Slowdown, what slowdown? Shanghai launches biggest art week yet

Art021 is held in the centre of Shanghai © Art021

Shanghai annual art week, with Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair (7-10 November) and West Bund Art & Design (8-10 November) at its epicentre, kicks off today with a manic explosion of exhibition openings. And it seems poised to be the citys most high-profile yet, particularly with the grand launch on 8 November of Pompidou Shanghai within the new West Bund Museum.

Fair organisers and participating dealers alike claim to be unfazed by Chinas slowing economy, the ongoing trade war with the US and unrest in Hong Kong. If anything, some say, the ongoing disruption and uncertainty in Hong Kong will only reinforce Shanghais centrality to the Asian art market. Though there is an air of performative optimism to this confidence, the expanding season lends credence to such determination.

“We actually don't feel much difference at the moment,” says Art021s co-founder Kylie Ying of the current economic climate. Regarding Hong Kong, she says: “We do believe art goes beyond politics. Mainland [China] has its own independent art market. It might be an opportunity, but we cant really tell at the moment.” She adds that the Hong Kong-based Alisan Fine Arts and Gallery Exit are returning to the fair, which has 110 exhibitors this year, with Opera Gallery and Empty Gallery attending for the first time.

Meanwhile at West Bund Art & Design many international galleries with Hong Kong locations are joining, alongside Hong Kong-bred galleries Mine Project and Rossi Martino. Of the 109 exhibitors at the fair this year, 28 are showing for the first time including the London-based Stephen Friedman Gallery, which will bring works by David Shrigley, Mamma Andersson, Jonathan Baldock, Yinka Shonibare and Luiz Zerbini. The gallery has just opened a pop-up exhibition in Hong Kong of work by Stephan Balkenhol and Andreas Eriksson "which sold out extremely quickly" Stephen Friedman says, adding: "Shanghai is of course a different market, but our experience in Hong Kong points in the right direction. The art market shows resilience in many parts of the world, so we are not perturbed."

Friedman continues: "We dont know how the market will develop – but we are here to find out and hopefully be part of its growth. The sheer volume of events and openings this week in Shanghai is itself a testament to this expansion and the quality of the industry in Shanghai—this is a good enough indicator for us, and its something we feel our artists and our programme can engage with in a serious way."

West Bund Art & Design has 28 new galleries this year Courtesy of West Bund Art & Design

A West Bund spokeswoman points out that this month “marks the inaugural Shanghai International Artwork Trading Month.” This initiative aims to accelerate Shanghais development into a global art trading hub and was thought up by the West Bund Group and Kailan Marketing & Planning Company (it is also backed by Shanghais Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, the Xuhui District Government, the municipal and district Communist Party Committees and the taxation and foreign exchange bureaus).

As Kylie Ying says, the Chinese government has once again lowered tariffs on art sales to 1%. She adds: “Any imported goods in China are still submitted to a VAT of 13%, it used to be 16% though. Comparably it's still quite high, but the government is working on the adjustment. We are working closely with Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, which could provide convenient warehousing for galleries.”

“The appetite for contemporary art in the city is going from strength to strengtRead More – Source