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Posts Tagged ‘Cat Street Gallery’

Art Radar speaks with Para/Site curator, director Fominaya on November auction event

Posted by artradar on October 19, 2010


ART AUCTION FUNDRAISER HONG KONG CURATOR INTERVIEW

Para/Site Art Space, a non-profit organisation located in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, will hold its annual Para/Site Fundraising Auction in early November this year. It will take place in the Kee Club, who also support the event, and is one of the most important fund-generators for the space. Para/Site is devoted to the exhibition of local and international contemporary art. It is also a space where seminars, talks and workshops take place regularly.

We had the opportunity to talk with the Para/Site Director and Curator Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya who has been working for the space for one-and-a-half-years, half of his contracted commitment. We wanted to know more about him, Para/Site Art Space and what special surprises the upcoming auction will have for attendees.

Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, director and curator of Hong Kong's non-profit Para/Site Art Space. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, director and curator of Hong Kong's non-profit Para/Site Art Space. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

Fominaya and Para/Site: small scale projects with international interaction

How long has Para/Site Art Space been running for?

Para/Site was founded in 1996. It was one of the first organisations of its kind to be created in Hong Kong. In 1997, other organisations like 1Artspace were created. Para/Site started as an artists’ collective, providing a space for member artists to exhibit. Very soon it became a space for other artists coming from abroad to show their work. Para/Site started an international programme and this has continued until now. Para/Site, in a way, was a pioneer in inviting curators to work full time. I am the second curator who has joined the space. (Editor’s note: Before Fominaya, Para/Site employed Tobias Berger, a German curator who worked for the space for three years from 2006 to 2008.)

Why did you decide to join Para/Site Art Space?

Several reasons made me want to join this space: I wanted to distance myself somewhat from the European gallery/art space model. I wanted also to be able to curate all major parts of a project. In Europe, the scale of the projects I was working on was very different. I was used to working on big projects within a large team. I wanted to experiment with small scale projects, as they give me a much closer relationship with the artist. But, we also have a minor budget here! It is very challenging (smiles). The logic of culture working in a large scale organisation or in a small one is very different. I have to say that it was very shocking for me at first! I had to adapt to a different scale of project and to a different culture.

What has changed since you first joined Para/Site Art Space?

We have worked harder to develop our facilities for our Hong Kong artists and also to increase our public programme by developing some workshops…. [We are] promoting local art abroad and making dialogue between the art and artists possible in and outside Hong Kong. An example of a workshop has been the participation of the director of education at MoMA, Philip Yenawine, who talked about museums and education. [Past] workshops weren’t that much focused on artists but more on art administrators, curators, etc..

ZHANG-Dali, 'AK-47 (V.7)', 2010, acrylic on canvas, 102 x 82 cm, unique edition. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

Zhang Dali, 'AK-47 (V.7)', 2010, acrylic on canvas, 102 x 82 cm, unique edition. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

What have you been doing before you joined Para/Site Art Space?

Before coming to Para/Site I worked in a very different type of environment. I was working as a curator in a contemporary and modern art museum in Spain for six years. It was a different type of organisation; it was much larger and we covered all the twentieth century. At Para/Site Art Space … it’s a totally different type of environment, being a micro non-profit organisation with only four people working on our projects. Most of those projects are commissioned works that the artists develop for us. We have a very active international programme, which is very different from [the programme we had in] my previous job. That’s one of the challenges.

How is it funded?

The money raised in the auction covers almost half of our annual budget. That’s why it’s a very important event for us. We want to fundraise approximately HKD1,000,000 during this event. [We have organised] this kind of event for almost ten years now and we always had a very successful response. The rest of the budget is covered by the government, a French petrol group and smaller sponsors like corporate entities.

Rem Khoolhaas, 'Lagos', 2007, photographic paper, 112 x 84 cm, special edition for Para/Site Art Space. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

Rem Koolhaas, 'Lagos', 2007, photographic paper, 112 x 84 cm, special edition for Para/Site Art Space. Image courtesy of Para/Site Art Space.

Para/Site Fundraising Auction to sell one-off and special edition works

Can you explain the fundraising event to me in a few words. How do you get the artwork? What happens on the night? How did you select the artists?

The event is basically a fundraising auction. We are very cheeky and we ask the artists to donate their work to Para/Site. Some of the participating artists have worked with us and the others just want to support us in a generous way. During the event, the idea is to sell all the works in a pleasant atmosphere. From the 28 artists that participate in the events, around ten of them will attend the event. Those ten artists are based in Hong Kong. Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to fly all the artist here but we’ll have a very good representation of the selection we made. This night is very special, because it gathers different kinds of personalities together: curators, art gallery owners, artists and art lovers. Make sure to RSVP to attend to the auction as the event, with 100 people expected, will have limited places.

