If you are considering purchasing a piece of artwork you need to get a basic idea of the scope of artwork available and how to purchase it ethically. You need to ensure that you place value on the artist as well as the quality of the artwork. Go with your heart when it comes to choosing art that speaks to you.
You need to check the documentation that is required to authenticate the aboriginal art prints, sculptures etc. This documentation is called the provenance and it will give you a good idea about how the ownership has been passed down from one person to another, information of its custody and the location of the artwork.
There are different forms of documents that are considered the provenance of the artwork such as the receipt of an original gallery sale, signed statement or certificate of authenticity provided by a reputed authority, an appraisal provided by a reputed authority or expert that is knowledgeable about the artist etc. Some will also provide photos of the artist painting the artwork as evidence. However, there is the risk of fabricated provenance so you need to check the authenticity of the certificate as well.
There are many ways of considering the quality of the artwork. You need to check whether it is made with high-quality art materials and whether it is executed well. If the artist has used poor quality canvas, there is a risk of the artwork getting damaged over time because the canvas can crack or become brittle.
It can be hard to assess the quality of the artwork from an artistic viewpoint. But if you are looking for the work of a certain artist, it will help to see some of their other work to see whether the artwork you are considering matches the same quality or not. If this sounds confusing, you can always get the recommendation of a good art advisor that you know and trust. When buying from galleries, check how they select art and the criteria that are involved. This may give you some direction on the level of quality.
Aboriginal artwork has great value and they provide a glimpse into a different culture and provide new perspectives. You need to make sure that you buy ethically so that the purchase can contribute to the income of the aborigines. It will help ensure that the artists are compensated fairly and the indigenous art industry is protected for future generations as well. So it is very important that you buy from the proper channels and that it reflects positively on the indigenous community.
To know that you are making an ethical purchase and the authenticity of the artwork is clear, you need to ask questions from the seller or gallery for clarification. Ask for details about the artist such as their name, location and how they are paid for the work.
Ask how they have sourced the artwork and how the artist is compensated if what they are selling is a reproduction. Also, check whether they are a member of the Indigenous Art Code.