Art enjoys an important place in my life. While traveling, I count among my happiest hours those spent in awe struck wonder at the masterpieces of famous museums, palaces and churches. My residential and work spaces are filled with art. A kinship of the arts binds all creative people, affording an inner view of the inventive process and its challenging aftermath.
Art is one of those elusive concepts capable of multiple meanings. Faith, mythology, society, beauty, love, war, nature, literature, history, sport, are but a few of that infinite range illustrated in the pictorial medium. This sublime concept is also amazingly enough a commodity. Indeed, it has always been one, right from the time that artists’ offerings commanded a price with Royalty, Nobility and the Church. The genius of Leonardo and Michaelangelo have survived for posterity thanks to this high level patronage. Today, it devolves on the individual collector to furnish the impetus for Art.
The ownership of art undoubtedly denotes a refinement of temperament. It enjoys an elevated social cachet because it surpasses the sophistication of taste demanded for any other luxury item or status symbol. Its intangible nature transcends gross physical need. Owning a fancy car is still related to its utility, while a painting proclaims the fine instincts and underlying mindset of a cultured connoisseur. Buying an original painting is a unique transaction establishing a special linkage between the Painter and possessor- in lucky instances, a symbolic appropriation of genius, so to speak. As such, it cannot be equated even with the heady experience of a book purchase, which is mass produced in thousands or millions and priced accordingly. It is this exclusive aspect that makes a painting a high value item, a product representing a Painter’s livelihood or passion or both.
Art today is an investment on the same fundamental premise as an equity share- that amidst the unknown lies the potential for a value pick. Unlike the transient appeal of designer clothing which fades with the whims of fashion, or the instant depreciation of electronic items, there exists the strong probability that art will appreciate with time. The Latin proverb Ars Longa Vita Brevis reminds us that life is short, but art is enduring. At the very least an aesthetic quality or thematic relevance forge their connections with individual purchasers.
An art gallery is positioned to mediate between the output of an artist and the anticipated input of demand- in a sense it has to stimulate both. This calls for a measure of boldness and imagination. To illustrate, Orchid Art Gallery has held Art shows on the theme of the Last Supper because Mr William Pais, the proprietor gauged that this would strike a chord with the faith of the people. At the same time, he ran the risk of the argument that there already exists Da Vinci’s Last Supper, probably the most visibly famous painting in the world, and anything else would be superfluous to this great masterpiece. But there’s nothing open and shut in the world of art because it must march with the times, reflecting new techniques, ideologies, socio- cultural diversity and an artist’s individual vision. Indeed those who have viewed or bought at these exhibitions would testify that a hallowed theme has been productive of varied inspirations, from Artists of different religious persuasions so as to be interesting, contemporary and relevant.
The presence, even proliferation of art galleries announces the cultural coming of age of a place-a thumbs up sign to local artistic energies and the clientele to sustain them. It is a mature recognition that the occurence of talent is independent of place- gifted artists are not the sole preserve of foreign countries or metropolises. It’s possible to independently discover artistic achievement without the hype and oft inflated valuations that attend some social celebrities of the art world. It highlights a well established name like Peter Lewis, while offering valuable opportunities to promising talents still on the pathway to recognition.The local collector assumes perhaps the benevolent role of a patron in the process of empowering artists and promoting art.
What can however be accomplished on a limited scale within a city’s circle of clientele can be substantially expanded with access to global demand. An internet portal undoubtedly gives art a wider reach. For example, Peter Lewis’ exhibition “ Me and My Coast” can travel beyond the walls of the Orchid Gallery and its visitors. A homesick expatriate might well be uplifted by the vibrant images of his native soil, such as those conveying the frenzy of a bull race to a serene drawing room wall; likewise a general collector with a niche for the exotic. There would also be those who can discern the future historical import of present day depictions of the countryside and rural life as urban developments inexorably alter the scenic and ethnic landscape.
Art entrepreneurship is a commercial enterprise with a difference because of its worthy underlying goals. It continuously cultivates a community of Art lovers who are interfaced with a specially fostered community of its producers in a reciprocally rewarding process. The result is a combined impulse for art which enriches the quality of culture. An internet portal is a confident statement that Mangalore’s artists are ready to take on the world.
( My Speech at Orchid Art Gallery, 5/5/09)