Asia Now, the only art fair in Europe ded­i­cated to Asian con­tem­po­rary art, re­turned for its sec­ond edi­tion last Oc­to­ber dur­ing Paris Art Week.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Global Luxury - By DIONNE BEL

A lexan­dra Fain, direc­tor and co­founder of Asia Now, fell in love with Asian art in 2010 while trav­el­ling in China. When the Ey­jaf­jal­la­jokull vol­cano in Ice­land erupted and all flights to Europe were can­celled, she was obliged to stay in Beijing for two weeks longer than planned. She spent her time vis­it­ing gal­leries and artist stu­dios. Upon her re­turn to France, she no­ticed that there was a ma­jor gap in the Euro­pean mar­ket, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the strong his­toric ties link­ing France and Asia. There­after, she started tour­ing Asia, fos­ter­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal artists and cu­ra­tors. Through Asia Now, she aims to shed light on the vast range of artists and en­cour­age au­di­ences to re­think Asian con­tem­po­rary art with­out the stereo­types usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with it.

Its bou­tique size en­cour­ages close com­mu­ni­ca­tion among artists, gal­leries and col­lec­tors. Asia Now is a show­case of the di­ver­sity and vi­tal­ity of the Asian art scene, from in­stal­la­tion, video and pho­tog­ra­phy to sculp­ture, paint­ing and draw­ing. Tak­ing place within the in­ti­mate set­ting of a Hauss­mann build­ing in the eighth ar­rondisse­ment that al­lowed over 13,000 vis­i­tors to wan­der from one room to an­other, the lat­est edi­tion brought to­gether over 150 well-known and young artists rep­re­sented by 34 gal­leries (up from 18 in 2015) from more than 13 coun­tries.

Fain states: “We d idn’t want to present block­busters, but to push lesser-known young artists and to al­low them to meet col­lec­tors, with af­ford­able art­works, around €10,000 (S$15,000). In 2015, Li Wei cre­ated an in­stal­la­tion with 1,000 chicks and

Asia Now is a show­case of the di­ver­sity and vi­tal­ity of the Asian art sc ene.

vis­i­tors could buy one for only €200! What is re­ally in­ter­est­ing this year (2016) is the out­stand­ing se­lec­tion of fe­male artists, who make up al­most 30 per cent of our ex­hibit­ing artists – some­thing that is quite un­com­mon for the fair scene. I am par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about our in­ter­na­tional per­for­mances from artists such as Sin­ga­pore-based Teow Yue Han, Ja­panese artists Lei Saito and Tsuneko Ta­ni­uchi, River Lin from Tai­wan and Chi Hon­grui from China.”

Two gal­leries with spa­ces in Sin­ga­pore par­tic­i­pated in the fair: Yeo Work­shop pre­sent­ing Santi Wangchuan’s works us­ing var­i­ous forms of tex­tiles, and Sun­daram Tagore Gallery fea­tur­ing Hiroshi Senju, Kamol­pan Chotvichai, Miya Ando, Kim Joon, So­han Qadri and Tayeba Begum Lipi.


Founded in 2009 by Zi­wei and An­thony Phuong, A2Z Art Gallery, with spa­ces in Hong Kong and Paris, acts as a bridge con­nect­ing the Euro­pean and Asian art scenes through its artists – mostly of Asian ori­gin, born or liv­ing in France – who re­veal the di­ver­sity and rich­ness of a glob­alised

“What is re­ally in­ter­est­ing is that we have an out­stand­ing se­lec­tion of fe­male artists.”

so­ci­ety. It ex­hib­ited four artists rep­re­sent­ing the cur­rent state of Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art – Chen Wei, Ji Jun, Jiang Zhuyun and Zhou Yilun – and its im­mensely pop­u­lar 44-year-old French artist of Viet­namese ori­gin, Hom Nguyen, with his mon­u­men­tal char­coal on can­vas pieces en­ti­tled In­ner Cry. Al­ways fo­cus­ing on the hu­man fig­ure, he of­fers his rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the celebri­ties of our time like Mick Jagger or Bruce Lee, or raises aware­ness of is­sues of im­mi­gra­tion and iden­tity through his por­traits con­structed of what ap­pear to be dis­or­dered lines, but in re­al­ity are the re­sult of skilled tech­ni­cal con­trol and pre­ci­sion.

Of par­tic­u­lar note is his re­cent se­ries of “masks” por­tray­ing the faces o f Asian chil­dren devoid o f mouths that rep­re­sent the plight of Asian im­mi­grants in France who are de­prived of the right to speak, which he drew re­ly­ing solely on his mem­ory and the emo­tions

of the mo­ment. He says: “It’s not their beauty or rep­u­ta­tion that in­ter­est me, but their ex­pres­sion. Their phys­iog­nomy, feel­ings and emo­tions are re­flected.”


