The National, the UAE’s English-language paper, looks at Iranian art after the fall and finds Dubai galleries do lots of business at lower prices. Here the writer, Effie-Michelle Metallidis, talks to gallerist Amir-Hosein Etemad:
Etemad has managed to circumvent the financial hit that many of the world’s art markets have taken, particularly within the contemporary art scene. [ . . . ]
Yet oddly, Iran has remained somewhat sheltered from the financial storm. Etemad and other gallery owners in Tehran are experiencing a curious after-effect of the global recession: that interest in the domestic Iranian art market is going up as prices drop to more realistic levels. “I’m relieved that the recession stopped the bubble,” he enthuses. “Now, prices are finally going back to normal.”
The bubble began to grow in Dubai about three years ago as an abundance of young buyers, particularly in the financial sector, channelled their excess income into Middle Eastern and Iranian art, fuelling speculation that drove prices through the roof.
“When I did my first show five years ago, I didn’t sell a thing,” says Isabelle van den Eynde, the owner of B21 Gallery in Dubai.” Frequently travelling to Iran in order to find artists, hers was one of the first to promote Iranian artists in Dubai. “Now,” she says, “people are fighting to buy these pieces.” [ . . . ]
Now that collectors are less willing to splash out, many are travelling to Iran in search of bargains. “There are a lot of new collectors coming,” says Etemad. “London, Switzerland, Dubai, France – even from Beijing and New Zealand. This is new. This has never happened before.”
Why the big interest? “It’s cheaper,” he says matter-of-factly, and interest is still high. “We have always been selling at normal prices, and I’m glad the market reflects that now. People are seeing that they can come here to invest in good art. Before, it was speculation, and people were paying millions for work. Now, because art is sold in a more acceptable range, it is affordable for more collectors.”
According to one interested party, Dubai plays a crucial role:
“While Dubai is something like a rite of passage for many artists who have previously had no representation in the art world, we really want to now get them involved in the international art scene. It doesn’t make any sense if you want your artists to have a career to keep selling in the same community.”In a sense, the Dubai art market has helped to create a platform for many Iranian artists and will continue to act as conduit of Iranian art for those collectors not intrepid enough to make the trek to Iran. “We believe that Dubai is a kind of bridge to Iran to make it international, especially in the art field,” says Raoufi.
Canvassing Anew (The National)