Why art is seen as an investment and a form of luxury
Livette Dikalenko, founder of the online gallery
Exquisite Art tells us more about
the Central Asian artists she
represents and the uplifting impact of art
Irish poet Oscar Wilde once famously declared that “art is the most intense mode of individualism the world has known”. Unique works make a bold statement wherever they are displayed and represent a robust, resilient investment: art’s resell value typically stays high as the industry has the unique ability to regulate its supply and demand.
Launched in January 2017 by Livette Dikalenko, a former logistics executive turned entrepreneur, online gallery Exquisite Art is a firm on a mission to thrill art lovers with its roster of 76 exciting international artists and a diverse selection of contemporary artworks and sculptures.
We sit down with Dikalenko to discuss the art of her craft.
How did you get into the art business?
Livette Dikalenko (LD) I studied economics in university and then worked in air freight for five years. Logistics is very tough because cargo arrives 24 hours around the clock. So, I left to pursue my passion: art.
I moved to Singapore in 2016 and started Exquisite Art the following year. I still use my economics knowledge in my current job. It involves logistics, understanding how to separate your expenses and income, and where and how to invest. Artists don’t have this mathematical or analytical mind, so I’m there for them. They paint, and I sell.
How do you choose which artists to work with?
LD I go for those with an art education and experience participating in exhibitions. It shows a broader mindset. I also like artists who have exhibited in museums and second-generation artists. These days, many artists conduct workshops; they know how to teach [art techniques]. You have already established yourself as an artist when you know how to teach. You deeply understand your craft and want to transfer your knowledge to others.
Which famous artists do you represent?
LD I bring in many artists from Central Asia with unique styles. Uzbek artist Yuriy Grebenyuk—famous for his colourful, multi-layered art—has works popular among Russian oligarchs and often sold at Christie’s auctions. Second-generation artist and sculptor, Vitaly Didenko from Turkmenistan, is also famous; he is versatile and can create anything from abstract pieces to portraits.
Famous Singapore-based artists include Aprajita Chadha, who uses gold leaf in many exciting ways; Ayda Alp, who uses healing crystals in her spiritual-themed art; and UK-born Samantha Redfern, who is one of the best-selling artists in Singapore. Her colourful creations cheer you up.
In your opinion, what benefits can art offer?
LD Art educates people and the next generation and teaches everyone to appreciate other cultures. If the parents collect art, their kids might do so too. Art is also an investment and a form of luxuries, like jewellery or [designer] bags. If you need some extra cash, you can always sell artwork. Some artists may become very popular in the future, just as Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, who hardly sold any paintings during his lifetime.
Which artwork is your personal favourite?
Red Dress by Azerbaijani artist Tatiana Alieva. I was invited to her house in 2019, and she showed me this painting of a girl in a red dress on a beach, her hair blowing in the breeze. I liked the painting because I love the beach and sunny weather, and Tatiana said the girl looked just like me, [as if it is] like my portrait! She gifted this painting to me before she left Singapore; I just had to pay for the frame. The artwork is huge and brightens up my home.
What advice can you offer to first-time buyers of art?
LD Choose something that pleases your eye. Don’t follow trends or buy an artwork to impress your guests. Can you imagine if you don’t like still life, but someone tells you it is very popular right now, and you buy it and have to look at this piece that you think is ugly every single day?
Also, look after your art. Don’t place it in direct sunlight, and try to prevent the growth of mould. Your art will then stay with you for years, and you can pass it on to the next generation. Go for better quality paintings which use a good canvas and good paint. Paintings can fade and paint can go powdery in time. We have experts to advise buyers and restore old paintings, and offer care tips.