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Posts Tagged ‘Tang Contemporary Art’

Writer Steven Pettifor talks about the old and the new in Thai contemporary art – Art Radar interview

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


Steven Pettifor, author of 'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art'.

Steven Pettifor, author of 'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art'.

THAI ART BOOK WRITER INTERVIEW

Thailand has long had a small but very vibrant contemporary art scene. Compared with its recently-flourishing neighbours, however, contemporary Thai art hasn’t been getting much attention. Little has been written about it. Back in 2003, Bangkok based Briton Steven Pettifor decided to address this problem with his book Flavours – Thai Contemporary Art.

Flavours was listed on a reading list for newcomers interested in Southeast Asian art, as reported in an earlier Art Radar post. With 23 profiles of artists of different mediums (painting, sculpture, textile, costume, installa­tion, ceramics and photography), the author hoped to provide exposure of Thai artists outside their home country, and to give readers “a ‘taste’ of Thailand’s burgeoning contemporary visual arts.”

It’s now been seven years since the book was first published and much of Thailand’s contemporary art scene has changed. Art Radar Asia caught up with Steven Pettifor to find out more about his book, and to see what he thinks of the country’s current art movement.

Most importantly, this interview has revealed that there is now more non-Thai Asian art able to be viewed in Thailand. Local art galleries are teaming up with other Asian galleries to bring non-Thai Asian art into Thailand and foreign artists are now viewing Thailand as a place to set up professionally. He also identifies a number of important emerging Thai artists and names some of the top collectors of Thai contemporary art.

What prompted you to write Flavours?

I’d been writing about Thai art for about seven or eight years. I was starting to build up quite a body of artists that I’ve written about and covered. There was only one other book on Thai art written in English up until that point, and that was Modern Art in Thailand by Dr. Apinan Poshyananda. His book went up to 1992 and then after that it was nothing, and 1992 was the year I arrived in Thailand, so I felt like filling in the gap from that period onwards. That was my intention.

I was floating the idea for about a year or two before I actually found someone  who wanted to collaborate and publish it, and Thavibu Gallery said yeah okay, we’ll be interested in doing it, we might be able to find someone to back it financially, which they did. They found Liam Ayudhkij, who is the owner of Liam’s Gallery in Pattaya. He’s been collecting art here for thirty, forty years. So Liam kindly backed it. That’s how the book came about.

'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art', published by Thavibu Gallery.

'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art', published by Thavibu Gallery.

What were the main issues and challenges for you when writing and researching Flavours?

I wanted the book to broaden the message about Thai art. I didn’t want to keep the book an academic book, purely for an already art-affiliated readership. I wanted to move beyond that and try and get more general public interest in Thai art. So one point was to keep it accessible in terms of language and to try and cover as broad a scope as possible within a coffee-table sort of format. That was one challenge.

Another was to try and cover as many different mediums as possible, so it was finding sculptures, paintings, installations, photography… I tried to cover as many mediums as possible, and that wasn’t easy, given that some of the less popular mediums… it was hard to find good quality artists working in that field.

Tell us more about your selection of artists in Flavours.

Medium was one big consideration. Also, their career point. I tried to get as many young artists or emerging artists or mid-career artists, so that the book would have relevance ten years on. It’s six years old now and most of the artists are still in their mid-careers. I didn’t want to pick artists that were in their twilight years or have passed away. People ask me why didn’t I include Montien Boonma, who’s considered the father of installation art here. I included him in the overview essay, but because he has passed away, I didn’t want to profile him, because there wasn’t so much currency. His career is not still being carried on, basically.

How did your interest in art, and in Thai art, evolve?

As early I could remember, I could draw and paint. Not self-taught as such, but it was there from an early age. I don’t come from an artistic family at all, so it was never really nurtured as such. But when I reached high school, I then got pushed toward art, just because they saw my natural talent or whatever. So the interest in art has always been there, but I’d say from high school onwards it was developed by teachers.

…It’s not so much as a passion for Thai art. The main art that was in view in Thailand was Thai art, and you just got into it. I got to meet a lot of the artists quite quickly and I found it quite interesting to be thrown in on that level. Back in 1997, there weren’t so many foreigners involved in the art scene and everyone was quite accommodating, inviting you to their studios and things like that. So it was interesting. You got to feel involved.

What makes Thai art different from other Asian art?

