Looks can be deceiving in art. Don't get fooled

Looks can be deceiving in art. Dont get fooled
All the paintings were lacking Malik's handwritten notes that he writes for each of his pieces.

Dubai - In many cases, the forgeries can only be told apart from the original paintings by details which might be overlooked by inexperienced buyers.



by

Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Sat 8 Jul 2017, 10:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 9 Jul 2017, 12:11 AM

For many connoisseurs and art fans, admiring and potentially buying a painting is the ultimate desire. But looks can be deceiving. According to one internationally renowned local artist, faked or skillfully forged art is commonplace, often fooling buyers and admirers alike. 
Hesham Malik, the UAE-based and Bahraini-born Indian artist, is well known locally and around the world for his highly sought after works of art, many of which are sold for millions of dollars to avid art collectors around the globe. One painting, entitled Elizabeth of Russia, sold for $38.7, while another, CAT, recently fetched $54.9 million in a New York City auction.
But, like many artists, Malik has been surprised and disappointed to find that forgers have reproduced several of his paintings, some of which were sold to unsuspecting novice buyers who were unaware of how to examine them properly.
"The art world today is fuelled by pride, greed, and ambition," he told Khaleej Times. "As an artist, I was mainly in disbelief. However, it has to be dealt with as buyers need to know how to confirm authentic paintings."
In many cases, the forgeries can only be told apart from the original paintings by details which might be overlooked by inexperienced buyers.
For example, a forged version of one of Malik's paintings titled Fillia was created in the wrong size, with Malik's trademark silver flakes missing. Another painting, Joga, was also missing a black line at the bottom. The mistake in a third painting, Arahata, was much more glaring: a child depicted in the original painting was missing.
All the paintings were lacking Malik's handwritten notes that he writes for each of his pieces.
Price too good to be true?
Notably, fraudulent versions of works of art often sell for considerably less than the original. Malik's original Fillia, for example, sold for $14.47 million, compared to $1.3 million for the fake. Similarly, the original Joga sold for $15.9 million, more than double the $7.3 million the fake sold for.
"The price at which a forgery is offered to potential buyers is often an indication of its true status. Authentic masterpieces are always expensive, honest copies cheap," Malik said. "Forgeries offered by fraudulent dealers tend to be priced far too high for copies, but considerably under the market value."
According to Malik, in many cases, unscrupulous dealers of fraudulent art often spin elaborate tales when trying to make a sale. 
"The dealer might explain that there is a shady side to the owner's life, that the owner has large debts that need immediate payment, and that at this special bargain price the painting must be bought immediately," he said. 
"The general rule with painting, as with other collectables which are prone to fakery is, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is," he added. "All this becomes a big issue for genuine art galleries and artists as collectors consider the deals not knowing they are fakes."
How it affects artists
In Malik's opinion, fake and forged artwork impacts both the art market and the world's understanding of art.
"The fakes directly affect an artist's market negatively as collectors and galleries generally take a cautious step back," he said. "However, the deepest question to address in the area of art forgery is, simply, what difference does it make?"
"A major objection to fakes and forgeries is the way it distorts tour understanding of an original artist," he added. "As the forger's aim is to mimic the appearance of his model artist, once a forgery is accepted as genuine, it will inevitably affect the art-historical understanding."
Malik also noted that the world will never truly be aware if "perfect", undetectable fakes are possible. 
"The truly successful forgeries, if they exist, hang to this day on the walls of our museums," he said. "About them, we may never truly know."
bernd@khaleejtimes.com
 
 


More news from UAE