ART TAIPEI 2022: A Look at the Industry

Oct 31, 2022 10:43AM

An overall look at phenomena in the industry with four consecutive art fair events in 2022 as Taiwan Art Gallery Association arrives in its 30th year

From the audience's point of view, visiting art fairs has become a popular entertainment option. In the past, art fairs were considered to have an extremely high threshold for entry. However, they are riding on the rise of various scenes: not only is the audience actively hopping between fairs, but they have also gradually formed communities that look much different from those in the past. As practitioners in the art industry, we have also seen some of these phenomena.

The crowds at ART TAIPEI 2021 – visiting art fair has become a form of entertainment

The Multi-location and multi-format art fairs

The Taiwan Art Gallery Association, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is holding four art fairs this year: ART TAIPEI, an iconic art fair in Taiwan; ART TAICHUNG and ART TAINAN in the form of a hotel-based fair, and the returning ART SOLO. Through multi-location and multi-format art fairs, the energy of the community can be gathered and used to promote the ideals of art education, art appreciation, and collection.

ART TAINAN can be described as the event for the annual social gathering of the art circle in southern Taiwan. Even though new blood joins the event every year, the core crowd still revolves around experienced collectors. This year, there have been even sights of three generations of a family all attending the fair to expand on their collections, and thus collectors are even more focused on maintaining contact. Whether the galleries are able to foster a relationship with the collectors and then are able to support each other in this part of art is also the focus of ART TAINAN, and this can be considered a phenomenon in art collection that is unique to the region.

A gallery representative and a collector exchange ideas at ART TAINAN 2022

Another regional fair, ART TAICHUNG, tells a completely different tale. This year, the event was moved to a high-end hotel in Taichung—the Lin Hotel—attracting more new faces to join the ranks of art collections. According to official data, more than half of the visitors have less than three years of experience in art collecting. These collectors not only have abundant resources but are also willing to appreciate the artists they meet for the first time, bringing great joy to galleries that are eager to expand their customer base. Therefore, galleries have also expressed their willingness to bring more diverse and smaller-scale works to test the water in the future. However, these new collectors already have their awareness of art, so recommendations from galleries are not necessarily their first choice. Moreover, because of their relative inexperience in art collecting, they often do not have consultants to assist in establishing a collection system, nor are they familiar with the proper preservation of artworks. Thus, helping to establish trust between the galleries and collectors is also a future goal for the ART TAICHUNG community.

ART TAICHUNG 2022 drew a significant number of young audiences who have just come into contact with art appreciation and collection

In Taipei, ART SOLO took the lead in spring this year. The first-time ART SOLO, as the name suggests, appeals to the audience through artists’ solo exhibitions. This was a new challenge for both artists and galleries; however, a singular theme may also be an opportunity for the audience to understand the artist in depth. On the other hand, ART TAIPEI 2022, which will be held at the World Trade Center in mid-October, will have a total of 138 exhibitors. This year’s event brings the largest exhibition area but the grandest in its scale; therefore, the expectations are mounting for the range of the media, themes, and prices of the works that will be on display. It is also a great time to take a gander look at the art trends for the year, and thus the event is always able to draw large crowds every year.

ART SOLO 2022 is an art fair that presents artists in the form of solo exhibitions

The rise of social media affects art-collecting trends

In recent years, the rise of social media has affected the art community. Young artists are actively putting themselves out there in the community, and galleries also hold live-streaming events featuring artists and studios from time to time. The boundaries between countries and cultures have promptly collapsed due to social media, and artists seem to have become our partners in daily life, sharing their artistic activities first-hand. Because of this, collectors have also begun to establish their unique viewpoints on art collection or aesthetics, and are reluctant to rely on intermediaries to bridge any gap. In particular, collectors of the young generation can access a rich bevy of resources and possess international perspectives from a young age, and thus the orientation of their art collection orientation is also broader in scope. In addition to actively connecting with the international market, they are also keener to play talent scout to find the next potential star that has yet to truly shine.

The changes brought by social media could already be seen in trending art. Collectors do not care about the artistic contexts shown in textbooks; they collect artworks based on preferences. The cross-sector co-branding between art and brand names has also attracted emerging collectors who are not interested in the traditional arts. We can say that trending art is a reflection of contemporary life, and it belongs to the aesthetic context and interest of the new generation. The celebrity effect brought by social media is an aggravation of this phenomenon. At art fairs, many galleries have been asked by collectors, who contact them for the first time, if they have artworks from the range collected by celebrities or key opinion leaders (KOLs) of a certain community. Even some collectors’ awareness of the artwork is directly from posts in the community. Perhaps to a certain extent, social media is bringing the hidden art communities to the surface, magnifying them, and making them visible. What remains unchanged is that collectors will eventually establish their aesthetic views and develop the pedigree of their collection after experiencing several ups and downs. The relationship between collectors and the community is therefore one of the phenomena worth paying attention to at ART TAIPEI this year.

Trends on social media are the art-collecting reference indicators of the young generation

Transformation to the digital

Transformation to the digital is also a goal the art industry is urgently pursuing. In response to the lockdowns brought by the pandemic in the past two years, in addition to VR online art fairs or virtual reality exhibition halls, galleries are also more willing to spend time processing videos with exquisitely fine details to act as references for collectors who cannot be physically present.

However, the focus of digital transformation is still on the NFTs that were on the rise last year. Although it was a battleground for those involved, it now faces a bearish cryptocurrency market. Therefore, how art fairs should interact with the NFT market and communities in the future is also a key issue. As for whether the prosperity of NFTs is driving unique art forms, such as generative art and video, in the market of the past? Whether this will change collectors’ judgments of aesthetic forms? And will NFT collectors also become collectors of physical artworks? These are all issues that we will continue to follow.

A schematic diagram of the NFT VIP card that came out of the collaboration between akaSwap and generative artist for ART TAIPEI 2022

Looking at art industry models worldwide, it is obvious that large-scale fairs and gallery brands have actively expanded into different sectors in recent years, bringing various changes to the market. However, after the pandemic, whether it is the increased cost of transportation, insurance, personnel, and other expenses, as well as the impact of deflation and the energy crisis, the art market is about to experience a new wave of changes. This year's ART TAIPEI is a key event for making certain observations: when local fairs and galleries have the advantage from long-term regional operations, how can this be combined with the liveliness of the communities with the rise of the new types of digital art? ART TAIPEI presents a perfect time to watch this development.

After all the discussion, we would like to invite you and urge you to step into the art fairs in person, feel the passion and enthusiasm of an art fair, and experience the multiple facets of the art scene.

This article is grateful to the Executive Editor in chief of Art Emperor, Shawn Wang, for his discussion and sharing of his experience, as well as the information and assistance provided by the Taiwan Art Gallery Association.