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Posts Tagged ‘Art HK’

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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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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‘Guerilla’ gallerist on introducing Banksy to Asia, art atmosphere in Hong Kong- interview

Posted by artradar on April 14, 2010


HONG KONG ART MARKET

Two year old gallery Fabrik, known for its unique guerilla exhibitions and for bringing Western iconic artists to Asia, sets up permanent home in Hong Kong.

The Fabrik Contemporary Art Gallery is young in Hong Kong, having exploded onto the art scene about 2 years ago with its first show LOVE ART, which caused a sensation introducing works by the notorious street artist Banksy, who had never before been exhibited in Asia. Although the Fabrik Gallery is young, it stands out in Hong Kong’s Chinese-saturated art market for its rare support of Western and contemporary pop artworks and its unique practice of holding ‘guerilla exhibitions’ in temporary or borrowed spaces. In fact, 2 years into its business of promoting art, Fabrik Contemporary has just recently found itself a fixed home in the heart of Central in Hong Kong.

The gallery is a joint venture, owned and operated by Sean Coxall, Jurgen Abergas, and Mark Saunderson, and was originally intended as a platform for the art enthusiasts to share and market their ever-expanding private collections of Warhol and other iconic pop artworks.

The business partners recognized the void of popular Western artworks within the Hong Kong art market, which generally does not expose art lovers to Western phenomena.

The gallery’s flagship Banksy show in April 2008 shocked the art community with its overwhelming success, drawing unprecedented crowds and attention. This Spring, Fabrik fittingly celebrated the opening of their permanent space with another show featuring Banksy, accompanied by the likes of Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert & George in ‘The Great British Show,’ which ran February 25-March 25.

Art Radar catches up with the Fabrik Gallery’s lively co-owner and curator Jurgen Abergas, a London-educated cosmopolitan whose background includes growing up in the Philippines and living in Los Angeles and China. He shares his perspective on the Hong Kong art scene, Hong Kong’s reaction to Western pop art, and tells all about the series of serendipitous events that culminated in bringing Banksy to Hong Kong.

Was it logistically easy to have the Banksy LOVE ART show in Hong Kong?

Yes, it was actually, because there is no tax on importing art here. We were not yet even registered as a company at that time. We were just working as a private dealership. We collaborated with the Schoeni Gallery, because [the Gallery Director] Nicole Schoeni loves Banksy and wanted to bring him here too. This was also a jump starting point for Nicole’s Adapta Gallery project in Hong Kong.

The show was comprised of 3 days in the Hong Kong Art Centre, and then another 2 weeks with additional pieces for the Schoeni show.

What is the mission of the gallery?

The mission of the gallery is to encourage first time collectors. We try to provide known iconic pieces that accurately represent the style of an artist. For instance, if you want a piece by Hirst, you wouldn’t want a piece that is only a squiggle or a dot, because that is not a known Hirst. We show work that is more iconic and familiar.

Japanese Apricot 2, 2005, by Chiho Aoshima. 55 x 77.8 cm Lithograph. Contact Fabrik Gallery.

What type of art did you intend to share with Hong Kong?

Definitely Western contemporary art. The Japanese art was not a fluke; I’ve been into manga since I was a kid, and it was something that my two partners only got eventually.

We were at a gallery showing of Murakami and other artists, and I told them we should definitely show Murakami. I mean, we go to London, New York, Los Angeles, and we see all these [Murakami] retrospectives, but we don’t see it here. I thought it would make a difference in the Hong Kong arts scene if someone showed works of Murakami here. And also, we wanted to prove that what Murakami does is beyond just Louis Vuitton.

When we opened this gallery, it was supposed to only be a stockroom. But, I said, let’s just do it properly. We were just kind of sick and tired of showing art out of our homes. It’s not ideal, but there are many dealers in New York and London that show art out of their home. However, in Hong Kong it is so crazy outside that you really need your home to be sacred space.

So, we launched the Murakami show, and we pre-sold most of the art before hand! It was one of those shows where we were struggling because clients wanted their art immediately and not wait until the end of the show! So, we were re-hanging stuff that wasn’t even Murakami anymore, because we ran out of the pieces that were actually in demand. We didn’t see that coming at all. Nobody was specializing in Murakami in Hong Kong. However, I have to credit Nicole [Schoeni], because she had works by Chiho Aoshima, who is another artist by Murakami. Aoshima is a lady who just paints women. Nicole had an amazing Japanese apricot lithograph. It is a piece that is really stuck in my head. After seeing that, I was like, ok, let’s include other artists with Murakami.

How is the Fabrik Gallery unique among galleries in Hong Kong?

I think we’re unique because we deal with art that is not generally represented in Hong Kong, and we do not deal with Chinese art.  I love Chinese art, but in a sea of contemporary Chinese art, there is only so much you want to see. We are looking to offer something different.

We also think it’s important to educate the viewer of the message behind the piece. You can go to galleries and think a work is beautiful, but not understand the inspiration for a work. We support more people, especially students, coming into the gallery and reading about an artwork so they do not have unprocessed thoughts about art. When you have a guide to read or someone who will explain the art to you, it really makes a difference and makes a lasting impression on someone who visits the gallery.

Can you describe the Fabrik Gallery’s ‘guerilla’ approach to art sales?

Basically, we went to different venues, like the W Hotel, rented out space, painted it, put up lights, and showed our works there.

Which galleries and arts organizations do you work closely with?

We work closely with White Cube in London, Aragon Press (the publisher of Damien Hirst), Other Criteria (again, Damien Hirst.) Hirst is our specialty. Also KaiKai Kiki, which is Murakami, the Helium Foundation, and other galleries in New York for our private collections.

Do you attend art fairs? Are you participating in Art HK?

This May we will be. We’re going to Art HK. One of the reasons we did the Banksy show is because we were rejected from Art HK in 2008. We were accepted this year, but we’re still deciding whether we should go. They prioritize the international galleries and we notice that most of the galleries here in Hong Kong are not participating.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s a very weird process.

Although we were rejected the first time, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us. If we had done Art HK, the Banksy show never would have happened.

What was your impression of Art HK?

I love Art HK. It’s a great way to see art! I think it’s one of those events that can give a platform and democratize the buying of art and make international artworks accessible to a wider audience. However, I don’t approve of hard sales tactics, and showing artworks without providing the context of the artist. In art fairs in general, it is hard to create the intimacy of an actual gallery.

What was Hong Kong’s reaction to your flagship show featuring Banksy?

It was phenomenal, they loved it. No other exhibition has ever graced the front page of the City section of the South China Morning Post. The turnout was around 1,000 people, and people from Christie’s and Sotheby’s were lining up. We had to hire security because it was just too packed. It was a very well publicized event that just happened in about 3 weeks. People usually plan this sort of thing 6 to 8 months in advance, and we did it in only 3 weeks. We worked around the clock, and were so tired afterward. Before we opened the Art Centre the next day, people were already lining up to see the show.

Was the turnout local?

It was a combination of both local and expatriate people, which is good. I think people in London and Europe are more passionate about these things, though. It’s weird, because when we opened the Banksy show, Banksy-style art of monkeys appeared on the bridges, and the next day it was already erased. A lot of people thought the graffiti was actually authentic Banksy. If this was in London, they would have preserved that. If it was in New York, they would have preserved it. But here in Hong Kong, it was wiped the next day.

The government needs to promote more sensibility toward the arts, especially here in Hong Kong Island. We’re on the cusp; we’re still not there yet.  The Hong Kong crowd still has a lot to see compared to London. However, we’re never going to be London and we need to make our own niche in Hong Kong, and make a city where art and commerce blend in. It’s still a financial city; that is what we are all about. We are not exactly an art city. That is one of the disadvantages of being here in Hong Kong. We are not exposed to a lot, and important art can get erased the next day by the cleaners. Because it’s not important to them.

Has Banksy been featured in Asia prior to your first show?

We definitely wanted Banksy to be our first show. It is the first and largest show of Banksy in Asia; Tokyo rejected it, so we were glad to take it. Ironically, now Tokyo is hungry for his works.

Does the Fabrik Gallery intend to feature other street or urban artists?

Paul Insect, Icon 8, 2008. Wooden panel, gold leaf, natural powder paint, shellac, acrylic paint.

We are planning to bring Lazarides U.K. artists Antony Micallef and Paul Insect before the end of the year. We love their works and they relate well to Warhol, especially Paul Insect. He creates appropriated images that reference historical art.

