Myrna Ayad, fair director of Art Dubai, from March 21 to 24 at Madinat Jumeirah
My first piece of advice – whether you’re new to collecting or a seasoned collector – is to buy with your eyes, not your ears. Some people buy with their ears because they look at art as an investment, which it definitely is, but ultimately this artwork is going to be in your home, so you have to like it aesthetically. You also want to look at art that pleases you; it doesn’t necessarily need to be pretty as sometimes the most disturbing things can be provocative, inspiring and engaging.
Ask yourself, can you live with the artwork? Advice I give any collector is to ask themselves this question. Because liking it is one thing – I might like a big installation, but could I live with it?
Whether you buy with your eyes or your ears, try to make an informed decision. If you want to sell it later on will it make a lot of money? Has this artist been shown in museums or biennales? Does he have a lot of promise, is he going places? Has he had a number of solo exhibitions around the world? Who else is buying him? These are all questions that buyers need to ask.
You can buy for the future, not just for now. Buying art can be a very passionate affair and I know a lot of people who have bought art but they haven’t necessarily hung it up straight away. Maybe they’ve bought it for a second home, or maybe they’re keeping it for later. The fact is, when they saw it they simply couldn’t imagine life without it.
You can buy art to share it with others. Some people buy art to put in a public place or they donate it to a museum to make sure others see it – because art must be shared. It took me a while to understand this myself, when I first got involved with the art world. Even though you are emotionally invested in the artwork, you have to ultimately accept that you are the custodian and the temporary holder; you will have to pass it on eventually.
Collectors tend to identify with the familiar. Often, they have a certain style that they prefer so they gravitate to this when they’re choosing what to buy, whether it’s a type of medium or a certain art form. For example, collectors might tend to purchase abstract paintings, or artwork from a specific nationality, and they become accustomed to the traits of that medium and they’re able to identify them very quickly.
Asheesh Sethi, founder of Anyahh!!, an art gallery in Jumeirah with over 500 original artworks from emerging talent
How can art complement or contrast with one’s home décor?
Some people prefer to match the colour and style of their art with that of their interiors. Others find it interesting to mix different eras and styles, as well as contrasting colours. There are no hard and fast rules. One person may choose to be quirky and different and put the painting of a clown in his bedroom, while others may choose to adorn the same wall with a pleasant landscape as they prefer a soothing effect on their bedroom wall. It all depends on your personality and creative style. Ultimately, your art, like your home, should reflect your personality, taste and style.
What’s your key advice for arranging art at home?
Make the painting the hero of your room. You may choose to play down other design elements such as window coverings, carpeting and wallpapers. Too many colours, textures and objects will take the attention away from your art and minimise its impact. It is important to hang your painting correctly. Paintings should be hung so that the centre of the painting is at eye level. If you have several small pieces, group them in the same area. If you’re hanging artwork above a bed, for example, keep it within the lines of the bed frame. Art above a sofa or another piece of furniture should be placed keeping the bottom edge of the frame six to twelve inches above the furniture. If you are not 100% happy with the look of your painting, try hanging it in other rooms – it may look great in a place you hadn’t planned. You can also consider making some small changes in the room, such as moving furniture; it will be worth the trouble, especially if you can now fully enjoy the art you love.
Is there a place for affordable art in a collection?
At AnYahh!!, we believe that great art need not be expensive. Our artists are talented and up-and-coming and we provide them with an international platform that is not so accessible to them due to limited resources. Our original art is more affordable than many “expensive prints” available in the market. It is this commitment to affordability that has made us so popular with the art-loving audience in India and the UAE. You only need to love one piece of artwork to begin your relationship with art; you don’t need to know a lot about art, you just need to enjoy it. You learn as you go and as your passion grows, so will your knowledge and understanding.
Bebe Leone, independent art advisor and active promoter of contemporary Italian artists and designers in Dubai
Good art can upgrade your home. Never underestimate the importance of artwork when decorating your space. Often people spend good money on furniture and then for some reason they don’t think their art selection through, picking up random artwork to fill an empty space on their walls. You can really upgrade your space if you buy a good piece of art and at the same time make an investment, too.
Every room can benefit from artwork. You should consider each single space in your home as worth being embellished with art. I personally have art hanging in my kitchen and in every bathroom, not just my living and dining rooms and master bedroom. Art is to be enjoyed everywhere, at all times.
Think about the space your art will feature in. Make sure your art complements the surrounding décor, and display the right kind of artwork in the right room. For instance, I recommend hanging a painting that evokes a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom because this room is where you need to feel calm in when you go to sleep and wake up. You should keep larger, statement pieces – such as the “hero” piece of your collection – for your dining or living room where it can be shared with your guests. Such artwork can spark conversation, so it’s best to show these in the public spaces of your home.
Be creative with gallery displays. Don’t be afraid of mixing different styles and of being creative. You can decide to dedicate an entire wall to art and to fill it with artworks of different dimensions and provenance. Drawings, photographs and canvases can cohabit on a wall together with a family portrait or a vintage Hermes scarf that you love and have had framed. However, this kind of curated art wall can be harder than it looks to get right; you need an eye for this kind of styling.
Look for unique, emerging artists. When making an art purchase, try to look for something unique and for something you can relate to. Follow your feelings. If you are on a low budget, ask around and look for young artists who are still making their way through the art scene and are willing to sell their art at affordable prices. Supporting artists and art can be a truly rewarding experience.
I recommend looking into these artists:
- Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman, who, despite being fairly young, already has a promising career. She has received strong support from The Third Line Gallery in Dubai, has been involved in international art fairs, and has been bought by museums and private collectors.
- International collectors are currently focusing on African artists; Ghanian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, whom I saw perform at Lawrie Shabibi, is an artist to follow closely.
- Local artist Zeinab al Al Hashemi has recently exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a group exhibition called Co-Lab Contemporary Art & Savoir-Faire.
Gregg Sedgwick, CEO and founder of Gallery One, a retailer of beautiful gifts and artwork by well-known artists
My basic principles for buying art are... I buy what I like (not because someone else tells me it’s a great piece of art). Secondly, I never buy an artwork as an investment – the value of art is completely intangible and I am happy to pay the market rate with no expectation of financial gain. Finally, I trust my intuition – if I like the look of it and it fits my sensibilities then it has value. Simplifying the buying of art has been something of a mission for me. Our retail stores sell art in an unpretentious and accessible style. Why should buying art be any more difficult than buying a rug, a car or a sofa?
My top essential tips for buying art are…
1. Explore social networks to find an artist you like. Instagram is becoming an increasingly important forum for artists, galleries and collectors, with a growing number of buyers purchasing works found through the platform. When developing a collection, you can follow contemporary commercial galleries to discover emerging artists and art fairs for key events in the arts calendar.
2. I visit graduate degree shows to look out for new talent; in several years these same students could be represented by a commercial gallery and their pieces may have substantially increased in value. Buying at the end of a degree show can give you access to raw talent at very affordable prices.
3. Look after your artwork and find a framer who will help you make the most of your print, original or poster. I recommend the Gallery Workshop in Al Serkal, Al Quoz, Dubai, where you can speak directly to picture framers and even watch your piece being framed.
4. If an artwork isn’t working in a given room or wall don’t be afraid to move it to another space. You’ll be amazed how different a piece can look in another environment with different light and adjacencies.
5. Finally, don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Tastes change over time; my advice would be to store the artwork for a few years if you change your mind about it. When you return to it with a new perspective it may just be the perfect piece to transform your home.