At Taipei Dangdai, Dealers Report Swift Sales and Sold-Out Booths, a Strong Sign for the Growing Regional Market

Buyers tended to be under 50, and showed a particularly strong interest in international art.

Visitors on site at Taipei Dangdai 2022. Photo courtesy of Taipei Dangdai 2022.

With Art Basel Hong Kong opening later this week, the art market has been looking for clues as to how ongoing travel restrictions and pandemic safety measures across Asia might affect sales. 

Offering a reassuringly sunny forecast, strong sales were reported across the board at last week’s Taipei Dangdai despite Taiwan’s borders remaining closed to most international visitors. The two-years-delayed and downsized third edition welcomed some 22,000 visitors over four days, from May 19 to 22, even as the country’s virus cases rocket to an all-time high. 

Crucially, the local market has proven to have a bigger appetite than many had expected. “Within the first 30 minutes of the VIP preview, INKstudio concluded the sale of Peng Kanglong’s monumental hanging scroll Ode to the Might Peak, which sold for 10,000,000 TWD ($338,269) to a major Taiwan collector,” said Craig Yee, one of INKstudio’s co-founders. 

Visitors on site at Taipei Dangdai 2022. Photo courtesy of Taipei Dangdai 2022.

Of the 62 galleries that took part, close to half hailed from Taiwan. The Taipei-based Lin and Lin Gallery also enjoyed strong sales, which surpassed NTD 20,000,000 ($676,892) on day one, with buyers found for all its exhibited artists and every work snapped up by both Zhao Zhao and Huang Chia-Ning. The gallery even expanded their collector base internationally, welcoming new interest from the U.S. and Europe.

Of the consistently bustling crowd, Soka Art, from nearby Tainan, said, “we found that young collectors have been quite active at art fairs in recent years. The collectors we met this time were between 30 and 45 years old.” The observation reflects the rise of the wealthy young collector in Asia, a trend that is no doubt exacerbated by the pandemic.

Despite selling out its solo presentation of the Chinese artist Zhang Yingnan before it had opened, the gallery also told Artnet News, “at present, young collectors seem to be more interested in foreign galleries and artists, including Japan, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.”

Galleries coming from further afield participated remotely via assigned local representatives, but they have welcomed the opportunity to reach a ready market. “It’s been great for us to officially introduce our artists to Taiwanese collectors,” said Shao-Yi Hou, a director at Galerie Eigen Art in Berlin, which showed a range of Western artists. “The whole booth is sold out and now we have a long waiting list.” 

Also selling their entire showing of Western art, Galerie Julien Cadet in Paris found that a predominantly local audience was bolstered by regional interest. “The collectors were really active, with those from Hong Kong showing an interest online,” said Mathieu Capela, one of the gallery’s co-founders. Echoing the experience of Soka Art, he notes that all buyers were under 50. “We believe it will be a really strong season in Asia ending with Frieze in Seoul.”

First-time exhibitor Jack Bell Gallery from London was also included in the all-round selling spree. With the help of interest from Hong Kong and Singapore, it placed every work in its presentation of three contemporary African artists—Aboudia, Ajarb Bernard Ategwa, and Marc Padeau—all within a $20,000 to $200,000 price range. 

At the very top end of the market, David Zwirner Gallery reported overall sales of nearly $5 million, noting that many of the works sold were historical modern masterpieces, including those by Giorgio Morandi, Paul Klee, and Josef Albers.

Celebrating a strong comeback to the region, the fair’s co-director Robin Peckham told Artnet News: “The success of Taipei Dangdai this year—a year during which international travel within Asia remains limited and some collectors are mindful about circulating publicly—hows us that the regional markets on which individual fairs are based are as robust on their own as they are when they can come together and support one another.” 

The many galleries now gearing up for the opening of Art Basel Hong Kong, including Soka Art, Lin and Lin, and INKstudio, will be eager to see whether this prediction holds true.

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