For this fundraising auction, 28 artists will participate. This selection of artists is a good representation of what we do. It is a mix of local Chinese, Asian and international artists. Some are very established and others not so. We’ll have secured the participation of a very established artist, Rem Koolhaas, who is donating a photograph titled Lagos. He has never sold his work before. You know what to do if you want to get it: Come to the Kee Club and it’s yours! We also have Ai Weiwei, a very interesting artist who we already exhibited last April and May. [We have] Zhang Dali, one of the pioneers of the Chinese avant-guarde and a very established artist. We have also a good representation of artists from Hong Kong. This event is a great opportunity to get artworks of a very good quality. I want to highlight also the big support from some galleries and foundations that have donated works to Para/Site, such as Cat Street Gallery. All the works that will be part of the auction will be shown here in Para/Site space.

It’s a big challenge as we curate a large number of art works and deal with artists from all over the world,… almost thirty artists, most of whom do not live in Hong Kong. The process is really like curating a show, the only difference is that the artists donate their work instead of selling it. Surprisingly, most of the artists we approached, even those who didn’t have any past relationship with Para/Site, had heard about this space and wanted to help and support us. It is a big responsibility; it has to go well for us, but it is at the same time a celebration.

Ai Wei Wei, 'Swatter', 2007, brass gilded, 0.5 x 50 x 7cm.

Ai Weiwei, 'Swatter', 2007, brass gilded, 0.5 x 50 x 7cm.

Fominaya on running a non-profit art organisation

How do you choose which artists to represent Para/Site Art Space’s regular exhibition?

For the most part I invite the artists I want to work with. I do review the portfolios that we receive but the process I follow is mostly by invitation. I generally focus in the region, working with Hong Kong artists on international projects as a mission. I’m really focussing on Chinese, Asian and South Asian artists. We use the fact that Hong Kong is a door between the West, China and the south of Asia to get our inspiration for creating our programme. We want to show what Hong Kong means in a political, geographical and economic sense. At the same time, I try to  stay away from what you can find in a commercial gallery. Actually, that’s one of the reasons why we don’t work that much with painters. Most of the work [we show] is installation and moving image. Personally, I’m very interested in moving image art.

Has the mission of Para/Site Art Space changed over time?

We continue with the same philosophy as before my arrival. In these two years, we have been developing more international projects with Hong Kong artists. We have also done a few projects with artists from outside Hong Kong, creating a dialogue between all of them. An example is the exhibition we curated with Joseph Kosuth and Tsang Kin Wah in 2009.

Has Para/Site Art Space always been in Po Yan Street? Or has the gallery been in another location before?

In April 1997, Para/Site Art Space was located in Kennedy Town before moving to its present location in Sheung Wan District, but it looks like we will have to emigrate. Sheung Wan is an area of Hong Kong that is getting very expensive. Next door, a luxurious apartment building is being built. The prices in the area are getting as expensive as the Peak. I think we need to move to a larger space to develop different types of projects with different scales. For the moment, the space that Para/Site has suits the type of exhibitions shown, but also the human resources and the budget we have available.

Sometimes you can find very famous artists in Para/Site. They don’t do the same kind of work they usually do in big museums as they have to adapt their work to the space. They also don’t have so much pressure and they tend to use this space to experiment, trying out different types of work.

How would you like to see Para/Site Art Space grow?

The artist community in Hong Kong is very active and developed. There are many commercial galleries but most of them are small and Hong Kong needs powerful galleries that can support its artists. What we would need in Hong Kong would be a larger number of non-commercial art spaces. A bit like Para/Site but on an even larger scale in order to allow the local art community to develop their projects.

The desire we have for Para/Site is to have a larger budget and a bigger venue that will help us achieve our larger goals. We want to make possible more dialogue with other art spaces around the world in order to develop projects. But this is not a short-term idea. This needs to be done over time to assure its sustainability.

SB/KN/HH

Related Topics: non-profit, art spaces, events, curators, Hong Kong venues

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Hong Kong hailed as art’s Promised Land by Art+Auction Magazine

Posted by artradar on April 2, 2010


HONG KONG ART MARKET

Sanyu, Lotus et poissons rouges, 1955

The state of the arts in Hong Kong are strong and flourishing, earning Hong Kong the high praise of being touted as Asia’s arts ‘promised land’ by Art +Auction Magazine in the March 2010 issue.

The article entitled ‘Promised Land’ describes the active art market in the city, which has recently expanded financially and creatively.

