Affordable Art Market: Is ‘Affordable’ a Magic Lamp or a Trapdoor?
|(Affordable Art Fair, image courtesy www.dw.de)|
The adjective ‘affordable’ automatically presupposes a) a kind of helplessness, b) class consciousness, c) socio-economic imbalances and d) questionable quality. There is something ‘unaffordable’ out there that’s why market in its inclusive strategies firmly writes down this word, affordable. You too can buy, it says. But it makes the consumer aware of his economic situation; he has to look for an affordable thing because his funds do not permit him to buy an ‘unaffordable’ thing. This automatically translates into class consciousness and the socio-economic disparities that he faces. Finally, when someone buys an affordable thing, somewhere he compromises with the size or quality of the thing. This is a reality. Now let us think about our art market and the word the adjective ‘affordable’ added to ‘art’.
Today, we see many galleries offering ‘affordable’ art or art with ‘affordable’ prices. A press note recently released by one of the forthcoming art fairs in Delhi claimed that the fair would sell art objects with prices ranging from Rs.500/- to Rs.5 Crore. Another press release says that most of the Laddo Sarai galleries hold hands together to celebrate a three days art festival where the buyers could select works with prices ranging from Rs.300/- to Rs.300,000/-. Many galleries in Mumbai and elsewhere take out their stock, carve shows out of them and offer them for a ‘better’ price. Auction houses also follow this ‘affordable’ mantra. This scenario is a positive change in the effort to stabilize the primary market which had gone haywire during the market boom years. However, the tag ‘affordable’ raises some questions.
First of all the word ‘affordable’ (even if it is said or implied by ‘invitation’ prices) forces one to ask a pivotal question: why were these works not ‘affordable’ till now? Or even if these works were there why these galleries did not show them to their clients? Anyone with common sense could understand that bigger prices bring in bigger commissions therefore bigger profits. So it was imperative for all the galleries to sell the hugely priced works. It is quite an understandable logic. But the second question is, what kind of works are they going to sell at lower prices? Are they going to sell those random artists and random works? If so why did they pose themselves as intellectual galleries till yesterday and ridicule those galleries that sold ‘affordable’ works? Thirdly, without compromising their artists’ list are they going to sell works done by same artists but in smaller formats and with cheaper materials? How are they going to maintain the quality of these works? Are they going to invite a new clientele altogether or are they going to tap the existing client list? If so what kind of assurances are they going to give to the potential buyers who could turn out to be a potential investor in the near future? Questions are innumerable.
I would like to warn all the galleries who are going to make the same mistake that they had committed during the boom years. If they committed the mistake with high end works then, now they are going to repeat the same mistake with the low end works. The scenario of ‘affordable’ art is going to be like this; it will attract a lot of new buyers who just want to decorate their properties. A set of people will ‘collect’ low end works thinking that they would turn them into gold in future. Most of them will be told or they themselves will believe that once upon a time when there was no art market, intelligent and patient investors, collectors and buyers bought the works from artists for throwaway prices. Now look at Raza, Husain, Krishen Khanna and so on. This scenario, I repeat is again a misleading scenario.
In an effort to survive, galleries want to sell anything that is possible to sell and get them profit. It might bring a new set of buyers. But let me warn them, they are one time buyers. They will come and go because they decorate their interiors once, not several times in a year. Even if they do, it is not necessary that they come back to the same gallery all the times. If the galleries are encouraging the unsuspecting buyers and collectors showing them lower prices as carrots, in all probability they too would turn into one time buyers. The moment they come to know that in a re-organized market whatever they collected for lower prices are treated as junk, they would lose interest both in those artists, their art and gallery system in general. This was what happened with the high end investors in art when the recession started; they wanted to liquidate their art but they found they got peanuts against the mammoth amounts that they had spent.
So I have an advice for all those who are going to celebrate affordable art and affordable art weeks. When you sell a work of art for Rs.300/- or Rs.3000/- or Rs.30000/- or Rs.300,000/- make your client aware that there is only 10% of chances for these works to come back in the secondary market as exchangeable art with further investment potentials. If someone is buying a work of art for Rs.30000/-, they should know that the chances of their purchase becoming a fixed deposit lie completely in the hands of the gallerists. It is the same case with the works worth Rs.300,000/-. If galleries cannot take care of the works and artists that they sell, they should assure realistically that they would stick to certain artists and see them reach the high end bracket over a period of time. If you doubt my words you just need to check with all those galleries who had offered ‘buy back’ policies to the investors and buyers during boom years. How many galleries have bought back any of the works that they had sold?
|(M F Husain with his painting)|
Let us make art affordable to everyone. But don’t confuse the buyer with the fairy tales of M.F.Husain. When Husain and his contemporaries were working, the number of artists who chose to become professional artists was meagre. Today, with information technology ruling the world, chances of art graduates opting to be professionals are many times more as they could show their works virtually to the interested world. Proportionate increase in galleries and other art showing avenues also has happened. That means the competition has become tougher. Hence, the onus is still on artists and gallerists than anybody else; if they want to make it, they need to work really hard and with a lot of patience. A consumer becomes an addict when quality is assured and loyalties are created. If you fail in creating such loyalties, dear galleries, your affordable art market would be a reversed euphoria destined to die out sooner than later.
Invoking the Indian Banksy
|(Madonnaro Street Art Week)|
NIV Art Centre, New Delhi presents a unique event, titled 'Madonnaro' - a Street Painting Week. The week starts Monday, the 8th of July 2013 and will be open till 13th July 2013, Saturday.
The venue is located at the NIV’s lane and continues outside the premises. Many participants from all over the country are expected to participate in this unique event of painting the street. The street will be transformed by the artists on Neb Sarai into a street of beautiful murals for all to enjoy and enhancing a community spirit in the area.
Street painting, also commonly known as street art, is the activity of rendering artistic designs on pavement such as streets, sidewalks, and town squares with impermanent materials. Street Painting originated in Italy in the 16th century. Street painters were called "madonnaro", which translates to Madonna, because the early images were mostly of the Madonna.
This call is open to the all the artists who can make their presence and participate with the available materials provided by NIV. The painting timing is from 5:00pm to 8: 00 pm.
Exploring the Inside and Outside
The artists have depicted their understanding and interaction with the meaning of ‘space’. Depicted as cityscapes and landscapes of urban and rural imagery, and as deep rooted personal space and conceptual interiors in some of the works. The young artist explore the unknown terrains of the inside and the outside worlds they interact with and experience.
The works are rendered in acrylics and oils and as drawings and paintings on canvas.
The show is on till the 18th of July 2013.
The artist has tried to bring to the viewer’s attention the intricate stories of the dimensions of the Universe in his colourful abstract art works. Each painting depicts openly the various perspectives the artist has explored in the art of abstraction.
The show is on view at the Urban Solace gallery, Bangalore till the 14th of July 2013.
|(A painting by Neha Grewal at Inside/ Outside show)|
Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi presents a show of three young emerging artists in a show titled,‘Inside/ Outside’. The show displays works by artists Neha Grewal, Bharti Verma and Tanoy Choudhury.
Psychedelic Art show
|(A painting by Rajkumar Rajan)|
Urban Solace art gallery presents a solo show of artworks by talented artists Rajkumar Rajan. The works on display are a unique collection of paintings inspired by trance music, making them a psychedelic feast for the eyes. This collection has 14 painting, replete with vibrant colours , rendered in oil and acrylics on canvas.
Voyage of Exploration - Students’ show
|( A painting by the student at the show)|
Shrishti Art Gallery, Hyderabad presents a group show of art works by the students of Master of Fine Arts program 2013 of University of Hyderabad.
The show titled,’ Voyage of Exploration’ has on display the drawings, paintings, etchings and sculptures made by the students during their final year. The show brings to the fore some of the promising artworks by the future art practitioners of tomorrow’s art world.
The works show a concern to address the contemporary and ever changing issues in society today. Although amateur in rendition and approach, the solutions offered via art can geenrate enough thought provoking reactions in the viewer. The works tingle the sensibilities of the audience and force them to think differently.
The show is on view till the 25th july 2013.
(News reports by Sushma Sabnis)