By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO
As art finds its way into the life of the Urban Indian, invitations to art gallery openings are increasing. If you are new to the world of art, it helps to gain an understanding of the expected code of conduct. A few tips on proper decorum at these events:
- Attire: Internationally, art soirées are strictly ‘formal’ evenings. In India, dress code varies from formal (Indian or Western wear) to chic evening wear. Jeans, sneakers, shorts and t-shirts are too casual for these events.
- Children: Although learning to appreciate art is best started at a young age, brief your children on the expected behavior at the gallery – no touching, running around or passing loud comments.
- Walking around: Speeding through the gallery makes you look like a novice. On the other hand, spending too much time on each piece gets you labeled a snob, besides earning you a dirty look from the art-lover whose view maybe blocking. Observe the movement in the room and go with the flow. When finished viewing, move to the centre of the room, which is usually reserved for the artist, his/her catalogues, food and networking.
- Proximity: Maintain a safe distance from the displayed paintings or sculptures, especially when sipping wine. To avoid damaging the pieces, never touch or lean against anything in an art gallery.
- Talking to ‘The Artist’: To conduct intelligent conversation, research on the featured artist’s style. Seek out the artist, introduce yourself and compliment him/her on the works you’ve enjoyed. Do remember that this isn’t the time to either play critic by offering honest feedback or monopolize the artist who has to meet with other visitors/ patrons too.
- Networking: Art galleries are ideal to connect with like-minded art lovers. Use your ‘library voice’ to avoid disturbing the connoisseurs/ art students who maybe studying the pieces. Mingle and discuss art-related topics, keeping your comments positive e.g. comments like “Anyone can paint this!” or “Today, anything passes off as art!” are best avoided.
- Buying a piece: When buying at the listed price, pay the deposit to reserve the piece. If looking for a bargain, exchange business cards and contact the artist/ gallery owner the following day – art gallery openings aren’t events to strike a cheap deal!