David Spalding writes for Art +Auction that:

‘Hong Kong is rising as a major art center, thanks to its thriving auction market and rapidly growing contemporary-art scene.’

‘The Hong Kong art scene has evolved rapidly, overcoming its regional myopia to become a key continentwide player and gaining prominence within the local cultural landscape.’

Auction Market

Hong Kong achieved the distinction as the 3rd largest auction market in the world in 2007, after the U.S. and U.K, and has maintained this positioning through 2009. A March 2010 article in The Economist titled How China Bucked the Trend: What Really Happened in 2009, states:

In 2009, when the global art market shrunk by more than a third to $43.5 billion, compared with $63.9 billion at its peak two years earlier, the Chinese art market bucked the trend. Sales in mainland China and Hong Kong reached a record high of $5.5 billion, up from $5 billion in 2008, boosting China’s share of the world art market that year to 14%, its highest share ever.

Indeed money freely flowed at Hong Kong’s various art auctions in late 2009, which set records and continually surpassed expectations. The following Fall 2009 Hong Kong auctions caught the attention of art world:

Zeng Fanzhi’s Untitled (Hospital Series), 1994

Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s October 6th sale of 20th-Century Chinese Art was estimated to generate $10.4 million USD in sales, but instead produced an impressive $14 million USD. This successful sale included Sanyu’s Lotus et poissons rouges, 1955,  which sold for $4.7 million, 31% higher than its greatest estimated price.  This is the artist’s 2nd highest auction price to date, and solely accounted for a third of the show’s total revenue.

The Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Paintings sale yielded $6.4 million, more than double its estimated yield and 76% more than the spring sale in this category.

The sale’s standout work was Indonesian painter Lee Man Fong’s Magnificent Horses, 1966, which was estimated to sell for approximately $200,000–$320,000 USD, but raked in an artist-record of $1 million USD.

Christie’s

Christie’s also experienced successful sales in November that produced $213 million USD over 5 days. A reported 47% of the buyers of contemporary Asian works were from mainland China, and favored pieces by more-established artists.

In the November 29th sale of Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese 20th-Century Art, Zeng Fanzhi’s Untitled (Hospital Series), 1994, surpassed its expected high of $1.5 million to attain $2.5 million. The November 30th Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary sale featured Indonesian painter I Nyoman Masriadi’s Master Yoga, 2009, which also exceeded its high estimate of $130,000 to realize $467,102.

Socially active gallery scene, international flavor

Hong Kong has also earned the designation as Asia’s visual contemporary arts ‘promised land’ due to its vibrant and growing gallery scene, which features fine art not only from Asia, but the entire world. In addition, many of these socially responsible Hong Kong galleries have taken it as their mission to connect to and nurture the larger creative community. Hong Kong’s 10th annual ArtWalk, which was held on March 17th,  included 62 participating galleries that opened their doors to the public for this charity event that supported Hong Kong’s Society for Community Organization (SoCo).

Notable galleries featuring Asian artworks include:

Hanart TZ, founded in 1983 by the local critic and curator Johnson Chang Tsong-zung, has helped bring international exposure to mainland Chinese artists throughout the 1990s. This work has continued most recently with a solo exhibition of new paintings and mixed-media work by the young Fo Tan artist Lam Tung-pang (who is also represented in a concurrent group show at the Hong Kong Museum of Art through April 25).

The Osage Gallery focuses on East and Southeast Asian art, while 10 Chancery Lane Gallery holds exhibitions of Vietnamese and Cambodian contemporary art. The Thai gallery Tang Contemporary Art — which has become significant here since opening a space on Hollywood Road in 2008 — offers an eclectic mix. The artists represented in its booth at last year’s Hong Kong art fair included the Thai-Indian Navin Rawanchaikul, the Beijing-based Yan Lei and longtime Paris resident Wang Du.

Western art represented in Asia

There is also a growing local Hong Kong market for Western art, and numerous galleries have risen to meet this need.

The London gallery Ben Brown Fine Arts opened a Hong Kong space last November showing works by leading Western artists Gerhard RichterThomas Ruff and Jeff Wall, alongside those of established Asian artists like the Japanese Yayoi Kusama and the Calcutta-born, Brooklyn-based Rina Banerjee.

The Schoeni Art Gallery, which opened in 1993 with an exhibition of works by Chinese, Russian and Swiss artists, is boldly mixing things up, with the 2008 launch of Adapta, a collaboration with the U.K.-based Web magazine UKAdapta on projects involving urban and  graffiti artists like Banksy.

Additional galleries facilitating the introduction of Western art to Asia include: the Cat Street Gallery, Art Statements, and the Fabrik Gallery.

EW/KCE

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