ARTfutures and Oliver Clegg

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What got me to the ARTfutures exhibit in the spring of 2007, wasn’t the much advertised tag line that touted this fair to be “the” most affordable leg-in to the world of collecting Contemporary Art, but the enthusiasm of my fellow colleagues and peers at Sotheby’s. Plus, the promise of a hot gastro-pub meal at the end of the night, Thai no less, wasn’t something that I, on my student staple of pasta and bread, was going to turn down.

So, off we went, with two line changes and over five tube stops, our enthusiastic bunch finally arriving at the Bloomberg Space over at Finsbury Park, with brollies in hand. We were greeted by a sight that has never quite left me. Imagine a fish market, dress up the fish mongers in the finest of garb, give them all posh accents or better yet have them chatter in a pick-n-mix of European languages, replace the fresh smell of the sea with an aroma of fine wine and perfume, and, the brash tones of bargaining with erudite whispers discussing the Art on the Walls in anthropomorphic tones and Voilà ! You have your Art Fair.

The colourful melange of characters talking, trading, buying and critiquing the art on display, fascinated me then, and has become a go-to-memory I pull out before all my Art Fair visits.

In the vastness of what was showcased at this event, the prices to my naïve self, which ranged from £500 to £5000 (49,449 INR to 4,94,491 INR) seemed exorbitant. It was much later that I found the blurb on a tag in my bag of purchased goods that described this event organised by the Contemporary Art Society (http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org ) as follows :

“A unique and un-missable event in the contemporary art calendar, each year, the Contemporary Art Society handpicks work by approximately 100 artists to form an exhibition of work for sale. Selected through a combination of exhaustive research including studio visits, ARTfutures offers a truly unrivalled opportunity to buy contemporary art, selected by the UK’s leading non-profit agency for independent advice on contemporary collecting.”

The piece of art that converted my apprehension into a conviction to collect, was a work by the master-draughtsman, conceptual-commentator and painter, Oliver Clegg. His obvious fascination with Freud and Psychoanalysis called to my own academic readership, training and fascination for the subject. It went beyond all the frills, as promised on the tag.

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When people ask  me today – what drives your passion for collecting art, my answer is simple –

“It isn’t about the passion for me really, as that would inevitably fade, it’s the connection I feel with the work, like I’ve met an old friend, and its time we caught up!I am merely privileged and honoured to be playing host for a while.”