Monday, September 22, 2008

Art Galleries Need To Do More Than Just Hosting Shows

I have been to many art shows by local artists. Some of these I have been invited by the galleries, in others the artists invite me.
Many times, too, I have invitation sent to me with a whole chunk of photographs or CDs of works by the exhibiting artists by enthusiastic gallery managers and owners. I remember more than one occasion of having gotten tonnes of publicity materials good enough for catalogues aimed at art buyers but none the least useful for an art writer.

I often wonder what makes up for the shoddy publcity work from art galleries that want to promote their artists. It often comes as an insult to see a bagful of publicity material and an accompanying piece of cover letter that implies "Please Write". About what?

I normally refrain from writing about things I don't know or cannot appreciate because of my lack of knowledge. I suspect many ethical art writer (and critic) do the same too.

Report about an exhibition anybody can. But doing so without being mindfullyy understanding the subject or the artist is something even angels dare not tread on.

Yet, I see and sense this expectation from gallery owners - or the artist, and their equally guilty publicity managers - every time I receive an invite to an art show.

To relate an experience, just three weeks ago I received an invite (to view and hopefully write) about some Chinese artists whose works are being showcased at a local gallery. While some of the pieces did interest me, the cover letter sent shivers down my spine - that eager expectation of me writing about it shone shamelessly through. Finally, I decided not attend the opening and politely RSVPed the sender. I would rather not see the works and work up expectations from the organiser that I may write on my site.

How is it that gallery owners think all they needed to do for artists are just sending publicity materials to art writers? I most certainly will not excourage this carpet-bombing publicity stunt. Send enough press releases and pictures to the press and journalists, chances are that you will get your exhibition written about.

Sure, why not. Any coverage is good but will it promote the artist or his art? Without offering more than juvenile reporting, how do you hope to build an informed group of collectors of art?

Nothing is more exasperating to see ill-informed gallery managers who do not take the trouble to explain about the artist or the work on show. Poorly informed curators have no place being involved in art and so do PR officers of organisations holding art exhibitions. Nothing is more exasperating to the art collector than to have viewed and been prompted to buy a piece of work only to find that the only reference to it is in between the chiny covers of a very expensive catalogue. I most certainly would not want to waste my money if I knew nothing of what I am purchasing.

If you are wondering why local art do not sell well, then I think you would have made up some impressions this far. And what do you have when you marry ill-informed artshow organisers and artists who do not bother to be there when their prospective buyers call at the gallery?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Artist is Holding Competition

LEADING ART magazine The Artist is holding an all media online competition with a section for watercolourists.

The prizes are pretty good with the grand prize being $500 and 7 first place awards of $100 each. If you are interested, contest details are available here.

Grand Prize Award: $500
7 First Place Awards: $100 each

The Grand Prize winner and all 7 First Place Winners will receive complimentary subscriptions to The Artist's Magazine and $100 worth of North Light Books.
Honorable Mentions receive complimentary subscriptions to The Artist's Magazine and $50 worth of North Light Books.

Winners will be featured on The Artist's Magazine website along with a list of Honorable Mentions. All Winners and Honorable Mentions will receive a certificate suitable for framing.

Deadline: November 3, 2008

Editor's Note: This is one chance Malaysian artists can take advantage of in promoting their works. The prizes may not be much in terms of financial returns but the exposure is definitely something to ponder. Think about it, ya!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dream come true for Rafie Rahman

Dream come true - Rafie with his yet-to-be-completed Trafalgar Square piece in acrylic.

Two years ago, Rafie Rahman confided in me that he wanted to one day visit England, the birth place of British watercolour. However, he almost got to realise his dream two years ago, when his painting was selected to be taken to the London during the Malaysia Week. However, he did not get to go there.

In July this year, his prayers were answered. He was among five Malaysian artists, watercolourists to be specific, to be invited to show their works at the Potters' Field in London between July and August. It was a trip Rafie had been waiting for and got to go.

When I met him recently, I could see the distinct change in his style. Dabbling still in the aqua medium - not watercolour but acrylic - he has produced several pieces of work of landscape when he was in UK.

As you can see in the picture here, he is happily showing his Trafalgar Square piece which he has yet to complete. The colours are stunning and although hardly considered a completed first stage, the shapes are beginning to show.

This is why I think artists should go abroad and expose themselves to a foreign land. All artists need that exposure to do well, or improve on their current techniques. Without that kind of exposure, and chance to visit foreign art galleries, artists will only be confined to the local influences where art experience is concerned.

Want this piece? Get in touch with Rafie for the pricing.