Taipei Dangdai Returns to Its First Full-Scale Edition Since 2020, With a Fresh Crop of Galleries Catching Up With an Active Younger Crowd of Buyers
Thirty first-time exhibitors are hoping to build relationships with Taiwanese collectors.
Taipei Dangdai returns to a full edition this week for the first time since the pandemic and amid Taiwan’s emergence from prolonged, stringent Covid restrictions.
The fair, in its fourth edition this year, is expecting 90 galleries both local and from abroad—a showing on par with the fair’s first two editions but 45 percent bigger than last year. Among the exhibitors, 30 are first-timers, including many overseas galleries.
“Taipei is the kind of market [that is] consistently very attractive to international galleries, because Taiwanese collectors buy so much,” Robin Peckham, co-director of Taipei Dangdai, told Artnet News ahead of the fair’s May 11 preview.
Taiwan is known for its long lineage in art collecting and connoisseurship. It’s also one of the world’s wealthiest places, according to the Allianz Global Wealth Report 2022, which ranked the self-governed island famous for its tech and semiconductor manufacturing industries the top in Asia and fifth worldwide in terms of net financial assets per capita.
While Taiwan has lately become a locus of geopolitical tensions and faces growing military threats from China, the art market appears to be functioning independent of all that. The island boasts an increasingly active young generation of collectors who have been buying internationally, often over the phone or the internet—a trend that became even more pronounced during Covid restrictions, Peckham said.
In turn, galleries, especially those that cater to younger collectors, are increasingly looking to Taiwan. “What we see is that a lot of galleries who may not have been paying much attention to Asia before Covid … they are kind of [being] brought into the fold of the Asian market,” Peckham said.
“Young collectors have become a key group driving the market taste,” said Yaji Huang, founder of Taipei-based Each Modern. Her gallery is returning to the fair, showing new works by Egan Frantz and Antonia Kuo, historical works by Hilo Chen and Chen Tingshih, and pieces by local artists Lin YiHsuan and Wu Meichi. Prices range from $6,000 to $120,000.
“The market has been expanding during and after the pandemic, with more people and capital involved,” Huang said. “It is phenomenal that new galleries [can] expand fast.”
She points to WMM in Taipei, Carp Gallery in Taichung, as well as Absolute Space for the Arts and Howl Space in Tainan, as evidence of a newly emergent, vibrant scene in the city, with new commercial galleries as well as alternative, artist-run spaces increasingly popping up.
However, there are concerns about the pace of growth. Between the city’s 20 public museums and the expansion of the Taipei Fine Art Museum, which is slated to re-open in 2027, logistical constraints could become an issue. “Soon there will be a problem with the lack of staffers, curators, and directors,” Huang predicted.
Of the exhibitors, 70 have spaces in Asia, and will be showing across three sectors: the main section, Galleries; Edge, which features 20 solo presentations of cutting-edge artists; and Engage, a new segment added this year that features seven galleries showing cross-cultural, cross-generational art.
First-time exhibitors include König Galerie, Nino Mier Gallery, and ShanghART, which will be exhibiting in the Galleries sector alongside returnees such as Gagosian and Lehmann Maupin.
Ben Brown Fine Arts, which operates in London and Hong Kong, will be showing for the first time—a delayed appearance due to Covid, as the gallery originally planned to attend in 2020. The gallery is showing a range of primary- and secondary-market works priced from the mid-five figures to the low seven-figures (in U.S. dollars), according to Amanda Hon, managing director at Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong.
“They don’t simply buy the billboard top 10,” Hon said, speaking of Taiwanese collectors. The long history of art collecting and the established local ecosystem of auction houses and galleries have contributed to the maturity of collectors there, she added.
“While some are attracted to works that are pretty and popular, many of them delve deeper into the artistic practice and are looking at the more seminal paintings that define the artist’s oeuvre,” Hon continued. “Instead of simply looking for work in a series that everyone else owns, they take a serious interest in educating themselves on the periods of the artists’ life that are not as popular but nonetheless significant.”
Soo Choi, founder of the Seoul-based up and coming gallery P21, will also be showing at Taipei Dangdai for the first time. She is bringing Choi Jeong Hwa and Haneyl Choi’s sculptures, as well as paintings by Keem Jiyoung and So Yong Park. Works on display are priced from under $10,000 to $35,000.
Choi’s connected with Taiwanese collectors before, but is still curious what kind of reception they’ll give her offerings. “I find them very knowledgeable and passionate,” she said. “My impression is that the well-known names … have a very strong market in general [here], but since my program is more unconventional, with many artists showing for the first time in the market, I’m looking forward to finding out their response.”
Kwai Fung Hin, an established gallery in Hong Kong, is also attending for the first time. “We mainly want to promote our newly represented artists Oswaldo Vigas and Ziad Dalloul,” the gallery’s founder Catherine Kwai said. “We are curious to find out how the Taiwan art market has developed.”
Taipei Dangdai will also have programs dedicated to bringing young collectors from the region together. The initiative, Young Patrons Assembly, was launched in January at sister fair ART SG by the organizers of the Art Assembly. The fair expects more than two dozens young collectors from Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and Japan to attend.
“We want to try to be in a position where we are celebrating what’s happening [locally],” Peckham said, adding that the expansion of the Asian art market as a whole hasn’t been about which city is trying to replace which as an art hub. “They all really serve their local markets. They serve a kind of community of [affiliated] people who live in other places who have a particular interest in that city.”
Taipei Dangdai Art & Ideas opens on May 11 for a VIP preview, and runs through May 14, at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.
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