「week 7」Story of buying art

Last week I finally received the painting I bought almost two months ago. It’s a painting I bought in the name of “birthday present to myself”. It’s also the first time I bought some serious art, serious as in, it’s not exactly a small amount purchase.

Since it’s a first time, it’s more or less a symbolic event for me. As one grows old, one would realize the “first-times” in life happens less and less. What made me make the decision of purchase? I guess there’re two very important reasons. The first is, I can afford it. The second is, the moment I saw this painting on the social network of the artist, I felt a real connection and I knew I wanted it, I wanted to own it. I guess those are the two most important conditions if anyone is to buy any art, or at least to people with very limited budget as me.

The process of buying this painting, though, is more dramatic than I expected. When I approached the gallery at the beginning of June, the painting was on an exhibition in Berlin. The gallery owner at first told me he could ship the painting from Berlin, which would be cheaper than if he brought it back to US. After two weeks’ wait, I asked about the shipping and he said he had to bring the painting back for some documentation’s purpose, which made sense. After some more wait, the gallery owner told me he’d finally wrapped it up and built a box crate for it and it’s ready to be shipped to me! We talked about the options of insurance level of shipping and stuff and I thought, finally, it’s happening. Except that it wasn’t.

Two days later the bad news arrived, the gallery guy’s car was smashed and the painting package he left in his car was stolen. MY PAINTING WAS STOLEN. It took me a while to register this information, like, what on earth are the odds of that? Is this some kind of joke? Why is this happening to me? I was seriously upset by this unexpected turn of event for a few days and was ready to get refunded for my 50% deposit.

Three days later, in mid-July, when I was on a business trip in Shanghai and woke up one morning feeling I have nothing good to expect on that day, I saw a message on my phone saying that the painting WAS FOUND. The fliers that the gallery guy posted and handed out actually worked. It took me another while to register this information, like, what on earth are the odds of that? It better not be some kind of joke! I was so happy instantly and rolled on the huge hotel bed for 3 rounds.

It took another two week’s wait for it to be shipped to me but I didn’t mind waiting anymore, not at all. It’s funny how we only learn to truly appreciate the simplest things that we usually take for granted after it’s almost taken away from us. In this case, I simply couldn’t be more grateful that the painting was found and I really got to own it at some point. And my gratitude was at its maximum the night I received the package, opened the package, met the painting for real for the first time, held the wooden frame on my thighs, and walked around with it in my apartment trying to find a nest for it.

There’s a Chinese saying “好事多磨”, which means good things would take more setbacks to realize. I guess this is one of those cases. And thanks to the whole series of events, this painting is now officially a painting with a story behind.

So there it is, my story of buying art. I guess people buy art for many different reasons. Some buy art with a clear investment thinking. Some buy art more for the emotional and aesthetic value of it. Some buy art simply becoz the buying itself is an act that brings them satisfaction. I only started to have the intention of buying art in recent years (since I started to have a little saving), and I’m happy I finally acted on it. If there’s anything that my story reveals, I hope it reveals that buying art is not only a rich people thing.

I don’t know if it counts as a rough start for a first-timer in the art market. As volatile as it turned out to be, I guess it means my art karma is not that bad after all. I wish I can afford to buy myself a piece of art that I really appreciate every year. And more importantly, I wish I can always appreciate art as art is.

P.S. I’ve been running 20 mins for more than 30 days now (not everyday, like every other day). As expected, my body doesn’t really want more, and it’s not really getting easier. I’m going to extend this experiment to 100 days.

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