Vladislav Doronin On Collecting Art


Vladislav Doronin at Aman Venice.

Aman owner Vladislav Doronin has built his art collection through a search for a deeper spiritual and cultural meaning.

The founder of Russian real-estate development firm Capital Group and the owner and chairman of Aman, Vladislav Doronin is as passionate about art and design as he is about elevated hospitality. Here, he shares his thoughts on everything from spiritual Asian art to the business of collecting.

What are your earliest memories of art?
Growing up in St Petersburg, I was fortunate to be exposed to one of the world’s most famous collections of art and the second-largest art museum in the world, The Hermitage. It was there I first discovered the Suprematists and the Russian avant-garde and, specifically, works by Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky, Nikolay Punin, Vladimir Tatlin, Lyubov Popova, Pavel Filonov and Aleksandra Ekster. I was drawn to their works because of their geometry and almost musical quality. These artists were among the first in my collection.

Are you equally passionate about art, architecture and design?
For the last decade I have been collecting design pieces alongside contemporary and pop art. I have been particularly drawn to pieces by designers who were originally trained as architects and this is no coincidence as I’ve worked with many prominent architects throughout my 24-year career in real estate.

Tell us about your home designed by Zaha Hadid.
Zaha Hadid and I were very close and spent a lot of time together during the design of my home on the outskirts of Moscow. This Capital Hill Residence is one of the projects I am most proud of and seeing it for the first time was incredibly moving.

Do you work with an art advisor to build your collections?
I have a number of friends and art consultants who give me advice. Usually I will ask a few informed people their opinions about a work I am interested in, but, ultimately, I trust my instincts. I live with my collection so I need to have a relationship with each work, and I also need to know that it will fit in with the rest of my works.

Tell us about your photography collections and the spaces they fill.
I like Peter Beard and admire the rough, raw, and powerful quality of his work. I also have a collection of works by Hollywood actor and director Dennis Hopper. I have a few portraits of his friends, including Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha, that were taken in the 1960s.

Are any of the works you own particularly spiritual?
I have spent many years training in the ancient practices of martial arts, yoga, qigong, and Tibetan Buddhism. Through these disciplines, I have studied the flow of energy and have learned to look for art with spiritual and cultural meaning that resonates with me. Traveling to Aman destinations around the world has allowed me to collect many objects of spiritual and martial significance. From my travels to Amankora in Bhutan, a spiritual kingdom with a strong connection to Buddhism, I acquired traditional carved masks, amulets, incense burners and devotional items used in sacred Buddhist ceremonies. I also have prayer beads, prayer wheels and statues given to me by local monks.

What are the most unique pieces in your collection?
I have been inspired by my trips to Aman Tokyo and Amanemu and have appreciated the intense Japanese disciplines and precision. This exacting approach is evident in their art, culture, architecture, and in the Japanese swords that can take up to a year to forge by hand. I have several of these remarkable, prized weapons in my art collection. Japanese regimented discipline is also evident in the Bonsai tree and I have several of these groomed trees — some more than 100 years old — that I consider living, breathing components of my art collection.

Do you participate in the art programme for Aman properties?
We work with artists, galleries, and fairs on a case-by-case basis and I was recently involved with the launch of a Skyspace installation by James Turrell at a villa in Amanzoe in Greece. The sky over the Peloponnese is magical, turning sublime colours over sunrise and sunset and this setting suits his work beautifully.

Is there an artist or architect that that you’re particularly excited about?
I would like to work with Tadao Ando and Santiago Calatrava in the future, and, in terms of art, I am particularly excited about discovering new artists from Japan and China. Calligraphy and ink drawings have been increasingly compelling, so I may add a few of these to my collection.

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