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Interview with Romain Tichit, director of the YIA Art Fair
Artstyle 01 Jun 2023

Interview with Romain Tichit, director of the YIA Art Fair

Today, Artsper is meeting Romain Tichit, cofounder and director of the YIA – Young International Artists Art Fair. Founded in 2010, the YIA Art Fair represents a new contemporary art show which will celebrate its third birthday in Paris in next October, at the same time as the FIAC. What is a fair? How to organize a project of this scope? What are the success keys? We tell you everything!

Romain Tichit sadly passed away in early July, 2023.

Artsper: Romain, you worked for several years in the ad industry (Publicis, WTBA). With this professional path, you did not choose a career path in the art: Where has the idea of the YIA come from? Tell us a little bit about the origin of the project.
Myself an artist, I’ve always been attracted by all kinds of artistic expressions, and especially for contemporary art. Even before my first steps in the ad industry, communication and digital, my friends and I – some of them are today my associates – were running some contemporary art exhibitions and gathering projects.
Since high school, we have realized different projects such as the development of the platform “YGEES – Young Generationeees” offering a selection of emerging artists from the scene of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris and “Ruedeseine.com”, website gathering the programming and current events of the art galleries of the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. We also organized with some artists some exhibitions, performances and concerts in some atypical places. Lofts, Clubs, short-lived galleries, appartments…Made on the fringe of our professional activities, the implementation and organisation of these projects asked us a lot of implication and patience. After wonderful encounters in the course of years, we re-launched ourselves in 2010 in the YIA – Young International Artists – adventure by federating around the YIA Art Fair 15 artists from the new-garde represented by their gallery in Paris.

Artsper: What is the YIA concept?
The YIA – Young International Artists concept is to federate artists from the new-garde represented by excellence galleries which support contemporary art and especially the young scene. The founding principles of the YIA – Young International Artists are the assertion of human values : conviviality, share, creation and art promotion and diffusion support in France and among the continents. I believe that these values are essential in an economical and social context that we all know today. At the time of each edition, we choose an atypical space, generally industrial and under a glass roof in which artists’ works can “discuss”. These spaces are without any partition or stands like in most of traditional fairs. More than a simple fairm the YIA Art Fair is also a new experiment for art-lovers: the highlight and dialog of artists’ works of art in a new historic place. Throughout its events, the YIA Art Fair ambition is really the highlight of nominated artists’ work and the engagement of galleries which support them. It’s also the occasion for us to thank in our manner all the contributors, art passionate and sponsor who support the promotion and diffusion of contemporary art, in a conviviality context.

Artsper: The fair universe is a hard world and particularly competitive: what have you thrown yourself into such a crazy project?
For a passionate as I am, it is a formidable challenge but also a chance full of history to rub shoulders everyday with all these artists, galleries and players of this artistic movement that is contemporary art. We need competition to create a market, it is a driving force. Therefore, we are all partners and we have to find new concepts to best highlight the works of art and allow artists, collectors, galleries, professional institutions, journalists and art-lovers to meet. The traditional fair model (editorial note: the space where works of art are exhibited by gallery in distinct and separated stands) tends to evolve and we all, partners and organizers, have to imagine and set up the basis of this change, i.e. the gathering and presentation of works and artists in the framework of a fair. We did it with the partnership with Lille Art Fair in March, which allowed the presentation, within the fair, of a selection of a twenty or so artists represented by their gallery in a space designed for the occasion. We are doing it again in June at the occasion of the partnership with The Solo Project in Bâle, where we will present a program of some artists’movies, still in a space especially thought for the event.

Artsper: Why have you chosen to enter in the world of art by the fair instead of the gallery for example? What has interested you the most in this structure?
Ideas of encounters between artists, the fact of federate some galleries around a common project, or create a rendezvous during the FIAC week delighted me. The job of gallery owner, especially when it supports artists from the new-garde, is a particular job, hard and complex, reserved to insiders. By building throughout the years the YIA Art Fair, I’ve thought of offering at best my skills and networks to build with galleries, artists and partners the reflexion basis of new contemporary art models.

Artsper: How have you begun to build your project and what are the essential elements that allowed you to progress?
We began to build our project around artists, galleries and partners with whom we are close. My experience in the ad industry and managing of projects allowed me to understand at best artists, collectors and galleries demands, and manage to set up the basis of the creation of a contemporary art exhibition. Then, the permanent face-to-face with galleries, artists and also the constant commitment of numerous contributors allow me to always call myself into questions and progress.

Artsper: What are the biggest difficulties you have encountered in this project?
I would say logistical difficulties. Now, I find interesting to adapt ourselves and find human means allowing the realisation of our different projects.

Artsper: The YIA has encountered a big success and very good galleries showed their interest very fast: how do you explain this and, according to you, what made the difference?
The project was new and the approach interesting: gathering in an atypical place a selection of artists from the new-garde and represented by their excellence gallery in Paris during the FIAC. The highlight of the works and the relation between people were also different. Everyday we shared a real story with galleries, artists, guests and journalists who managed, thanks to the organization of FIAC Art Fair, to find a privileged place of rendezvous, convivial and in human scale.

Artsper: What advice would you give to someone who would like to build its Contemporary Art fair?
Passion! In order to launch ourselves in such a project, we need to love contemporary art and to know how to keep the specific codes of a real fair. Then, looking for singular places allowing the highlight of works of artists and galleries, and the encounter between people. Finally, keeping one’s chin up and being creative. The building of a fair is a beautiful adventure.

Artsper: What is your best memory with the YIA?
Today, I cannot talk about memories. We’re in the instant. Therefore, let’s say the meeting and exchange with artists, galleries and all the people with whom we work to make the project progress.

Artsper: Tell us the next edition of YIA. How do you want the fair to develop?
The YIA will take place in October in Paris. We’re currently working on a new format mixing our basics to something new. We’ll be able to say more soon! We’re currently finishing off our selection, and after Bâle, we’ll be able to announce the program.

Artsper: You have also associated with Artsper’s project as an artistic advisor: what does interest you in this adventure and what are your next projects?
With Artsper, I like the smart idea of generalizing art by creating a relation between galleries and artists, and new collectors who would like to acquire a work of art, in a gallery or online. Thus, the Internet is a great contemporary art diffusion mean and it is essential today for the galleries to become aware of it and be present on these new formats which allowed the presentation of artists’ works but also the exchange. For the moment, we have with Artsper some projects like the gathering of art galleries and set up of partnerships with fairs in France and throughout the world. In function of the progress and success of this new partnership, I hope to offer Artsper my skills in the organization of an event that would be dedicated to it.

Artsper: A little word about your favorite artists, contemporary or not?
I would not talk about favorite artists but more about beautiful encounters and discussions that were made throughout time. Vincent Ganivet, Guillaume Cabantous, Pierre Fisher, Hubert Marot, Jean-François Leroy, Lionel Sabatté, Lionel Scoccimaro, Rero, Raphaël Denis, Baptiste Debombourg,  Simon Nicaise, Vincent Mauger…

About Artsper

About Artsper

Founded in 2013, Artsper is an online marketplace for contemporary art. Partnering with 1,800 professional art galleries around the world, it makes discovering and acquiring art accessible to all.

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