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Some time this year I decided I had the desire and means to acquire a serious work of art. The art on my walls is unsigned work by unknowns, and while I enjoyed it, I wanted to use my bonus to own a piece of art history.

I had been surprised on a trip to India to realise that art by some well-known artists isn’t as expensive as I had assumed and I began talking to a gallery about buying a piece. That gallery came to the Hong Kong Art Fair but to my disappointment, they sold the piece I had been in talks with them about just before coming and what they brought along wasn’t in my budget. I traipsed around the fair desperate to make a purchase, finally giving up with a bad taste in my mouth due to an unpleasant encounter with a gallerist from India. That encounter brought home to me how much art is fetishized and commoditized, while the aura created around art conceal this very process, a process I was also participating in.

Since then, my priorities have changed. I would still love to own a beautiful painting (sculpture would be impossible to display in a house with two young kids) but I’ve given up on something that would hold investment value. If I am not completely broke in a few years’ time, I will buy work that I like by unknowns or young artists as I have done in the past.

The photo is a calendar created by a printing house here that came out with a coffee table book on Hong Kong artists. Each little cube has a work of a Hong Kong artist on three faces and the days of a month on the fourth side. One can switch around the cubes to show different artworks at whim. The calendar is years old but I love it.

This series of posts is about gratitude. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to learn about and understand art, to have seen great art close up, to have interacted with people in the art world, and to have had a brush, even if unrealised, of owning art for glimmer of time.

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