Ex­perts form group to tackle prob­lems in Shang­hai’s art mar­ket

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHANG KUN in Shang­hai zhangkun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

De­spite the flurry of open­ings of ex­hi­bi­tions and art cen­ters in re­cent months, Shang­hai’s art deal­ers have in con­trast been af­fected by a slow­ing art mar­ket.

Eight own­ers and man­agers of lead­ing gal­leries in town gath­ered for a salon at the new na­tional cul­tural in­no­va­tive cen­ter in Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity, to share their ob­ser­va­tions and pro­jec­tions for the art mar­ket in China. The salon, which will fo­cus on top­ics re­lated to cul­tural in­no­va­tion, will take place at the cen­ter reg­u­larly from now.

Ac­cord­ing to re­searcher Tang Yun­bing of Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity, the city’s GDP per capita had risen to $10,000 in 2014 and a se­ries of im­por­tant art shows were also held in Shang­hai that year. These two fac­tors, he said, sug­gested that “Shang­hai may have cul­ti­vated a be­nign ecol­ogy of its art mar­ket”.

Fur­ther­more, a se­ries of art fairs and ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tions, such as ART021, Shang­hai Art Fair, the on­go­ing Shang­hai Bi­en­nale and the In­ter­na­tional Fair of Con­tem­po­rary Art have all achieved good sales vol­ume and pos­i­tive feed­back from crit­ics, added Tang.

How­ever, Hua Yuzhou, the founder of Hua’s Gallery, did not share the same sen­ti­ments. He said that the Chi­nese art mar­ket boom in 2006 drew mostly in­vestors in­stead of art lovers and that many of those who were quick to snap up art works for profit ended up los­ing money when the bub­ble burst a few years later.

One thing that all the gallery man­agers agreed on was that it is mainly the af­flu­ent Chi­nese who buy art to­day. The gen­eral pub­lic, on the other hand, still lack knowl­edge on art ap­pre­ci­a­tion, as ev­i­denced by how many vis­i­tors touched art works dur­ing the Shang­hai Art Fair, dam­ag­ing two pieces in the process.

Wang Zi, the di­rec­tor of An­tenna Art Cen­ter, pointed out that Shang­hai’s art en­vi­ron­ment is not as pros­per­ous as peo­ple think it is and noted that most mu­se­ums and art spa­ces in Shang­hai do not even have pro­fes­sional teams to cu­rate and pro­duce ex­hi­bi­tions.

With a lack of gallery spa­ces for young artists to ex­hibit their works, Wang be­lieves that most of their art will in­stead end up in the hands of pri­vate col­lec­tors and auc­tion houses, re­sult­ing in a fur­ther lack of pub­lic ex­po­sure to art.

To ad­dress this dearth in art ex­po­sure, Zhang Yongkang, the founder of Shang­hai Huizhen Cul­ture Co Ltd, said that he trans­formed his com­pany from a gallery busi­ness to one that deals with in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion.

“We worked with star-rated ho­tels and pri­vate clubs, invit­ing stu­dents and teach­ers from art schools to cre­ate the de­signs and art­works,” said Zhang of his busi­ness model.

The gallery man­agers also agreed that China’s art mar­ket will re­cover and en­joy pros­per­ity in the long run, cit­ing how new art mu­se­ums are cur­rently be­ing built all over the coun­try and how pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions in Shang­hai have achieved con­sid­er­able growth in re­cent years.

“They are all look­ing for good art. When China’s econ­omy bounces back up, the art mar­ket will grow in tan­dem,” said Cai Pengcheng, pres­i­dent of Shang­hai Ao Sai Art trad­ing Co Ltd.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

Eight land­scape photographers are cur­rently show­cas­ing their works at the Cap­tur­ing Fan­tasy ex­hi­bi­tion held in the Shang­hai World Fi­nan­cial Cen­ter. A to­tal of 96 images of views from around the world are on ex­hibit and vis­i­tors can learn about the sto­ries be­hind these pho­tos by watch­ing a video.

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