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Archive for the ‘Fairs’ Category

Top Australian media artists introduced at Art Taipei – public lecture by Antoanetta Ivanova

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2010


MEDIA VIDEO AUSTRALIA ARTISTS CURATORS AGENCY ACQUISITION ART FAIR EXHIBITION

Ela-Video “Encoded” was a special exhibition organised as part of the broader Ela-Video exhibition held as part of this year’s Art Taipei. Guest curated by Antoanetta Ivanova, also a producer and agent for Australian media artists, “Encoded” aimed to show the diversity and sophistication of media and video art being created in Australia today. Art Radar attended a public lecture in which Ivanova introduced the eight Australian media artists we have listed below.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Ivanova manages a company called Novamedia which has been in operation since 2001. Novamedia is unique in that it is the first media arts agency to be established in Australia; their focus is on media and digital art. They provide advice to private collectors and organisations looking to acquire new media works, and also try to generate opportunities to promote Australian media art overseas. An example of this, according to Ivanova, is the “very important exhibition on art and science collaborations” they took to China in 2006.

This list, generated from those artists discussed by Ivanova in her talk, shows “the diverse range of media art” produced by leading Australian proponents in this field. Only one of the artists listed here, Jon McCormack, had work in Ela-Video “Encoded”. The other artists in the exhibition were Jonathan Duckworth, Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs, Martin Walch, Jess MacNeil and Justine Cooper. The artists are listed below in the order Ivanova spoke about them. We encourage you to visit the artists’ websites to explore their work in more depth.

Matthew Gardiner

Matthew Gardiner is most well-known for his work with origami, namely robotic origami. He has completed a number of residencies with major scientific and new media research laboratories and has exhibited his origami work worldwide in galleries and public spaces. He is also the founder and director of Airstrip, a website design company.

“The artist will design his object on the computer and make it for the printer. The final artwork is interactive. The origami has a sensor in the middle and it can sense when people approach…. As you go across it the origami opens and if you move away it will fold in…. He has been making traditional paper origami for many, many years and he lived in Japan…. He translates [a] traditional art form into a very contemporary art form.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Stelarc

Since 1968, Stelarc has undertaken numerous performances during which he manipulates his body, most often in involuntary ways and using mechanical means. As described in his biography, he has “used medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, Virtual Reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body.” In addition to his art work, he has been a research fellow and named an honorary professor for numerous Australian and international universities.

“[Stelarc’s] a performing artist. He has attached his body to various machines to show how there is a clash between the body and machinery in contemporary society.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini

“[Piccinini’s] a more traditional artist because she makes sculptures but her work raises important issues about the natural environment and artificial nature…. She uses organic … and artificial forms in her work. She’s fascinated by the modern sciences of biotechnology and genetic engineering and she says that if people are disturbed by her work it’s because [it] asks questions about fundamental aspects of our existence. With all these advances in technology, what kind of world are we really making?” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work as introduced by Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Alex Davies

Davies graduated from The University of New South Wales in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Media Arts department of the institution’s College of Fine Arts. He is a prolific artist who creates his interactive, installation and performance art works using various media including sound and music, video and photography.

“As you go through the exhibition space you will see a … hole to look through. Audiences line up to look through to see what’s on the other side. But all they see is their own back plus a ghost person standing behind them…. The work mixes real time video captures of us and puts another person in there. He also did another [installation with] speakers in the space and you could actually hear people standing around you.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Chris Henschke

Henschke’s most recent work with the Australian Synchrotron is an art and science collaboration that has brought about an entirely new art form – using light beams to create artworks. As explained on the artist’s website, the Synchrotron “allows one to ‘see’ the spectrum of light energy from microwaves to xrays and look at objects at scales of a millionth of a metre.” The artist is participating in a three month residency with the Synchrotron, set up by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), in which he will use the technology to create “a ‘synchrotron art’ mural commission.”

Henschke is based in the Australian city of Melbourne and has been working with digital media for the past fifteen years. His main areas of research are in art and science relationships, interactive and hybrid media and experimental audio.

Lynette Wallworth

Lynette Wallworth is an Australian video installation, photography and short film artist who specialises in the creation of immersive and interactive installation environments. Her representing gallery, Forma Arts and Media Limited, describes her work as being about “the relationships between ourselves and nature, about how we are made up of our physical and biological environments, even as we re-make the world through our activities. She uses technology to reveal the hidden intricacies of human immersion in the wide, complex world.”

“People are given a glass bowl and with the glass bowl they go into a dark room and search to capture light that is beamed from the ceiling. When they capture the light, images of deep ocean and deep space are projected into the bowl and then people pass the bowl around to others to experience.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Daniel Crooks

Born and educated in New Zealand, Crooks received an Australia Council Fellowship in 1997 to research motion control at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology which brought him to Australia. Since then he has participated in numerous exhibitions in Australia and abroad, working with a range of media including digital video, photography and installation. He is most well-known for his ongoing Time Slice project, begun in 1997, in which he uses the computer to manipulate video images to stretch time.

Craig Walsh

Craig Walsh works predominantly with site-specific large-scale image projection, most often in public places and always created in response to existing environments. He has, for example, projected huge faces onto trees in the Australian city of Melbourne and has projected sharks swimming in water onto the ground (first) floor windows of a corporate building.

“[Walsh’s] work takes a lot of time to develop and very powerful projectors and technology to set up. He works first of all with small block architectural models to the design the projection … and then he [conducts] many tests [to see] how the projection will work…” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack

“Jon McCormack is one of the very few artists in Australia who creates work by writing computer code. He was trained in both art and computer science – he has two degrees. For example, the work we’re showing here at Art Taipei is not an animation…. What you experience is actually the computer making the drawings…. The drawings happen before our eyes – it’s not recorded…. It never repeats…. The artwork is a programme that Jon designed.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.

KN

Related Topics: Australian artistsbiological (bio) art, new media art, technology, the human body

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Posted in Art and science collaboration, Artist Nationality, Australian, Bio (biological) art, Body, Computer animation software, Definitions, Design, Electronic art, Environment, Events, Fairs, From Art Radar, Genetic engineering, Human Body, Installation, Interactive art, Large art, Lists, Medium, Multi category, New Media, Overviews, Performance, Professionals, Public art, Research, Social, Sound, Sound art, Styles, Taiwan, Technology, Themes and subjects, Time, Urban, Venues, Video, Virtual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fad or innovation? First ever entirely online art fair to launch next year

Posted by artradar on September 1, 2010


ART EVENTS PROMOTING CONTEMPORARY ART ART SALES ART FAIRS ONLINE

Art Radar Asia was recently sent information on an event new to the art promotion circuit – VIP Art Fair is the first fair to be run entirely online. The event will launch on 22 January, 2011 and was founded by experienced art professionals James and Jane Cohan from James Cohan Gallery and Silicon Valley-trained technology and marketing specialists Jonas and Alessandra Almgren.

