IT’S A EMOTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE ART WORLD: WHICH ARE THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO ART? ARTISTS, CURATORS, GALLERISTS, MUSEUM DIRECTORS, ART COLLECTORS AND MORE GIVE THOUGHTFUL AND DEEPLY PERSONAL ANSWERS TO OUR QUERIES, WHILE SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE – AND OFFERING A GLIMPSE INTO ITS FUTURE.
PRICE AND VALUE. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Aaron Cezar: Price is what you pay for something. Value is what you give it.
Adel Abidin: Value is the quality of the artworks in terms of concept and the depth of the idea behind the work plus the execution of the work. Price simply should follow certain elements.
Ashkan Baghestani: I would say the price is what a collector is willing to pay for an artwork on a certain day, for example at auction, which can be affected by a plethora of external factors. The value is something far more personal.
Basel Dalloul: Some artists, collectors or dealers may have a perceived value to a particular work, which they may ascribe to. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the price a piece will fetch. The price is what someone is prepared to pay for a particular piece, period! This is why a lot of artists I know hate auctions. They may not get the price that they perceive the value to be, this results in the value of the art to be diminished.
Mahmoud Obaidi: Price is related to trade and money, while the value of the art is related to history.
Nadim Karam: One oscillates, the other is stable.
Nayla Tamraz: The price is the monetary amount for which an object, a “good,” is exchanged, whereas the value has to do with the intrinsic value of the object. This value is calculated based on specific criteria, objectively quantifiable, such as the time that the artist put into creating this object, which is not the case for the price that could be subjective, sometimes unjustified, and of course hard to be controlled. Therefore, we would tend to think that the market value of an artwork reflects its intrinsic value. Sometimes it’s true. But in fact, certain artworks are overestimated, and others are underestimated, if we consider that value is the only evaluation criteria. This means that the price of an artwork doesn’t only depend on the value that the work contains. Other criteria also come into play, which are market ones. An artwork has a price because it falls within the economic game of supply and demand. Why is an artwork demanded? It is the story of an encounter between a certain work of art and a certain public.
Samia Halaby: Huge difference. You can buy a bouncing ball for almost nothing but it will give a child priceless pleasure.
Aaron Cezar is the founding director of Delfina Foundation, where he both curates and develops its interrelated programme of residencies, exhibitions and public events. He has overseen the physical expansion of Delfina Foundation into London’s largest host of international residencies. He is also Advisor-at-Large at Art Jameel, one of Delfina Foundation’s Strategic Partners. Independently and through Delfina Foundation, Cezar sits on numerous boards, committees and advisory groups.
Adel Abidin was born in Baghdad in 1973. He moved to Helsinki, Finland, in 2001 and has lived there since. Abidin joined the Finnish Art Academy in 2003 to pursue a Master’s degree in art. During that time, he switched his practice from full-time painter to multimedia artist, and since 2004 he’s pursued a career as a video and installation artist.
Abidin’s art uses various media, such as videos, video installations, multimedia sculptures, sound-based installations, photography and paintings, to explore contemporary issues. His main point of departure is always linked to the intention to explore the complex relationship between visual art and politics and identity. Using a sharp palette of irony and humour, he creates works that explore different social situations while dealing with elusive experiences and cultural alienation.
The artist uses his cross-cultural background, as an Iraqi artist living in Helsinki, to create a distinct visual language often laced with sarcasm and paradox, while maintaining an ultimately humanistic approach. This sarcasm used is nothing but a medium of provocation to serve the purpose of extending the mental borders of the artwork beyond the limits of the exhibition space. Abidin is particularly interested in creating opportunities to prolong the discussions beyond artwork by enabling the audience to convey mental elements from the work into their daily life. He always finds the words “politics” and “identity” to be more than a terminology or a path that we travel in, as they unfold to other concepts like discrimination and mass media manipulation.
Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s Head of Sale and Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art Specialist
Ashkan Baghestani joined Sotheby’s Middle East Department in 2012 focusing on the Contemporary Doha auctions and developing this increasingly important art platform, including the April 2013 Contemporary Art Doha sale which realised $15.2 million and established the highest price for an auction in the Middle East region, with records set for nine artists, including the record price for a living Arab artist, Chant Avedissian. His in-depth knowledge of the market for Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and Iranian works, his fluency in Persian, French and English, and his contacts in the region have been invaluable in cultivating this important collecting field at Sotheby’s. He constantly travels across the Middle East region, participating in Sotheby’s numerous travelling exhibitions across the region such as Jeddah Art Week, Saudi Arabia and Dubai Art Week Travelling Exhibition, UAE.
Mr. Baghestani grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and has travelled extensively to study and work in Paris, New York and London. Before joining Sotheby’s in the summer of 2012, he studied Design and Management at Parson’s, the New School for Design, in the United States in 2009, earning a BBA Degree and followed later with a diploma in Middle Eastern Art from Sotheby’s Institute in 2011. He actively worked for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Basel Dalloul Founded the Dalloul Art Foundation in 2017 to manage and promote his father’s (Dr. Ramzi Dalloul) vast collection of modern and contemporary Arab art. At over 4000 pieces it is the largest collection of it’s kind in private hands. The collection includes but is not limited to paintings, photography, sculpture, video and mixed media art. Basel has had a passion for art since he was very young, inspired by both his mother and father, both of whom are also passionate about art in all its forms.
Mahmoud Obaidi (b. 1966, Baghdad) is an Iraqi-Canadian artist whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. After leaving Iraq in 1991, he obtained his Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph in Canada, and completed diplomas in new media and film from Toronto and Los Angeles, respectively. His work has been exhibited extensively, including British museum, London-Qatar Museums, Doha; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Saatchi Gallery, London; the National Museum of Bahrain; the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; the National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Texas; and the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec, NABU museum,Lebanon. others. His work is part of the permanent collection of a number of significant museums, foundations, and private collections.
Nadim Karam – an artist and architect working from Beirut- initially trained in architecture at the American University of Beirut then earned a doctorate in architecture from the University of Tokyo, Japan. He has recently finished building his own workshop, A.MUSE.UM in the Lebanese mountains, which will be also used as a platform for art, research and exhibitions.
With Atelier Hapsitus, the pluri-disciplinary group he founded in 1996, he has realized temporary and permanent urban interventions in cities worldwide such as Prague, Beirut, Melbourne, Tokyo, London, Kuwait and Yerevan, using public art as an instrument for urban stimulation. Based on a cross-fertilization of disciplines and nationalities, the twenty-year-old practice has a multidisciplinary composition, which feeds into the experimental nature of its work. He has held academic positions in Tokyo and Beirut, gives lectures internationally and has published several books.
Nayla Tamraz is a Lebanese writer, curator, researcher and professor of Literature and Art History at Saint Joseph University of Beirut where she has also been, from 2008 to 2017, the Chair of the French Literature Department and where she created, in 2010, the MA program in Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies that she currently heads. She also organized several events including the symposium ′Littérature, Art et Monde Contemporain: Récits, Histoire, Mémoire′ (2014, USJ, Beirut). In parallel, she leads a career as an art critic and a curator. In this context, she co-curated the exhibition ′Le Secret′ (Espace Ygreg, Les bons voisins, 2017) in Paris and curated the exhibition ′Poetics, Politics, Places′ that took place in the Museum of Fine Arts of Tucumán in Argentina, in the frame of the International Biennale of Contemporary Art of South America (BienalSur, 2017). Her research is about the issues related to the comparative theory and aesthetics of literature and art in their historical context, which brings her to the topics of history, memory and narratives in literature and art in post-war Lebanon. Her current research explores the relationship between poetics and politics as well as the representations associated to the notion of territory.
Samia A. Halaby
Samia A. Halaby was born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1936. She is a visual artist, writer, scholar, and activist. Now, rounding out her sixth decade as an active painter, she continues to explore abstraction and its relationship to reality. She has exhibited in galleries, museums, and art fairs throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and South America. Her work is housed in private and public collections around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum (New York and Abu Dhabi) and the Institut Du Monde Arabe. Halaby has authored and contributed to a number of books, notably: “Liberation Art of Palestine” (2001), “Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre” (2016), and “Growing Shapes: Aesthetic Insights of an Abstract Painter” (2018). She is the subject of two monographs and numerous reviews.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS #48