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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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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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Posted in Business of art, Collectors, Events, Fairs, From Art Radar, Gallerists/dealers, Globalization of art, Interviews, Overviews, Professionals, Promoting art, Taiwan, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »