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Wednesday, March 16, 2011


A stranger walks up to you and says: 'I think I like you." You hand over a cheque for R20,000.
They say: "I'll pay you back," and walk off with your cheque.
Absolutely, but in principle thats what we do every time a gallery asks us to consign work. They take no risk (if our work proves unpopular there's always a storeroom.) And in handing over what is essentially merchandise we could say that we are financing their business. Thats step one. Step two is when work sells and we don't get paid, so our R20,000 investment hangs around gathering no interest and no return on our investment while the gallery is using our work to finance their business. That is basically what we as artists are doing. An example: a gallery I've had dealings with over the years have always claimed that they only work on consignment. Another artist comes along and says: "no ways, you want my work, you buy it from me." They roll over and the gallery coughs up. Perhaps their is a case for unknown artists consigning work, but surely more established artists should atuomatically work on a buy the painting upfront basis. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Florence Biennale - to go or not to go?

Received a query from an artist invited to the Florence Biennale later this year. having taken part in 2007 felt equipped to answwer her question as to whether the expense (2,700 euros entry and courier of paintings R15,000) and effort were worth it.

Here is my abbreviated response:

re your query: Depends what you are after.

If its sales, there are very few buyers if any. (Same goes for art critics etc) Mostly the viewers are the 800 artists and their buddies/partners plus local students.
That being said I did manage to sell my 3 works (discounted) and with a bit of ingenuity but it was very much the exception not the rule. 
There are 800+ artists involved so being 'discovered' is unlikely even if your work is really good, as the cognoscenti of the art world do not view this event on the same level as say the Venice Biennale for instance. If you are fortunate enough to be one of the handful of prize winners though, this may alter this and would look good on your CV.
With 800 artists it goes without saying that the work will range from weak to great.

Ok that’s the more negative aspects.

The positive aspects are getting to meet lots of other artists from around the world.
Staying in a beautiful city when it's not over run with tourists. (It's cold though then, so take warm stuff .) And just basking in art and feeling part of it all is a once in a lifetime experience.(Have been invited again this year and if I wasn't educating children we'd be going!)

re courier: A number of artists did take their work as baggage with them, which is obviously cheaper. Would opt for this myself should I go again.

So short answer - if you haveR80,000 to spare(flight +-R8,000, budget hotel/b&b/food R12,000, other expenses - taxis etc, plus courier and entry)to spare - it’s a great experience. If it means eating lentils and living in overdraft for the rest of your days, enlarge the invite and hang it on your wall as testimony of your achievement/brilliance!

Hope that helps

Thursday, March 3, 2011

To me or not to me - artists painting under pseudonyms

Recieved an email from an artist today asking for my views on her signing her work with a nickname. There are a number of artists who do this, 'Munro' is a local example. I guess if you are painting across styles it makes it easier for the audience to see each style belonging to a different personality, just as authors, writing different genres of books often use pseudonyms. If you are fortunate enough to become wildly famous, it could be confusing for the media I'm guessing. In the end don't know any rules as such. Guess its up to the individual to decide. What are your thoughts/feelings?