How to buy art in Dubai
Good magazine gives tips on how to start an art collection without spending a fortune. Plus, UAE galleries selling affordable, original art.
It’s possible to start an out-of-this-world collection on a down-to-earth budget, says arts and culture writer Danna Lorch.
Support regional artists
Your style is anything but generic, so forget art that has been mass-produced and imported. There are a number of wildly talented local and regional artists producing original art that is both vibrant and affordable.
With auction sales rising steadily and more galleries opening each year, all signs point to Middle Eastern art as a solid investment. Art is a portable asset that can be easily moved from home to home, which makes it equal parts practical and pretty.
Do your homework
Check out Art Dubai (March 18 to 20) to zero in on your personal artistic taste. Take pictures of work that speaks to you and research the artists and galleries online, taking note of whether they’ve had multiple exhibitions and solid press. Don’t buy on a whim unless it’s love at first sight, and until you’re seasoned (or your budget is fluid!) avoid bidding at auctions, which tend to have skyrocketing prices. Take your time and don’t be afraid to contact a gallery director to ask questions – that’s why they are there!
Keep costs down
Most major artists produce works on paper or studies (small versions of larger pieces) at an accessible price point. You can also check out student shows at NYU Abu Dhabi, or group exhibitions like The Big Picture to scout for emerging local talent at prices that won’t leave you surviving on tins of beans for a year – albeit with a beautiful piece of art to look at.
Become a curator
Is that grand painting of your dreams a little over budget? Take inspiration from the Louvre Abu Dhabi and create a gallery wall of four to six small works of art. Play around with framing materials, colours, and matting widths to achieve the look you want.
Buy some time
To acquire the work you want at a price you can afford, ask the gallery to consider an instalment payment plan. Don’t forget to only purchase art that is signed and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity (a document you will need to provide for insurance or resale purposes in the future).
Keep your treasures safe
In the UAE we are lucky to get year-round sunshine, but direct light is art’s sworn enemy. Avoid catastrophe by keeping treasures away from sunlight, sources of dust, or a potentially leaky AC unit. Invest a little extra money in proper framing and keep your fledgling collection safe for generations to come. Hit up the knowledgeable folk at Art House Dubai for advice.
Check out these UAE galleries for affordable, original art
This beautifully curated online gallery promotes work by regional artists on the rise. Check out dreamy paintings by Elham Etemadi, powerful portraits by Palestinian artist Monther Jawabreh, and Emirati artist Humaid Mansoor’s boundless abstracts.
This design boutique with branches in Dubai and Riyadh is the place to look for pop art with a twist – just the thing to brighten up a neutral room.
This handmade marketplace features reasonable, original art by local artists. Heather Conyers’ (search DXBPrintmaker) luminous prints are covetable, as are the photographs offered in collaboration with Gulf Photo Plus, and Rita Dua’s quirky teabag art. Everything is signed and numbered.