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October 19, 2009 Art Thoughts No Comments
Joseph Ellis' A Child's Future 2009, Ice Sculpture (source: Saatchi Online)

Joseph Ellis' A Child's Future 2009, Ice Sculpture (source: Saatchi Online)

In this day and age of information at one’s fingertips, an online art gallery seems a natural step forward for artists, art dealers, and art collectors.  The brain-child of Charles Saatchi, who founded the Saatchi Art gallery in 1985, Saatchi Online, launched in 2006, offers three important forums:  One, it provides young artists the opportunity to showcase their work to an international audience; Two, it provides artists the opportunity to exchange ideas with one another, regardless of where they work and live;  Three, it offers potential buyers the opportunity to purchase the work of young artists worldwide.

Best known as the co-founder of the global advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, and for his sponsorship of the Young British Artists, Saatchi’s online gallery includes – Saatchi Online Studio (where artists can create works of art online); Saatchi Online Artists (where artists can showcase their art); Saatchi Online Art Students (where art students can talk to each other through chat lines); Salesroom Online (where artists can sell their work)  – to list but a few variations on a theme.

For the new collector, or for anyone interested in a quick, global overview of young artists, I think the most interesting link is Saatchi Online Artists.  The works are accompanied by the artist’s name, the title and year of the work, the medium, and a short description (provided by the artist).  Surprisingly, the least interesting link was the Salesroom Online.

Brian Kapernakas' Strike (2007), Oil on Linen (Source: Artist's Website)

Brian Kapernekas' Strike (2007), Oil on Linen (Source: Artist's Website)

As with any art gallery, the Salesroom Online features some really good works alongside some not so good works.  Anyone can submit their work.  Anyone can fill out the “basic questions form” and then  anyone can upload up to a maximum of twenty pictures of their work.  I don’t have a problem with this.  In fact, I appreciate and applaud the arbitrary democracy of “anyone” submitting work.  What I do not appreciate, however, is the seemingly arbitrary way some of the artists have priced their work.  To be fair, the “overpriced” art work was in the minority.  Still, I was taken aback by some of the high price tags attached to what looked like (it is always tricky to judge a work of art from a picture alone) mediocre art.  Prices range from US$25.00 to US$8,000.00.

On the other hand, there were some really, really interesting artists who, judging by their c.v’s and their work, seem both accomplished and visionary.  One such artist is Joseph Ellis, a young American born artist who studied and lives in Beijing.  I was especially struck with his installation piece, A Child’s Future.  Commissioned by Greenpeace, the installation consisted of 100 hand carved ice sculptures of children which were placed in the sun.  The logic?  To represent the fragility of our children’s world unless we do something about climate change.

Another artist I liked, and one whose work would last in the home, is Brian Kapernekas. I went to his website and was struck by his painting entitled Strike.  I love how an ordinary paint splattered tool is treated with a stark simplicity that lends it an almost spiritual aura.

Yes, go to Saatchi Online and yes, enjoy learning about artists you otherwise will probably have never heard about, but buying online?  It works for E-bay…

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