How does Banksy promote his art if his identity is kept secret? Does he directly work with galleries for his shows?

He’s not with his manager Steve Lazarides anymore, since they had a falling out. They had different intentions; it’s hard when you’re turning art into a commodity. Banksy doesn’t work directly with galleries either, and doesn’t show up in exhibitions. He just wants his identity to be secret and to keep a low profile, and to continue creating smart work and churning out really good stuff.

Why do you think Banksy created the sensation in Hong Kong?

His works confront a lot of issues and are very tongue in cheek, yet also is close to the heart. Banksy’s art talks to each individual and is easy to relate to. It makes you think, but it makes you smile as well.

Do you see any major differences between the art of Banksy and the art of the other artists in the ‘Great British Show’?

His work, whether it is rendered in canvas or in print, is from the street. There is a roughness that you can see and feel, although it is a screen print. It is still raw, and there is something sinister about it. You know the artist made this on the street in the middle of the night and ran away from the police, knowing he could get caught at any time while he was painting.

Are you familiar with the street art scene and artists in Hong Kong?  If so, who would you consider important artists?

I am familiar with Hong Kong street artists, like the ST/ART Collective… However, in general the street scene in Hong Kong is not very prolific. Funnily enough, I saw a tagging by the U.K. artist Word to Mother on a wooden board in the market. I am sure that it’s his authentic tag, since no one else can really do that. Someone just used the board to cover the fruits they were selling.

Do you view Hong Kong as an international art hub?

With Art HK, the success of ArtWalk, and the international galleries— The Gagosian Gallery is coming, Ben Brown is here, and the Malborough Gallery is opening here. Obviously people are looking at the potential of Hong Kong, and there is a big market here.

Tsang Kin-Wah, 2006. Untitled wallpaper detail for Shu Uemura in California.

What is great about the local art scene?

There are particularly 2 artists that I really like. One is Tsang Kin-wah. He was commissioned to create the wallpaper of The Pawn restaurant in Wan Chai. He made repetitions of words to create a flock wallpaper pattern. He has had exhibitions in New York, Paris and Norway. He’s really a major artist, but he’s very humble.

Nadim Abbas is another Hong Kong artist who used to work for Plum Blossoms, and is now showing his art at Para/Site. He’s a very conceptual artist, and was featured in the [Hong Kong Museum of Art] Louis Vuitton show representing Hong Kong artists. I love artists who work from their stream of consciousness, and he obviously does this.

I also like the illustration style of Carrie Chau, [featured at the Wun Yin Collection Gallery] at the Homeless boutique on Gough Street.

What news sources do you read to stay informed about the art world?

Art Observed.com is my number one resource. The Art Newspaper is good too, although I’ve noticed that not all their stories are up to date. Sometimes their news seems to be relevant to say, 1o months ago.  I also read Frieze MagazineThe Art ReviewThe Guardian, blogs, anything!

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a dealer gallery in Hong Kong?

Show only the artists that you love and the artists that you’re passionate about. Art is a very personal thing, and the general public may come in and hate it. Be prepared to be judged.

Is there any particular information, news, or advice you would like to share with our readers?

Start collecting now.  If you like something, save your money and make it your goal. In the next few years you will probably regret not getting it.

What is your next show at Fabrik Contemporary Art?

In the Name of Pop, featuring Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring will run May 6-June 10, 2010.

Visit Fabrik Contemporary Art’s new and permanent home at 412, 4F, Yip Fung Building, 2 – 18 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong.

EW/KCE

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Deutsche Bank signs 5 year lead sponsorship deal with ART HK

Posted by artradar on December 8, 2009


HONG KONG ART FAIR SPONSORSHIP

The May 2010 incarnation ART HK will only be the international art fair’s third event, but it has already earned the confidence-and sponsorship- of Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, which has recently signed a 5 year sponsorship deal with the young but promising Hong Kong art fair. Their enthusiasm for the fledging fair is understandable; ART INFO reports that in May 2009 (an uncertain time for art!) 27,856 people visited ART HK over four and a half days to view 110 galleries from 24 countries. In all, this accounts for a 31% jump in attendance over the inaugural fair in 2008.

