Haggling customers disappoint senior artists

Haggling customers disappoint senior artists

Reasonable prices and wide variety of media attract large crowds to the Chitra Santhe every year. Though affordability makes the art fest popular among public, serious artists are not amused.

“Chitra Santhe devalues art,” said Ramdas M, a watercolour artist who was disappointed with customers haggling over prices. “Since it is a fair, people are not willing to spend.

They expect me to sell a painting worth Rs 30,000 for half its price. The frame alone costs between Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,000,” he said. Amateurs sell for very low prices so the public expects even experienced artists to sell at such rates, he complained.

Another Bengaluru artist Nagabhushan, also finds it difficult to sell art to people looking for a bargain. “Last year, my prices were around Rs 30,000. This year I have brought it down to Rs 20,000. Who knows, next year I may have to make it Rs 5,000,” he said. 

Other senior artists, however, see the Santhe as an opportunity to reach out to art collectors. “I have a gallery of my own in the city but the footfall there will never match up to the large crowds the Santhe gets,” artist Ganesh Doddamani said. Of the hundreds who see his paintings during the day, a small proportion will be true art lovers, willing to invest in quality work. “I am not here to make sales so I don’t entertain bargaining.

Those who are really interested contact me later and visit my gallery,” the artist said.
When displayed in an art gallery in New Delhi, Shiva Hadimani’s paintings sold for Rs two lakh. Similar paintings were priced between Rs 20,000 and Rs 80,000 at the santhe. The artist from Dharwad said he did not mind bargaining to lower the prices further. “In a gallery, there is uncertainty over whether people will buy. I may sell two or three paintings, at most. But, here more get sold and I am sure that I will have buyers,” he explained.

Yet others have found a middle ground to satisfy their customers without compromising on the value of their work. Rajkumar B, who works in the Revenue department of BBMP, had several paintings within Rs 1,000 and others in the range of Rs 15,000 and more.
 “I have a full-time job. Art is something I do for stress-relief and as an interest. If a customer is interested to buy, I will happily sell without haggling,” he said.

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