The coronavirus pandemic has severely affected, if not destroyed, the economies of many countries. Although Pakistan has so far kept its head above water, the situation with another likely lockdown is still a bit difficult to control. Financial experts monitor the exports of the country on which its economy largely depends. But to the surprise of many, pleasantly, something positive has emerged in terms of the numbers – and in an area where few business analysts would expect Pakistan to do well: art.
In the current fiscal year, according to data released Monday by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s exports of works of art, collectors and antiques have increased exponentially. Even a simple glance at the characters will make practitioners and art lovers in our part of the world very proud of ourselves. In the last fiscal year, exports of works of art, collectibles and antiques amounted to $ 386,000 (July-March) while in the current year they have increased to $ 36,594,000. Incredibly good!
According to SBP data, exports of works of art, collectibles and antiques worth more than $ 36.6 million in the first nine months of this fiscal year
This begs the question: if the Covid-19 situation has impacted all sectors of the economy with varying degrees of ups and downs, why does art appear to be a shining exception?
Talk to Dawn, Khaleel Ahmed, owner of the Ocean Gallery, said: “I am not surprised by the increase in exports. In the past, people (buyers) from abroad would come to Pakistan to attend art events, buy works of art and take them to their respective countries. But because of the pandemic, a year ago they started buying paintings online. They would look at a piece of art on a website or on WhatsApp and place an order. Just a few days ago, I sent four boxes overseas in which there were 17 paintings. For starters, they pay the delivery costs themselves. ”
This is not the only reason for the sharp increase in the sale of art abroad. For buyers, says Ahmed, importing art from Pakistan turns out to be a cheaper proposition for them for one important reason: framing (a painting) in Pakistan is much cheaper than in America. North or Europe. Hence, they get their favorite works of art ready to hang in their homes. “The other thing is that coming to Pakistan and taking artwork home can take time. Importing saves them time. Plus, they don’t pay taxes on importing art, ”he said.
Pakistani art reaches almost all over the world, mainly in the United States, Canada and Europe. Countries like Egypt and Turkey are also on this list. And he travels abroad from art galleries in all the big cities of Pakistan.
Shakira Masood, who is herself an artist and runs the gallery’s Art Chowk, has taken the figures released by the SBP with a pinch of salt. “I know the number has increased. People buy art, it comes out, but the numbers you quote are mind-boggling. There is certainly a positive turn. Our gallery has seen a resurgence in sales lately, but still… Unless it sells antiques outside of museums. ”
Ms. Masood agrees that coaching in Europe and America is expensive. “So are labor costs, but these numbers are staggering,” she added.
Artist RM Naeem said: “This is not my area of expertise, as I deal with local art galleries, but if such a figure is cited, it is a good sign. However, I think a lot of this may be due to the antiques rather than the paintings.
Originally posted in Dawn, April 28, 2021