SHANG­HAI’S THIRST FOR ART

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - In Shang­hai

zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ex­hi­bi­tions have be­come a new in­dus­try in Shang­hai and au­di­ences have demon­strated that they are will­ing to spend to view well or­ga­nized art show­cases. An ex­hi­bi­tion of Monet paint­ings and sketches in Shang­hai last year wel­comed 400,000 peo­ple in 100 days, set­ting a record for visi­tor num­bers at a public ex­hi­bi­tion in the city. This year, Van Gogh Alive, a multi-sen­sory dig­i­tal ex­hi­bi­tion that of­fers visi­tors a glimpse into the Dutch artist’s ideas and life, at­tracted 350,000 visi­tors in 124 days.

Given that en­try to public mu­se­ums in Shang­hai are of­ten free or cost no more than 20 yuan ($3), the fact that peo­ple are will­ing to dish out 100 yuan — the av­er­age cost of these two ex­hi­bi­tions — clearly in­di­cate their thirst for knowl­edge and en­ter­tain­ment.

“There was the time when we were told by the gov­ern­ment what ex­hi­bi­tions we should see,” said Lin Mingjie, a colum­nist and artist. “Then there was the time when crit­ics and scholars told us what is good and what we should see. Now au­di­ences get to de­cide what they think is worth­while by buy­ing tick­ets to ex­hi­bi­tions.”

Zhou Yi, pres­i­dent of GT Cul­ture, a new com­pany that brought the Van Gogh ex­hi­bi­tion to China, be­lieves that the ex­hi­bi­tion in­dus­try will grow sig­nif­i­cantly in the com­ing few years as op­er­a­tion costs and ticket prices are ex­pected to drop. She com­pared the mo­men­tum of this in­dus­try to that of China’s film mar­ket, which re­cently cel­e­brated reg­is­ter­ing an­nual box of­fice rev­enues of 30 bil­lion yuan in 2014, triple the amount made in 2010. In­dus­try in­sid­ers be­lieve that the rev­enue for 2015 will hit 41 bil­lion yuan.

Xie Ding­wei, pres­i­dent of Shang­hai Tix Media Co Ltd, which or­ga­nized the Monet ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai last year, said that its suc­cess en­cour­aged the com­pany to hold more ex­hi­bi­tions. One of the up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tions by Tix is “Dali’s Fan­tas­tic Uni­verse”, which show­cases about 300 art works, in­clud­ing bronze sculp­tures, paint­ings, jew­el­ries, glass art and fur­ni­ture, by Span­ish sur­re­al­ist artist Sal­vadore Dali. The ex­hi­bi­tion will take place on the fourth floor of Bund 18 from Sept 26 to Jan 10, 2016.

Another Sal­vadore Dali ex­hi­bi­tion is “Media Dali”, which will be held at the Shang­hai K11 Art Mall from Nov 5 to Feb 14, 2016. The Gala-Salvador Dali Foun­da­tion, founded by Dali him­self in 1983, claimed that this show­case will be the “only Dali ex­hi­bi­tion in China to be au­tho­rized by the foun­da­tion since 2001”. Juan Sevil­lano, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the foun­da­tion, had made his way to China in July for the sole pur­pose of an­nounc­ing the up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion.

Visi­tors to “Media Dali” will get to learn about the artist’s in­volve­ment with media and pub­lic­ity and view 12 of his orig­i­nal paint­ings as well as a re­pro­duc­tion of his work­ing en­vi­ron­ment that fea­tures some of the orig­i­nal uten­sils from his stu­dio.

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on po­ten­tial

Jia Bu, a Shang­hai-based re­searcher and cu­ra­tor of con­tem­po­rary art, re­cently launched her new book “Times of Fea­ture Ex­hi­bi­tion”, which touches on the trends in the ex­hi­bi­tion in­dus­try in Shang­hai. In her book, Jia high­lighted the po­ten­tial of Shang­hai’s in­dus­try by draw­ing a com­par­i­son with Taipei’s ex­hi­bi­tion scene. The cap­i­tal city of Tai­wan has a pop­u­la­tion of only 2.6 mil­lion, about a tenth of Shang­hai, but it man­ages to hold dozens of fea­ture ex­hi­bi­tions ev­ery

Lin Mingjie, year, with each draw­ing up to 200,000 visi­tors.

“Shang­hai is now cul­ti­vat­ing the con­sump­tion cus­tom for ex­hi­bi­tions. The busi­ness growth is fore­see­able,” Jia said.

