Why art is seen as an investment and a form of luxury

Exquisite Art Livette Dikalenko Tatler Asia Homes


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.

Exquisite Art at Affordable Art Fair Autumn 2022 Singapore
ABOVE Livette Dikalenko (centre), pictured with artists Natalia Denisko (left) and Veronique Jonassen
Its collection comprises works that utilise various art styles, mediums and materials, so art connoisseurs of every stripe will find something to tickle their fancy. Notably, Exquisite Art also represents a wide assortment of Central Asian artists with work that melds traditional influences and modern touches, resulting in solid imagery that sticks in your mind long after you’ve seen it.

We sit down with Dikalenko to discuss the art of her craft. 

Affordable Art Fair 2022 Exquisite Art

ABOVE A visitor admires some paintings shown at the Exquisite Art booth at Affordable Art Fair, held in Singapore in November 2022

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.

Affordable Art Fair 2022 Exquisite Art

ABOVE Another visitor scans a QR code to learn more about a work on display at the Exquisite Art booth

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. 

Affordable Art Fair 2022 Exqisite Art

ABOVE Visitors take a closer look at the paintings on show at the Exquisite Art booth at Affordable Art Fair

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. 

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