Interviewed: Elena Olkhovskaya
The word "Vindemia" in Latin means "a good season for the harvest of grapes from which the best wines are made." Vindemia Gallery is an art gallery full of taste and sophistication. It exhibits objects and works of art that violate geographical boundaries and time frames.
One of the most entertaining collections seemed to me a collection of musical “boxes”, of various sizes, shapes and with a wide variety of musical content. Some “caskets” are larger than solid wardrobes with their dimensions, others are shyly attached to dressing tables, others resemble bureaus or cabinets .... In a word, about how all this splendor turned out to be a delight of true antiques fans in Dubai, I asked to tell Had Kunash, CEO of Vindemia Gallery.
Hada, why did you decide to open an art gallery in Dubai?
I wanted to do something for those who are partial to antiques, traditional and contemporary art. We always wanted to take part in this, if you like, cultural and artistic revolution that takes place today in the Emirates. The idea was not only to organize the sale of antiques and art, but also to make a feasible contribution to the cultural education of local residents and many visitors from around the world. We set a goal and opened the Vindemia art gallery in the elite Jumeirah Beach Residence.
An exhibition of music boxes organized by you in late May - early June in the lobby of the Kempinski Hotel also carried educational functions?
Of course, even despite the fact that all the boxes could be bought. During this exhibition, I learned that many people have no idea that music boxes are the first sound recording and reproducing devices in the history of mankind. That they became prototypes of vinyl records, cassettes, CDs familiar to the modern person, and now iPods, MP3 players and other equipment.
If you look at all the music boxes we have collected, you will notice that we did not add anything to them and did not redo anything. All of them are original products produced in European workshops in the late XVIII-early XIX centuries.
We arranged our exhibits in chronological order. The largest of them is the Biedermeier music cabinet, which in itself dates from 1820 and is an excellent example of furniture art, and 10 interchangeable music cylinders installed in it date from 1870. In the lower drawers of this miracle cabinet, another 9 musical cylinders are hidden, which can be changed as desired. Speaking in modern language, this is something like a CD changer.
You won’t say right away ...
Exactly! But what is especially interesting is the stories of people who made all these music boxes, cabinets and secretaries. The masters of Biedermeier initially specialized in the manufacture of large tower clocks for cathedrals and city halls, then wall and mantel clocks. You can imagine how complicated and delicate the production process of such musical instruments was. The music of the great composers - Mozart, Liszt, Vivaldi was recorded on the cylinders, and the compositions were created specifically for music boxes. The notes had to be adapted to the complex mechanics involved in the rotation of the cylinders.
Our main subject of the music collection, although it is not directly related to mechanical music, is the Steinway concert grand piano, which was made in 1876 and belonged to King Edward VII.
Do you think your collections from Middle East countries will be to your taste? I somehow more imagine European or Russian collectors in your gallery ...
The funny thing is that our collections surprise many Europeans, especially when it comes to youth. The older generation is well acquainted with such works of applied art, but for young people we literally “discover America”. Our exhibition of music boxes worked for a little over a month, and we received a lot of rave reviews from our visitors. By the way, I specially arranged an exhibition in the lobby of the Kempinski hotel, although many of my friends discouraged me and advised me to choose a more chamber, prestigious and less noisy place. And I decided that if people come shopping at the Mall of the Emirates, then why don't they touch the beautiful, if there is such an opportunity.
How many items are in your collection of music boxes?
About 48 copies, and each of them is unique in its own way.
Hada, but collecting antiques and maintaining an art gallery is difficult, and newcomers, as far as I know, are not particularly allowed into the world of works of art and antique gizmos. How did you manage to create such a luxurious collection in Vindemia Gallery?
Many come to our gallery as if in a house of friends or a favorite cafe. We have a very relaxed atmosphere, a person can spend hours in Vindemia talking with me or colleagues about art, its styles and directions over a cup of coffee. As a rule, these are people who are partial to real art. Our gallery is not just a store, it is a place where you can just relax, even if the purchase of anything is not included in the plans. We opened the gallery in 2007, so it is still very young. It was not difficult for me to collect collections, since I grew up in a family in which for several generations I was engaged in antiques and art. I am an architect by training, I graduated from Amman University, so, to some extent, this is my profession. I constantly go to international auctions, get to know collectors, negotiate with them, purchase items for the gallery. All this is very interesting, however, it takes a lot of time. I really like working in Dubai, because it is precisely this cultural and artistic direction that is developing very well in it today.
Where are you from, if not secret?
I grew up in Jordan, although originally from the Caucasus, my ancestors are Circassians.
The same ones that are still serving in the personal guard of the Jordanian King Abdullah II? Do you speak Russian?
Probably the same ones. The Circassian diaspora in Jordan is very large. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Russian, because my parents left the Caucasus when I was still very young. And Jordan is simply not a country, but an open-air museum. Everywhere you go, old man meets you. And now I really want everything that I have absorbed in myself as a child, to present and tell other people. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to invite all your readers to our gallery. Welcome, we are waiting for you at the Vindemia Gallery.
And when everyone responds to your invitation, one gallery will not be enough. What's next?
I am sure that Dubai needs a full-fledged art museum, where it will be possible to exhibit unique exhibits. Some items from our collection are real museum masterpieces, and keeping them in the gallery is a crime. For the museum you need a good large room. I have already negotiated with other galleries, they are all in solidarity with me. One thing is good, in Dubai everything is happening rapidly. And most likely, a good art museum will appear. Believe me, it won’t cost much money. For our part, we will make every effort to this.
Thank you and good luck to you, and often organize interesting and informative exhibitions.