Valuing art | Again | thenews.com.pk

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It is quite strange that art showrooms on a commercial basis are not called showrooms but galleries, while places selling vehicles, building materials and furniture are generally called showrooms and not stores. Typically, stores display and sell books, toys, clothing, accessories, medicines, weapons, electronics, hardware, convenience products, hosiery, cereals, fruits, vegetables and groceries. The products are numerous and can be small, large, cheap, expensive, affordable, local or imported.

Galleries, showrooms, boutiques, shops, stalls and online websites all represent intermediaries. They get a product from the manufacturer, provide the venue to market it, and get rid of it while earning a commission, discount, margin, or profit. However, the difference in the nomenclature of these points of sale is crucial.

Imagine a man or a woman who, in the span of a single day, visits an art gallery to collect a painting; goes to a car showroom to select the latest model of a certain brand; goes to a fashion store and picks up some dresses; enters a piece of furniture and chooses a set of sofas; find a pharmacy and get prescribed medication; stops at the corner store and buys a pack of milk, a bar of chocolate, a case of cold drinks; locates a vendor to order two dozen bananas and 3 kilos of mangoes; clicks on a website and buys six pairs of socks from an international chain. The same person behaves differently on all these points of commercial transactions, even if everywhere a similar affair takes place. Sell ​​and buy.

A consumer’s varying attitude towards their diverse needs is important in understanding how an art gallery is not a (framing/furniture) store, expensive showroom, designer store, a cosmetics store etc. It is the value of the items for sale that distinguishes a gallery from other commercial joints. The value of works of art offered is determined in several ways. Like its imagery, content and meaning, its monetary value is also unclear and subject to change. A gallery deals with items that have a better resale value than most other items on the market. You can buy a grand car, an expensive cell phone, a luxurious wedding dress, a pair of designer shoes; as soon as you own them, they become “second-hand”, and therefore less expensive.

There are of course places like jewellery, exchange offices and the stock exchange where your goods could appreciate in value. In antique stores, older items are likely to be more expensive. (The paradox is brilliantly illustrated by the joke: A tourist comes across a Buddha skull at an antique shop and asks for its price. Finding it unaffordable, he asks for something cheaper and is offered a smaller Buddha skull at half price. Buddha was a child,” the seller explains.)

Works of art are not necessarily evaluated on the basis of their connection to the past, or to represent the present or the future (such as the latest model of car, computer or other gadgets). They exist in an air of doubt, and a bit of love. Ideally, the art of marketing is one of the few activities conducted as an intellectual, emotional, personal, and friendly enterprise. Because what a gallery owner offers to a collector is not just a piece of paper, a strip of colored fabric, a block of sculpted wood, an object cast in plaster, resin or metal, but also an idea which is not limited to a price. ‘. Ideas, like birds, fly at indeterminate altitudes and directions, reach unknown places and land in unknown places.

Valuing art

The Prix Fixe exhibition at the San’at Initiative, it is presumed, was also a way of upgrading a work of art beyond that of a tableware, a cabinet, a decorative piece or of a second-hand bed, for which haggling and negotiation precede the final agreement. We are so accustomed to buying and selling things in our daily routine that we often treat works of art the same as an expensive bag, necklace or expensive dress that has to be acquired after a discount and a discount. . By organizing this exhibition, Abid Merchant, the co-founder of San’at Initiative, “looks back on his experience of the last eight years at the head of a commercial gallery in Pakistan”.

Even if the meaning, content or context of a work of art is not precisely determined, we realize that Abid Merchant, like many other gallery owners, wants works of art not to be negotiable products in store. The sum determined by the artist must be respected, because accepting this sum is also a way of recognizing the authority of the creator over his ideas and images.

The collective exhibition, held from August 2 to 11, included artists from various professional levels, pictorial strategies and conceptual issues. Adeel uz Zafar’s impressive drawings of a human form (or a toy) covered in a muslin/bandage strip suggest a painful existence in a society, in which everyone is afflicted, hurt, injured. Or feels like it; from the moment a television journalist turns his camera, the interviewee transforms into his expected position/statement of misery.

How could you admit that you are happy on the national media? It’s uninteresting, boring, banal, so the expected job is indicative of misery.

Adeel uz Zafar’s work is not just about injured characters. It also represents another aspect of the human body in its circumstances; loneliness and alienation as evidenced by the remarkable renderings of the body by RM Naeem, Muhammad Zeeshan and Scheherazade Junejo.

If Naeem portrays a female protagonist in a strange environment (made believable by his immaculate talent), and Zeeshan seems to maintain a personal and pictorial archive of characters posing for him as a colonial transcriber of native inhabitants, Junejo creates a smart and impressive. mapping how the human body and female flesh can be marketed as a label or seen in their essential state.

Female figures with animal skulls, the backs of bare torsos ending in puffy love-shaped objects, and a hand emerging from a sea of ​​sensuously painted folds of red cloth, allude to the way a body is perceived and exists, in an environment, so it’s image also becomes a commodity.

Valuing art

The supremacy and sophistication of Junejo’s depiction of the body, drapery and folk objects means that the artist speaks to our current cultural psyche. However, our present is not separate from our past. They are often intertwined, as observed in Meher Afroz’s meticulously constructed works with Urdu words such as love and faith. Afroz’s way of constructing his imagery, through rich layers, sensitive surfaces, varied textures; and the mixture of metal and paper, makes his work distinct. It also requires a closer examination of each line, mark, segment or letter.

Fixed Price conveyed a strong, stern and sensible message to artists and collectors; but on another note, the art world is not about prices or fixing them. If an artist is free in his imagination, why should he remain obsessed with price, imagery, technique? In his art, nothing is fixed, everything is – like a critic’s commentary or a connoisseur’s verdict.


The writer is an art critic based in Lahore.

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