One 'art', please!

The Melbourne Affordable Art Exhibition is on again - with its new, punchier tagline, “75% of works under $5,000!”. This might explain why it’s been renamed this year, to “Art Melbourne ‘06”. I went along, figuring that I might be able to find something that would look nice on the wall. Also, I wanted to impersonate Dr. Zoidberg. Read on for more art escapades.

The thing I like about AM06 is that there’s so many free things on offer. Would I like a goodie bag, with a free bag of tea? Yes please. Would I like a coffee? Hmm… why not? How about a one-week loan of a painting? (That one didn’t happen to me, but I heard it a few times.) Would I like another coffee? Sure. Another coffee, sir? I’d love one, but my hands are shaking too much to hold the cup. I went on a guided ‘art walk’, focusing on what to look for if you’re buying art as an investment. Apparently, size does matter (when you’re looking at Aboriginal art, at least). Don’t buy aboriginal art on eBay because it’s difficult to verify its provenance. Artists’ work tends to spike in value in the month or two after they die. (The guy leading the tour was very quick to point out that this is ‘supply and demand’, and it’s a ‘terribly unfortunate thing’. Liar.) But the most important point: buy what you like. Even if it goes down in price, you’ll still have something nice hanging on the wall. And there are two ends to the Australian art market - the established artists who are regularly sold in Sotheby’s and Christies, and the emerging artists. Because I can’t even afford to walk in the front door of Sotheby’s, I decided to browse around the emerging artists and see if there were any I liked. And there were quite a few. I didn’t buy anything right off the bat, because there’s no way of telling whether you’re being ripped off… but a few artists struck me as worth hanging on the wall.

  • Joel Rea - Visually arresting, colourful, a little bit edgy… The sort of things that make art appreciate in value, apparently, although he hasn’t been hung anywhere yet. I was sorely tempted by “Easy” and “The Son of Rage and Love”.

  • Yoshikazu Hara - Japanese cut-paper art that makes plenty of use of light and shadow. Nice pricing, as well, although it looks a little stark on the wall.

  • Giorg Hasapi (crappy Flash site… wait for it to load, then click on ‘Art’) - He makes pixel art look good. Unfortunately, I can’t find any on the website… the gallery was showing a great painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night. Fairly expensive, though.

  • Jennifer Webb - A local artist (from Port Melbourne), she was showing some excellent paintings of the Melbourne skyline. Great price point, and they’d look nice on the wall.

  • Peter Daverington - some neat, abstract art. Apparently he’s pulled in a few awards (making him more collectible), and the painting he had hanging was a nice, attention-grabbing red and silver piece.

So who would I buy? Probably Joel Rea… but five grand is a hell of a lot of money. We’ll see.