The fair will be free of charge and 45 international galleries have already signed up. Standout features include a VIP Lounge where special films of private collections and artist studios will be available to view, interaction between buyers and dealers through Skype and instant messaging, and a function which will allow fair attendees to take tours of the virtual gallery including the ability to zoom in on artwork detail.

A snapshot of the VIP Art Fair Gallery. Image courtesy of VIP Art Fair.

A snapshot of a VIP Art Fair gallery page. Image courtesy of VIP Art Fair.

Read the press release:

HONG KONG, August 19, 2010 – VIP Art Fair, the first art fair to mobilize the collective force of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries with the unlimited reach of the Internet, announces its inaugural fair taking place exclusively online for one week only, January 22-30, 2011, at www.vipartfair.com.

An unprecedented event, VIP Art Fair gives contemporary art collectors access to artworks by critically acclaimed artists and the ability to connect one-on-one with internationally renowned dealers—from anywhere in the world and without leaving home.

“For anyone passionate about art, the Fair is a transformative experience: it delivers all the excitement of world-class art fairs with the convenience and personalization of the Internet,” said James Cohan, co-founder of VIP Art Fair in collaboration with Jane Cohan, Jonas Almgren and Alessandra Almgren. “We’ve invited the most prestigious international galleries, both established and emerging, to come together for an online event, creating a virtual community that will allow collectors, curators and the public to access distinguished galleries and learn about their artists, all with unparalleled ease and absolute discretion.”

VIP Art Fair Founding Galleries David Zwirner (New York), Galerie Max Hetzler (Berlin), White Cube (London), Gagosian Gallery (New York, London, Beverly Hills, Rome, and Athens), Gallery Koyanagi (Tokyo), Hauser & Wirth (Zürich, London, and New York), Anna Schwartz Gallery (Melbourne and Sydney), Xavier Hufkens (Brussels), Fraenkel Gallery (San Francisco), Kukje Gallery (Seoul), Sadie Coles HQ (London), and James Cohan Gallery (New York and Shanghai) will be joined by other international contemporary galleries. A partial gallery list is now available online. A complete list will be made public this fall.

VIP Art Fair Features

The revolutionary design of VIP Art Fair allows art collectors the opportunity to view artwork online as never before. VIP Art Fair’s innovative technology presents artworks in relation to other works of art and in relative scale to the human figure. Inquisitive visitors can zoom in to examine details of a painting’s surface, get multiple views of a three-dimensional work, and watch videos of a multimedia piece. Galleries will provide comprehensive details on artworks and artists, including biographies, catalogue essays, artist films and interviews, and in-depth information that will empower collectors.

One of the many distinct features of the Fair is the interactivity between dealer and collector. Each dealer has the ability to hold conversations with collectors via instant messaging, Skype, and telephone to discuss works on offer in the virtual booth. Dealers can also provide access to their gallery’s back room inventory, sharing works in real time with clients in specially-created Private Rooms on the client’s own computer screen.

There are many ways to explore the Fair, including online tours which are core to the VIP Art Fair experience. Visitors to the Fair can choose from a wide selection of tours—whether of featured works or a tour created by collectors, critics, and curators from participating museums. Visitors also can design their own personalized tours of the Fair that showcase their favorite works and can be shared with friends or posted in the VIP Lounge. Other ways to navigate the site include the Fair Map and advanced searches based on criteria of interest, such as artist’s name, medium, or price range.

The VIP Lounge is where visitors can watch specially commissioned films of leading private art collections and artists’ studios, check out Fair tours created by other visitors, access status updates on art market news, and learn about new works on view in the Fair.

Accessing VIP Art Fair

The Fair will open on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. EST and conclude on Sunday, January 30, 2011, at 7:59 a.m. EST. Browsing the Fair is free of charge. To access interactive capabilities, visitors must have a VIP Ticket, which on January 22 and 23 will cost $100 and thereafter will cost $20. Visitors are encouraged to register in advance.

Editors’ Note

It seems the international art community is divided in its opinions regarding the success of online sales of artworks.

Pearl Lam, Director of Contrasts Gallery, speaking at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum, stated that,

“We have been selling paintings [through the Internet], that was in the good season, but at the present moment all the collectors … want to see the paintings…. Today, there are still collectors who are buying [through the Internet] but it’s less than what we used to have. We used to have ninety percent of them, … all [through the Internet] and they were not cheap … paintings. We still [sell through the Internet] but reduced and also depending on the price of the painting.”

However, Saffronart, a constant pioneer of new technologies in the art auction arena, recently introduced a mobile phone bidding application to it’s seasonal auctions.

With increasingly more mobile ways to access the Internet and new features which allow users to better explore and interact with virtual space, such as those that will be presented at VIP Art Fair, it’s hard to tell if this is a fad or the first successful move into better utilising this new sales territory.

What do you, our readers, think?

KN

Related Topics: promoting art, art collectors, art fairs, art and the Internet

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A Sunday at Art Taipei – gallery comments, Australian media art, Pearl Lam

Posted by artradar on August 26, 2010


ART FAIRS TAIWANESE ART EVENTS INTERNATIONAL ART ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

Art Radar presents a Sunday at Art Taipei 2010 in nine images accompanied by quotes from Korean gallery director Jung Yong Lee and the refreshingly honest Pearl Lam, panel members at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum, five gallerists presenting their thoughts on the fair, and Australian new media artist Josephine Starrs who spoke at the one of the Art Taipei 2010 Weekend Art Lectures.

Pearl Lam, Director of Contrasts Gallery, and Jung Yong Lee, Director of Gana Art, speaking at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Pearl Lam, Director of Contrasts Gallery, and Jung Yong Lee, Director of Gana Art, speaking at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Pearl Lam, Director, Contrasts Gallery, as heard at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum conversation, Asia International Galleries: The Next Movement: “When the price goes up very high it goes down very fast. It happens to design and it happens to contemporary art. So in the last six months people have been very careful and very cautious about contemporary art, but in blue chip artworks like the post-war or the impressionist it is just going up. And there are a lot of private sales, a lot of secondary market sales. So most of the galleries are actually making money from the secondary market.

