How well do you know your art?
With Art Dubai taking place this weekend, delve into the trends of this exclusive industry
Art is constantly on the move. Today, most galleries are following the global trend of becoming borderless. They don't stay in one location, and become internationally mobile by moving from art fair to art fair to capture the eye of the global collector.
While there are many established collectors in the Middle East, the community is not as diverse and vibrant as many other regions. People in the region are reluctant to cross a certain price threshold with assets being diverted elsewhere for a number of reasons. A majority would prefer to spend their money on luxury items, such as expensive watches or bags as they regard these items as having a perceived sense of utility and secondary market should they wish to sell them off. It is a market more familiar and transactional to them and one which they feel they have more control and knowledge of. A recent survey completed by Art by Amrita asked respondents if they saw art as an investment - 45 per cent responded that they find art confusing and they were unsure if something they bought would appreciate in value.
Another reason people tend to hesitate when it comes to purchasing art is the opportunity cost of that money as opposed to other investments. While the UAE is now less transient as it once was, with expats staying in the UAE for an average of seven years and more, expats still see the region as a place where they would be earning a higher salary than they would in other parts of the world and they want to save to create a nest egg for when they return to their home country. This then creates 'competition' for those potential funds.
As a result, you have collectors in the UAE - from millennials to higher earning executives and entrepreneurs - favouring a lower price points. In the above-mentioned survey, almost 50 per cent of respondents had an annual income of over $100,000 a year and yet only 9 per cent were willing to spend more than $2,000 for a single piece of art in their homes.
Therefore, the region attracts the global collector that is looking to acquire art from younger artists before they start to get too expensive. This creates a potential 'art drain' of interesting and diverse art as it gets shipped to different parts of the world. To cater to the price points of the region, fairs such as Art Dubai are creating a 'gateway' in the form of Bawwaba and the Residents Exhibition. These platforms look at converting bystanders into collectors, creating a culture of appreciating art.
Whether fairs like Art Dubai provide a voice to artists and attract the world's global collectors and global galleries, or whether they look for strategies to educate and grow their collector base, one thing is for sure - the importance of a fair like Art Dubai to foster conversation, talent and ideas, makes it one of the most important cultural events in the Middle East.
For more information on Amrita Sethi, visit www.artbyamrita.com or follow her on Instagram @art.by.amrita