The com­pa­nies be­hind the two Sal­vadore Dali ex­hi­bi­tions were ac­tu­ally once busi­ness part­ners — Tix was the firm that brought the Monet works to Shang­hai while K11 was the venue for the show. Ini­tially, it seemed like an un­usu­ally bold move to hold the ex­hi­bi­tion in the base­ment of a com­mer­cial mall, but its suc­cess has since spurred oth­ers to fol­low suit.

Reel, an up­scale mall in Shang­hai’s prime shop­ping dis­trict on Nan­jing West Road, will be hold­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion of print works by Span­ish artist Joan Miro from Oct 31 to Jan 3, 2016. Miro (1893-1983) is rec­og­nized as a sur­re­al­is­tic artist whose works are about the sub­con­scious mind and child-like imag­ism.

This ex­hi­bi­tion will be or­ga­nized by the Shang­hai FTZ In­ter­na­tional Art­work Ex­change Cen­ter (SFIAE), a state-owned en­ter­prise lo­cated at the China (Shang­hai) Pi­lot Free Trade Zone.

The cen­ter is build­ing the world’s largest bonded ware­house of art works and it will be equipped with a highly ad­vanced se­cu­rity sys­tem cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Un­der­writ­ers Lab­o­ra­to­ries, whose draft of safety stan­dards are widely rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally. Later this year in Novem­ber, the cen­ter will celebrate its of­fi­cial open­ing, in­tro­duc­ing it­self as a test bed in China’s ex­plo­ration of in­ter­na­tional art trad­ing.

With the in­creased amount of art im­port and ex­port through Shang­hai, SFIAE hopes to pro­vide its ser­vices to gal­leries, mu­se­ums, and auc­tion houses in the coun­try, fa­cil­i­tat­ing cus­tom pro­ce­dures and ini­ti­at­ing an ef­fi­cient, le­gal and safe trans­ac­tion of art­works. The Miro ex­hi­bi­tion will be the maiden demon­stra­tion of SFIAE’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Fam­ily-ori­ented ex­hi­bi­tions

Zhou of GT Cul­ture said that her com­pany is also look­ing to hold qual­ity ex­hi­bi­tions for fam­i­lies, cit­ing that ex­ist­ing projects by other com­pa­nies are usu­ally plagued by a lack of bud­get. One pro­ject they are work­ing on is an ex­hi­bi­tion of Dan­ish au­thor Chris­tian An­der­son’s fairy­tales. The com­pany is col­lab­o­rat­ing with a re­puted il­lus­tra­tor to cre­ate im­ages of the clas­si­cal char­ac­ters in the fairy­tales and the ex­pen­sive show­case is ex­pected to go on tour across China.

“Par­ents want to spend qual­ity time with their kids. They want to take their chil­dren to ex­hi­bi­tions that ev­ery­one will find in­ter­est­ing and en­ter­tain­ing,” said Zhou.

“Now when ev­ery­body talks about Snow White, Dis­ney’s im­age comes to mind. We’d like to cre­ate a sig­na­ture im­age for The Lit­tle Match Girl too. It will be an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence and grownups will be in­volved as well,” added Zhou.

Right now, ex­hi­bi­tion or­ga­niz­ers are crack­ing their brains to fig­ure out what ex­actly the au­di­ence wants to see. Get­ting it wrong could mean se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial losses as trans­porta­tion, in­sur­ance and venue rental costs can be ex­or­bi­tant. A pre­vi­ous ex­hi­bi­tion of film props from the James Bond fran­chise, which or­ga­nizer Tix Media ex­pected to be pop­u­lar, per­formed un­der ex­pec­ta­tions.

“China’s mar­ket is evolv­ing so rapidly, and in the age of the In­ter­net, public opin­ions turn sharply ev­ery day. This forces the in­dus­try to keep in­no­vat­ing,” said Zhou.

“You have to give au­di­ences some­thing they’ve never seen,” Lin added. “But at the same time it must not be some­thing that’s too strange.”

You have to give au­di­ences some­thing they’ve never seen. But at the same time it must not be some­thing that’s too strange.”

artist

a colum­nist and

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Van Gogh Alive, a multi-sen­sory dig­i­tal ex­hi­bi­tion, at­tracted 350,000 visi­tors in 124 days this year in Shang­hai.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

The ex­hi­bi­tion of Monet paint­ings and sketches in Shang­hai last year wel­comed about 400,000 peo­ple in 100 days.

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