Collectors are actually referring to the auction prices as a reference and a lot of young collectors need the auction to validate the price. But I have my thoughts about auctions because auction prices, for me, are never accurate unless they are a really high price like 20, 30, 40 million USD 1. Because it’s very easy; you can put a painting in an auction, we can get all our friends sticking our hands up, push the price up…. So my way of seeing things … most of the auction houses are making money from private clients.”

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center, beside Huang Poren's stainless steel sculpture 'What the heck!'. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center, beside Huang Poren's stainless steel sculpture 'What the heck!'. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Joanna Li, Fish Art Center: “This is my fifth time at Art Taipei. In the past two years we have brought brand new artworks [to the fair] and all the artists are Taiwanese. They’re still young, around 26 years old. We also have modern artists…. We have sculptures, oil paintings. We have sold more medium priced artworks…. [The collectors are] from Taiwan, a few customers are from Hong Kong and China.”

Outside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Outside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Mizuma Sueo, Director, Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, Beijing): “This is our second time at Art Taipei. Today’s audience, there are so many people … but the last three days a little less. It’s a little less than last year. Sales are stable. We have sold some [works by] young Japanese artists and Chinese artists, but we have sold only one piece to a Taiwanese collector. The other pieces were sold to a Korean collector, Hong Kong and Japan. The audience is mainly Asian.”

Inside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Inside Art Taipei 2010's main exhibition hall. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Jung Yong Lee, Director, Gana Art, as heard at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum conversation, Asia International Galleries: The Next Movement: “When the crisis came we had a very hard time,… I’m from a commercial gallery and we have to sell a lot of artwork to maintain our operation. But when the crisis came there were literally no sales for at least six months to over a year. So what we ended up doing was, since we couldn’t find a client who was investing, who was collecting art for their collections, finding clients who were companies and local governments who had a lot of promotional money to spend. We did consulting for companies. We made outdoor sculptures, we decorated lobbies for hotels, the façades of buildings; we did a lot of projects like that. And we also helped to make art parks or small private museums.”

Chen Liu, 'Blue Blossom Standing above the sea', 2010, oil on canvas, 200 x 140 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Chen Liu, 'Blue Blossom Standing above the sea', 2010, oil on canvas, 200 x 140 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Junghwa Ryu, Curator, Arario Gallery (Cheonan, Beijing, Seoul, New York): “Art Taipei 2010 is more organised than the last one. Many visitors are interested in new contemporary art and we feel that the Taipei government has supported the fair well with their policy of focusing on an international base. However, the results for the sales are … not good as of now. Hanna Kim (1981, Korea) and Osang Gwon (1973, Korea) have been paid much attention. I guess in general the Taiwanese love a more light and cozy style than heavy and serious.… They are sensitive to trends and new skills.”

Sculptures by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Sculptures by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

James Hsu and Elise Chen, Ping Art Space (Taipei): “This is our third time here. Obviously it’s more international this year because there are more galleries participating in this art fair and we have collectors from Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia. In the past we would mainly have Taiwanese collectors…. Five years ago there might be just one Japanese gallery here but after this year there is this reputation in Japan that there is a good market in Taiwan. So this year there are 26 galleries from Japan. Also, in Taiwan, we have this history of collecting contemporary art for 20 years [and] after this period of time you can see that the market is getting better and better. Last year the economic crisis affected the market a lot and so this is like a rebound.”

Digital print by Australian media artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, part of their 'Downsteam' installation, as exhibited at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Digital print by Australian media artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski, part of their 'Downstream' installation, as exhibited at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Josephine Starrs, as heard at the weekend art lecture, Recent and emerging trends in Australian media art: “This is some of the work that we are exhibiting here at Art Taipei in the <Encoded> exhibition. ‘Downstream’ explores new ways of representing the relationship between nature and culture. We are imbedding poetic text into [satellite] images of landscapes at particular risk from climate change. The work focusses on the degradation of the Murray-Darling, the largest river system in Australia, but it could be any river system in the world that is in danger from changes in climate.

We have changed the satellite imagery to write text in the landscape imagery, as if the landscape is sending us messages. When we started looking at this landscape imagery we noticed that the river almost looked like writing already. So we decided to change the river and embed this text from a famous Australian poem. The words say, ‘and the river was dust’.”

Shen Bo-Cheng's 'Read- Lleine Eschichte Der Photographie (2010), exhibited as part of Art Taipei's MADE in TAIWAN - Young Artist Discovery event. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Shen Bo-Cheng's 'Read- Lleine Eschichte Der Photographie' (2010), exhibited as part of Art Taipei's MADE in TAIWAN - Young Artist Discovery event. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

E.D.Lee Gallery Co., Ltd (Taipei): “We have been to Art Taipei twice. This year it is more international, a lot of foreign galleries have joined us here and there are a lot more people. We have sold many works today. This year all of our artists are from Taiwan. Almost all of our collectors are Taiwanese but we also have collectors from Japan and Korea.”

Yan Chao, 'The Width of the Strait', 2009, mixed media on canvas, 150 x 180 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Yan Chao, 'The Width of the Strait', 2009, mixed media on canvas, 150 x 180 cm. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

We hope to bring you more on Art Taipei 2010 in the coming weeks, including an overview of what was said at the 2010 Art Taipei Forum sessions and public art lectures we attended.

KN

Related Topics: art fairs, collectors, business of art, gallerists/dealers

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First ever Moroccan art fair to launch in October

Posted by artradar on August 24, 2010


MARRAKECH MOROCCO ART FAIRS ARAB ART

In October this year, the tourist hotspot Marrakech, Morocco, will host the country’s first modern and contemporary art fair. The fair points towards a growing trend of interest and investment in art in the Middle East where Dubai, currently the top art city in the Middle East, is facing increasing competition from upcoming art ventures in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. (Read our report on this recent trend.)

Gjdn Neshat's 'Untitled96'. Neshat is a participant at this year's Marrakech Art Fair.

Gjdn Neshat's 'Untitled96'. Neshat is a participant in this year's Marrakech Art Fair.

Morocco, characteristically, is a country that culturally and geographically straddles the “east meets west” junction. That the Marrakech Art Fair shares some of these characteristics make it all the more special. Out of the thirty galleries exhibiting at the fair, half come from the Arab world, primarily North Africa while the other half come from Europe. For art lovers, this could provide an incredible opportunity to sample international contemporary art.

