Art Clvb, an arts and culture enterprise (pronounced as “club” but spelled with a quirky “v”) was started by father-son duo Shahdad and Joobin Bekhrad in 2011 to serve as a forum for the promotion of contemporary artists from the Middle East.
The company, initially founded as a passion-pursuit by the Bekhrads, has ground operations today in Toronto, Dubai and London, with capillary networks of galleries, artists, auction houses, collectors and other art organizations spread across Europe and the Middle East.
Before the kinfolk decided to turn their love for art into a full-time business venture, Joobin was working as editor of a magazine based in London, while Shahdad was operating a business in Dubai.
Art Clvb’s venture directive is to simply garner recognition and exposure for the artists as “cultural ambassadors” while highlighting and bringing to attention the richness and diversity of contemporary Middle Eastern art and culture.
They promote contemporary painters and photographers — while currently straddling and endorsing artists from the Middle East, India, United Kingdom and United States — through their website, social media accounts, e-mail marketing, and by holding online auctions and gallery exhibitions.
“We had always wanted to get into the art industry, as we’re both incredibly passionate about art. We also realized that there are so many incredibly talented and interesting artists in the Middle East who aren’t really given the recognition they deserve, and we thought we’d do something to change that. This recognition is especially crucial in the case of emerging artists,” says Joobin, who assumed role as marketing and communications director of Art Clvb.
He also expresses their actively supporting and complementing role as mentors for young, emerging artists they choose to take on board, especially those who have never sold or exhibited work before.
“The great thing for these artists is that other than commissions we receive on the works we sell, we don’t charge them for anything.”
The art market lately has been strengthened by the increasingly growing purchasing power of young collectors from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, resulting in a surge in the acquisition of Middle Eastern art by local buyers and seasoned foreign collectors. The boost in art economy in the region has also been spurting maturity of the fertile Middle Eastern art market in terms of expression and experimentation by artists who are choosing to drive change and opinions through art in the Middle East today.
“As evidenced by the success of recent auctions held by Christie’s and the Ayyam Gallery in Dubai, which is targeted toward young collectors, there are many locals who have the money and the desire to become patrons of the arts. True, such collectors may not have the means to dish out hundreds of thousands for particular works, but there is still a considerable range of art they can afford, and they are vital in supporting emerging artists. In the future, I see these buyers comprising a larger percentage of the market for Middle Eastern art, and providing important sources of revenue for local galleries, auction houses, and art fair exhibitors,” Joobin shares further.
“With respect to the art itself, I think we’re seeing artists embracing a wider variety of themes and subjects other than politics. However, that’s not to say that politics isn’t a good impetus for great art — especially when it comes to the Middle East.”
Art Clvb also recently launched their e-magazine, Reorient, which will serve as a readers room for presenting the works and profiles of artists, and covering aspects of Middle Eastern culture including art, literature, music, film, fashion, food, and lifestyle.
Included in their roster of future activities is the launch of their second website, vntitled (note the Roman v, again!), an online auction platform targeted toward artists, galleries and collectors.
A venture that started out as a pet project is seeing itself evolve today as a serious channel between a younger breed of artists, art appreciators, patrons, gallerists and investors, threading them all together into one artsy unit they call Art Clvb.
If you are an artist interested to show the world what you have to say, then get in touch with the team by visiting their website: www.artclvb.com. You can also access their e-magazine Reorient at: www.reorientmag.com.