Get familiar with the genres
Art does not belong to a rarified world. But the terms can be daunting. Here’s the thing: just get familiar with the vocabulary. There are some works that you probably like but are not sure which genre they belong to. Browsing through online stores where they normally segregate artworks according to genres and pricing is one way to take a quick lesson. We demystify a few genres here:
Realistic: Many prefer faithful depictions of objects, people and landscapes. Intricate details and photo-realistic, these works are popular with first-time art buyers.
See: Works of Amit Bhar
Figurative: This includes paintings of forms of people and can be realistic or abstract depictions.
See: Works of Rembrandt, Amrita Sher-gil, Akbar Padamsee, Yusuf Arakkal, JMS Mani
Impressionist: It does not necessarily depend on realistic depiction and brushstrokes suggest what the artist wants you to see.
See: The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Milind Nayak’s watercolours
Abstract: The visuals will be mostly independent of any references from the real world. This genre is highly sophisticated and an artist usually veers to abstraction to depict thoughts without being burdened by the outside world.
See: Works of SH Raza, Akkitham Narayanam, Gurudas Shenoy and SG Vasudev
Religious: These works are popular as they will have gods, goddesses, and motifs that are sacred. From the popular Ganeshas to Buddhas to highly abstract works which have motifs like the ‘bindu’; this genre is evergreen.
See: Works by Raja Ravi Varma, Paresh Hazra, Mysore and Tanjore paintings
Pop Art: Modern and fun, this genre was started by American artists in the sixties. It’s appealing because it includes popular imagery from news and advertisements.
See: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Dali
Photography: Striking photographs make for great artworks. And if you have a flair for photography, there is little to stop you.
See: Works of Raghu Rai
Sculptures: These 3D works invite conversation. From abstract to detailed, sculptures set on tabletops or wall niches give that ‘finished’ look to the space. Bronze, brass, ceramic, terracotta and wood are popular materials. Look out for some unusual works that are sold on the roadside by travelling crafts people.
See: Works of Dimpy Menon, Balan Nambiar
Buy what you would want to see every day. If you want to build a collection, preferably go for original works. Budget constraints can be limiting but buying works of unknown (good) artists will make it a win-win for both. Consult a knowledgeable friend or even a gallerist to vouch for the work. Also, if you come across a work in a size that is too small or too big, always ask if the artist can make the work in the size you prefer. Most oblige. In some galleries, small format (size) works of artists are available for way less than what their big works would cost. However, if you simply can’t do without the Masters, prints of their works are a good option. Try out different mediums like paper collage. Look up Henri Matisse for reference.
Select the Space
Every room in the house has a highlight wall that begs attention. It is important to get the size of the artwork right – remember that the highlight wall must be the frame for the work. If it is too big a wall, put up a selection of works, arranging the works in a geometric pattern. It is okay to mix prints with paintings of different genres, colours and styles. Contrasting colours or styles (a traditional work in a contemporary space) will heighten interest.
Present it Right
Even calendar art will look good if it has the right frame and backing (fabric or rice paper). Watercolours, acrylics and drawings need to have glass protection. Anti-reflective or museum glass will be perfect. Contemporary oil paintings (abstracts) on mounted canvas can be hung as it is. Otherwise, avoid ornate frames, even if the work is traditional. Simple neat lines will not overshadow the work. And when you display different works as a collage, make sure that the frames are identical. Hang the works in such a manner that the focal point is at eye level.
Where to pick up art
Visit galleries like Gallery Sumukha, Galerie de’Arts, Kynkyny Art, Galerie Sara Arakkal, Art Houz, Gallery G, Crimson Art, Galleryske, Mahua Art Gallery, Sublime Galleria and Tasveer frequently to absorb the contemporary art scene. Appreciators of cartoons, illustrations and caricatures can visit Indian Cartoon Gallery and aPaulogy Gallery. Visit art exhibitions at CKP to get an idea of what is emerging in terms of art and talent. Our pick:
Chitra Santhe: An annual affair (in January) when hundreds of artist come down to CKP to sell their works. Even gallerists scour the santhe in search of talented artists. Artworks from Rs 500 onwards are available.
Art Park: Initiated by artist SG Vasudev, the first Sunday of every month sees a handful of artists coming to the Sculpture Park off Ravindra Kalakshetra to paint and draw for as less as Rs 500.
Third Eye Gallery: A delightful collection of works are available at various price points. A must-visit for the first-time art buyer. Browse their website (thirdeye-art.com) before visiting.
Artist Studios: There are many artists in the city who welcome genuine art lovers. From Balan Nambiar to CF John and Gurudas Shenoy, most are willing to invite you to their studios (look up the address online). They may just have something for the budget you have in mind.
Online: Look at online galleries like city-based Artzolo.com and artchutney.com or others like Saffronart.com to get an idea of what you can get. Most artists (look up: Kalyani Ganapathy, Mridul Chandra and Spoorthy Murali) have websites from which you can get their contact details.