The city also plans to host simultaneous art events throughout the days of the fair. Some of these are special exhibitions at select museums and galleries in Marrakech. The idea behind engaging the city as a giant art fair in itself is to offer rare insights into Moroccan heritage and its contemporary art world.

The Marrakech Museum, for example, is hosting “Resonance: Contemporary Moroccan artists across the world”, which showcases fifteen artists of Moroccan origin who are based outside of Morocco. Inventing and re-thinking ideas of identity versus the global, these artists will work through various mediums such as painting, installation and video art to map new thoughts about the reality of art in Morocco. Another interesting intervention looks at the culmination of popular culture and art. Six graffiti artists will create spontaneous art to the music of Moroccan rapper BIGG over the period of one night.

Zoulikha Bouabdellah's 'Love'. Bouabdellah is a participant in this year's Marrakech Art Fair.

Zoulikha Bouabdellah's 'Love'. Bouabdellah is a participant in this year's Marrakech Art Fair.

Other events include talks such as the panel discussions led by Roxana Azimi, a specialist in the international art market, that will deal with the twin issues of “Art market in the Arab world” and “The role of patrons and collectors.” Pascel Amel, a writer and director, will lead a debate on “Art in Morocco at the dawn of globalization.” The talks seem to be marked with hope and enthusiasm for the place of Moroccan art in the world market as well as a belief in the possibility of internal development.

Fifteen of the galleries invited to the fair will respond to a set theme of “From Orientalism to nowadays.” The Jean Brolly gallery is one such participant that intends to showcase work by two artists of different origins – Mahjoud Ben Bella and Francois Morellet. Local galleries are active participants at the fair. The Tindouf Gallery and the Galerie 127 are based in Marrakech itself. Other galleries that are showing at the fair come from Tunisia, the UAE, France and Morocco. The fair will be held from 9 to 11 October this year. For more details, visit the fair’s website.

AM/KN

Related Topics: art fairs, Middle Eastern art, promoting art

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Globalisation of contemporary art market evident in growth of art fairs – The Economist

Posted by artradar on August 17, 2010


ART FAIRS ECONOMY

A recent article in the Economist comments on the globalisation of art and how art fairs accelerate the transnational exposure of artists, something that could become necessary for artists if they want to attract the attention of serious collectors and art investors. Importantly, it also identifies the current international art fair hot spots. Read on for our summary of this article.

Globalisation of the art market

Globalisation is one of the most important phenomenon in the history of recent art. Contemporary art needs the potential of a global market and thus enters the art fair. Biennials and landmark exhibitions help to initiate global change in the art scene. International art fairs spread belief in contemporary art through the help of banks and royalty, from Deutsche Bank to local rulers in the Middle East.

In addition, the article quotes Marc Spiegler and Annette Schönholzer, co-directors of Art Basel, as saying that private collections are becoming increasingly international. Collectors start by acquiring art from their own nation and eventually acquire internationally. In many countries contemporary art has become an economic project involving collectors, dealers and huge cultural districts with museums and art fairs.

Art Basel 2009.

Art Basel 2009.

For an art fair to be properly diverse, careful curation is essential. For good international fairs, this not only means that attending galleries show talented artists, but also that they show artists that live in the country the gallery is located in. As quoted in The Economist,

As Lucy Mitchell-Innes of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, a New York gallery, warns: ‘It’s a problem if four or five booths have the same artist’s work. A good international fair wants Chinese galleries to bring talented Chinese artists, not another Antony Gormley.’

International art fair hot spots

The locational hierarchy of art fairs differs from that in the auction market. For art auctions, the three most prominent cities are New York, London and Hong Kong, in that order. When talking about art fairs, Basel would come first, but what follows this lead is unclear: Miami or London, New York or Paris?

Even more notable are the art fairs currently sprouting up in Asian countries. These are creating alternate markets for art and challenging Western leadership. Adding to the hierarchical ladder are two newcomers: Hong Kong’s ART HK (Hong Kong International Art Fair) and Abu Dhabi Art, operating from the Middle East.

What art fairs mean for artists and their art

In general, art fairs can accelerate the transnational exposure of all artists represented. Art Basel is unrivalled in this category and it may be because it has always defined itself as international. The frenzied demand for new art peaked with the creation of smaller art fairs. Some of them work as satellites to the major European events, the biennials, art festivals and fairs such as Basel. These budding fairs cater to lesser known, emerging artists.

Within the art market, that an artist is “international” has become a selling point. Consequently, the local artist has become almost insignificant, while those called “national” are damned with faint praise.

Art fairs, with their aggregation of art dealers forming a one-stop shoppers’ marketplace for art, attract high-spending collectors, generate greater sales and have to some extent replaced galleries with their increasing drawing power. Still the globalisation of the art is not just about money. There are a growing number of non-profit biennials that are developing along with the market structures. As quoted in The Economist,

Massimiliano Gioni, a curator based in Milan and New York, who is overseeing the Gwangju Biennial, which opens in South Korea in September, recalls that the avant-garde was ‘built on a transnational community of kindred spirits,’ adding, ‘sometimes I long for that.’

This is an Art Radar summary of “Global frameworks – Art-fair musical chairs, first published in The Economist.

JAS/KN

Related Topics: art fairs, international artists, market watch – globalisation

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Antonia Carver named Art Dubai director, lends Middle Eastern art insight to fair

Posted by artradar on July 22, 2010


ART PROFESSIONALS ART INDUSTRY APPOINTMENTS MIDDLE EASTERN ART INDUSTRY

Antonia Carver, an arts writer and administrator who is often credited with pushing contemporary Middle Eastern art into the limelight, has been named Fair Director of Art Dubai. She succeeds co-founder John Martin, who remains on the fair’s board.

Carver has been living in Dubai for the past eight years and is currently editor-at-large of Bidoun Magazine and director of Bidoun Projects. She has been a member of this renowned Middle Eastern arts organisation since its founding in 2004 and will remain on their board.

Antonia Carver at the 2009 Dubai International Film Festival.

Antonia Carver at the 2009 Dubai International Film Festival. Taken from zimbio.com.

The fifth edition of Art Dubai takes place in March 2011, coinciding with Sharjah Biennial 10, and as quoted on ARTINFO,

Officials from the fair say that they plan to work closely with the Sharjah Biennale to raise the international awareness of artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia as they expand into those regions. Recently there has been a surge in contemporary art in the Middle East, as wealthy locals have flocked to international and regional art fairs, snapping up works along the way.

