Art Taipei 2015 Reached $4.62 Million Sales on VIP Day

The oldest fair in Asia returns.

The site of Tommy Chen’s solo exhibition at Eslite Gallery’s booth. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.
Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

The 22nd Edition of Art Taipei opened on October 29, 2015, at the Taipei World Trade Center, with total sales of NT $150 million ($4.62 million) at the first day’s VIP preview. As the oldest art fair in Asia, Art Taipei has assembled 168 exhibiting galleries for the 2015 edition, exceeding last year’s 145. It has expanded its scope since its inception; among the newcomers this year are 38 are international galleries.

Prior to 2008, Art Taipei was housed in the Huashan 1914 Creative Park—not ideal for galleries and collectors in terms of its location and layout. With a move to Exhibition Hall 1, World Trade Center, sales, the number of visitors, and the number of galleries exhibiting have all grown. This year’s event has expanded to occupy the whole floor of the main Exhibition Hall, almost tripling the space held last year.

According to Emerson Kun-sheng Wang, the Executive Director of Art Taipei 2015, the fair strives to attract more participation from international galleries, with a plan to introduce European galleries next year. Wang states that it’s not Art Taipei’s deliberate intention to be the largest art fair, but that the focus is on improving [Art Taipei’s] quality each year.

Tobias Rehberger, Die Welt kurz vor Erfindung des tiefen Tellers (The world just before the invention of the deep dish) (2014) (left) in the exhibition space. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

Tobias Rehberger, Die Welt kurz vor Erfindung des tiefen Tellers (The world just before the invention of the deep dish) (2014) (left) in the exhibition space. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

For first-time exhibitors, it is difficult to get accustomed to the buying habits of Taiwanese collectors. Some local gallery owners told the artnet News that instead of making purchases the first day, it is normal for many to have a full look the fair, and to compare potential purchases at home before making the final decision to buy.

Wang also said that regarding the tastes of local collectors, the artworks brought by Japanese galleries are consistently well received. Emily Li Chao, the Executive Director of Eslite Gallery, believes that with 35 to 40 years of collecting history, the Taiwanese collectors would prefer to invest on artists and their works out of pure interest, yet the influences from the economic environment and the auction market have contributed to the emergence of buyers who are more concentrated on the market.

Upon its first entry, Galleria Continua (San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/Habana) sensed the difference in Taiwanese collectors’ buying habits, and has therefore brought Loris Cecchini’s wall sculpture Wallwave Vibration (Asynchronous emotion)(2012) at the price of 320,000 RMB ($50,496). A large audience has stopped by to take photos, whereas only Kiki Smith’s Tree with Bird (2009) was sold at the first day during VIP Preview, and others were reserved. According to the gallery, it brought work of Etel Adnan, Qiu Zhijie and Giovanni Ozzola, taking the taste of the local collectors into consideration. The top picks would be the light-colored and non-abstract works with clear topics. Through this fair, they hope to establish connections to local collectors.

Galerie Urs Meile (Beijing/Lucern) brought work by Tobias Rehberger, including two sculptures created especially for Art Taipei. The works, priced at $72,000 and $60,000, are made of colored wax and LED lights, and function as clocks. The gallery has also set up a “tea room:” The world just before the invention of the deep dish, a $170,000 artwork, which allows the collector to adjust the room according to the actual space. The artist was awarded Venice Biennale Golden Lion in 2009 for similar design—Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum Weinen: Coffee Shop Bar (The things you love also make you cry)—a cafeteria of Palazzo delle Exposizioni della Biennale. Also on display are the two paintings and one sculpture by Li Gang, an artist popular among local collectors last year, and the photographs by Yan Xing.

The site of Tommy Chen’s solo exhibition at Eslite Gallery’s booth. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

The site of Tommy Chen’s solo exhibition at Eslite Gallery’s booth.
Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

On its second visit to Art Taipei, Shanghai-based Author Gallery has sold each of the four artworks by Li Hua, for 15,000 – 20,000 RMB ($2,367 – 3,156). Line Gallery from Beijing has sold a 1.8 million RMB ($284,040) painting by Yin Chaoyang the first day, with the buyer a collector from mainland China.

