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Learning to Think Again

posted 15 Apr 2012, 18:50 by Taymaz Valley   [ updated 7 Feb 2013, 15:47 ]

Mark Rothko has been quoted as saying: “When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing. No galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet, it was a golden age, for we all had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Today it is not quite the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, consumption.” The problem has not been the existence of money or the galleries, but the way the two have been manipulating the art scene. What we think of an art gallery with all its peculiar handling of art and artists is quite a modern concept. The modern art gallery was born out of prosperity, driven by the market which gave more importance to reputation catering to the rich collector. Artists were in turn forced to supply the demand of such markets and collectors albeit on the surface, whilst in private creating works that satisfied their own creativity and philosophy, some of which were remained undiscovered until later. Through this manipulative path, many works and artists remained marginalized and left behind only to be rediscovered at a later date through museum retrospectives. Unfortunately museums started to follow suit short after, and began collecting only reputable artworks which in their eyes brought the most adoring crowd. The galleries, museums, auction houses and the collectors became rich, and still more money flowed in through reproductions, greeting cards and canvas prints. However, as the economic bubble burst so did the art bubble and resulted in financial losses all around. Galleries were forced to close as their inventory of famous million dollars artworks weren’t bringing in the buyers who hit by the economy were spending less; and with such high prices not many could afford to buy art anymore. So apart from leaving behind artists and artworks of tremendous importance throughout the journey, now galleries are forced to discard those who have been born out of the market driven taste. Art has taken a great blow, and the only way to recover is to rethink the role galleries, museums and auction houses play.

I paid a visit to Montreal’s Pink Espace where the owner is precisely thinking anew the whole concept of a gallery. The space is allowed to be adorned by the artists themselves who are fully permitted to show any work they deem fit. Prices are kept as low as possible, because the gallery is not obligated to cater for any rich buyer or collector; they simply present the work as they are and allow the visitors to make their own judgment. The Pink Espace does not seek out rich clients with outlandish description of the artwork, and certainly does not try to nudge up the prices in order to make its collection more valuable. They simply offer their advice and expertise to the artist and visitors. Here people are allowed to think for themselves, and not being dictated as to what is good art lets them buy what they like, and not what might make them rich in the future. After all isn’t art supposed to make us feel and find the beauty that only we can appreciate? The gallery agrees for new artists to show their work without prejudice, giving equal opportunity to everyone. A space has to be a place where public comes to reconnect with an old thing; a thing that mesmerizes us, lifts the spirit, and allows us to find beauty in a finite life. So forgive me if I rather forget about the complimentary champagne, the suited up salesman and the million dollars attitude, and replace them with low prices and the vision of the artist. For you see, when all is said and done, I am looking for an honest experience out of my artwork, and I for one do not care if in ten years I am better off financially because of it.