Taipei Dangdai’s New Online Platform Aims to Keep International Dealers Connected to the Asian Art Market as the Region Slowly Reopens

Dozens of dealers who showed at the most recent Taipei Dangdai art fair in January are taking part in the initiative.

Left, Arx Lee, Girl from the H Family (2019). Right, Arx Lee, I AM BILIBI (2008). Image courtesy the artist and Tang Contemporary Art, Hong Kong.

While the art industry is now largely focused on Frieze New York as a barometer for the viability of virtual fairs, the best indicator of what the Asian market may look like in the near future comes courtesy of Taipei Connections, the current online initiative of the Taipei Dangdai art fair, which had its most recent in-person edition in January.

So what exactly is Taipei Connections? “This is not an online fair,” says Magnus Renfrew, the fair’s founder. “It is more to provide a focal point for galleries to proactively get in touch with the people that they met in January, to keep the conversations going, and to share elements of their programming both through the online platform, and through the live-streaming program of talks which has received a great response.”

The initiative—which does include viewing rooms and the ability to inquire about purchases—continues through May 10.

“We wanted to initiate something that could try to help bring our galleries and our audiences closer together,” Renfrew added, noting that the whole initiative came together very quickly: in less than a month, from inception to execution.

Dagoberto Rodríguez Corredor 17 (2019
) Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid

Dagoberto Rodríguez, Corredor 17 (2019
). Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid.

According to the event’s organizers, as of May 6, there have been more than 60,000 total visits to the site, mostly from users in Taiwan, with strong contingents from Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Mainland China, as well as Europe and the United States. Live-streamed events thus far have garnered more than 14,600 views.

Roughly 85 percent of the fair’s 99 exhibitors from its January edition took up the invitation to participate.

To date, exhibitors surveyed by Artnet News shared positive feedback, if not actual sales information. Event organizers say they have fielded reports from galleries on sales ranging from five to six figures in US dollars.

“It’s a significant effort from the fair organizers that is very much appreciated,” said Jal Hamad, director of Madrid’s Sabrina Amrani Gallery. “We are aware that sales at this moment are quite hard to achieve, so our main goal was to present and promote our artists, while reconnecting with the Taipei Dangdai audience, and extending our commitment to the fair and to the region.”

Darren Almond, Karasakii Night Fall (2020). Image courtesy the artist and White Cube Gallery.

Darren Almond, Karasakii Night Fall (2020). Image courtesy the artist and White Cube Gallery.

Laura Zhou, director of Asia for the White Cube gallery, called the initiative “an immensely valuable channel to remain connected with the collectors in this market at a time when we are all restricted in our ability to travel, socialize, and network.” She added that the gallery “will continue to adopt more of these online engagement channels alongside the face-to-face interactions that are made during art fairs and our gallery exhibitions.”

“We do think the Asian market is gradually picking up,” added Cindy Lim of the Tang Contemporary gallery in Hong Kong. “We managed to sell a couple of works by Zhao Zhao, Qin Qi, and Arx Lee, to name a few, to [collectors in] China, Europe, and the US in spring 2020.” Lim added that with the right pricing strategy and high-quality works, “clients still commit to sales quickly.”

While the gallery has reopened its two Beijing locations in the 798 art district, its Bangkok locations remain closed due to Thailand’s lockdown measures.

“Our gallery director, Zheng Lin, firmly believes that exhibitions and programs are a crucial power driver in the recovery of the art market and getting our lives back onto the normal track,” she said.

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