CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Xie Tingting
The global finance depression since 2007 has burst the bubble in the Chinese contemporary art market. In the mean time, the stable situation of the fine art market has attracted more investors and collectors. Last week, the Art Beijing Fine Art Fair kicked off, which has fueled the surge. Du Lijun will tell us more.
Reporter: Following the successes of its Art Beijing and Photo Beijing art fairs since 2006, the Art Beijing Executive Committee has developed Fine Art Beijing, another innovative brand committed to promoting the arts in Asia. From November 7 to 9, a total of 30 galleries from China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and France have displayed their best works in the Agricultural Exhibition Center in Beijing.
Dong Mengyang, the founder and director of Art Beijing, tells the purpose of the art fair. "I have planned this art fair for a very long time. As the market has multifarious demands, we cannot just concentrate on contemporary art, not mentioning it is derived from fine art. But as its market was too active, people somehow overlooked the classic works. Now as the economic depression has slowed down the development of cotemporary art market, we have the opportunity to promote fine art."
Compared to the Art Beijing Contemporary Art Fair 2009, the Fine Art Beijing is comparatively smaller in scale. Dong Mengyang explains this is because there are not many galleries specialized in fine arts in China. So some attendees of the Art Beijing this April have also joined the fair, taking the classic works of their artists. Main Trend, a gallery based in Taiwan, is one of them. Its public relations manager Chuang Kuo Lin tells how to distinguish fine art and contemporary art.
"Fine art has a much longer history, which dates more than a century ago. It includes the works of French artist Cezanne and those developed from this style. These artists attached great importance to basic painting skills. On the other side, contemporary artists care more about new ideas and concepts. They concentrate on expressing their thoughts by a form which no other artist has ever used."
In this art fair, the Main Trend Gallery brought a series of oil paintings by the Chinese-French artist Chan Kin Chung. Now in the world of paintings, Chan is the best in the field of realism, particularly in landscapes and depicting the commonplace hidden in natural surroundings. Chan prefers to draw serenity brought on by everyday views.
Chuang Kuo Lin with Chan Kin Chung's painting [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]
Chuang Kuo Lin introduces his favorite works of Chan Kin Chung, which portray the River Marne. "When appreciating this work, you would have this illusion that you are just sitting by the bank of Marne, watching how the breeze ripples the surface of the river. This is a typical good fine art painting, for it creates a comfortable and pleasure atmosphere. But when you watch the details carefully, you can find the strokes are really powerful and bold. It's really interesting."
The prices of Chan's work are very reasonable. A postcard-sized painting usually costs 6 to 7 thousand yuan. Chuang says most of the buyers are social elites in their 40s and 50s, as this kind of work is more to their aesthetic taste.
Unlike those galleries that do both fine and contemporary art as the Main Trend, Beijing Royal Heritage Gallery only signs contracts with fine art painters. This time, the gallery set up a solo exhibition for Jia Lu, a female artist who has devoted herself in Western impressionistic skills and Oriental cultures for almost three decades. Among the 11 works in the exhibition, Jia Lu likes the one entitled "Celestial Sphere". A beautiful Chinese girl is crouching in front a celestial sphere, with her black hair hanging down on her white gown.
"Once I went to the British Museum, and was very attracted to a celestial sphere. Because of their advanced science and technology, Western people prefer to measure the universe by an apparatus. However, we Chinese people used to sense the universe and appreciate it from the perspective of art and literature. So the universe in our minds is bigger than its real size and it always reminds us to broaden our mind and be thankful to others."
Jia Lu and her "Celestial Sphere" [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]
In Jia Lu's view, Chinese culture is very extensive and profound. So it only can be fully expressed by the most vivid and brilliant colors, which can be found in oil paintings. The unique Oriental philosophy and masterful painting skills helped Jia Lu become one of the most reputed Chinese painters in Western countries. Recently, she decided to develop her career in her motherland. Ji Ping, the general manager says the solid performance of Chinese fine art market is one of the attractions for her.
"Our fine art market was much less affected than the contemporary art market during the global economic downturn. The prices of some works even went higher during the auctions. I think this is because these paintings cater to most people's tastes. No matter if you are a professional collector or a total layman, you can understand and appreciate these works."
Besides Chinese works, there are also several galleries focusing on Western fine art. Zhou Li is the chairwoman of Shanghai's Classic Jen Gallery. This time, she took several representative works of Barbizon school. In the nineteen thirties when the Romantic Movement was the dominant art style in France, some painters gathered in the Barbizon Village and concentrated on portraying nature in a more realistic way. In China, Western fine art is not a subject familiar to the public. In high schools, the art text book introduces Renaissance art and then directly moves to Impressionism, leaving a 600-year gap. So Zhou Li decided to fill this gap.
"We want to give our investors guidance. As these Western works are classic and have been recorded into art history, so we can guarantee their values go up steadily. In Western countries, the prices of fine art works raise by 7% to 10% annually. In China, as not many galleries pay attention to this field, the demand exceeds the supply. So the prices in the market increase even faster."
Zhou Li in the booth of Classic Jen Gallery [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]
Besides the trade fair, Fine Art Beijing also held a series of exhibitions to add an academic flavor to the event. "Paper: Miracles and Transformation" displays the works on paper by some of the most important Chinese artists of the twentieth century. Chinese Spirit Exhibition reflects the diverse style of Chinese oil painters during the past 60 years. Meanwhile, some critics, exhibition curators and investors also gave lectures to promote the concept of fine art.
The Chinese fine art market only has a short history of around 10 years and still has many problems. But after the global economic crisis, people see the potential of it. As fine art is still the main stream of public aesthetic taste, there is a reason to believe the market will become more and more mature and systemized.
Traditional Guqin The guqin, a seven-stringed plucked zither, is China's oldest stringed instrument.
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