Regarding the sponsorship, Michael West, Deutsche Bank’s head of communications for Asia Pacific, comments:

“Our sponsorship of ART HK is a reflection of both the scale and growth of Deutsche Bank in the Asia Pacific region and our longstanding global commitment to the arts… The success of ART HK in 2008 and 2009 demonstrates the high level of demand for a world-class art fair in the region.” –ART INFO

Regarding Deutsche Bank’s  sponsorship  of ART HK, Magnus Renfrew, the director of the fair who was profiled among 15 individuals without whom “the art world wouldn’t spin on its axis” in Art+Auction’s December 2008 Power Issue, comments:

“Globally, galleries are looking for new opportunities to expand their markets and increasingly are looking towards Asia… ART HK is now well established as a high-profile fair with proven high-quality attendance and solid sales results… Deutsche Bank’s involvement is a ringing endorsement of the solid foundations that we have laid in Asia to date. Our shared vision and active partnership will bring us one step closer to further affirming ART HK’s position as one of the leading art fairs.” –ART INFO

Deutsche Bank: a long-time art patron

Deutsche Bank is a well known patron of the arts, and controls one of the world’s largest corporate contemporary art collections, which is comprised of about 50,000 artworks from the 20th century. With the motto “Art Works,” the bank has maintained a pro-art agenda for the past three decades, making these artworks accessible to the public worldwide. It also collaborates with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation on the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin.

And here’s what sources are saying about ART HK…

‘ART HK 09, raised its game at its second edition…It seems that by common consensus dealers from across the world have decided that the only viable venue for a pan-Asian international art fair is Hong Kong.’
Apollo

‘Hong Kong emerged as the one to beat in Asia…ART HK, located in a city noted for its transparency and ease of conducting business, will become a dominant force in the region.’
ArtAsiaPacific

‘….in a very short time Hong Kong will be the most important art trade fair in the world.  In fact – this could be the Art Basel of Asia.’
Die Welt

‘ART HK has won the battle to be the destination art fair for Asia’

The Art Newspaper

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More art, better art, riskier art at Art HK 09

Posted by artradar on May 19, 2009


HONG KONG ART FAIR

“What do you think of the art fair this year?” Advisors, fair visitors, writers and artists graciously suffered our question ‘du jour’ for the duration of the much-anticipated second edition of Art HK.

Tipped to be the Art Basel of Asia after its successful inaugural edition in 2008 we, along with art market participants around the world, were curious to know if this year’s show was still on track to fulfill its promise.

There was more art on offer this time with 110 participants (up from 101 in 2008) and there was a consensus view that the show was well-organised. “The management of the show is slick, very slick,” said a reporter from an established London-based arts magazine.

Whether it was the latent potential of the Asian market or the polished work by organisers Asian Art Fairs Ltd , a collaboration between Single Market Events, Andry Montgomery and Will Ramsay of Pulse Contemporary Art Fairs, prestigious galleries such as New York’s Gagosian and London’s White Cube signed up for the first time this year in an unexpected coup for a fair so early in its career.

But what about the quality of the art? Did it hold up against the top international art fairs? What did galleries dare to bring to a new market in the midst of a wrenching recession? How safe did they play it?

The answer: Happily not very safe at all. The utilitarian convention centre hall venue was filled to the rafters with eye-sizzling  non-decorative pieces: intriguing installations vied with over-sized multi-media works and towering sculptures.

Last year Amelia Johnson Contemporary sold Macau-based Russian artist Konstantin Bessmertny’s  popular paintings  like sweets. The year she also showed his more demanding enormous horse sculpture/installation/performance piece Momentum pro Aliquis 2008/9, a riderless Renaissance horse in wood.

“It is much, much better than last year” said a Hong Kong-based art advisor with 15 years of experience. “It is more cutting edge, much riskier”. Managing editor of Orientations magazine, Hwang Yin agreed “Yes the quality of the art is far better this year, less Chinese painting. The work on show is much more interesting.”

Even a Hong Kong hedge fund manager fair visitor who has not purchased an artwork in 10 years noticed the difference. “The quality is up several notches compared with last year. I found plenty of ideas and I am thinking of buying a piece this time”.  An account manager for a London-based arts magazine visiting the fair for first time said she liked the art at the fair because it is ‘international’ and was particularly intrigued by the Korean works because of their novel use of space and materials.

