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Spot it, feel it and treasure it

what, why, how... a key to the magic world of art mela

In keeping with the essence of the CIMA Art Mela — which is not about fantasies of owning a Jogen Chowdhury or a Ramananda Bandyopadhyay some day but the reality of actually doing up your home with their work — art enthusiasts and admirers kept trooping in on Day Two. With a broad and tricky mix of names, styles and genres to choose from, Metro spoke to a clutch of visitors — some vying for their first piece of art and some for their first tryst with Bengal’s artists — to list their common concerns and then got experts from CIMA Gallery to address the same.

Q: How do I go about picking art that I can emotionally connect with and is also valued by others?

A: While it depends on personal taste, avoid picking up pieces that look expensive but don’t move you. Art buyers are usually literate liberals so it should reflect certain values that you have or maybe things of imagination and not things of reality. Acquiring an artwork reflects those values and talks about the person you are.

Q: As an artist, I too would like to have my work exhibited in a prestigious Art Mela such as this. How can I go about it?

A: The CIMA Art Mela takes artists who have graduated from art colleges, unlike exhibitions based on the concept of Outsider Art where people of different professions who like painting, their works are showcased.

It can be a long process that would entail administrative meetings with the artists, browsing through their earlier works, talking to them and understanding their thought processes and, of course, whether their final work is exciting.

Q: While choosing something for my home, how do I know which wall to put it up on, which room to choose...?

A: The size and imagery of the work decides the size of wall that should hold it. Smaller the work the more detail in it so one could put that up in a more intimate spot that would require closer inspection. So it should preferably go up on a smaller wall, by itself.

And if it’s an artwork with bold imagery, it could go as a part of a group of works or stand on a medium-sized wall on its own.

A large painting with large imagery would need depth and space between the viewer and the wall.

A large painting with many details in it should stand on a large wall on its own and with enough room for people to go up and see the painting. It should not be blocked off by any furniture or item that obstructs the view.

Artwork with a lot of detail in it requires that space for people to go up and look at it closely and not see it from a distance because every time you look at it you might discover something new.

Art doesn’t have any set principles. It depends on your values, principles and what you believe in, so the room where you should put up an artwork depends on the feelings it evokes in you. It varies from one individual buyer to another.

Q: We are not art buffs but we do love collecting beautiful things for our home. What should be our approach when buying a painting?

A: A first-time buyer who’s nervous and unsure could start off with a graphic print, etching or lithograph. They don’t cost too much so if you don’t like it too much later, you won’t regret it.

Then slowly go up the ladder and buy a drawing and then a watercolour. You can then move on to expensive oils and acrylics that require higher investment.

Art is perceived individually and a lot depends on one’s background, education and life experiences but it should be seen with an open, adaptable and non-judgemental frame of mind. Those who are liberal tend to enjoy art more than those who are orthodox because it’s all about perception.

Q: How important is it to learn more about the artist and the art form before buying the work?

A: The focus of the Art Mela is to educate the eye and train it more than informing about the artist. It’s more about the visual and understanding your sense of aesthetics.

Q: How does one differentiate between a print and an original piece of work? Also, why should one settle for a print by one artist when you can buy an original piece of work by another?

A: Prints are also original works of art. An artist makes his master copy out of which he makes a limited number of print editions depending on the form of art by literally etching the imagery on a stone slab followed by a technical process. It’s a different genre of art with different rules. They should not be confused with photo offset prints.

An original print is indicated by a number at the bottom of the work. When buying etchings and lithographs, one should look for that number of the edition. Even sculptures and photographs can have such additions, which are also original pieces of art.

Q: Does the pricing of paintings depend on the complexity of the art or the rank of the artist?

A: Pricing is usually decided by the artist. Etchings will always be less than a big piece of painting unless it has a lot more detail and colour. Art pricing is a nebulous area but does depend on the complexity of the artwork, skill of the artist and how the idea developed.

Q: How should these paintings be preserved? They are priceless and I don’t want them to get spoilt…

A: The key word is ‘acid- free’ so look out for acid-free paper, mounts and tapes. Watercolours and works with textiles should preferably be covered with glass or acrylic sheets and if framed with a glass front, the painting must not touch the glass.

Oils and watercolours can be sensitive to sudden fluctuations in temperature so it is advisable not to open the doors and windows immediately after switching off the AC in a room that holds a painting. That condensation can lead to dampness which can often cause discolouration and deterioration of the artwork.

Also avoid direct contact with sunlight or putting spotlights too close to a painting.

What question do you want to ask as a first-time art buyer? Tell