Contrary to popular belief, a limitless budget is not always a prerequisite for starting an art collection. As galleries across the city reopen their doors post-Ramadan, there will be more choice across a range of prices, making it the perfect time for you to enter the market.
Whether you’ve got your eyes on a lesser-known artist or you’re considering dropping some serious coin on an investment piece, you just need a little knowledge and some insider tips. We asked 33-year-old Emirati collector Wael Hattar to share his know-how: with his help, you’ll soon be hanging art faster than you can say ‘Henri Matisse’.
How did you start your 34-piece collection?
I knew what I liked from what I produced myself. So I stuck to one theme, and now the gallery owners know which shows I like because they know that’s my style.
What’s the most important thing to consider when buying art?
It has to appeal to you, not to others – you’re the one who has to live with it. Impromptu buying can be good sometimes, but I’d suggest viewing a piece, then returning later with a clear head to decide whether you want to put a bit of money behind it.
How do you know if what you’re buying is a good investment?
It’s based on a few pointers. One of them is definitely the gallery: how the gallery pushes its artists and takes them into different art markets. If the gallery helps to develop its artists further than just being a little-known name, you know these people are behind them. Also, look at the artist’s shows so far – how they’ve developed, and whether they’re going to continue to grow.
Where can we find affordable art in Dubai?
The galleries in Al Quoz and DIFC are more established, although they also try to support younger artists and art collectors. Ayyam Gallery hosts a young artist auction, offering pieces that are priced much lower than at the main shows. The Third Line has an upper space that exhibits work by first-time and local artists. Also look out for impromptu warehouse shows: Traffic Gallery hosted one by a young Dubai-based artist called Ubik, and this year he exhibited at Art Dubai.
Do you have any more tips on how to get a good deal?
XVA Gallery has been around for some time, so it has collected a range of work and has good storage. This means you can see the high-end artists as well as the stuff that’s older, which is always a bit cheaper than
the current work.
Are all art prices justified?
I used to be a full-time artist, and one of the main issues I have is the trend that if somebody’s famous, then any work they do will automatically be expensive, even if it’s not that great. That’s not fair, because art should be for everyone. It should be affordable.
Who are your favourite upcoming artists?
Bader Mahasneh is a Jordanian artist that I’ve been trying to connect to the galleries here – he’s wonderful. Ubik has been experimenting with a lot of things, and now he understands himself and knows what he wants to express in his art. I see a very good development for him over the years.
What about other types of accessible, affordable art?
I’m a big fan of music videos. The work of directors such as Michel Gondry [who directed Daft Punk’s ‘Around the World’ in 1997] is way beyond a music video – it’s art construction. You can buy music video DVDs at Virgin Megastore or online. Also, even if you can’t afford art, you can afford art books – Kinokuniya has a good collection.
Follow Wael on Twitter at www.twitter.com/madhattar
Wael’s essential advice for art newbies
1 ‘Never buy when you’re in a fuzzy state of mind.’
2 ‘Always have a budget in mind.’
3 ‘Don’t just buy a piece straight off.Look at it again a few hours later from a different perspective.’
4 ‘Understand the artist. A lot of shows invite the artist to attend: if you have a quick chat, it brings the art to life.’
5 ‘Don’t let other people bully you into their taste.’