(Nalini S Malaviya)
Despite the growing awareness about contemporary art, people are still attracted to conventional art forms such as paintings. In paintings, too, the ones with aesthetic appeal sell faster than unconventional themes. Typically, galleries see brisk sales of traditional art genres and styles, and buyers that pick up works for under Rs 50,000 look for decorative art. This can probably be explained by the fact that such paintings are usually associated with a feel good factor. Decorative art falls in the realm of the comfort zone of the buyer, and are best suited to dress the walls. At that price the buyer is looking for an aesthetic investment rather that a financial one.
It is widely accepted that art enhances the social status of an individual and plays an important role in defining spaces. The common buyer may find conceptual art difficult to relate to, and while newer mediums or radical concepts may create a thought provoking piece, but, a buyer may be reluctant to display it in the home. Often family and social considerations affect buyer preferences. For instance, Indian sensibilities are averse to displaying nudes in either home or corporate spaces. Similarly, controversial themes or unpleasant imagery may find critical acceptance but not necessarily many buyers. Decorative art that is rooted in ethnic and cultural milieu tends to find a wider audience.
However, serious art collectors are attracted to experimental pieces as it does not conform to the run of mill art, and it is this very uniqueness that draws them to it.
With new artists coming up with newer concepts the market sees plenty of experimental art. But, due to lack of a proven track record, buyers may be unclear about their investment potential. It is only the seasoned collector who is able to somewhat predict their investment value or are willing to take the chance. Resale considerations also affect sales and if the buyer is unsure about the work’s resale prospect he is reluctant to buy it.
Similarly, space considerations also play a role when it comes to forms of art that are larger in size or are site specific.
(Published in Financial Times)