Fancy owning a Picasso? It’s not impossible says Belsize Village gallery owner

Andrea Sylvester, at her gallery Sylvester Fine Art

Andrea Sylvester, at her gallery Sylvester Fine Art - Credit: Archant

Emma Rice talks to Andrea Sylvester about art and how we could all potentially own a Picasso or a Chagall, if that’s what we love

It’s always been a somewhat hypothetical question, ‘Is art for everyone?’

According to Andrea Sylvester, owner and director of Sylvester Fine Art in Belsize Village, the answer is simple, ‘art is for everyone, except those who like bare walls.’

“If you have an interest it’s for you,” says Andrea, “there are some people who like bare walls which is fine, but if you are looking for things to go on your wall you should have art.”

Andrea even goes as far to say that many of us could actually own a Picasso. “It’s not impossible for people with limited budgets to have a Picasso or a Chagall on their wall. These artists have produced lots because for them it’s their passion.

“We have some of Picasso’s lino cuts in the gallery which he did when he moved to the south of France.”

Many of these, Andrea tells me, sell between £400-600 including the frame and VAT.

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“I remember a lovely lady came into the gallery once to view our Chagall paintings. She said to me, ‘I can’t afford to buy, but do you mind if I have a look, I adore Chagall.’

“We had some wonderful lithographs from Chagall’s bible series and they were all under £1,000. The woman bought one and walked out with the biggest smile on her face. She never imagined there would be such a thing as an affordable Chagall.”

‘So you’re bringing art to the people?’ I ask.

“The world of art can be a daunting and intimidating place,” says Andrea, especially for people venturing to buy their first piece of real art, many people walk into the gallery and say, I don’t really know anything about art. People have this idea that you have to know about it, but you don’t.

“I always feel for those people who come in and say they hate to ask a stupid question but that’s what galleries are there for, not to overload you, but to guide you and help you find the right art for you.”

Andrea says her aim is to make art accessible, not just financially but academically.

Again, she puts it simply, “All you need to ask yourself is, ‘do I love it?’ and ‘can I afford it?’ As long as you can say yes to both of those then you should buy it, and not allow others’ opinions to sway your judgement.”

But if you’re not sure what you like Andrea can also act as your very own art detective; able to decipher exactly what you like, (even if you’re not sure yourself), and then find it for you.

She has access to a plethora of fine art, not only in her own gallery but also from partner gallery, Goldmark.

Sylvester Fine Art caters for all budgets, all tastes, and offers principly, but not exclusively, British European 20th century art.

“Most people come in and do things face to face because they have the comfort of seeing things in the flesh. I have a lot in my gallery but have a reach that goes far beyond that. I do sell art off the walls but will also search for people and Goldmark gives me access to between 40 and 50,000 works of art. They have a substantial website and a big gallery outside of London, so I can bring it in for clients to view, no strings attached. I have access to a vast array of art in terms of artists, genres and mediums and can offer anything from a few hundred pounds up to tens of thousands.”

Andrea’s gallery in Belsize Lane features artists including, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Anthony Gross, Frances Davidson, Marc Chagall, Roderic Barrett, and many more.

Its next exhibition is on March 3, which features a variety of pieces from Ukrainian-born French artist, Sonia Delaunay, including her well known designs of original fabrics. The exhibition will also feature leading Japanese potter Ken Matsuzaki known internationally for his vessels using his own motifs and palette of glazes.

As well as paintings and prints the gallery always features studio potters who create ceramics which are functional as well as beautiful.

“I’ve been buying art for 30 years now,” adds Andrea, “but I came to pots later in life. We have the work of about half a dozen potters in the gallery and our studio potters make things that are both beautiful and functional. They’re not all for display.”

A classically trained musician, Andrea says she has never painted, but simply describes herself as one of life’s ‘huge appreciators of art.’

Sylvester Fine Art is the culmination of a dream for Andrea, held for many years that came about from an extraordinary passion.

“Since I was 18 or 19 I would spend hours wandering through the big galleries and museums wherever I was,” she says.

“When I was in a position to buy pieces, the more I read and the more art I saw, the more I got into it. In my heart, opening my own gallery was something I always wanted to do.”