A Busy Month In The World Of Chinese Contemporary Art, Antiques And Film
Top Chinese Contemporary Artist Zeng Fanzhi “Invades Bulgaria”
Zeng Fanzhi — who has maintained his place among China’s top contemporary artists this year following a string of auctions in which his works have sold for over $1 million — took Sofia, Bulgaria by storm this weekend, attending the opening of his new exhibition there. This exhibition is notable not only because it’s Zeng’s first in Bulgaria, but because it’s his first show in all of Europe. As a Daily Beast article points out, by the looks of the private jets cluttering the runway of Sofia’s modest airport, the art elite was out in full force at Zeng’s opening:
In 2008, Fanzhi broke the world record for a piece of contemporary Asian art at auction and, as a result, the runways of Sofia’s small airport a few miles away are clustered with private jets: the shiny white calling cards of the international art world power brokers who have descended on the city for 24 hours.
The curator of the next Venice Biennale, Bice Curiger, has popped in, along with Simon de Pury of Phillips de Pury, dealer Tim Jefferies, and influential curators Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Sir David Tang is just heading home to find some cigars but will soon be back on the dance floor. From New York, here are Tommy Hilfiger, photographers Annie Leibovitz (documenting the occasion for posterity) and Larry Schiller, and from London, supermodel Elle Macpherson, Bryan Ferry and his girlfriend, fashion PR maven Amanda Sheppard, and GQ editor Dylan Jones. At the center of all this are Bulgaria’s minister for culture, and our host Spas Roussev and his wife Diliana, who have created not just a turbo-charged party but Sofia’s first must-see contemporary-art show.
Earlier in the evening, Hilfiger and Fanzhi were honored for their contributions to world culture by Bulgaria’s minister of culture, sculptor Vejdi Rashidov, in the presence of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
Song Dynasty Scroll Sets New Record At Poly Auction In Beijing
The popularity of traditional calligraphy scrolls from China’s imperial past among a certain group of mainland Chinese collectors continues unabated, as this weekend the longest calligraphic hand scroll by Song Dynasty calligrapher Huang Tingjian (1045-1105) still in existence sold earlier this month for a whopping 390 million yuan (US$57.4 million) plus 12% buyer’s premium. From ArtInfo:
Completed in 1095, it was extended from the original length of 8.24 meters to 15 meters over the span of 800 years as owners — from prominent ancient Chinese literati and royal court officials — added additional inscriptions to the piece. The work is also believed to hold significant value for the study of Chinese history and literature, as it bears an eloquent essay on the morality and justice exemplified by legendary Tang Dynasty statesman Wei Zheng.
Starting at RMB 80,000,000 ($11.7 million), the bidding price quickly jumped to RMB 200,000,000 ($29.3 million), climbing by increments of RMB 5,000,000 ($730,000). A vicious duel ensued between a collector in the auction room and an anonymous telephone bidder. The latter eventually won the lot but only after 70 bids had been logged over the course of the fierce 30-minute battle.
New Films By Chinese Indie Filmmakers On Show At The Opposite House
Short films by some of China’s best young independent filmmakers, commissioned by the Opposite House (previously on Jing Daily) — one of Beijing’s best and brightest design-oriented hotels — are on show at the hotel through July 20. The short film series, “Short Stays,” featuring shorts by Zhao Ye, Liu Jiayin and Peng Lei, was conceived as an opportunity for these filmmakers to “explore the concept and space of the House,” according to dGenerate Films, and in some ways covers the same ground as other annual film projects like Roger Smith Shorts at the Rogers Smith Hotel in New York City.
From dGenerate Films:
In collaboration with independent producers and film makers Zhang Xianmin and Samantha Culp, the idea is inspired by the use of the hotel’s space. From the new wave classic “Last Year at Marienbad” to the sleek “Lost in Translation,” hotels have always been great cinematic spaces. The closed door of a hotel room naturally evokes themes of mystery, memory, desire, escape, and curiosity.
“In this project, we wanted to peek through the keyholes into this borderline space, through the eyes of three fiercely original filmmakers,” says Samantha Culp, co-producer of “Short Stays.”
The short films by three award-winning young Chinese filmmakers—Liu Jiayin, Peng Lei and Zhao Ye—all based in Beijing but with festival cred from around the world, create a conversation around the nature of the hotel’s space and explore modern urban story telling in the framework of a type of creative experiment unprecedented in China. “Short Stays” also invited two up-and-coming photographers, Madi Ju and Lin Zhi Peng (aka 223) to document the filming process for the limited-edition DVD and booklet, adding another offbeat perspective to the project.
“Short Stays” trailer: