(By Nalini S Malaviya)
These days artworks on paper are increasing in popularity because they are generally more affordable than oils and acrylics on canvas. When buying paintings on paper it helps to remember a few points. Typically paper is a fragile medium and gets damaged very easily. When artists use paper that is of inferior quality it affects the lifespan of the work drastically, thereby affecting your investment value. The acidic content of ordinary paper makes it darker with time and it will also tend to yellow or fade over the years. Therefore, when one buys a drawing or sketch, or watercolour that has been done on paper, it is important to check that it has been done on good quality acid-free paper.
Paper collages are also becoming very popular as a medium of expression with some artists. These collages are sometimes done with scraps of paper torn from newspapers and magazines. We are all aware how fast a newspaper yellows with exposure to sunlight. These publications are short lifespan products and are not suitable to be used for fine arts.
The quality of paper is determined by the raw materials that are used, and generally inexpensive paper is likely to be of inferior quality. When you are spending Rs.50,000 or more for a work of art, the idea behind it is that it should turn out to be a solid investment over time, and should last well over the years. But, a low-grade paperwork will not only lose colour, it can also become brittle or creased.
Restoring a paper artwork is an extremely tedious and expensive process, and may still not be able to match the original quality ultimately. In fact a good quality paper should take care of elements such as ageing, resistance to light and strength.
Normally, some artists come out with a range of artworks on paper in order to make it more affordable. However, it is equally important that they ensure that the quality of the paper makes it long lasting. When you are spending thousands of rupees as investment, do not hesitate to check and confirm the quality of materials used.
(Published in Financial Times)