5 Questions for Gallery Owner, Catinca Tabacaru

For our 5 Questions series, we ask creative professionals five questions about the nature of creation and collaboration. This week we spoke with Catinca Tabacaru, owner and director of the CATINCA TABACARU gallery in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Having spent years as a human rights lawyer, Catinca began working as an art dealer and curator in 2009 when she founded Tinca Art Inc. Expanding Tinca Art into a public gallery this past May, Catinca recently emailed us from New York City to talk about how travel effects her work, her favorite show she’s ever curated, and her love of Antoni Gaudi.


1. LASTBLOG: Where do you go for inspiration?

Catinca Tabacaru: I seem to be most inspired when I travel away from it all. It’s not that away is better than here, it’s just that when I’m in the thick of it, it’s easy to not see the forest for the trees. While in some far away land, my mind has the time and space to marinate over ideas. I find something that moves me and then go on a mental journey into how I would explore that new discovery. For example, I recently came into contact with the naturalists of 1970s Iceland via i8 Gallery’s show in Basel, Switzerland. After acquiring an artwork and running into several more pieces in Bergen, Norway, I’m all of a sudden moved to curate an exhibit that uses the wind as its starting point for creation.

“I would love to build a prison with Gaudi… for so many reasons.” – Catinca Tabacaru

2. LASTBLOG: Walk us through one of your favorite things you’ve created.

CT: I made a canopy of violins and cellos a few years back and titled it, “The flute falls in love with the clarinet.” It hung at the entryway of the 2012 Beethoven Festival in Chicago so every person who came in had to walk beneath it. You couldn’t help but look up and I loved watching that moment of wonder cross each person’s face. I felt like I’d added a bit of magic to the world.  It’s no surprise that the piece was a collaboration with artist and dear friend Justin Orvis Steimer whose magical show is hanging in the gallery as of September 5th… it’s filled with pillows, swings and the smell of Palo Santo wood.

"The Flute and the Clarinet Fall in Love," by Catinca Tabacaru, one of her favorite things she's ever created.

“The Flute and the Clarinet Fall in Love,” by Catinca Tabacaru, one of her favorite things she’s ever created.

3. LASTBLOG: What is the value of collaboration?

CT: Two brains think better than one. Four hands do more than two. It’s so simple.

Pieces from the "It Begins on Paper" inaugural show at CATINCA TABACARU Gallery

Pieces from the “It Begins on Paper” inaugural show at CATINCA TABACARU Gallery

4. LASTBLOG: Tell us about your most memorable collaboration to date.

CT: A former incarnation of what is now Undercurrent Projects invited me to curate a socially critical show of photographic works by Brian McCarty. The series is titled, “WAR TOYS: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip,” and gives voice to the children on both sides of the seemingly endless conflict. Undercurrent (at the time operating as Peanut Underground Art Projects) gave me the space and support to put on the show before I had a physical gallery of my own. It was an amazing amount of trust and effort they dedicated because they believed in the project. We ended up receiving over 30 reviews internationally and the exhibit was picked up by the Mid American Art Alliance to travel to museums and institutions around the country for 5 years. Collaboration always involves a willingness to give up some control and trust that, in certain circumstances, together we can achieve superior results.

“I felt like I’d added a bit of magic to the world.” – Catinca Tabacaru

5. LASTBLOG: Who would you like to collaborate with, past or present? Why?

CT: Antoni Gaudi. I love to build spaces that transcend people past the person they walked in as. I remember walking through Gaudi’s creations in Barcelona and feeling my views on unique space, green architecture and physical line evolve. It was an amazing experienced that vastly broadened the boundaries of what I previously believed living space to be.

<>I would love to build a prison with Gaudi… for so many reasons.

Interior of La Sagrada Famiglia by Antoni Gaudi

Interior of La Sagrada Famiglia by Antoni Gaudi

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