Buddhism is quite predominant here. Sometimes that can be good, sometimes that can kind of almost saturate the art that is produced here. If you look at Burmese art or what’s coming out of places like Laos, you’ll see a lot of Buddhist imagery as well. Places like Indonesia and Vietnam… the art being produced in those places is not so religious-focussed. Religion would be one aspect that defines a lot of the art that is made here. Not necessarily the art that is hitting international levels. They tend to deal with work that is more universal, or themes that would fit more into the international art interest. But across the board, a lot of them deal with Buddhist subject matter.

Santi Thongsuk, 'I'm Glad I'm Dead Year', 2000, oil on canvas.

Santi Thongsuk, 'I'm Glad I'm Dead Year', 2000, oil on canvas.

Another thing would be the craftsmanship. I do see it elsewhere in Asia, so it’s not necessarily different but there are different kinds of crafts that are brought into Thai art. Chusak Srikwan uses shadow puppetry, but he does things like modern politicians and symbols of corruption. Montri Toemsombat has used silk weaving and silk crafting in the past. There’s this attention to craft. A lot of technical training goes on here, so they get very good grounding in the technical aspects of art training, so that comes through very strongly as well.

Chusak Srikwan, 'Birth-Age-Ailment-Death', 2009-10, leather carving.

Chusak Srikwan, 'Birth-Age-Ailment-Death', 2009-10, leather carving.

Tell us about the artist training system in Thailand.

It’s pretty much similar to anywhere else. It’s art school, mainly. It’s an emerging thing. Art school is expanding constantly and courses are expanding constantly here, but it’s still largely focused in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, with a couple of provincial centers in the north-east and in the south. A lot of young wannabe artists, when they graduate here, will go through assisting a senior artist in a studio for a couple of years. Again, that’s comparable to anywhere else as well. But I find it quite good that artists get a lot of hands on training through working with the artists when they graduate.

Is the Thai art scene receiving greater external interest, as compared with before?

It was anticipated here around the early 2000s on that there would be a lot more interest on the back of the increased focus towards Asia, with China and India doing very well. Vietnamese art in the mid to late 90s kind of opened up a lot. And it was always expected that there would be more people coming in for Thai art, and for a while there was. There’s a lot more Thai artists now included in biennales and triennales and international thematic shows, but I would say that is comparable to just part of this larger focus on finding art in Asia. I would also say in the last couple of years it has slowed down a lot. Since the coup in 2006, and the financial recession in late 2008, the commercial aspect of art has slowed down quite a bit. But I don’t think it’s just here, I’d say it’s everywhere.

Do Thai artists see international acceptance as one of the criteria for success? How does that compare with domestic recognition?

There are artists here that are quite content to work on the domestic level, but they have to work within a fairly narrow framework in order to succeed there. And then there are those who desire and need the international exposure in order to continue making art of that kind of calibre.

You mentioned in Flavours about a gap between the public and the local art scene, citing insufficient education and exposure as a major problem. Has the situation improved?

Things like education are not going to improve overnight. There are more universities and higher education establishments offering art related courses. But for your average state sponsored school, like high school, there’s still going to be a very limited art practice beyond basic drawing techniques and painting.

But in terms of accessibility, they are trying to change things. They’ve opened the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) here in the last two years, which is a major art center in the heart of downtown. It was always the intention to put it in a very commercial area so that it would be on the consumers’ door step. So they’re hoping to draw in the public to look at art and find out what art is. And there’s another plan to build a national art center in Bangkok. But that’s all very Bangkok-focused.

…one way the void is being filled in the provinces is that some of the artists that have either come from different provinces or have gone there to settle or to set up a studio have built artist-gallery-public places – places to promote their own work, but also places to give something back to the community. Up in Chiang Rai, Thawan Duchanee is a good example of an artist that has made his work open to the public.

Montien Boonma, 'Drawing of the Mind Training and the Bowls of the Mind', 1992, held in the collection of Chongrux Chantaworasut.

Montien Boonma, 'Drawing of the Mind Training and the Bowls of the Mind', 1992, held in the collection of Chongrux Chantaworasut.

How has the local art scene changed since you published Flavours?

There are a lot of commercial galleries that have opened up in the last  five to ten years, but a lot of them have a less than five-year shelf-life. A lot of galleries are still set up here by people who have an interest in art, but I wouldn’t say that they are specifically trained in how to operate a gallery on a professional level. A lot of them have opened galleries because it’s their passion, but managing it on a professional level doesn’t always work out the way they expect. It’s still tough to make a profit here as a commercial gallery. There’s been a few more non-profit spaces opening as well, but they’re even harder to manage and sustain with no profits coming in and it’s hard to find sponsorship to back spaces like that.

One thing that I think is important to push is that there’s been more diversity of art that’s been on view in the last five years or so. When I first started looking at art thirteen years ago here, it was very Thai. Most of the galleries were showing Thai. Any foreign or overseas art would predominantly be at university spaces and would be by visiting lecturers or hookups with overseas institutions. But now, in commercial spaces, more regional art is certainly being seen. Thavibu Gallery bring in Vietnamese and Burmese art. Gallery SoulFlower, which just closed last year, brought in Indian art on a regular basis. Tang have a gallery in Bangkok, and they bring in a lot of good quality, high-profile Chinese art. And there’s a couple of galleries that bring in Japanese artists, and you’ll see Indonesian art here every now and then. So there’s been more exposure to regional and international art.

Another development is there’s been more foreign artists coming and spending time here, trying to work out of here. Some just setting up their own studios and still working with their galleries overseas… others coming here to make a goal out of it, trying to get involved with the Thai art scene. If I look at foreign artists based here thirteen years ago, it was more of people using art as hobby rather than a serious pursuit. But now I would say that there’s a lot more foreign artists here that are serious about art making and trying to make a career out of their art here as well.

What is the biggest problem facing the Thai art market at the moment?

There are probably only around fifty viewing spaces in Bangkok that attempt a regular or an occasional exhibition schedule, but not of huge amount of that translate into sales. I would say only a dozen or so galleries here manage themselves towards a sustainable and professional gallery that also tries to promote its artists beyond Thailand.

Can you name some interesting galleries and non-profit spaces for our readers to explore?

It’s a bit of a self promoting thing, but I initiated the Bangkok Art Map, which is a useful tool for people arriving in the city wanting to see art, or people living in the city wanting to see what’s happening on a monthly basis. It’s a map of the city’s galleries with the regular exhibition calendar plus highlights of what’s on, and a spotlight focus every month.

…obviously I have to say Thavibu Gallery, because they published my book, and I’m working with them this year on a curatorial project for the course of a year called “3D@Thavibu“. That is my conscious effort with the gallery to promote small-scale sculpture in Thailand towards more collecting base and to push emerging sculptors here that don’t get seen in so many galleries here.

There’s H Gallery, another professionally-run gallery. It’s run by an American, H. Ernest Lee, and it’s in a beautiful colonial-style building. One of the best galleries running in terms of putting their artists into biennales and working with some of the major Asian and Thai artists is 100 Tonson Gallery. Ardel Gallery is run by a Thai artist called Thavorn Ko-udomvit, who curated the Thai Pavilion for Venice last year. DOB Hualamphong brings in artists that are not necessarily commercially minded. Numthong Gallery has been a gallery that’s done very well over the years. [Mr. Numthong Sae-tang] runs a fairly small space out of a co-op building, but he attracts some of the big name Thai artists to work with him, because he tries to help them out and he’s a very good supporter of the artists when they come on board. Obviously the BACC is a place worthy of visiting.

Which artists have been doing interesting things recently in your opinion?

There are quite a few artists. The big names are already on the radar. People like Navin Rawanchaikul, Chatchai Puipia, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Sakarin Krue-on… these are all very good established artists.

Maitree Siriboon, ''Isarn Boy Dream" series, 2008, photography.

Maitree Siriboon, ''Isarn Boy Dream" series, 2008, photography.

On the younger front, I like Maitree Siriboon. He is an artist I think is worth watching. He’s been using photography to photograph himself to examine his identity as an openly gay guy from Isarn. He deals with the rural to urban migration, exploring on a sensory level what it means for him as an artist and as an openly-gay person to move from the provinces to Bangkok. Yuree Kensaku, a Thai-Japanese artist; I like her brand of painting. She’s also doing some sculptural work. I like Yuree’s work a lot. There’s Tawan Wattuya. He does watercolours, very loose watercolour paintings, all about conformity and uniformity in Thai society. He’s done a lot of paintings of groups of Thais in uniforms. There’s a strong sexual element to a lot of his works as well. Also Sudsiri Pui-Ock in Chiang Mai.

Yuree Kensaku, 'The Killer from electricity authority', 2009.

Yuree Kensaku, 'The Killer from electricity authority', 2009.

Are there any major collectors of Thai art?

There’s Narong Intanate. He has been collecting more conventional Thai art – modern Thai artists but not necessarily contemporary. But he’s recently started to branch out into contemporary. Disaphol Chansiri has a really interesting collection of Thai and international contemporary art. His collection is open by appointment, he’s housing it in an apartment space that he’s opened up as an art-viewing space on Sukhumvit Road. His collection is very contemporary, probably the most contemporary I’ve seen in terms of the artists he’s collecting. Jean Michel Beurdeley is a French collector who has lived here for decades. He has a collection that he opens up in quite a nice traditional Thai house where he lives. Again, viewable by appointment only. One more worth mentioning is Petch Osathanugrah. He’s collected contemporary domestic art. I don’t think his collection is housed in any permanent space at the moment. For awhile he was going to open a private museum, but I don’t think that has materialised.

Are there any books or websites you would recommend for learning more about Thai contemporary art?

I would say our website, the Bangkok Art Map, would be a site to mention. The Rama IX Foundation is very well supported. Until recently, they’ve focused more on senior conventional artists. I think there’s more diversity to their website, but there’s a lot of contemporary artists not on there. But it’s a good website. Several of the gallery websites have good listing info.

As I said before, there are only two books out there, Modern Art in Thailand and Flavours. They’re the only two English-language books that have been written on Thai art in the last fifteen years.

About Steven Pettifor

Born in 1968 in London, Steven Pettifor graduated with degrees in fine arts from both the Wimbledon School of Art and Liverpool Polytechnic. The writer-artist-curator has been living in Thailand since 1992, immersing himself in the local contemporary art scene. He is currently the Thailand Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News.

VL/KN

Related Topics: Thai artists, promoting art, interviews

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What did the galleries say about ART HK 10? Art Radar Asia speaks to 19 dealers

Posted by artradar on June 1, 2010


HONG KONG ART FAIR

Art Radar Asia attended ART HK 10 on Sunday with the aim of getting a perspective on the who is selling what to whom. Below we lay out the comments from and opinions of 19 of the Asian and international galleries in attendance this year.

Nadi Gallery – Jakart

Meli Angkapradipta: ”We got more sales this year. We brought around 18 pieces and only four are unsold. Most of our buyers are from Asia, mostly Indonesia. All Gede Mahendra Yasa’s works are sold. His works are very decorative and very natural. People can accept them very easily.”

Gede Mahendra Yasa, Cannabis-Canniballis, 2010

Gede Mahendra Yasa, Cannabis-Canniballis, 2010

Ota Fine Arts – Tokyo

“I think this fair is getting stronger and stronger. About half of our nine pieces are sold at the price range of $2,000 to $380,000. The buyers are from Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. Yayoi Kusama’s work is very popular. We sold some new artist’s work too.”

Tang Contemporary Art – Bangkok/Beijing/Hong Kong

“We sold about forty percent of our works to Mainland, European, and US buyers. The most expensive piece was Liu Xiaodong’s painting.”

LEVY – Berlin/Hamburg

Thomas Levy: “Last year we brought some young artists and we sold nothing. I think [people] are buying well-know names or Chinese art. We sold 2 of 15 pieces. It’s not a disappointment but it could be better. The buyers are from Hong Kong but they are foreign people, no Chinese. It’s a problem of education and no modern art museum in Hong Kong and things like that. We are here to find new clients.”

Greenberg Van Doren Gallery – New York

“We’ve never done any fairs in Asia before. We really just want to get to know some of the collectors in Hong Kong and other cities around here. And I think we have met a ton of people. The sales haven’t been disappointing. Most of the collectors are from Asia and Australia. It’s just a very different set of people.”

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 2010

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 2010

Galerie Forsblom – Helsinki

Karl-Heinz Horbert: “This year’s fair has much more people than last year. Our works have sold in the range of US$8,000 to US$400,000. Hong Kong is an international place and the buyers come from all over the place. The European fairs and the American have a long tradition, that means in the States and in Europe there are serious collectors talking about collection. People buy to keep. Where’s the public museum in Hong Kong? This is the big difference between the European and Hong Kong markets.”

The Modern Institute – Glasgow

“The fair is very well organized, very well attended and the sales have been good. I think overall it’s been very strong. We didn’t have any expectations really because we’ve never done this fair before. We have collectors in Japan and Australia. We don’t have any collectors in China, so coming to the fair we didn’t have any expectations. About eighty percent of the collectors are new. The new collectors are from Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan and some new collectors from Japan. The price ranges from 10, 000 pounds to 100,000 pounds.”

Eslite Gallery – Taipei

Hai-Ping Chang: “The quality of the fair is getting better and better. And there is [a bigger] audience. We brought the works of seven artists from China and Taiwan. The sales are pretty good. Buyers are from Hong Kong and overseas.”

Sakshi Gallery – Mumbai

Geetha Mehra, director: “It’s a very good fair. Well organized, good quality of work. In terms of the sales there’s a bit of conflict from the auction. The buyers are mainly from Asia. The fair has more Asian buyers and more works from the region but overall the quality is as good as anywhere else.”

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery – Sydney

Tony Oxley: “It’s a very good fair. It has a nice Asian flavor. The buyers are from Hong Kong and Europe. We’ve done pretty well with Tracey Moffatt. I think people prefer figurative arts rather than abstract. I think we’ll be coming more often now. The future is here.”

Bernier/Eliades Gallery – Athens

Hidy Lam Hoi Tik: “There are more Asian collectors at this fair. A buyer was from Shanghai, a friend of the artist Wang Xingwei. There’s a trend that collectors start to collect their friends’ works.”

Damien Hirst, Domine, Ne In Furore (Diamond Dust), 2010

Damien Hirst, Domine, Ne In Furore (Diamond Dust), 2010

Hakgojae – Seoul

“Last year was really bad for us. This year is really good. We sold 5 of 21 pieces. Two videos were sold to Hong Kong buyers for $30,000 each on the preview. Song Hyun-Sook’s paintings are really popular with Asian people.”

Thomas Erben Gallery – New York

“This fair is very well organized, very well attended. We don’t have any link [to] Hong Kong and very few of our collectors are from Hong Kong. We’re kind of jumping into cold water [to] see what happens, basically getting new contacts. The sales don’t quite cover the cost yet, but it’s a good start. Many of the buyers are Americans.”

Hanart TZ Gallery – Hong Kong

Marcello Kwan: “We’ve only brought Qiu Anxiong’s video The New Book of Moutains and Seas Part Ⅱ to the fair as we have our galleries in Hong Kong. Videos are a little harder to sell but there is a big audience, so it’s good publicity. Our works are more experimental than commercial. I think we bring something different to the audience.”

Marianne Boesky Gallery – New York

Adrian M. Turner: “We’ve met new people and we made some sales. It’s good. We sold about 10 of 20 pieces. The buyers are mostly from Asia. The prices range from $12,000 to $300, 000.”

Song Hyun-sook, 9brushstrokes, 2003

Song Hyun-sook, 9brushstrokes, 2003

Galerie Zink – Berlin/Munich

“We’ve made some interesting contacts, sold mostly our Asian artists. It’s a little bit tough for young European or international artists from outside Asia to introduce them to people. Our artists are between 27 and 36 [years old]. It’s not that easy to get Asian collectors interested in their work for the first time. Collectors are mainly from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Australia. Yoshitomo Nara’s work sells the best.”

gdm – Paris

Claire Lauverier: “The opening is very social here. People are not here to buy the art works the first day. They are just here to enjoy the party. During the week it’s very low, very quiet, because I think people are working very hard. And during the weekend it’s like an explosion, everybody is coming. In other fairs it’s different. During the opening it’s like everybody is buying everything and afterwards it’s very quiet and very slow. People are much more direct here. If they are interested in buying something they’ll just say I want this, how much? Our buyers are mostly from Hong Kong and [the] mainland as well.”

Ayyam Gallery – Beirut/Damascus/Dubai

Myriam Jakiche, director: “More crowded, less interest selling wise compared to last year. Maybe because there are more galleries so there’s much more choice or something. Those bought are mainly colorful portraits. Buyers are mainly Europeans and Hong Kong people. I’m happy I know more people than last year.”

Gandhara-Art – Hong Kong/Karachi

Amna Naqvi, director: “It was more fabulous this year. We brought 13 pieces and 8 were sold. Buyers are from Asia and Europe. New buyers are from Asia. The price range of the works sold is $1,500 to $50,000.”

Overall, most participant galleries agreed that the quality of art available at ART HK is getting better and there was a much larger audience than last year. Many commented that while the fair is international, there are more Asian collectors and works than at European and US fairs. Notably, these Asian collectors tended to buy Asian works or the big names of international art. When compared with ART HK 09, the Asian galleries were more satisfied with their sales this year.

YNC/KN

Related Topics: business of art, collectors, events – fairs

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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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