So what changes, if any, does new Fair Director Antonia Carver aim to make to Art Dubai? As she points out in an interview with Time Out Dubai,

“Any fair is ultimately a place to do business, but Art Dubai is also one of the city’s premier cultural events. We’re continuing with the Global Art Forum and projects, as well as educational events, and there’s more to come. At the last fair I was the director of Bidoun Projects: we commissioned projects such as artist Daniel Bozhkov’s ‘World’s Fastest Tour of Art Dubai’. We want to continue with these types of events – they’re different to what other fairs do and they’re a way to help audiences interact with the work.”

She has a deep knowledge and understanding of Middle Eastern contemporary art although, as she states in a 2008 interview with ForYourArt, this is a term only recently coined:

“Dubai has – dramatically – established itself as a commercial art capital in the last 2-3 years. This has meant that for the first time, in commercial terms at least, it’s possible to refer to ‘Middle Eastern art,’ and compare this nascent market with India, China, Latin America, and so on.”

On the Middle Eastern art market she is quoted as saying in The Art Newspaper that…

“There’s never been such a level of international interest in the region and its art and culture. There is a new maturity in the market with a group of young Emirati and UAE-based collectors who are interested in how the market works and are looking at international as well as regional artists.”

Carver graduated in 1994 and since then has worked in publishing and the arts in Sydney, Australia and London. She was a correspondent for The Art Newspaper and has contributed to journals, newspapers and exhibition catalogues worldwide. As a film curator, she is a member of the programming teams for the Dubai International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival, specialising in Arab and Iranian cinema.

KN

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Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander impresses judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10

Posted by artradar on June 29, 2010


PAKISTANI AMERICAN ARTISTS ART PRIZES AND AWARDS ART HK 10

Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander, represented by London gallery Pilar Corrias, has been brought into spotlight on the stage of contemporary art after impressing the judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10 and becoming the winner of the year.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Standing out among artists from sixteen galleries that have been set up for less than five years, Sikander won a cash prize and an opportunity to design the front cover of Post Magazine, published by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). According to SCMP, she has been praised by one of the judges, Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, for being a “very special artist” and a worthy winner.

Sikander’s I am also not my own enemy (2009) was exhibited at ART HK 10. It is a decorative work on paper made with gouache, hand painting, gold leaf and silkscreen pigment on paper.

Shahzia Sikander's 'I am also not my own enemy'.

Since graduating from the National College of Arts in Lahore for undergraduate study and the Rhode Island School of Design for master study, Shahzia Sikander has been “instrumental in [the] rediscovery, re-infusion, and re-contextualization of Indo-Persian miniature painting.” She has worked within a wide range of art genres including painting, drawing, animation, installation, video and film. She was named as an honorary artist by Pakistan’s Ministry of Culture and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

CBKM/KN

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World’s top collectors and art professionals attend ART HK: a testament to fair’s growing importance

Posted by artradar on June 23, 2010


ART HK 10 HONG KONG ART FAIR ART COLLECTORS ART MARKET

ART HK 10 was reportedly more festive than the ’09 edition due to its increasing ability to attract more high-profile and experienced collectors and curators from round the world, indicating its growing importance in the contemporary art arena of Asia.

ART HK 10 attracted many new comers this year.

“There’s been a major shift since last year in terms of the quality of the galleries exhibiting and the quality of the visitors. It’s a broader cross-section of nationalities and there are more serious and experienced collectors. We are pleased that people we met last year have come back to buy from us this year and this has been supported by trips to Asia between shows. We look forward to participating next year.” Daniela Gareh, Director of White Cube, London

Who were the collectors attending ART HK 10?

This year, the art fair attracted high-profile collectors from China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, across Europe and the United States. They included Thomas Shao and Li Bing (China); Sir David Tang and Monique Burger (Hong Kong); Richard Chang (New York); Dr. Gene Sherman of the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation and Judith Neilson of the White Rabbit Foundation (Sydney); Susan Hayden and Nigel Hurst, Director of the Saatchi Gallery (London); and Sydney Picasso and Diana Picasso (Spain).

Some of the world’s most influential museum directors also attended the fair. They included Richard Armstrong (Director of Guggenheim Museum); Michael Govan (CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of Los Angeles County Museum of Art); Joseph Thompson (Director of MASS MoCA); Olga Viso (Director of Walker Art Centre); Elizabeth Ann MacGregor (Director of the MCA in Sydney); and Jock Reynolds, (Director of Yale Art Gallery).

The fair also attracted specialist Asian curators such as Alexandra Munroe (Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim), Maxwell Hearn (Douglas Dillon Curator at Department of Asian Art in Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Jan Stuart (Head of Asia at British Museum).

Some renowned curators attended an ART HK 10 talk organised by Asia Art Archive. They were Shinji Kohmoto (Chief Curator at the National Museum of Art in Kyoto), Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo), Yukie Kamiya (Chief Curator at the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art) and Barbara London (Associate Curator at Department of Media and Performance Art in the Museum of Modern Art in New York).

ART HK 10’s sophistication evident in high quality works on show

The significant increase in the number of experienced collectors and curators coming to the event was the result of an expanded scale and an improvement in the of quality of the art being sold and displayed.

“This year’s ART HK had both significant scale and high quality of exhibitors and art. We were also very encouraged by the public interest and positive reaction to Deutsche Bank’s exhibition of recently acquired photography from its corporate collection.” Michael West, Deutsche Bank Head of Communications, Asia Pacific

On the other hand, the improved quality of galleries may also be indicative of the sophistication of art in Asia.

“We’ve met some very interesting collectors from other countries in Asia. The level of sophistication and interest in Western art is rising exponentially.” Ben Brown, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong and London

Magnus Renfrew, director of the ART HK fair, spoke to the Jakarta Post stating that Hong Kong possesses two core strengths that have brought about the success of the fair, its quality and the geographical diversity of its participants. He elaborates:

“We chose Hong Kong as our location for a major international hub art fair over others in the region because this city has many advantages, such as the zero tax on the import and export for art, geographical location at the heart of Asia within easy reach of the collector bases from all over the region, English is commonly spoken, it is an exciting and vibrant city and there is probably nowhere in the world where people from Asia and people from the West feel equally at home.”

Art Radar Asia was determined to hunt down first-hand perspectives of galleries in attendance this year and spoke with 19 during ART HK 10. Reactions to the fair were as varied as the galleries we spoke with. Read what they had to say here.

