Art Taipei: Harvest season for the Asian art scene

 Taipei  |  27 December 2016  |  AMA  |  Tweet  |  LinkedIn

Art Taipei, taking advantage of its geographic location at the centre of the South East Asia, could boast of another fruitful year by the time it concluded on 15 November. For this edition, it welcomed 150 participants with 30,000 visitors. The fair also drew a record number of newcomers: 55 applicant galleries from which 38 were finally selected.

Created 23 years ago, Art Taipei has positioned itself as a platform for the promotion of Taiwanese artists and local culture. After years of development, it has eventually grown into one of the largest platforms for South East Asian Art, where galleries show major Asian art movements and feature representative artists.

Beginning with local galleries, Soka Art Center highlighted the works of Hong Ling, an artist who imports the Western medium of oil-on-canvas to draw landscapes and illustrate philosophies from Chinese artistic heritage. Offering a contribution to the world of Chinese landscape painting that is unparalleled in its vibrancy, he is considered as one of the most important figures in Chinese contemporary-art history. In addition, with the support of Soka Art Center and the UNEEC Culture and Education Foundation, a touring Hong Ling retrospective was launched successively at the Brunei Gallery of SOAS University of London and the Chester Beatty Library in Ireland in July, and will continue until next January providing an excellent echo to the fair exhibition. To show its deep roots in the Asian art scene as the first Taiwanese gallery to open a branch in mainland China, Soka Art also brought a group of established artists, such as Liang Quan, Kusama Yayoi and Yoshitomo Nara, as well as emergent artists like Hsi Shih-Pin and Mitsuhiro Ikeda.

Lin&Lin Gallery proposed an eclectic list with various works from artists from the 1950s and 1960s as well as younger artists. Highlights include the works of Chen Chieh-Jen, who featured a photograph series “Realm of Reverberations:The Ritual of Film Screening”, which scrutinizes a social movement supporting the preservation of sanatoriums. The artist already has an international reputation as his solo shows have been organized in international cultural institutions such as the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Asia Society in New York, the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris, and several Biennales in Venice, Lyon, Liverpool, Shanghai, etc.

Those interested in Taiwan’s modern art history would not have missed Chini Gallery, which presented works by Huo Gang, one of the founders of an important modernism movement in Chinese art history in the 1950s and 1960s in Taiwan: the “Oriental School”. Deeply impressed by Pollock and Klee who made use of Oriental characters, his works are full of explorations into Chinese calligraphy and cultural totems as well as objets d’art.

Korean and Japanese participants also composed an important part of the fair: 42 exhibitors out of a total of 150. Collectors in search of “Gutai” would have been able to find their heart stoppers at Tomio Koyama Gallery, White Stone Gallery and Yoshiaki Inoue Gallery. The Pyo Gallery stand was also very attractive thanks to the two stars: Lee Ufan and Chun Kwang Young, a sculptor known for his constructions made out of Korean mulberry paper. Meanwhile, Nichido Gallery, created in 1928 as a protagonist in the promotion of European art, especially French impressionist artists, in Japan, brought works of Ryuzaburo Umehara – an artist who went to Paris to train in Western art and was even complimented by Renoir for his colourful paintings. Apart from classical artists, the gallery has a space specially dedicated to contemporary artists. This gallery is also the creator of the Showa-kai Award, a yearly prize that since 1966 has honoured young artists and shared their work with the public and collectors.

Besides the three major markets in Taiwan, Japan and Korea, the fair was diversified by works from other parts of Asia thanks to S.A.C. Gallery Bangkok (Thailand), G13 Gallery(Malaysia), Opera Gallery (Singapore), Edwin’s Gallery(Indonesia) and Tonyraka Art Gallery (Indonesia). It’s worth noting that Opera Gallery brought a list of important international artists such as Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Bernard Buffet. Why not a choice of Asian artists in a art fair honouring Asian arts? The gallery manager, Irene Chee from Singapore, explained: “This ‘regional’ Asian art fair is actually extending and internationalizing. For this reason, the gallery presented an attractive list of artists with world reputations to satisfy the growing appetite of Asian collectors.”

Also blowing in Western breezes, visitors had the opportunity to admire works by Antony Gomley and Giovanni Ozzola at Continua Beijing, as well as Tim Eitel and Carsten Nicolai at Galerie EIGEN + ART.

As for market performance, the fair posted strong sales.  Sales results were generally encouraging, especially for Taiwanese galleries. Several galleries such as Cave Gallery, Admira Gallery and Yiris Arts achieved almost 80% in sales volumes. “Since we started attending Art Taipei, we’ve always been satisfied with the sales results. During the fair, we also organize parallel exhibitions in our gallery so that there can be a focus on both young and established artists.” confirmed Lin&Lin Gallery. “Taiwan’s art market is relatively more mature than other Asian areas. However, the fair remains a potential place for increasing acceptance of new art forms. And we are glad to play this role in introducing avant-garde arts and international contemporary artistic movements.”

Despite the numerous established artists supporting the fair’s market performance, Art Taipei does not define itself as a successful fair by this standard only. It also makes efforts to create dialogues between young and established artists. The section “Made in Taiwan—New Taiwanese Artists” presented a list of energetic works, such as the “Reborn Tree” project which extends exploration of the link between biological and non-biological materials by Chuang Chih-Wei. The annual event is a colourful window opening on the world of young Taiwanese artists, strongly endorsed by public cultural institutions. The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts acquires some works in this section every year to boost Taiwan’s contemporary art.

The fair has also made efforts to diversify the way in which art is presented to the public. In the exhibition hall were several public art works such as sculptures by Patricia Piccinini and Gianfranco Meggiato. The notion of technology was also included in the fair’s curation: artworks respectively introduced innovative forms and artistic languages via technological products, offering visitors a profound artistic experience. Fashion artist Timm Wu used projection and diverse designs enabled by audio-visual software to re-conceptualize technology through fashion and humanistic thinking.

Art Taipei provides much more than an artistic platform, but serves as a source of inspiration for the arts and a pioneering outpost of industry trends. It furthermore offers a precious opportunity for the world to see Taiwan’s diverse and unique indigenous contemporary art. While it is growing into a big world-scale fair, it is preserving its Asian art-encrypted DNA, and nothing is more beautiful than this.

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