The opening night of the SH Contemporary Art Fair in Shanghai was a great success. Upon entering visitors were greeted by an artist who passed out a snack of rice with a hidden message among the grains-- "Rich Bastards Beware.'' Oddly enough, the 'fair-warning' by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija was warranted! For example, collectors paid as much as 150,000 yuan ($19,885) for the work of emerging artist Qiu Xin.
Collectors and critics know that China is a rising star in the global art market. The Shanghai Fair served as a test of that stability and of the vitality of China within the context of the global art market. On the opening night, leading Chinese artists made the highest sells when compared to artists from other nations. Those who attended agree that China's influence on the art market will not stop anytime soon.
Fair director Lorenzo Rudolph, a former director of Art Basel, and Swiss dealer Pierre Huber, the curator, organized more than 110 galleries from around the world. About a third of the galleries represented at the fair are from China and the rest were foreign galleries that focus on Chinese art. Event organizers made it clear that the fair would represent the best and brightest of artists from China.
An interesting aspect of the fair is the fact that the galleries from China, which represented artists working from within the country, out-sold the Chinese artists represented by foreign galleries. Again, this is a reflection of the art-boom in China. Collectors desire work from Chinese artists who live and work in China. I find it interesting how Chinese artists living outside of China were not as sought after by collectors.
Not everyone was pleased with the fair. Some viewers felt that the majority of the work, though fulfilling the purpose of spot-lighting contemporary Asian artists, catered toward the current trends that Western viewers enjoy-- trends that embrace kitsch mingled with sex. What can I say, sex sales! If the market for contemporary art from China continues to grow-- you had better be buying!
Take care, Stay true,