Art And Culture

Gallery Owners’ Guild to Be Established in Iran

Lili Golestan
Lili Golestan
“The establishment of an official association will help support galleries and artists as it will have the legal authority to file complaints against violations by gallery owners and annul their permits”

Art gallery owners in Iran will have their own guild by the end of the current fiscal year in March 2017, according to the prominent artist Lili Golestan, 71, owner and artistic director of Golestan Gallery in Tehran.

“Each week, we meet with gallery owners and we have almost worked out the modalities of the association. We have also registered the Gallery Owners Guild Association at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs,” Golestan told ILNA in an interview.

An increasing number of art galleries have opened in Tehran and more so in the recent weeks, she noted. “This is fine if the new gallery owners are authentic; but for issuing an art gallery permit, the Culture Ministry measures the area of the venue, without so much as assessing the owner’s artistic qualifications,” the outspoken artist said.

Unfortunately, the ministry doesn’t care about the background of gallery managers. There are so-called curators who do the job with a profit motive, and have no education in art and culture.

She emphasized that cultural aspects should be associated with gallery management: “Some galleries hold exhibitions a couple of times before turning them into places of trading and profit-making rather than centers of promoting art and artworks. Such galleries damage the reputation of the artistic community and erode the credibility of genuine galleries.”

The establishment of an official association will help support galleries and artists as it will have the legal authority to file complaints against violations by gallery owners and annul their permits. The association will help artists protect their rights, she said.

“For three years, we have been trying to establish the association and we succeeded. The guild will benefit the entire visual arts community,” Golestan added.

  Role of Galleries

Art curators play a significant role in helping artists find their place in the art society. A successful gallery owner supports talented artists and introduces them to collectors who are likely to buy their artistic products.

Galleries should help young and upcoming artist to sell their works. But unfortunately in most cases, gallery owners prefer to showcase veteran and well-established artists to ensure their own profits. Their mission should actually be to gradually introduce new artists to the art community, and not just be guided by personal profit, she said.

Taking gallery owners to task, she said, “It is no artistic achievement when an auction sells an artwork at a high price, and others make copycats of the work. Creativity is rare today. On the other hand, to ensure a successful sale, gallery owners may urge artists to consider marketability of their works and encourage them to follow the dominant trend in the market. Failure to do so will leave a black mark on contemporary art.”

The economy of art is governed by gallery owners. Artists should note that auctions are not the ultimate in the art world, even if galleries sell artworks at a high price. The actual price is the base price for a work tagged at galleries, the veteran artist noted.

Advising gallery owners to follow the culture and ethics of their profession, she said they should have a background in art, with a command of artistic styles and schools. A gallery owner should in fact be an art tutor.

A gallery should avoid holding group exhibitions over twice a year, or else the venue is not promoting the field of art or artists. Group events take place frequently because curators can’t find artists for successful solo exhibits.

“It has happened quite often that galleries do not treat artists honestly or refuse to pay them what they deserve. Sometimes they rent out the gallery to artists, which is insulting. Artists should be able to use galleries free of charge. All such problems will be solved by the association. In the meantime, artists should be patient,” she said.

At the end, Golestan expressed hope about the contemporary art scene in Iran. “We have talented young artists who are creating valuable works.”

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