Catherine Asquith Art Advisory
Shanghai’s fledgling contemporary art fair, Art021, returns for its third edition by taking over the imposing, Art Deco-era Shanghai Exhibition Center next week from November 19-22.
From modest beginnings and a relatively small roster of 29 galleries in 2013, Art021 grew to 54 galleries in 2014, and boasts some 75 exhibitors this year, having attracted a number of heavyweight, first-time participants like global giant Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Chantal Crousel from Paris, Galerie Krinzinger from Vienna, and ShugoArts from Tokyo.
Named for Shanghai’s postal code — but also perhaps because it bills itself as a fair for “21st century contemporary art” — Art021 was founded in 2013 by publicist Bao Yifeng and former Aether Space gallery director Kelly Ying, whose husband David Chau is a high-profile Shanghai-based collector and backer of Leo Xu’s Shanghai gallery, and Simon Wang’s Antenna Space.
In response to keen competition from more established contemporary art fairs in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei, Art021 has decided to partner a number of Shanghai’s other art events, such as Art in the City, a citywide extravaganza of exhibitions, talks, and events held this September during the city’s first ever Art Week — a packed season that also showcased two other fairs, Photo Shanghai and Westbund Art and Design.
If these credentials and background suggest that Shanghai’s frothy art scene is the work of an insider clique of well-connected individuals, they also seem to be responsible for the unnerving speed with which it has found its own two feet.
Donna Chai, Art021’s operations director and former manager of SH Contemporary (the fair launched in 2007 by Art Stage Singapore’s Lorenzo Rudolf to great promise, before fizzling out this year due to various conflicts of interest) says that the recent spate of activity is a collective project where all parties have an interest in making it work. “We had all these resources and networks in place that promised to bring projects and people together, so we decided to cooperate and try to accelerate the process as much as we can.”
*Darryl Wee is head of visual arts for Asia at BLOUIN ARTINFO