The process involved in the purchase of that objet d’art for your personal collection has seen a global shift over the past decade from the traditional route – i.e. from physically visiting and poring over the offerings at various galleries and auction houses, to a course better suiting the virtual shopping carts of the times.
For most artists, the challenge lies in finding a space to represent them; a particularly herculean exercise for young and emerging creators. While yes, it is true that physical galleries offer that personal rapport between creator and customer, the alternative online paradigm removes the struggle of having to ‘woo’ a space from the equation entirely.
Seeing the potential of a valuable segment of art society, and not wanting to divest the Sri Lankan art scene from what has evidently proven to be an enigmatic landscape, Art Space Sri Lanka was launched by Saskia Fernando in 2015, with a view to provide an online platform that allows easy access to Sri Lankan contemporary art for collectors both locally as well as internationally.
Sri Lankan artists can now showcase and make available for sale their works via this online encyclopedia of collectibles, giving due exposition for artistic prowess not often associated with the island-nation. Great local art is here made available to a broader audience, and emerging talent is given its turn in the spotlight.
While a visit to the brick-and-mortar presence of the local art galleries is still the preferred mode of art viewing amongst residents, there is conceivably only so much physical space for the steady flow of deserving artworks pouring in for representation. Additionally, artworks that have been allowed the privilege of wall space are afforded a limited viewership of only the selected cocoon of appreciators walking in and out of exhibitions.
With a growing database of currently over 60 artists and 3000 artworks (ranging in price from USD 50 to USD 15000), Art Space was a much-needed venture after surveying the interests of a large network of international gallerists and art buyers. Collectors can peruse the portal and choose from high-quality visuals of art, architecture, and design, before adding to their personal or even corporate collections.
While Art Space does feature artists that have been associated with the Saskia Fernando Gallery, its database attempts an all-embracing (yet curated) portfolio of emerging as well as the more established artisans from across the island, and as a result allows the buyer a holistic and comprehensive view into the largest online inventory of historical, modern, and contemporary works in Sri Lanka.
The online buying process is as straightforward as the website’s layout claims. Initiated clients can choose to Browse Works For Sale by specific artists, while the unbiased collector can figuratively leaf through the online catalogue of artworks according to personal preferences of style and mode of expression; be it paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photography, or even installations. Buyers can choose from New Works (the most recent additions to the inventory are updated every week), or have a look through Curator’s Picks, an astutely selected showcase of recommendations by the team. Additionally, every month an emerging artist is featured, allowing visitors of Art Space to get better acquainted with this emerging artist’s work.
Any piece(s) of interest can then be added to the client’s own virtual shopping cart or ‘collection’ and shipping quotes can then be requested for prior to purchase. Many returning customers, assured by the credibility and authenticity of the Art Space brand and its works, prefer this ease of adding to their physical collections with a few clicks over having to visit a physical space.
Supplementing this online gallery is the website’s newsletter Kalaa Kathaa; an online bulletin with the aim to serve as a visitor’s go-to source for the goings on of the art movement in Sri Lanka. Be it updates on Art Space-featured artists, or events and exhibitions of relevance to the art circuit, Kalaa Kathaa will eventually serve as an archive of important trends, people, and news shaping the regional and global art market at the time. Signing up for the Art Space newsletter has subscribers receiving these updates directly into their inbox.
Ultimately, Art Space is not just a sales channel with the potential to connect with buyers internationally. It also offers an ideal platform to give exposure and due credence to local artists, drawing and educating enthusiasts that while Sri Lanka’s art scene is deep-rooted in a history that spans centuries, we are as cutting edge as the next hub of the arts.
– Article by Shaahima Raashid