CBKM/KN

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ART HK 10 reports strong sales figures, lists major artworks sold

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


ART HK ART FAIR SALES ARTWORKS LISTED

Strong sales figures have been reported since the third Hong Kong art fair drew to a close in late May this year. Million dollar sales of artwork by Zhang Xiaogang and Damien Hirst, plus high-priced sales of works by Anish Kapoor and Yoshitomo Nara, suggest the event is now able to comfortably position itself as one of the world’s top art fairs.

“It’s our second time at the Fair and sales this year are up 100%. We sold to collectors from Japan, Taiwan and Beijing. I think the fair has increasing energy in the way Miami Art Basel had when it launched,” Johann Nowak, Director, DNA, Berlin.

A post-event press release from ART HK 10 listed six major transactions made at the event:

The Inescapable Truth (2005) by Damien Hirst, sold by White Cube for £1.75 million.

The Inescapable Truth by Damien Hirst (2005) is the first formaldehyde work by the artist to be shown in China.

The Inescapable Truth (2005) by Damien Hirst is the first formaldehyde work by the artist to be shown in China.

Green Wall – Husband and Wife (2010) by Zhang Xiaogang, sold by Pace Beijing for US$1 million.

Zhang Xiaogang's Green Wall - Husband and Wife (2010)

Zhang Xiaogang's Green Wall - Husband and Wife (2010)

More Light (1988) by Sean Scully, sold by Galerie Lelong for US$750,000.

Untitled (2010) by Anish Kapoor, sold by Lisson Gallery for £550,000.

Composition with Bamboo and Grass (2007-08) by Liu Ye, sold by Sperone Westwater for US$650,000.

Liu Ye's Composition with Bamboo and Grass (2007-8)

Liu Ye's Composition with Bamboo and Grass (2007-8)

Rock’n Roll the Roll (2009) by Yoshitomo Nara, sold by Marianne Boesky Gallery for US$350,000.

Yoshitomo Nara's Rock'n Roll The Roll (2009)

Gallerists and dealers had a mostly positive response to this year’s fair and what they had to say seems to mirror the high sales figures reported.

“The response to our solo exhibition by Liu Ye exceeded my expectations. Sales were made to new collectors from Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, and Singapore and to a prominent New York collector. There is so much positive energy here. We look forward to returning next year,” David Leiber, Director and Partner, Sperone Westwater, New York.

“We’ve met some very interesting collectors from other countries in Asia. The level of sophistication and interest in Western art is rising exponentially in Asia,” Ben Brown, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong and London.

Art Radar Asia was determined to hunt down first-hand perspectives of galleries in attendance this year and spoke with 19 during ART HK 10. Reactions to the fair were as varied as the galleries we spoke with. Read what they had to say here.

CBKM/KN

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London’s Michael Hoppen pioneers photography at Art HK 10, plans Hong Kong gallery – interview

Posted by artradar on June 9, 2010


INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY MARKET INTERVIEW

In the art bonanza that was the third incarnation of Art HK, there was one gallery among the 155 visual arts exhibitors with the unique distinction of being the only dealer specializing in photographic artworks. It was the second year of attendance for this maverick exhibitor, the London-based Michael Hoppen Gallery, which has coincidentally also developed a long-term interest in Asia. The gallery’s owner and director, Michael Hoppen, sees Asia as the frontier of the photographic art market, and intends to expand his business to the East- and specifically, to Hong Kong.

The Michael Hoppen Gallery deals in some of the world’s most influential photographers, including Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Peter Beard, Annie Leibovitz, and Irving Penn, in addition to promising young talents, who are constantly being sought.

The gallery’s spread at Art HK 10 was a mix of Asian and Western photographers, and both contemporary and historical photography. Hoppen’s reported ‘star’ piece was by the young Japanese photographer Sohei Nishino, who attracted an impressive crowd of viewers with a large-scale photographic collage depicting an aerial view of Hong Kong, part of the artist’s Diorama Map series. Other displayed pieces included Dr. Harold Edgerton’s Milkdrop Coronet, which was taken in 1957 and is the first image taken employing high-speed photographic technology, and documentary-style images of China taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1948.

Art Radar’s writer and researcher Erin Wooters caught up with Michael Hoppen on the last day of Art HK to discuss his impression of Asia’s largest international contemporary art fair, his experience as the fair’s solo photo gallerist, and his aspiration of opening a gallery space in Hong Kong.

'Diorama Map, Hong Kong', by Sohei Nishino, 2010. Light jet print on Kodak colour paper © Sohei Nishino Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary/EMON PHOTO GALLERY

Why did you choose to become a dealer?

I’ve been addicted to photography since I was about 8 years old. I was a photographer until about 1990 in London, and I was collecting photography at the time, and I realized that although I was a successful photographer commercially, it was very unsatisfactory emotionally and spiritually for me.  I was collecting photography and going to America frequently and buying prints for my own collection. I would get back and compare it to what I was making, and I thought, that’s enough. So, I sold all my cameras and lights. I had three studios, and I turned one of them into a gallery, and people started buying photographs. This was in 1991. My mother is an art dealer and a book dealer, so I suppose in the background there was always that influence. It really sort of went from there—there was no subconscious effort to become a photo dealer or photo gallerist, it was just something that I found myself falling into. We opened a second gallery in 1999. And the third gallery in 2001.

Your current gallery spaces are all in London?

Yes, all in London.

How is your organisation different from other galleries at Art HK 10?

We’re the only gallery specializing in photography. Photography in a sense is a wonderful new art, and it’s very closely connected to technology. It started 164 years ago, and it’s been tied to technology all the time, so we’re very much at the birth of an art form. It spans everything from science, art, investigation, reportage, information, and document.

In a sense, photography has an ability to span a slightly broader reflection of what’s happened in the last 160 years … So if you want to know what is different, that is a key. We have the opportunity to show the history of photography as well as the history of what photography has observed and recorded. Whereas here [at Art HK], you tend to find contemporary work made, with the exception of some Picassos and Warhol, all within the past 5-6 years.

Why did you choose to attend Art HK last year?

As an experiment. When Perry Photo opened, which was twelve years ago, we didn’t do the first year. We had a look at it, because I wanted to see what people talk about and write about afterwards. Everything that came out of the first edition of Art HK made me feel that they’d taken the right fork in the road. If you take the wrong fork, it won’t be held at the right time of year, won’t have the right publicity machine, and the stands won’t be curated well enough. That’s always a problem, because a lot of the galleries won’t come if they don’t see good art around them. You want to be with a group of people who compliment each other. I think Magnus [Renfrew] has understood that and he will continue to work very hard to make sure this fair gets better and better.

