Nina Levent, through their kids. Levent is an expert in multisensory art—her book Food and Museums comes out in November—and connecting art with people with needs. She has taught all around the world, including at the New York Academy of Art on Franklin.

Together, they decided to open the 1,600-square-foot gallery. “Raushan is from Kazakhstan, and we thought one of the themes was going to be Central Asia and the Middle East,” says Levent. But they broadened their mission, and they now have a roster of artists from all over: Azerbaijan, Hong Kong, American, India…. “We’re looking for artists with some footprint showing where they’re coming from, but also traversing boundaries,” says Levent. “Most are mid-career artists who have done major things in their careers. But for a lot of them, we’re the only U.S. representation.”

Sapar Contemporary is also launching an incubator to facilitate collaborations with universities and museums. “A curator will select artists who are interested in a certain concept,” says Levent. “We’re not sure what physical form it might be. The art might be shown in situ, be virtual by nature, or be digital-born with a physical manifestation. The idea is to generate another kind of conversation, to bring layers to it.”

One focus will be neonomadism. “People today can live and work anywhere, and we all become nomads as soon as we sit in front of a screen,” says Sapar. “But what seems like a new style of life is actually thousands of years old. I have it in my blood, my roots. There are skills we shouldn’t forget wherever we are: Observe what’s around you, and connect to your self wherever you go. When you’re a nomad you need to get connected.”

The current show, of works by Mehmet Ali Uysal, is up through June 19; it’s definitely worth a look. Upcoming exhibits include two U.S. artists, John Bisbee and Anna Schuleit Haber; works on paper by Latin American and Southeast Asian artists; and Faig Ahmed in November.

P.S. Sapar, which means ‘adventure’ and is related to the word ‘safari,’ is pronounced sah-pahr. I’ve added it to the Tribeca Pronunciation Guide.

Sapar Contemporary is at 9 N. Moore;

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