A few years ago at a party over polite conversation, a young ‘khandaani’ rich man said to me “I bought this painting some years ago and I hate it.” So I ask “But then why did you buy it? He answers “Because I was told it was a good investment and the artist would drop dead any minute and the value of his work would go up” At this point my jaw drops open and I forget to breathe. I was horrified to say the least. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. I just nodded sagely and left the room.
Now out of respect for the artist I shall refrain from naming said artist.
I was asked that same question again a week ago by the same person. Apparently the value had gone up BUT ‘the steadily getting old artist’ refuses to croak, so the young man a.k.a owner of said painting is still waiting for his investment to appreciate. I feel sad for him and sadder still for the artist. No, I am not mourning the disrespect to the old artist himself but to the emotion he underwent to create that work.
I come from a school of thought that I only paint what I want and absolutely believe in. So for me the question of art as investment is a bit of a oxymoron. Why? No one can predict the rise in the investment value of art. It is at best a calculated gut feeling of a person/people who have been around art long enough to see a trend. However in my mind art is a generational or an even longer term investment. If you were to buy today- you might see some incremental gain but not necessarily the meteoric rise some other art may already have been through. Also most art that has risen in investment value was something that was avant-garde and inspirational – zaraa hat ke – in its time. On the other hand there were many who in the same time frame did the same kind of work but never got recognition of any kind. So in my mind art is a risky business. And as an artist I feel one should buy art only and only if it connects to your soul. Otherwise buy gold, property or even blue chip shares!
Having said that – my point of view is really simple – you absolutely love a piece of art and even if it looks like crap to everyone else- I suggest you say bollocks to them and go get it.