Why you should Buy art.

A personal note from Leo Sartain, The Rafiki Gallery’s managing director.

Michael Kay Terence, Swing Paintings

For as long as I can remember I have been around art. Whether it be paintings in the home, on the walls of galleries, or behind glass cases in museums, my parents always made sure I was exposed to art and culture. This was aided by the fact that I moved country every few years, so there were a variety of different cultures for me to see and experience. While this may simply sound like the jolly insights from the life of an army child, it demonstrates something important: no matter where you come from or where you go, art is to be found. 

Whether it be ancient mosques in the middle east or Gothic churches in Germany, historic sights often house incredible artworks that reference the time and place from which they were created. It is these references to history and people gone by that inform who we are today. Art is not without its context. Art is not led by some chap who was bored on a rainy day and just decided to sneeze some paint onto a canvas. The art we know and love is often deeper, showing an insight into the minds of those who came before us (although to be fair, the sneezing thing has probably been done). It is important when looking at art that we don’t simply glaze over and move on; to truly understand art (and at this point – I am well aware that not all art has some deeper meaning), it is vital to think about who made it, why it was made, and what it was made from. It is these questions that provide artwork with context, offering interesting insights into an artwork’s history.

Now, while this school of thought is all very good for the art of the Renaissance and 18th Century portraits of the good and great, there does come a time – somewhere around the rise of Cezanne (1839-1906), that art became more than just its provenance and subject matter. It was around the turn of the 20th century that ‘modern art’ came into being. By this I mean, the development of the idea that art was not solely about its subject matter, but more so about how that art depicted its subject matter. Along came cubism, futurism, pointillism – indeed all the ‘isms’,  which offered a revolutionary new way of seeing and depicting the world. It is throughout this period that dealers and collectors shaped the art-world, with huge salons displaying works from thousands of artists all over, the greatest of which we look back on and collect in reverence to this day.

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine, 1887 (circa), @The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London
Collection SFMOMA San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, bequest of Elise S. Haas © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It is important to remember that many of the artists we remember today came from nothing. It took the individuals who enjoyed the art, along with dealers and gallerists who worked tirelessly to support these artists, for them to become well known and thus remembered. At this point, it is a good idea to consider the secondary art market. The secondary market is led by the big auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s who sell works by the likes of Modigliani, Van Gogh, Hirst, Koons and Picasso, at record prices. This market only does so due to the primary collectors and buyers who raise the profile of these artists in the first place. Historically, individuals would commit their taste and money, and invest in artworks that they wanted on their walls and in their collections. Indeed, those people were the ones who helped support the artists, so they could carry on producing work.

In this day and age, with internet consumerism and fast fashion, I believe that originality is worth its weight in gold. While Primark and Boohoo have their place, when it comes to owning something personal and genuine that you adore, finding a piece of original art is second to none. Buying art allows you to have a piece of culture in your home. It connects you to the historical tradition of buying and selling art, and allows you to have something that no one else has. Art can become an heirloom, a gift, or a treasured possession –  indeed, it can be whatever you want it to be. Whether you want a small drawing for your shelf, or a huge statement masterpiece for the centre of your collection, by having a piece of original art – you are doing far more than simply adorning your wall. Your art says something about you and your unique taste. Once you own a piece from an artist, dealer, or gallery, you become a part of the fabric that makes up the arts, and thus play a unique role in keeping it alive. I believe this is more important now more than ever.

tie die selfie Fatima Duke Pratt
Fatima Duke Pratt, ' Tie Dye Selfie '
Isabel Duffy, 'Sloane'
Isabel Duffy, 'Sloane'

We at The Rafiki Gallery want to see artists and their art continue to develop and thrive long into the future.

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