By Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 19 February 2020)
How does someone buy art as an investment?
That’s a question increasing numbers of Kenyans are asking as they begin to appreciate the value, both economic and aesthetic, of contemporary Kenya, African and international art.
People are beginning to hear about paintings and sculptures selling for not thousands but millions of shillings and dollars. They’ve even heard that some Kenyan artists’ works are being sold at that same level.
So what’s required to invest in art? According to Danda Jaroljmek, curator and founder of Circle Art Gallery and Art Auction East Africa, the most important thing, initially, is to like the way an art piece looks because it is the buyer who’ll be living with the work.
Next and equally important, the prospective buyer needs to do research. “They need to follow an artist’s career once they find an artist they like,” she told Business Daily.
One needs to find out where the artist has exhibited their work, both locally and internationally. And how much their art has been selling for. Has the value of their art gone up, and how much? Where and when did it start to rise?
Those questions apply to both young artists as well as more established ones. The trick is that if a prospective buyer is just starting to shop for art, they may not have heaps of cash with which to buy. So what to do, since the artists that can be found on Google or in art books tend to be more established and thus, more expensive to buy.
This is when someone needs to spend time attending art exhibitions and local galleries to find out what the less-known or up-and-coming artists are doing and costing. That constitutes another dimension of research that is essential.
Another important way to quickly learn more about the value of fine art is to attend art auctions like the one Circle Art is holding March 6th at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
“This will be our seventh [annual] Art Auction East Africa,” Danda says. This time round, there will be a little more than 60 artists represented and 70 lots (or art works) that will be up for auction.
The artworks will be coming from all around the region, from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan as well as from South Africa, DRC and Egypt.
The art will be previewed at Circle Art from Wednesday, March 26th.