10 Feb 2009

Art for art’s sake

(By Nalini S Malaviya)


In the current scenario, there are a reduced number of buyers looking at art as an investment option. Readers will remember that in the recent past art had emerged as an attractive alternative asset class for buyers with disposable incomes. Financial market conditions are such today that job security and liquidity are of prime importance for most people. In such a situation, drastic cost cutting at the corporate and the individual level have affected the sales of artworks. However, this is not a universal phenomenon and there are still a few buyers who are buying art for art’s sake, or, investing in low end art in the hope that it will fetch good returns in the long term. As the amount of investment has fallen steeply and is approximately in the range of rupees 20,000 to 50,000 at best, the amount of outlay is fairly low compared to what was seen even a year ago. This trend was also noticed at the street art fair held recently in Bangalore. More than 1,500 fine art students and self taught painters from across the country participated in this fair. The response was phenomenal and according to the organizers sales of over a crore happened through the day. Interestingly, most of the paintings were water colours of landscapes which did brisk business. Most of the art was priced under Rs 10,000. Obviously, buyers were not looking at the investment value of art, but were drawn to its visual appeal as wall fillers.

Incidentally, a few art students from previous years’ fairs have been known to go on and hold exhibitions at galleries at much higher prices. Therefore, by that same reference there is a distinct possibility that a few buyers at this year’s fair may also have made wise investments. The Bangalore art fair held once a year on the street outside a premier art institute has emerged as a much awaited art event. With a greater focus on quality and enhanced screening of the participants, the fair has the potential to develop into a credible art event. Its USP lies in the fact that is held outside the gallery environs and it makes affordable art accessible to the common man.

(Published in Financial Times)

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