I’m not normally an advocate for publicly denouncing any individual but I feel compelled to write something about Yara Tschallener, former owner of the Red Gate Gallery in south London. It has been three years since a number of artists have heard from her. Fortunately, we live at a time where technology makes the world a smaller place. We find more about people if we search hard enough. Equally, social media helps to identify those among us who have no morals, decency or integrity with how they treat others. I feel it necessary to highlight my concerns. Due to Yara’s questionable activities and consequent disappearance, there are artists who remain out of pocket whilst she remains, in theory, a good few thousands of pounds richer than she should be!
Yara holds a master’s degree in the applied arts from the Academy of Art in Avignon and has worked over 20 years within the contemporary arts sector. She has a wealth of experience and should know this sector is incestuous and a platform for knowing who is professional and trustworthy. Yara, aka the ’Tasmanian devil’ (as she describes herself in certain circles) is a devil indeed! Currenltly living in Goudargues, south of France, she provides painting and fine arts courses from 300 Euros for beginners and tourists in a former monastery.
In 2011, Yara was evicted from the gallery premises and appeared be in hiding. The Red Gate gallery, a landmark in south London with a 13-year history, was closed whilst the police investigated her whereabouts. According to reports from the local press, Keith Barnfather, landlord for the former gallery premises, issued Miss Tschallener with an eviction notice at the beginning of August 2011 because of unpaid rent, for which she allegedly owed him a four-figure sum. For several days, a number of artists tried to contact Yara without success. Several artists scheduled to exhibit over future months were left without a venue or the money they paid in advance for exhibition space.
One of the artists, Anthony Ruby said Ms Tschallener’s actions were “repulsive”, adding, “When you are gearing up to a certain date and it does not happen because of someone else’s dishonesty, it is not good”. Artist Marta Frankiewicz made me aware of her situation. Marta arrived from Poland to set up her solo exhibition. The show was due to open that week with dignitaries from the Polish community invited to a planned private viewing. She arrived only to find the gallery locked with no access to her work inside which, as you can imagine was most upsetting.
Moving three years on, we can be open minded and even understanding that an individual’s circumstances may contribute to undesirable or unorthodox behavior. We are all human and none of us our without fault. Yara may have her reasons for doing what she did but ,since 2011, there has been no direct communication, no explanation, sign of remorse or gesture of good will to pay a single penny back to each of those affected. Prior to this, like many of the artists affected, I saw Yara as a trustworthy person and friend. What should we conclude about this individual and would you trust her? I leave that up to you! Right, I have some time on my hands. I think I fancy a trip to the south of France for some painting lessons!!