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Arts & Culture

A Newbie's Guide To Buying Art

Master these tips first before investing in a piece

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Photography: Michael Angelo Chua (Main Photos)

Acquiring art for the first time can be daunting—there are so many artists and works of art to choose from, not to mention the price tags that can be overwhelming. We sought the help of interior designer Wilmer Lopez and Thor Balanon, owners of Space Encounters Gallery (the same duo who runs local furniture brand Space Encounters) to give us tips on buying art.


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Fall in love with the piece.

Bring home a piece not because it’s by a popular artist or it has an impressive price tag, but because you really, really like the artwork.  “If you see a piece and you keep going back to it, if you can’t take it out of your head, then that’s the art for you,” says Wilmer.  “Looking at collecting art as an investment is tricky in itself. I suggest that you fall in love with art first, and then consider the investment side.”

Do your research.

If you plan to invest in art, it’s important to know if what you’re really buying is the real deal and not just a mere rip-off of someone else’s work. Thor relates, “I check if the artist has done several shows or if they have staged exhibitions or residency abroad. That is usually a good sign that an artist has potential. It also helps to read art magazines or online articles. It’s really about taking chances with new artists because not all that are currently buzz-worthy will reach their full potential in the future.”

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Check out galleries, auction houses, and art fairs.

“We started with auction houses. Sometimes you get lucky and you are able to acquire paintings at a relatively low value,” narrates Thor. He recommends Leon Gallery Auction House and Salcedo Auctions. Galleries are also a good starting point, Wilmer adds, although pieces can be pricier relative to auction houses. If you’re on the lookout for art by new artists, don’t hesitate to attend gallery openings. Fairs like Art in the Park and Art Fair, which happen annually in Metro Manila, are also a good place to start as you can find affordable works there by up-and-coming artists.

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Make sure of its authenticity.

If you plan on investing in an artwork by a master, make sure there is a clear provenance. You may also ask experts to take a look at the piece first. Thor says, “Established galleries and auction houses are more reliable if you are looking to buy works of masters.”

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Don’t rush the process.

Buying and collecting art is a process, and learning the ropes takes time. “From our experience, it’s not something you learn in a day, or even in months. Sooner or later, you will commit mistakes and you learn from them—from unreliable sellers to scrutinizing which art is authentic or fake. It’s all very complex and intricate,” says Wilmer. Also, don’t be pressured to invest in pricey pieces right away. “Start small and work your way up,” Wilmer adds.


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Store and display art properly.

Once you’ve acquired the piece you’ve fallen in love with (and spent hard-earned money on), make sure to take good care of it. Keep paintings, especially oil paintings, away from moist and direct sunlight—nearby plants, aquariums, and water features are a no-no. Walls should also be waterproofed, and there should be proper air circulation.


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“Before you start hammering on your wall, it’s helpful to cut out from newspapers the exact size of the paintings that you will be putting up. Make a composition of the artwork you will be displaying on a wall safely and accurately,” Wilmer says. Remember: your gallery wall does not have to be symmetrical, so feel free to play around with composition.

If you want to highlight a piece, allot an entire wall for it. You may also change the color of the wall to further draw attention to the artwork. Lighting is also key, as it can give life to an art piece. Thor says, “Work around it and add furniture that matches the colors of the painting so it becomes the heart of your home.”

Visit Space Encounters Gallery at Unit 7D, 7th Flooor, Padilla Building, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

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