Zao Wou-Ki’s 30 – 7 – 64 sold for the highest price Beijing- and Taipei-based Lin & Lin Gallery saw that day. While the price has not been disclosed, but is estimated to have exceeded multi-million dollar. The gallery managed to have sold a work by Shen Liang at the price of 1.5 million NTD ($46,200) a few hours right after the fair opened, and has replaced it with another work by the same artist right after the sale. The works of Hsiao Chin, who also belongs to the Orient Painting Society, have also been exhibited.

The Asia Art Center which is also based in both Beijing and Taipei has brought Modern and Contemporary works of different styles to the two separate booths. A 70,000 RMB ($11,046) collage work by Hu Weiyi, the reasonable price was set to appeal to more local collectors regarding contemporary artworks. A senior of the gallery told the artnet News that introducing works of diversified styles at different prices has been an active strategy against the dynamic art market.

Members of the Orient Painting Society and the Fifth Moon Art Group in Taiwan who were once active during 1950s are now more appealing to an international market. Artists like Hsiao Chin, Liu Kuo-Sung and Yang Chi-Hung have all performed well on the auction market. The solo exhibition of Tommy Chen (Chen Daoming), a founding member of the Orient Painting Society, was brought by the local Eslite Gallery. Gallery Executive Director Emily Chao said that compared to other members of the group, the importance of Chen’s works had long been overlooked, and they would like to promote him among local and overseas collectors.

Before the fair, the largest work has already been sold to a local collector at the price of 2.8 million NTD ($86,240), and a whopping 40% of Chen’s works were sold at the VIP preview.

Asia Art Center's booth. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

Asia Art Center’s booth.
Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

Also from Taiwan is the Tina Keng Gallery. It has introduce the TKG+ Platform focusing solely on contemporary art. The primal work on display is the not-for-sale Triptych Homage to my friend Jean-Paul Riopelle (late 2003) by Zao Wou-Ki. The father and daughter duo artists Peng Xiancheng and Peng Wei have sold more than 90% of their works two days prior to the fair, among which a large-scale modern ink by Peng Wei was sold 1.95 million RMB ($307,710), and a small ink painting by Peng Xiancheng was sold at 410,000 RMB ($64,698). Three of Peng Wei’s small paintings about embroidered shoes have been sold at 90,000 RMB ($14,202) each during the VIP Preview. Looking at the TKG+ section, Landscape of energy (2014), Yuan Goang-Ming’s work which exhibited at Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon has been priced at 400,000 NTD ($12,320), Kao Chung-Li’s mechanical installation – projector work played for the visitors at regular times and was priced at 200,000 NTD ($6,160).

It is reported that 70% of the artworks have been sold at the VIP preview alone.

With more than 30 years’ operating history, Tina Keng Gallery has seen how Art Taipei has evolved over time. The supervisor of the gallery has been satisfied with the exhibition flow and the space arrangement, whereas some of the frequent visitors of Art Taipei complained about the enormous change in structure, for it is becoming difficult to understand the labyrinthine pathways.

The scale of Art Taipei is approaching Art Basel in Hong Kong, and its sales have been experiencing steady growth in the past two years. Although many Asian galleries with good sales performance have participated this year with important works, there have nevertheless been few top international galleries with cutting-edge contemporary artworks. Many art dealers have told artnet News that the majority of the buyers belong to the local market. Taiwanese buyers are mostly interested in modern and classical art and have very limited acceptance towards contemporary and abstract works. This sector still requires long-term cultivation.

Beijing Commune's booth. Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

Beijing Commune’s booth.
Image: Courtesy of Art Taipei.

On the other hand, Art Basel in Hong Kong has been bought out by MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd, the parent company of Art Basel in 2014, the management differs itself completely from the Taiwan Art Gallery Association. Apart from hosting the art fair, the association is also responsible for the promotions of its gallery members.

During the fair, the establishment of Asia-Pacific Art Galleries Alliance (APAGA) was announced. Eight starting members from Beijing, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan have joined the meeting, aiming to promote the Asian-Pacific galleries to the Western market as a whole. The core cooperation includes the “Asia-Pacific Art Residency” as well as the plans for art fairs.

Art Taipei 2015 closed on November 2, with greater success than in years prior. The new organizers of Art Taipei endeavored to break away from the old path, and the selection of more international galleries as well as the communication with young mainland Chinese collectors has endowed Art Taipei with greater potential in the years to come. (Translated by Chuqiao Liu)

-By Danyu Xu
Editor, artnet News China


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