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?


aminsaim said...

I must agree with you swee.. most of my visit to the gallery seems empty unless you known or met the artist before..

Azmi Murad Alias said...

You are right on nailing its colors and values... :) Those PR or artists have to commuicate verbally too.