What other art fairs do you attend?

Perry Photo, Maastricht … We’ve done Basel although we haven’t in the last couple years. We plan to reapply next year. I had decided to stop doing Basel because it’s been difficult for photography. Also New York, Paris, and Pavilion Art and Design in London.

How does Art HK compare to other fairs?

There is obviously a much bigger presence of Asian art here … But, the major difference is the service in the back office. People couldn’t be more willing to help. If you are at Maastricht or Basel, the service is there but you have to fight a little bit to get it. There is wonderful backup here. They make it incredibly easy for you to glide in and glide out.

So you find Art HK to be very organised?

Yes. And also there are no import duties, no value added tax, none of the things that make the gallerist’s job more difficult. Every country has its different rules and regulations, and here it is simply, bring some great work, hang it on the wall, and take it away or ship it to your clients. There is enough paperwork in our lives already, and here that is something they felt they could dispense with.

The back office is brilliant. They are a fantastic, young, energetic team of people. And I assume behind that, the government and cultural departments are behind them, making it easy for them to operate. It’s a chain of command.

Did you have high expectations this year?

No, I’ve learned the hard way to never come with high expectations. Come with the best you’ve got and do the best you can do. If you’re lucky and people respond to that, then that’s great.

'Milkdrop Coronet', by Dr. Harold Edgerton, 1957. Signed Dye Transfer 16 x 20" © Dr. Harold Edgerton Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Which of your artists have drawn the most interest at Art HK 10?

Sohei Nishino is definitely the star of our stand. He’s a young Japanese artist, 25 years old. Henri Cartier-Bresson still draws a huge crowd … Nobuyoshi Araki, a Japanese artist, always draws a big crowd. Surprisingly enough I’ve been very pleased to find that people have recognized images. They have seen them in books and come and said, ‘God, I have only seen this in a book and here is the original!’ Dr. Harold Edgerton invented high-speed flash, and a lot of people seem to know that picture.

We are interested in opening a gallery or space in Hong Kong, and I am encouraged by seeing people come to our stand and they already know something. There is a hook there that we can grasp and improve on and embellish and build on. It’s not starting quite from scratch.

What are the price points of what you are selling at Art HK 10?

I would say the average price point of pieces we’ve sold is about $15,000-20,000 USD. Some would be more, some less, but that’s about the average price. So that’s very affordable, if you say for instance that you have $100,000 USD in your pocket and you decide you want to start collecting art … With photography, you can start to create a really impressive collection.

There is also an opportunity with photography because there are not the huge price spikes that you might otherwise see. I’m not saying there aren’t any at all, but if you go to artnet and look at photography price trends since 1976, it’s been a very nice, steady, gentle climb. It hasn’t been all over. For me, that’s encouraging. It means there isn’t a bubble. I’m very frightened of recommending to clients to buy something, and they spend all this, and next year it’s gone down. You can also look at the auctions, which are selling 80-85% of what comes up onto the block.

What style has been most sought after?

I wouldn’t say there is a prevailing style, as photography occupies such a broad range, but certainly handmade things. Craftsmanship is one of the things that I have been disappointed to see take a backseat over the past 5, 6, 7 years. There has been a sense of sort of ‘grunge’ photography. Stuff that lasts, things that are well made are very important. I tell my clients to go to other galleries and ask tough questions, like who made it, what was it made on, and under what conditions? If you want to look at an object for 10, 15, or 100 years time, it is always going to last longer if it is well made.

With your huge repertoire of represented artists, how did you choose the works shown at Art HK 10?

I think it’s really a gut feeling you have. You make a choice about what is the right thing for a particular environment. Last year I think we got a lot of that wrong. We had to come here and learn from our mistakes. I don’t see mistakes as a bad thing, I see them as a good thing as long as you learn from them.

I wouldn’t say we’ve gotten everything right this year, and I’m already thinking about who I will bring next year. It’s a learning curve, that’s what makes the job enjoyable.

What is your opinion of the variety and creativity of the work shown at Art HK 10? Do you find much of the art to be similar?

That’s not about this fair, funny enough. That’s a completely different conversation about a drought of new ideas. Every renaissance needs a calm down period, because there’s been such a huge amount of art being produced and churned out to feed the market for the past 15 years, that you needed things to stop. What we’re seeing now is a reflection of what is coming.

Everyone thought the end of the century would produce a new way of thinking. It’s doesn’t happen like that. Time is a human invention, and culture is something that is very organic, and I think we’ve reached the end of a period creatively in the world, and now we are seeing, hopefully, a birth of new ideas, new artists, and new ways of expressing ourselves.

I think certainly the last 2 or 3 years has been pretty bleak when you’re talking about great new artists coming up with great new ideas. There’s the factory mentality, where things are made and churned out. What we all search for, every curator or museum, is a new fresh way of telling the same story.

…When walking around the fair, at how many pieces do you stop and say, wow, I’ve never seen anyone express themselves in that way? That’s something we have to wait for, that’s not something you can manufacture.

The next wave of great art will not be immediately apparent. It will take a group of brave people to champion that. Whether it’s a photograph, a piece of music or literature, or a politician, it will come from left field. Great art and great new waves of culture don’t often come from where you think they will come.

Of course it will be criticized in the beginning, but that’s part of it. That’s what makes it so exciting to challenge preconceived ideas. That is why I enjoy what I do. You are standing and waiting to be washed by this, and there’s no better feeling than being washed by a fresh wave. Certainly I haven’t seen it here at Art HK. I know when I get excited, and that’s when you see something that really fundamentally changes the way you look at things.

Do dealers know what the other galleries will bring?

If you have friends in the other galleries you can ask, and sometimes that is a good idea because you can have comparative projects that actually bounce of each other. We’ve done that before in Paris. Here, no. I was totally unaware of what other galleries were going to bring.

Have you found there to be interest in historical photography at Art HK 10?

Yes, I’ve been really amazed. Almost all our Henri Cartier-Bresson’s we brought that depict China in the 1940’s have sold. Marc Riboud hasn’t done as well as we thought, but Marc doesn’t limit his prints. I find it slightly ironic in a society where massive reproduction is pretty much a byword … When it comes to copies themselves, no one wants to buy them.

Marc Riboud, 'Antiquary Window', Beijing, 1965. Gelatin Silver Print Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Do you find certain themes to work better at Art HK than others?

