Share your art with a global audience in new ways | Sunday Observer

Share your art with a global audience in new ways

16 August, 2020

People are too busy to do routine tasks and one has to be an art enthusiast to have free time to visit an exhibition. As an art lover, even if you don’t have time to go to different studios or art galleries, thankfully today, there are many online options which have evolved over the centuries. Online art galleries are the most popular and the latest platform for fine art browsing, auctioning, providing, and of course buying. For the present day art buyer, it is very exciting to look around online art galleries.


Janaka Perera

Aartzy is one of a kind online curated platform focusing on arts and crafts that showcases the talent of local and international artists where they benefit from the visibility garnered from international art buyers, which gives them the opportunity to sell their work.

They are keen on areas such as paintings, photography and sculpture, in multiple genres where the work of artists is displayed, with the main focus on representing featured artists creating opportunities to get international recognition for their work.

Being a passionate art lover, Janaka Perera, the founder of the Aartzy online platform stepped into the art sphere purely by chance.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer he recalled the first incident that stimulated the need of building the Aartzy platform.

“I was trying to buy a painting as a gift, and came across several artists who were clearly struggling to sell their work without any knowledge about technology, new trends or sales strategies. Although these artists were supremely talented, this limitation resulted in them depending on the buyers coming to them,”

Thereafter, he researched online local art market and learnt that there is a huge void locally.

Having more than two decades of corporate experience in multiple multinational companies it did not take long for him to realise the need for a similar platform in Sri Lanka to take our own art and artists to the global market.

Starting from scratch

To start from scratch is never an easy task. Having very limited encounters with local artists in person, he visited many artists personally, introducing his objectives to them. As always, initially, there was resistance and rejections.

“You need a thick skin if you want to build something unique. However, gradually when they got to know our genuine objectives, they accepted me and Aartzy with open arms. I have a bit of a soft corner towards the initial bunch of artists who trusted me and Aartzy,” Janaka said.

As Janaka explains, the curation process of Aartzy is very liberal and respected any of the artists’ professional work and their freedom of expression. “the doors are open for emerging artists who create modest work,” Janaka said.

A growing sector

Although online gallery is a new concept in Sri Lanka, the global situation is quite contrary. Globally, this has been the sector with the best growth. At present the total global art market is valued at $64bn (Art Basel Annual Report) and the online sales of art alone is valued at $900mn as of 2019 and there is a growth of 20%+ each year, which is a clear indication that this is the best option for experienced and emerging artists.

Anywhere in the world the biggest challenge for an artist is to sell his own creations. Artists may wilfully suffer for his/her art. But if the market does not assure the value of the artist and if they have to equally suffer to sell their creations, it wouldn’t be a pleasure.

Financial freedom

“We need to make sure artists spend their time creating art and have no need to worry about secondary issues such as promoting or selling their work. Also, creators need to have the freedom to express their thoughts using their own styles.

However, the current market in Sri Lanka does not allow them this freedom and most galleries do influence artists to adopt different styles which clearly prevents them creating true masterpieces. We intend to change this. Artists need to be financially stable to be creative.

Our objective is for them to have this financial freedom to achieve creative freedom. We do not charge any of our creators for our services nor do we charge a percentage of sales from them.

We have several options which we discuss with the artists joining our platform and agree on the most suitable strategy for them,” Janaka said.

The beauty about online art galleries is that there are no geographical boundaries.

This liberal nature provides an equal opportunity for every artist to showcase and make available their creativity for the entire world.

Unlike most countries Sri Lankan art is not available freely online. Therefore, art lovers looking specifically to buy Sri Lankan art have limited options.

Although there is a relatively large Sri Lankan expat population who would like to have a bit of their own culture hanging on their walls which would probably bring back nostalgic memories, this scarcity of local artwork in the market restricts a huge commercial avenue.

“Aartzy also has recognised a large market for Sri Lankan arts and crafts apart from the Sri Lankan expat population.

The United States and the United Kingdom are the largest art markets in the world, and we have found that they always appreciate Sri Lankan traditional art due to its history and quality.

Apart from paintings, Sri Lanka is well known for its traditional crafts such as masks, sculpture, handlooms, and pottery. Aartzy strives to expand our portfolio of products which maintain Sri Lankan identity,” Janaka added.

Latest trends

Speaking about the latest trends in the art world, Janaka said that there’s a big demand for Abstract Art in the decade starting in 2020 similar to figurative art being popular in the 2010s. Experts believe the art world will grow tired of the narratives about figuration and the body, seeking more spiritual and transcendent art-viewing experiences.

Therefore, Janaka believes it’s high time to think about abstraction again. Speaking about the global condition he said that more young and emerging artists are drawn towards Abstract Art while more established contemporary artists are also adopting Abstraction as it allows more free-hand creative styling.

“Modern art is another style which will be popular in the current market conditions. Modern artists generally ignore all the logic of art which their predecessors have been practising and adopt a more experimental approach which also gives them the freedom which will be huge in the current art scenario, “ he added.

Art in the time of pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic is overall an unfortunate period for artists and the art market. Sales dropped significantly with many restrictions taking place all over the world. Many professional artists had to suffer and are still suffering due to the situation and find it difficult to maintain their living conditions.

Although many art galleries had to shut down during the pandemic, there’s an opposite reaction for online art galleries such as Aartzy. Rather, the Covid-19 pandemic presented a lot of opportunities which would not have been explored otherwise.

“We also have our physical gallery Gallery FourLife which is a partnership venture with Aartzy, which had to close due to the lockdown. However, there was no hindrance to our online presence.

Our sincere hope is that things would return to normalcy, so that artists can continue to create beautiful art while we assist them taking their works to the world at large,” he said.

To wrap up the conversation Janaka said, “The artists are the most valuable assets we have, and our objective is to create, enhance and safeguard their identities. My wish is to see my artists evolve and get them into better public collections and better exposure not only locally but internationally.

I have always been an art lover; helping those who create art gives me much pleasure. We do not have any institution to help artists to enhance their careers and achieve financial independence. Therefore, I would love to help artists achieve this through Aartzy.”