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Slow looking Story by Masha Ermoshina

Try this guide and discover paintings of non-European artists 

A guide to slow looking: discover paintings of non-European  artist
Daria Ivnitsky is a founder of kunsttell, a curated marketplace with art from non-European artists. Her mission is to make art easily accessible and affordable for everyone while supporting artists from different countries. Using simple guides, she promotes the concept of slow-looking that helps to engage with art on a deeper level.
Daria used to work at one of the largest world art museums in Russia and as a brand manager in corporations. Last 7 years she has been helping people to fall in love with art, working with museums and galleries, artists and curators from all over the world.

– What is slow looking?

It’s an approach that encourages people to spend more time looking at a selected artwork.

Various studies have found that a person spends an average of 14 to 18 seconds looking at a piece of art in a museum or gallery – which hardly makes it a meaningful experience.

Slow art culture is based on the idea that a person can spend at least 3-5 minutes looking at each artwork. The unhurried meditation over a photograph or painting that moves you is proven to soothe your mind and calm your psyche.

– How did this concept appear?

The slow movement started in 1986 when the first McDonald’s outlet was opened in Rome. Italians didn’t support the fast-food culture, and it gave rise to the slow food movement, with 15 countries signing a manifesto that aimed to promote local foods and traditional food production. In 2004, journalist Carl Honoré published his book In Praise of Slow, promoting a more relaxed way of living and the ‘slow philosophy’.

In 2008, Phil Terry spent hours looking at two abstract paintings at the Jewish Museum in New York. It gave him an idea to launch Slow Art Day, which is now celebrated in many galleries and museums around the world.

The movement believes that we need to observe more and value quality above quantity. Now, in our increasingly fast-paced lives, it has become even more important to sometimes slow down and contemplate beauty.

– How can a slow-looking approach change the experience of going to an art gallery or a museum?

It can become a self-therapeutic experience. We can notice how our mind responds to a particular piece – and understand what we like and don’t like about it. This way of contemplation is about concentrating on the present. And the time spent in the gallery can make you feel more relaxed and boost your mood.

– How much time do you usually spend looking at one artwork?

I am an escapist-type art gallery visitor. For me, it is a way to get out of my everyday routine and spend time with myself. I prefer to spend around 10 minutes looking at each artwork.

I am an energetic person, and slowing down for me is crucial to stay happy. I believe in the slow art culture and its benefits for mental health. That’s why with each purchase on kunsttell I put a card with a step-to-step guide to mindful looking that helps to fully enjoy the artwork.

– How did you come up with the idea of creating kunsttell?

When I was the Head of Marketing for one of the largest art museums in Russia, I realized that traditional ways of interacting with art do not always work for non-artsy people. Visitors rarely connect with artworks on a personal level. No one gives them any tips on how to look at an artwork and which questions to ask during this process.

Later, when I moved to Berlin in 2019, I also realized that it’s very hard for non-European artists to become a part of the local art scene. For them gaining representation and selling artwork in Europe is next to impossible.

So I came up with the idea to create a platform that could solve both of these problems. I made a curated marketplace with affordable art and prints from non-European artists which helps to engage with art using the slow-looking guide.

– Who are the first artists on your platform?

kunsttell is kicking off with curated artworks by 6 Central Asian artists from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

During the lockdown, I occasionally found a Facebook group where contemporary Central Asian artists shared their art with friends and friends of friends. I was surprised to see so many talented artists with absolutely unique styles and techniques.

After months of research, I met Saadat Aitalieva, a curator from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She helped me to find these first 6 artists and organize everything, including professional photo shooting with a French photographer Maxime Fossat.

This year we are also planning to start working with artists from Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Sharing the same post-Soviet background, I know how hard it is to be represented outside local art markets.

Zika Kahramonova

Country: Uzbekistan

Zika is inspired by Japanese prints, ancient myths, legends, medieval graphics, and miniatures. Her creative work is closely linked with Zoroastrian themes and mythology of Central Asia where she brings up the issue of practicing religion by natural causes and not because society dictates it.

Uzbekistan is the only Central Asian country that preserved huge pieces of immense ancient culture, absolutely separate from the Soviet heritage. Here many things abide together: capitalism and the traditional model of living, as well as Gucci and chapan (bright embroidered cover-up), Nutella and sumalyak (healthy paste of dried fruits and wheat germs made for pagan New Year).

Asya Talip

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Asya paints digital art moving in the direction of the analytical painting. Painting for her is a way to splash out strong emotions into the process; strong emotional experiences serve as fuel for inspiration. In her artworks Asya studies and uses the elements of wild energy of ethnic Kyrgyz.

Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia. The country houses the second world's largest high-altitude lake. One can meet here sanyasi and nomads, rave get-togethers, and traditional horse-riding games similar to polo (but with a sheep carcass instead of a ball).

Evgeniy CHERVI

Country: Kyrgyzstan

The artworks of Evgeniy started with street graffiti and experiments with fonts. Later he translated graffiti to canvas mixing spray paint with acrylic. The artist uses combined techniques and graffiti symbols. He often ironically uses the image of a skull in his works.

Jandos Alibaev

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Jandos is striving to go away from academism to naïve art, searching for new forms and methods of depicting them. The leitmotif of his creative work is the aspiration to find a child inside himself, to observe the world through bright colors and pure lines by playing with forms and combinations of colors.

Dastan Temirov

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Dastan tries various techniques to develop his creative element: linocut printing, lithography, marquetry, sculpture, monotyping, but he mainly uses charcoal for painting and printmaking. He draws human physical forms using natural textures and lines. By way of meditation in the process of painting, he comes in a state between sleep and reality and splashes the canvas with caught illusion or mirage.

Meder Akhmetov

Country: Kyrgyzstan

Meder is an architect, which helps him to keep a balance between an effective artistic state and a more common state of mind. His love for architecture and so-called "uyatki" creates a series of add-on drawings in which the object’s brutality becomes important. “Uyatki” is physical and aesthetic sensibility using material brutality.


Try this alone or with your friends and family

An artwork for this: preview, hi-rez

Zika Kahramonova, Under the sun series, 2021

Turn on some music, grab your favorite drink and relax.


Look at the artwork for 1 minute, letting your eyes see each detail.


Ask yourself:

  • What do I see in this image?

  • What does it make me think about?

  • What emotions do I experience now?

Give yourself 1-2 minutes to reflect after each question. You can make notes if you want.


Share your answers with friends or family members. Discuss it, and if you feel safe enough, go deeper into your conversation. You will be surprised to know how differently we see the art, and how different it makes us feel.

You can also use this guide with any other art print you like on, Google Arts & Culture, or look at an art piece on your wall.

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