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Thursday, 30 August  2012

Local  art scene still boyant

T&T’s local art market remains robust, despite the slowdown in the domestic economy and the global uncertainty, says Mark Pereira, the owner of the 101 Art Gallery. “At the minute, there is still a lot of cash around but people are nervous about what to do with the cash, Pereira says, giving his assessment of the various asset classes that normally attract the country’s monied set, saying that people are tied of buying property and spending money to maintain, while “stocks and shares are stagnant if now downhill and they can be somewhat boring.” The value of paintings on the walls of homes, he says, will go up if the acquirer chooses carefully and there is the enjoyment of the art itself which is more pleasing to look at than a file of shares, he says. “There are many young professionals who are becoming interested in the work of local artists.

Art dealer Mark Pereira at his new gallery, the home of the late artist Boscoe Holder in Newtown. PHOTO: SEAN DRAKES

These young professionals have excess cash and don’t have much place to put it.” Because he has been in the business for more than two decades, he is able to demonstrate the history of the sales of some of the country’s major artists. He cited an example of the work of an artist which was selling for between $2,500 and $4,000, 15 years ago that is now commanding between $58,000 and $78,000. Pereira says that the continuing appetite for art is due to the fact that locals are becoming more and more aware of the local art scene and the country’s painting tradition and are proud of it. Pereira, who for the last eight years or so has exhibited at the Art Society’s building in Federation Park, is himself feeling confident about the country’s future and the future of the T&T art scene. He has spent close to $3 million on the purchase and renovation of the Woodford Street, Port-of-Spain house and studio once owned by one of T&T’s most distinguished artists, Boscoe Holder, who died in 2007 at the age of 85. “In terms of my own confidence in the art market—I have invested more than $3 million in the art market over the last year and that I think will speak to my confidence as well because when clients walk into the gallery, they will understand that this a place built on an established reputation that can be trusted and that I am putting my money where my mouth is.” Pereira said that Boscoe, with whom he had a professional relationship since their first exhibition in 1999, was very keen that he should use Boscoe house to continue showing art. “We answered many of his wishes, but they were congruent with mine,” says Pereira.

 As he has done for many years now, Pereira is also opening his Precious Paintings exhibition in October with paintings and art by some of the country’s most famous dead artists such as Greenidge, Cazabon, Pearl Atteck and Boodhoo and a few. “Apart from being beautiful work, it’s going to pay off as an investment over time. There is no one else who is concentrating on that.” These precious paintings, Pereira says, come from people who are downsizing, from estate sales or “from people who we have helped build up their collections over the last 25 years but now they are older and moving into a smaller apartment.” He will also host four other shows this years. He says his work of buying, selling and showing the works of T&T’s artist community is made easier by the fact that he has been doing this for 27 years, which means that “people from all over now know us.” The reputation, says Pereira, speaks for itself, citing as an example someone who brought him a Greenidge last year. “We said that they would get X for it and they got X plus $10,000 so they were very happy.”

 He says the 101 Art Gallery is the longest running business of its kind in the country and the only one that depends on selling paintings alone. “There is no back up industry involved. The 101 Art Gallery has survived for the last 22 years on commission, which is slightly risky because it has not been done before but it makes me hungrier as I concentrate on my work, which is selling paintings.” Although he says he works with other galleries, he is clearly stung by artists who have worked with him for years but who have migrated to other galleries. He says: “What I do find a little challenging is that if I have been working with an artist for the last 20 years—having taken a chance with the artist and built up their career— and then another gallery might say to them I am going to show your work for less commission. I find that is lacking in self-respect. If they want to say they can show the work better. That’s a little difficult for us to deal with because there are younger artists out there who the newer galleries should be taking chances with.”

Business Guardian

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