I don’t think shocking art works very well here. There was a period certainly in the West that celebrated art that shocked you, whether it was with nudity or content in some way, and that doesn’t work here. People don’t need that, and they’re looking for a different sort of piece and a different aesthetic.

Do you represent digital photographers?

We only represent one photographer who uses digital photography. Everyone else we represent still shoots on film. Our digital photographer is a young Italian anthropologist called Daniele Tamagni, who we are showing currently at the gallery. As an anthropologist, he had a small digital camera, and the pictures are wonderful. We found him a year ago, and he won the Infinity Awards in New York, which is like the Oscars. He’s the only living photographer we represent that uses digital cameras. All our other artists still use film.

Why do you generally only represent film photographers? Do you view digital photography as less of an art?

No, it’s not the art, it’s just the technology hasn’t reached a point where its as good as film, it’s as simple as that.

Contemporary digital technology is based on a very clever piece of technology, being able to record information digitally, but what it does is turn everything into blocks of ten. Unfortunately, life is not blocks of ten. What I love about traditional photography is that every print is a bit different, and there is a sort of chemistry, literally an alchemy, that goes into making a picture. As soon as you go digital, you rely on a computer to do it for you. A lot of the creative process is suddenly given to the machine, which is very smart, and it records everything.

I’m not trying to demean digital photography, but it is a choice that we’ve made whilst digital technology struggles to become as good as analogue photography, that we will stick to analogue photography. I know we won’t have a choice for much longer.

Do you find the buyers’ tastes at Art HK to be different from tastes in London?

People see much more photography on the walls in Europe or America, and people there are very used to seeing a framed photograph displayed as artwork on the wall of a home. I don’t think people have seen a lot of that here [in Asia]. That’s the first key difference.

Do you see a problem with Asia not yet considering photography an art form?

I don’t think it’s a problem; I think it’s an opportunity. It’s not flooded with photography. In a funny sort of way, going to New York is almost harder. Okay, you’ve got a converted audience who accept that photography is art or photography has value, and photography can be hung on their walls. But you’re jostling for your artists to squeeze in amongst all the other artists.  Here, as far as I’m concerned, there is a nice clean, flat ground.

I’m not saying people here will collect photography with the same appetite they do in Europe or America. Will there be a museum of photography in Hong Kong? Probably not in our lifetime. But, that means you can be a pioneer instead of walking around with a lot of other people, doing the same thing.

When did you begin eyeing Hong Kong for your new gallery space?

There was a time when we thought we’d open in Paris, and we started looking at that. But then, I thought, well it’s only two hours away, why do I need to open there? Then, we thought it would be fun to have something in New York, but in New York there are a hundred galleries, so why add another one to the mix? It’s not that I want to stand alone, but I feel there is an opportunity in Hong Kong, because no one has really taken up that challenge here.

… Nobody [in Asia] is showing the artists that we represent. I believe those artists are good artists, I believe they have something to say, and I believe people would enjoy their work here, so by natural train of thought, you’d say, why not try to open a space in Hong Kong? Certainly the welcome we’ve had here, the people of Hong Kong, the opportunity that the government gives you, to in a sense paves the way to come. They don’t make it difficult. They actually encourage you to do it, so, all those strings pulled together, apart from the distance of travel, make me feel like it would not be an onerous or difficult proposition to open up.

Do you see Hong Kong as the art hub of Asia?

Very much. This is the gateway to not only Asia, but Australia, China, the Philippines, Singapore, and Japan. It’s a bit like London, which is very much the hub for Europe, and I believe Hong Kong shares some of those qualities.

I believe Art HK will become the Basel of the Far East. It’s in its 3rd year so it will take another few years for it to generate the excitement. I love the fact there’s lots of schoolchildren coming, students. Last year was a much more sedate affair. That didn’t concern me because you have to start somewhere. I think there’s been a very good energy. Of course, there are lots of things they need to work on, and there are some things that I feel could certainly be changed. But you know, that’s a rolling program with any art fair. Magnus [Renfrew] is doing a great job, I really think so.

Tim Walker, 'The Dress Lamp Tree', England, 2002. C-type print © Tim Walker Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary

What benefits do you see in opening in Hong Kong over Singapore or Shanghai?

A wider audience.

Do you expect it to be logistically easy to open in Hong Kong?

I don’t see why it should be any more difficult than opening in a city like New York or London. I think the space is going to be the problem. Finding the right space. I’ve been told there are certain areas that you need to open a space in. And I’ve looked at other areas where there are fantastic old buildings. I saw an amazing old 1930’s building in Wan Chai, similar to the old Flatiron Building in New York, and I thought it would be fun to take a flat there, not an office but an apartment, and open up a gallery and office there. I’ve been told the problem is that they’ll probably knock it down in a year, or not want a gallery in there, or people won’t come because if they’re going to galleries they want Hollywood Road. So I suppose those are the challenges.

There are a lot of cities, like Buenos Aires or Cape Town, far-flung cities, where there are dockland or industrial areas that tend to be reconverted or enlivened by students and galleries, and funky restaurants and clubs. I sense that is not going to happen here, but I don’t know. I’ll be back in a couple of months to really spend a week or 10 days walking around and speaking to people, trying to gauge the situation. What I don’t want to do is to just follow everyone, because when I look at Hollywood Road it is crammed full of galleries, and I understand the obvious opportunity of being there with them. But on the other hand, you have huge limitations of space, access, storage, and all the things that a gallery needs to plug in to what it does. I’d rather have a salon than a shop.

Are you interested in representing local photographers once you open in Hong Kong?

It’s a possibility. However, I see no distinction. I’m interested in representing good photographers, wherever they’re from. I certainly think we’d far more like to bring photographers from outside into Hong Kong, because there are galleries in Mainland China and Hong Kong that already look after Hong Kong photographers. There’s no need for me to start poaching people, but if a good photographer from Hong Kong, Singapore, or Philippines comes to us.. or we find them, they don’t usually just come to us.. then we’d be glad to take them on.

When do you project that your gallery will open in Hong Kong?

No idea. We’ve been talking about it for 6-8 months. I have to physically come here, find the space, find the staff, and ultimately decide whether it is financially feasible. I think it would be foolish not to find a partner here with local knowledge. It would be very arrogant to think you can just walk in here, open up a space, and do well. I love working with people, so it seems it would be prudent and sensible to work with a local businessperson or gallerist who understands how the ground works. Because China is not like the rest of the world. I certainly wouldn’t open up in Tokyo because of the language barrier. Here there is less of that barrier, and culturally there is less of a barrier.

EW/KN

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