The Chinese Contemporary art market has caromed between international attention and domestic buyers seemingly trying to stay one step ahead of the market momentum. Early buyers were in the West. But after a precipitous rise and the global credit crisis, the market’s center moved back to Asia where new wealth sought values that would make living Chinese artists the price peers of some Western painters. But that was only for a handful of artists. This week in London, it would appear that the cycle is turning and two separate trends from opposite sides of the globe are converging to promote a new set of names into prominence.
The South China Morning Post explains how a new middle-class market for Chinese Contemporary is supporting these painters:
Feng Ying, a manager of Beijing’s Space Station art gallery, said the biggest change in the industry in recent years was the increasing number of new collectors.
“They are very different from pure investors,” she said. “They are not very rich. They could come from all walks of life, working as architects, designers, doctors, lawyers or white collar workers. Their budget for a painting may be just tens of thousands of bucks. But they are real art lovers. They do a lot of research on the artists and go to many exhibitions. They have their own taste for art.”
And Colin Gleadell points to first-tier London galleries like Hauser & Wirth that are trying to catch them up to their price peers:
Seven years ago, [Zhang Enli’s] paintings were selling through the Shanghart gallery for up to $10,000 each. Since then, Hauser & Wirth have raised his profile and his prices. Their current exhibition has almost sold out, with prices ranging from $100,000 to $350,000. Even though the artist works in Shanghai, many of the buyers have come from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. Temporary Space, for instance, has been bought by a collector who is building a private museum in Shanghai; the painted box room has been sold to the Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing.
At White Cube’s Bermondsey space, in south-east London, is an intriguing array of objects by 27-year-old conceptual artist, He Xiangyu from Beijing. Heaped mounds of earth-like matter are part of He’s Cola Project, for which he boiled down 127 tons of Coca-Cola to make paintings or sculptures (from $10,000), while a life-size but soft military tank, sewn together from luxury Italian leather as a comment on the relationship between political and economic power, is priced at $520,000.
“We want to show work by artists from all over the world, and there are a lot of interesting artists in China that we are finding out about,” says the gallery’s director of exhibitions, Tim Marlow.
In their converted power station gallery in St James’s this evening, 47 year-old Beijing artist Liu Wei will present recycled materials transformed into complex architectural sculptures, and large digitally designed abstract paintings which are priced between $78,000 and $680,000 each.
China’s contemporary art gets a boost from the sandwich class (South China Morning Post)
Art Sales: Get ready for the February rush (Telegraph)