While feedback was overwhelmingly positive, there were a few stray, albeit muted, dissenters. A young highly-regarded Asian curator was less enthusiastic: “I think the art could be better but to be honest I am biassed. I have a problem with fairs anyway as I come from a non-profit background. But I can say that the work at Green Cardamom is stellar and The Drawing Room is showing some interesting pieces too”.

Hong Kong artist James Feldmanblogged unhappily about the Ferdinand Botero-like fat figure sculptures and the ‘saccharine kitsch’ from Beijing. But he did like Baselitz and Schnabel: “they stood out like a couple of grizzled WWII vets swaggering through a kindergarten”.

Surprise was the response of renowned Biennale-exhibiting artist Din Q. Le from Vietnam whose solo show South China Sea Pishkun at 10 Chancery Lane opened during the fair. “I am taken aback by the enthusiasm for the fair that everyone is showing. In the west the art scene is kind of depressed.”  

Hong Kong is known for its energetic, can-do culture and maybe that accounted for some of the fizz and excitement.  But for Johann Nowak of DNA Berlin, it was the future opportunities offered by the Asian art market which made his voice bubble with excitement as he talked to us. He believes Hong Kong is the ‘perfect place in every way’ for an art fair. ‘It is just perfect’. Pressed for specifics he came up with a benefit new to us: he explained that one of the key advantages of Hong Kong  is that “there are no dominant galleries in the town” allowing a level playing field and equal opportunities for visiting galleries. ”There are no gallery intrigues, that is what makes Basel work so well too”.

And what about sales? 

Reuters  focussed on the performance of the major international galleries in the first days of the fair and reported ‘notable sales’ such as the  Gilbert and George ‘Gingko’ piece bought from White Cube by an Asian collector for GBP325,000. For a rounded view, Art Radar approached a few of the other lesser known and Asian galleries on the last day of the fair.

Tokyo-based Yamamoto Gendai said “We have not sold so many pieces here, about 5” and German gallery Levy reported just one sale. Korean art specialist Cais Gallery who participated last year too said they had sold 4 to 5 pieces in the US$4-8,000 range. “It is slow compared with last year, fewer collectors”. Another Japanese gallery sold 5-6 pieces in the US$5-20,000 range with much interest shown in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs. Beijing -based Aye Gallery sold 7 pieces.

In terms of sales, this was a “bits and pieces” fair and on the last day the mood was less buoyant than suggested by early press reports. Nevertheless the galleries remained firmly committed to the fair because of ‘the quality’. According to Novak, this year making sales is less important than networking and exposing work to institutions and international collectors. “Next year is the year to watch sales.”

Related links: Images on Flickr, 80 images on Arrested Motion blog,

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Newslink roundup Hong Kong art fair – Art HK 09

Posted by artradar on May 13, 2009


  

 

Mu Boyan, Nude No 2

Mu Boyan, Nude No 2

HONG KONG ART FAIR NEWS

Flu SeasonArtforum – 24 May 09 – Must read – This gossip column-style drily written piece, complete with photos of Asian art scene-shapers, takes a comprehensive look at most aspects of the fair: management (white plastic and undrinkable wine), gallery sales (“Art HK winners: major Western galleries, local Hong Kong galleries. Big losers: major mainland galleries.”), the parties (one a victim of its own exclusivity) and the panels (a big thumbs up).  Not much written about the art itself though.

Art market reporting is notoriously conflict-ridden. Business class tickets and VIP jollies for journalists are not unknown and big ad bucks in harsh economic times also make a potent lure for bias. There is not much evidence of (or opportunity for) independent research: most of the hard data about sales and visitor numbers comes from galleries and event promoters who have an inherent commercial conflict.

Now that the ‘blog reader beware’ warning is done with, grab a handful of salt and enjoy the read.

There is some interesting coverage of lesser known Asian-based artists by the New York Times and read (the more honest??) comments by the Asian galleries about sales which are at odds with those of the Western galleries – this is covered in several of the pieces. Overall the reviews are mostly positive (of course) but for what it is worth we thought both the art and the  fair management were excellent in this second edition of the show.

 

 

Art fair saw 31% rise in visitors and several major sales South China Morning Post – May 20 09 – Gives details of visitor numbers (sourced from the fair managers) and specific big sales claimed by Western galleries and Western artists. A Korean gallery reported few sales.

