Its bewildering to hear the echo’s of Indigenous art doomsayers as we continue to climb out of the dark cave known as the Global Financial Crisis. Negative attitudes are becoming tiresome and appear to be mainly present in those far removed from the inner sanctum of Indigenous art.
No one can deny there has been a significant slowdown–shall we say- an arts recession, on that basis I would suggest it was the “Recession we had to have”. At its peak before the GFC the Indigenous arts industry had in some cases become propelled by greed and the desire to earn a quick money. Many participants on all levels adopted this indulgent philosophy,this includes gallerist’s, auction houses, dealers and artists.
Artists created a multitude of inadequate artworks and expected to be paid handsomely as they knew the overvaluation of their mediocre works continued through to retail galleries all over the world. Many dealers closed their discerning eye and were prepared to accept anything produced on canvas. All due to the insatiable appetite to secure works by big name artists regardless of quality. Primary and secondary market buyers gormandized themselves on the availability of big name artists and many neglected basic collecting criteria.
I am of the opinion that the ‘Recession we had to have” has not been the bust of a boom but an essential ‘Kick in the backside” to an industry in desperate need of restitution. The effects of the arts recession are many, including the desertion of poorly motivated industry participants. The industry has purged the many Johnny come lately‘s who were of the opinion the Aboriginal Arts Industry was a get rich quick scheme. Long-term participants know this not to be the case.
Artists are again encouraged to produce exceptional, high quality works, as poor works do not find buyers, certainly not at the unrealistic prices of the past. Another effect is recalibration between quality and value; poor works are poor works and should be valued as such regardless of the artist. High calibre works are still in high demand and selling well for large but fair values.
I would go as far to suggest that the value of high-end, high quality, desirable indigenous art sales currently occurring in the private/dealer market are already at adequate levels.
This industry is leaving adolescence after a somewhat troubled period (as most adolescents experience). The high quality of the artistic output occurring now is undeniable and in the end the art will do the talking. People in the know are buying not selling Aboriginal Art. There has never been a better time to buy! To the doomsayers – I say get ready for round two.
“the last great art movement of the 20th century” Robert Hughes, Art Critic
“Australia’s Aborigines may have created one of the World’s oldest art forms and have certainly created one of the newest.” Tony Clifton The New York Times 2003
Copyright Adam Knight 2014