Es­tab­lished by Chi­nese artist and busi­ness­man Zheng Lin in 1997 in Bangkok, fol­lowed by spa­ces in Beijing and Hong Kong, the gallery aims to ini­ti­ate di­a­logue be­tween artists, cu­ra­tors, col­lec­tors and in­sti­tu­tions lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. Known for its suc­cess­ful cul­ti­va­tion of young artists and col­lec­tors in China, it dis­played a se­lec­tion of re­cent and new works of sculp­ture, paint­ing and mixed me­dia in­stal­la­tions by up- and- com­ing Chi­nese artists Zhao Zhao, Cai Lei and Xu Qu, who have gained world­wide at­ten­tion for tack­ling China’s com­plex so­cioe­co­nomic dy­nam­ics. An eye­catch­ing piece was the Frag­ments brass in­stal­la­tion re­sem­bling a cracked mir­ror by 34-year-old Zhao. He is con­sid­ered a sig­nif­i­cant fig­ure among the post-1980s gen­er­a­tion of Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary artists thanks to his provoca­tive mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary prac­tice that dis­plays anti-au­thor­i­tar­ian or non­con­formist ten­den­cies.


Par­tic­i­pat­ing f or t he f irst t ime at Asia Now, the Tokyo-based gallery – founded last Septem­ber by Mut­sumi Urano – ex­hib­ited Toshiyuki Kon­ishi, Ishu Han and Takahiro Iwasaki. A lead­ing fig­ure of the Ja­panese con­tem­po­rary art scene and re­cently nom­i­nated to rep­re­sent Ja­pan at Venice Bi­en­nale 2017, Iwasaki trans­forms ev­ery­day items such as tooth­brushes, tow­els and books into minia­ture sculp­tures. Born in Hiroshima in 1975, his fan­tas­ti­cal, de­tailed and del­i­cate land­scapes stem from his con­cern for the fragility of cities. His Tec­tonic Model de­picts a crane made of glued thread at­tached to a copy of An­toine de Saint-ex­u­pery’s Le Petit Prince – it’s so mi­nus­cule in size, you won­der how it was cre­ated.


Cu­rated by Magda Danysz and com­mis­sioned by iconic French

An eye- catch­ing piece was the Frag­ments brass in­stal­la­tion re­sem­bling a cracked mir­ror.

lin­gerie brand Etam to cel­e­brate its cen­te­nary – 100 years dur­ing which it has sup­ported women’s eman­ci­pa­tion – the ex­hi­bi­tion unit­ing art and phi­lan­thropy fea­tured works based on the theme of women’s in­de­pen­dence in a wide range of me­dia by 13 male and fe­male artists, which were sub­se­quently sold at a char­ity auc­tion f or t he Naked Heart Foun­da­tion founded by su­per­model Natalia Vo­di­anova. Re­flect­ing Etam’s in­ter­na­tional di­men­sion, par­tic­i­pants ranged from Chi­nese mul­ti­me­dia artist Yi Zhou and Dutch pho­tog­ra­pher Erwin Olaf to Amer­i­can duo Faile and Colom­bian ris­ing tal­ent Daniel Otero Tor­res.

Beijing- based artist Li Hongbo’s piece ap­peared to be a clas­si­cal mar­ble sculp­ture, but is ac­tu­ally formed from thou­sands of sheets of pa­per glued to­gether in a hon­ey­comb struc­ture, then sculpted in the shape of a hu­man bust from an­cient Greece, which can be lifted up and stretched like a Slinky. Known for his In­vis­i­ble Man photo-per­for­mance where he paints him­self into the back­drop so that he prac­ti­cally dis­ap­pears in an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion, Liu Bolin gath­ered tes­ti­monies and ob­jects from 100 women that he then used to cre­ate an in­stal­la­tion, posed in front of it, blended in and van­ished.


An ad­vo­cate for the use of in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies in art with the first vir­tual mu­seum cre­ated in 2007 on the Web, Dslcollection by Syl­vain and Do­minique Levy, col­lec­tors of Chi­nese con­tem­po­rary art for the past 30 years, un­veiled its lat­est project de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ikonospace: a world-first sneak peek of its col­lec­tion in vir­tual re­al­ity.

The ar­rival of vir­tual re­al­ity in ad­di­tion to the grow­ing ef­fi­ciency of 3D graph­ics and mo­bile tech­nol­ogy has pro­foundly changed the way the art world and mar­ket can in­ter­act with the pub­lic on­line.

The project marked the in­tro­duc­tion of Ikonospace’s flag­ship prod­uct, Ikono Pro, a dig­i­tal art ex­hi­bi­tion soft­ware that of­fers the tools nec­es­sary for de­sign­ing, cu­rat­ing and mar­ket­ing ex­hi­bi­tions in a 3D vir­tual uni­verse that closely mir­rors ac­tual phys­i­cal art gallery spa­ces. It proved to be an ex­clu­sive pre­view of what the fu­ture of the art world holds in the dig­i­tal age. www.asianow­ †

Beijing-based Fa­bien Fryns Fine Art pre­sented a se­lec­tion of art­works by Li Wei, such as th­ese two in­stal­la­tions called A Lit­tle Boy and Pet. Fac­ing page from left: Wa­ter­fowl by Xu Zhe of ifa Gallery; Two Ajum­mas by Hein-kuhn Oh of Choi&lager Gallery.

From above: Teach­ing Aid by Li Hongbo of Women’s In­de­pen­dence; Un­der Heaven by Xu Zhen of Madein Gallery.

Ag­gre­ga­tion com­prises mil­lions of small pieces com­posed by Korean artist Seonghi Bahk to blur the bound­ary be­tween the ab­stract and the con­crete in terms of per­cep­tion.

Shang Xia and Christie’s jointly showed 12 of the de­sign firm’s pieces that had not been seen be­fore. Fac­ing page: an­other work in the Ag­gre­ga­tion se­ries.

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