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Art for homes’ sake or art’s sake?

THE ASIAN AGE. | ALKA RAGHUVANSHI
Published : Nov 2, 2018, 6:45 am IST
Updated : Nov 2, 2018, 6:45 am IST

The joy and finer sensibilities it refines and hones in a person can't even be measured in commercial terms.

Artwork by  Manisha Gawade
 Artwork by Manisha Gawade

With the mother of all national level spring cleaning and decorating endeavors saved for Diwali in most Indian homes, it is a busy time for interior decorators who are working over-time to complete their projects. Many of them have been approaching artists to incorporate art into lavish homes. While most artists baulk at the thought of their paintings being selected as they matched with the upholstery, the sad reality is that very often it is the only criterion for selection.

I find it rather distressing, well okay, revolting, that people actually hand over their homes to an interior decorator to design. Admittedly, not everyone's aesthetics are well honed, but to find the correct-fit designer is a difficult thing. And if you get really lucky, they will help you find works of art that you can love and live with or rather can't live without! But that is only one side of the picture.

Artwork by Niren SenguptaArtwork by Niren Sengupta

People, or should I say, rich people, are downright stingy when it comes to acquiring art works. They will build a billion rupee mansion but when it comes to art, they are happy to even hang prints or cheap art from China. But it is my contention that any work of art is an important aesthetic asset to a home or office and goes a long way in transforming its placement in the corporate ladder or into a home from being a mere house. But unlike other things like tiles, bricks and sand, furniture or upholstery, etc that lose their value once they are out of the showroom, an artwork's commercial and aesthetic value increases with time. The joy and finer sensibilities it refines and hones in a person can't even be measured in commercial terms.

There have been numerous occasions when I have walked into fancy homes and mansions masquerading as farmhouses and been so disappointed with the art on their walls that I want to walk out that very minute. But I am known for not brooking fools or unaesthetic situations easily. Another problem plaguing the art market is commerce. While commerce is inherent in anything that one wants to sell —be it a product or a skill, but in deciding the price, I think the current trend of figuring prices as per size is fallacious. Nobody but nobody can ever hope to actually pay an artist for his work — the time, the thought, the experiences that an artist shares on canvas are simply invaluable. What one pays for is just the pleasure of having it in your space.

Artwork by Shridhar IyerArtwork by Shridhar Iyer

Silly as it is, there are almost fashion trends that dictate what kind of works or artists that sell the most at any time, like music that appeals to a generation. But if one were to really look, the most difficult thing in the world to sell is a painting — for it must match the sensibility and current thought process of the creator and the consumer before the painting is acquired by anyone. I have myself been approached by buyers who wanted me to come and match my painting with the upholstery! And depending on my mood and money in my pocket at that moment, I have obliged or not!

After one has invested time and money in the acquisition of artworks, the day-to-day care required for art entails protecting works from heat, direct sunlight, damp, oily dust — open kitchens with Indian cooking is a complete no-no — as are offices where people are likely to touch works as they pass by. Fungus, termites, wood borers and silver fish are bigger killers as well. They should be regularly checked for all of the above. Use only a feather duster to clean and any damage or restoration should be treated by a professional only. Frames should be checked for damage as well. Outdoor works have a shorter life span and the biggest killers are elements including direct sunlight.

A burned wood and bronze artwork in  blue textureA burned wood and bronze artwork in blue texture

Often interior decorators cater to whims of their clients including vaastu-compatible paintings and are keen to help acquire the best vaastu-friendly colours for paintings for various parts of the home. It depends on many factors including direction, colours used on the walls and furniture, etc. I for one am happy to go with vaastu modules like energetic colours for the sitting room like aqua colours, reds and oranges. For the bedroom, soothing colours like yellows and tangerines or powder blues and pinks are my favourite. The study is usually a thoughtful place so even deep shades of blue, indigo, turquoise and burgundy would be my choice. Sometimes startling colours can work wonders in libraries as books lining cupboards can outshine the paintings if not in very definite colours.

Thematically, I feel the negative subjects, scary forms and morbid colours shouldn't be used in homes as they tend to drag the energy of the inhabitants down. Happy images, bright but soothing colours should be used to energize the spaces. So if art is your agenda for the summer, happy acquisitions! But don't forget, I too am in the market for selling my works tool.

Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on alkaraghuvanshi@yahoo.com

Tags: diwali, art