CULTURE

Purchasing art from the comfort of home

Conventional art galleries are now facing competition from the emerging genre of online galleries. The latter are a fast, convenient way of viewing and purchasing art without having to leave the comfort of one’s home. Arteshop (www.arteshop.gr), which was recently established, is essentially the first well-organized site of this kind in Greece. It includes around 400 works of all media and represents 36 mostly Greek artists. New names and works are constantly being added to the site. Artist Fiona Mouzakiti and Despina Stavrou, photographer and gallery owner (of the Manifactura gallery) who conceived of and set up Arteshop, aim to create a space that will make contemporary art more accessible to a wider public and render it a more integral part of our lives. They also hope to provide artists with opportunities for showing their work. As an artist, Mouzakiti is particularly sensitive to helping other artists. «There is a great number of artists who never get a chance to display their work in an art gallery or have to wait long before they do. One reason is that their work may not suit the style of a gallery. Another is that there are not enough art galleries to represent all the artists who are active,» she says. In Arteshop, one will learn of artists that have not shown their work in art galleries, not just young artists but of different age groups. Each of them is represented by several works, which helps give the viewer a well-rounded understanding of their work. There are also biographies and supplementary material. Mouzakiti and Stavrou do the «recruiting» by visiting artists’ studios or picking out new talents from the exhibitions of Athens School of Fine Arts graduates. Well-experienced and active in the field, they have constant access to information and the capability to evaluate it. Even so, purchasing art on the Internet is something with which the public is still not familiar. «Art on the Internet is a difficult product, especially for the Greek public,» says Mouzakiti. The fact that the Manifactura gallery is a physical place where buyers, can view, on request, the work they chose from the site, makes the transaction less impersonal. «It gives the user a sense of security. To know that one can come to meet and discuss with us helps a lot» says Despina Stavrou. The site itself has links to the Manifactura gallery, a multipurpose art laboratory that hosts exhibitions, seminars and lectures and also has a shop. Both Stavrou and Mouzakiti agree that their venture is an experiment whose success will be judged over time. They also say that there is an increasing demand for contemporary art. Their greatest incentive is to support artists and prompt them to increase and expand their artistic production. «I believe that the more production grows, the better the quality gets with time,» says Mouzakiti, who was also one of the founding members of Cheap Art. Arteshop is another, new way for building contacts between the public and the artists. It opens a different niche in the market of contemporary art but also gives artists new opportunities for communicating their work.