Arts-Mart concluded their second exhibition of the year at the Four Seasons Garden City with a clear message to potential buyers: there is no better time to invest in art.
Launched a year ago, Arts-Mart founders Dina Shaaban, Hatem Zaazou and Lina Mowafy (who is also one of their featured artists) said things have been very hectic since then, and dispeled the idea that art does not have a prominent place in post-revolutionary Egypt.
“It’s been going very fast since we launched a year ago. There is definitely strong demand for art and it is growing,” said Dina Shaaban.
Shaaban said Arts-Mart featured work by younger artists when they first launched: “We began with the Opera House’s youth salon and after we met with them, we gained some publicity through word of mouth and social media so we began getting more artists. We get 200 users a day so from an artist’s viewpoint, their work is always on display.”
Shaaban said things have changed slightly from the first exhibition earlier this year but maintains that it was also a success: “Now we have bigger names but we have shuffled things around and put younger artists in more visible spaces. We also included a group of new artists that were not in the first exhibition.”
The founders said Arts-Mart’s raison d’être is less about moving art and more about being a platform for artists to showcase their works. “Arts-Mart is needed primarily for informative reasons and to raise awareness. You can see the full range of the contemporary art scene in Egypt on the website and there is transparency in terms of pricing for both customer and artist. When I look at the profit the artists make, I feel like I have made a difference,” said Shaaban.
Artists Ibrahim El-Tanbouli, whose work is displayed prominently on Arts-Mart, said it’s important to provide culture and a platform for artists through the private sector if the public sector is lacking: “The culture ministry was especially lacking in this regard due to corruption, they did not publish books in other languages about Egyptian art and the international community is often shocked to discover there is serious artistic talent here.
“As as artist and an Alexandrian, I can tell you that we desperately need this kind of visibility. Galleries are located mainly in Cairo and are exclusive and do not receive a lot of new artists from outside certain circles,” he added.
For the future, Shaaban says Arts-Mart is planning on increasing exhibitions and activities with artists: “We are planning single exhibitions for the future which will focus on a single artist and we just had a collector’s club brunch followed by an interactive workshop with Mohamed Abla.”
But for now, Shaaban says it is a good time to buy art. The works at the exhibition were as diverse in style as they were in price; some of the works went for a few thousand pounds and others commanded a more formidable few hundred thousand. Shaaban however, insists that these artworks are worth the prices: “Art is a good investment because art appreciates, like gold, in a recession.”