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THE world of fine art is a closed book and many people, particularly from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, are not aware what a good investment art is.
And those who do know do not know how to go about buying fine pieces.
I reached this conclusion after speaking to Graham Britz, who makes a living out of selling art, South African art in particular.
Britz, who runs the Graham Fine Art Gallery at two branches, one in northern Johannesburg and another in Cape Town, is one of a few art experts in the country who sells art through auctions.
Britz believes that South African art is beginning to make an impression on the international art market.
Art by renowned South African artists Irma Stern and Gerard Sekoto recently fetched good prices at an auction in London.
"The future of art depends on. A because art from countries such as India and China is starting to attract buyers because in the West, where the knowledge of art is well developed, not anyone can afford to buy art.
"It is expensive. So the next destination for international art buyers is Africa, particularly South Africa. That is the trend in art buying," Britz said.
He recently had a successful auction of post-World War 2 art by South Africa's leading artists, William Kentridge and Zwelethu Mthethwa.
The auction, which was well attended, was held at Summer Place in Sandton. The art fetched handsome prices.
But turning to local buying trends, Britz said there was something disturbing about the nature of the art business.
"The local art market is unfortunately confined to the Afrikaans and Jewish communities and this market seems to be unaware that the future of art will depend on the emerging black middle class.
"This class has the money, but what it lacks is the knowledge of art. If they had the knowledge they would invest their money in art.
"This is the market that art sellers must concentrate on rather than only on the traditional Afrikaans and Jewish market," Britz said.
Britz said the black middle class was starting to take an interest in art.
"At the gallery I am starting to see black people coming in to inquire about art," he said.