China’s art market is nothing if not explosive—the first decade of the new millenium saw exponential growth, with contemporary sales spiking in the 2011-12 season, and despite a recent cooling many are predicting continued expansion in the market. The combination of heavyweight collectors, booming interest, and formidable international artists makes China an undisputable force on the global contemporary art scene, in no small part thanks to major artists like Cai Guo-Qiang, Ai Weiwei, Zeng Fanzhi, and Yang Fudong—favorites in critical and auction circles alike. Further, all sectors of the market are aiming to solidify their place on the mainland: Christie’s held its first mainland auction this year (after years of operating out of Hong Kong along with Sotheby’s), and major galleries like Gagosian, White Cube, Lehmann Maupin, and Emmanuel Perrotin have all opened up spaces in Hong Kong since 2012. In the nonprofit sector, major museum projects have also been realized in the past couple years, including the Today Art Museum and the UCCA in Beijing and the Dragon Museum and Minsheng Museum in Shanghai.
Art Stage Singapore’s China Platform is curated by longtime independent curator Huang Du, who lives and works in Beijing. “For me, curating is like a journey of adventure,” he says. “This journey of looking for art is also a process of enhancing my individual thoughts and evaluation.” He has assembled a group of contemporary Chinese artists who are not seeking to redefine their chosen medium, be it painting, sculpture, photography, or installation, but rather to illustrate the current state of China—its new freedoms, economics, and social challenges. “I prefer artworks with a unique sense and even beyond one’s own imagination, as it can be proactive enough to create an immediate excitement,” Huang says of the platform. “Thus, I very much like to explore and promote works that are rich in conceptual, experimental, and avant-garde sense.”
Highlights from the exhibition include Lu Zhengyuan’s incredible “Chronic” series of black marble trash bag sculptures (presented by Phoenix Art Palace); Zhang Zuerui’s multi-dimensional Pulling Sweater (2011), a piece that weaves together used clothing, a cot, and recorded video (presented by Purple Roof Art Gallery); and Liao Fei’s installation About Matter No. 1 (2011), a dynamic installation of chairs and a table with an embedded, eerily suggestive metal fan (presented by Vanguard Gallery).
Must-see Chinese galleries exhibiting at Art Stage Singapore include:
Koru Contemporary Art, Lin&Lin Gallery, Beijing Commune, Contemporary by Angela Li, De Sarthe Gallery, Galerie du Monde, Mizuma Gallery, Phoenix Art Palace, Purple Roof Art Gallery, Triumph Art Space, Vanguard Gallery, Wilber Gallery, AP Contemporary, Art Seasons Gallery, A Thousand Plateaus Art Space, Edouard Malingue Gallery, Rossi & Rossi, Galerie Dumonteil, Galerie Perrotin, Primo Marella Gallery.