Art Alley in Kozhikode aims to be a space for local artists to showcase and sell their paintings

Art Alley wears an old-world cloak. Its arrival is announced by a yellow postcard. Located on Customs Road, Art Alley is no alley, but a 340 square foot room in which original paintings by local artists are sold. Touted as an art gallery, it will serve as a space for artists, known and unknown, to find customers for their works. However, space limitations will mean Art Alley will not host exhibitions.

Tiny it may be, but Art Alley seeks to create an ambience to appreciate art and also allows novices and enthusiasts alike to know local talent.

The gallery came into being also because its founder Nigilesh T. Gopinath, who hails from a business family, believed original works of art were not getting the attention they deserved. Original, hand-made paintings are losing the battle to ‘prints', he says. “Most of us, especially youngsters, are running after prints or other kinds of digital reproductions.”

Art Alley aims to bring the focus firmly back on original paintings. “Earlier, even family portraits were done by artists,” he reminds us. At the gallery, they do paintings and portraits on order too.

The works displayed here are economically priced to entice buyers to opt for the original. “The works on display here at the moment are priced above Rs 600, which is almost the price of a print. The most expensive painting here now is priced around Rs 15,000,” says Nigilesh.

“The purpose of the gallery is to provide economical, hand-made art works to customers. Also to give a boost to artists,” he says. A city like Kozhikode does not provide enough avenues to artists to sell their works, he adds. Art Alley currently has two in-house artists – Nigilesh's wife Sruthi and G. Radhakrishnan — and has also tied up with a couple of other artists who are welcome to display their works at the gallery. “We do not charge any rent from the artists for displaying their works. We take about 10 to 15 per cent commission when a painting is sold,” says Nigilesh.

Forty-six-year-old Vivian Cecil, who has displayed two watercolour paintings at the gallery, says, “There were hardly any avenues for amateur artists in the city, hence, no scope for exposure for our works or to market them. I came to know of Art Alley and approached them and they welcomed me to their space.”

At the moment, about 20 paintings are on display at the gallery, which opened a month ago. The works include oil and acrylic on canvas and also watercolours.