An artistic quest in high gearInternational Herald Tribune / New York Times – May 20 09 – Must read – Interesting piece with a focus on the art on display, with a refreshing emphasis on lesser known Asian artists such as Konstantin Bessmertny, a Russian artist based in Macau. Several images.

More art, better art, riskier art at Art HK 09Art Radar Asia – May 19 09 – Report on visitor opinions of the fair this year, gallery sales (weak for lesser known and Asian galleries), the management of the fair (better) and quality of the art.

Artist makes sure fair goes with a bangSouth China Morning Post – May 20 09 – Short piece about avant-garde artist Chow Chun-Fai’s 2 performance pieces hosted by Shanghai Tang.

Art HK 09 –  George Chen – May 17 09 – Set of photos on Flickr

Asian auction houses starting to come of ageSouth China Morning Post – May 17 09 – Brief piece about auctions staged to coincide with the Hong Kong art fair (Est-ouest Auctions and the inaugural Asian Auction Week – a joint auction by Korea’s K Auction, Japan’s Shinwa, Kingsley’s from Taipei and Larasati from Singapore).

The second edition – Financial Times – May 16 09 – Describes art on sale and sold half way through sale.

Hong Kong Art FairArt World – June/July 09 – promotional blurb with a list of Australian galleries

Solid start to Hong Kong art fair despite downturnReuters – May 16 09 – Brief report on ‘notable sales’ in fair’s first days – This Uk edition focuses on sales (at the top end with values at tens and hundreds of thousands US$ per piece) of Western artists by top London and New York galleries including Damien Hirst, Gilbert and George, Julian Opie.

Opening HK art fair – Arrested Motion blog – May ? 09 – More than 80 images of works on show at the fair – Unfortunately not tagged but it gives a flavour of what exhibitors have brought.

Art HK 09: Hong Kong International Art Fair has a good startArtdaily –  May 15 09 – List of artworks sold on first day – Reports ‘robust sales’ and a ‘heady atmosphere of excitement’. Sales by Damien Hirst, Gilbert and George, Kohei Nawa, Fang Shao Hua, Ron Arad.

Hong Kong Art Fair Part 11 – Illustrator James Feldman blog – May 15 09 – Acerbic blog piece about weak and strong art at the fair – Baselitz and Schnabel stand out against bloated ‘reverse engineered Botero’ sculptures. Hong Art Fair Part 1 drily discusses the pecking order of tickets – ‘I have a pink ticket and a black ticket and I can’t work out which is more exclusive’.

Tennis art at the Hong Kong International Art FairNY Times Globespotters – May 14 09 – Short feature about live demonstration of Martina Navratilova creating one of her tennis ball paintings –  She has been making these with fellow Czech and artist Juro Kralik since 2000 but has only recently started to sell the works.

Strange Hong Kong art fairDetroit Free Press – May 13 2009 – A set of 6 images, mostly sculptures at the fair and the concurrent Seoul Auction. Artists Mu Boyan, Yi hwan Kwon, Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Lin Yilin.

Insider Art FairArtinfo – May 13 2009 – Short list of artists’ works and prices brought to the fair by leading galleries.

 Prefair coverage

Much of the prefair coverage republishes the press release or gives other repetitive promotional content. A couple of links covering the basics are given here and a more complete list can be found on the Hong Kong art fair site.

Magnus Renfrew on ArtHK09 Artinfo – May 12 2009 – Pre-fair interview with director Magnus Renfrew. Great questions, predictable answers. Content is mainly promotional but does cover failure to get sponsorship this year. Claims Hong Kong is superior location in Asia for art fair: well-positioned geographically to tap mature collector groups in Taiwan and South Korea as well as latent potential of future Chinese market; tax benefits.  Gallery mix is 65% Asian, 35% international. MR also claims that HK art fair is more regional than competing fairs.

Hong Kong’s contemporary art fairFinancial Times – May 9 2009 – A somewhat promotional pre-fair piece which lists participant galleries and side events.  Based on a news angle which suggests Hong Kong (and environs) is a rising star in Asian art scene. Evidence for its growing importance as a cultural hub is given as 1) Guangzhou Triennial “widely considered China’s most important art event” 2) last year’s budget approval by HK government for the development of West Kowloon cultural district –  a 40 hectare site for the arts 3) Hong Kong has become third largest art market by auction sales in world 4) last year’s introduction of ArtHK, Hong Kong art fair.

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