Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Greek economic crisis has inevitably affected the country’s commercial art market. Elizabeth Louizou founded Harma Gallery in Athens in 2007. It sold contemporary painting, sculpture, jewellery, drawing and decorative objects. Despite a strong presence on the Greek art scene and a prominent location in Plaka, the old Athens neighbourhood beneath the Acropolis, Louizou was forced to close down the space in March last year because of financial difficulties.”Since its very first exhibition in 2007, Harma Gallery has known great recognition, overcome visitors’ expectations and gained popularity and customer loyalty very rapidly. Its market share increased until the last quarter of 2009, when its number of visitors and moreover, sales, gradually started declining,” says Louizou.
Louizou set up the gallery at the age of 22 without any financial assistance. “I tried to support it by working a second job but the economy and tourism only got worse. As business is business, all the sentimental part had to be taken aside. A negative balance shows an unhealthy business and I could not support a gallery just for a hobby at the age of 26.”
While a few collectors invested in art as prices decreased, the revival was short-lived, says Louizou. “Art is a luxury good. When people are struggling to pay for necessity goods – electricity and taxes – they have to set their priorities accordingly. This has a knock-on effect on the Greek art scene. Art becomes the least priority.”
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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