In recent years due to the exponential growth in the number of art fairs, we have had to become more selective as to which we attend. Its not that we wouldn’t love to visit them all, or most of them, but it has just become physically impossible. And so it happens that I didn’t visit Art Beijing for 2 years, until this month. I went and I was very happy I did!
The fair was well organized with a strong representation from China’s mainland galleries, over 90% I believe. There were also some galleries from Europe but Asia was very much the focus. I came to see Chinese contemporary art and found some interestresting works and artists that were not familiar to me. The artists that caught my eye first was Zhang Quan, he exhibited at ‘Fine Arts Literature Art Center’ from Wuhan, China. His works were a mix of traditional use of paper and ink with more contemporary techniques. Most of his works are landscapes, monumental modern buildings and traditional Chinese architecture. The galley sold all his works during the fair. Another new find was Xiao Fangkai, his paintings looked stunning, like fuzzy blurry photographs of Chinese back yards gardens and houses. His works, although being oil painted, looked very soft in colorfull pastels pallets. He was presented by a Beijing gallery called ‘Bridge gallery’.
In my opinion the most attractive collection of works was found at Platform China. The gallery exhibited number of works of artists that were exhibiting at the same time in the their space in Caochangdi, Beijing. One of the most interesting artist was Song Yuanyuan who invents surreal and colourful interiors. Hanging next to him was the talented Bi Jianye who used geometric shapes, painted squares and boxes, placed in deserted landscapes.
The fair also included many highlights of forthcoming Chinese auction houses sales. These featured some major works by Chinese contempoarary masters. Poly for example had an amazing Zeng Fanzhi mask of a couple on their wedding day. This 2001, 3m high by 2.3m work is one of his most impressive work I have ever seen. I believe it came from the Ullens collection. Another great work was of Liu Wei called ‘parents’ from 1990. The work featured a husband dressed in his army uniform and his wife. Its size was far more modest than the Zeng Fanzhi, 80x97cm only.
In general the fair was good and interesting, my visit also included a number of artists studios including Sun Xun, a young master, at his incredible production complex and the more modest appartment based studios of Chen Fei and Qiu Jiongjiong whom I follow and collect. The new paintings of Chen Fei look great and he is now building a new body of work for his forthcoming solo show at Star gallery.
All in all it was an up lifting visit in which I saw a strong performing market and discovered a promising young generation of Chinese artists that was hidden in the past few years.