An Extension From Beijing Dealership
Opening its doors last month in the Chelsea district of New York City, Asian Art Piers is a new gallery specializing in Chinese and Asian contemporary art. A collaboration with a group of art dealers in Beijing, Asian Art Piers presents a collection of Chinese and Asian contemporary art that embodies the wide-ranging and ever-changing nature of Art throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Currently running its first two-artist show, “China Happenings 2.0,” Asian Art Piers is highlighting the work of two emerging Chinese artists who have exhibited extensively in Asia and Europe and are ready to expand their presence in the United States, Pang Yongjie (庞永杰) and Xia Guo (夏国). As the two artists’ debut in New York, “China Happenings 2.0” represents a “second phase” of the evolution of the Chinese contemporary art.
Asian Art Piers seems to time the market almost serendipitously as the Chinese contemporary art market has been on a “rapid path of recovery” since the post-economic-crisis low in February 2009. Currently primary market galleries are enjoying a bull market of sorts, yet still taking caution to guard off speculative buyers and serve genuine collectors.
Louise Chen, Chinese-American co-director of Asian Art Piers and latest in a line of established Chinese antiquities and modern art dealers, and her American team recently spoke with Betty Chen of Jing Daily to discuss the grand opening of Asian Art Piers in New York, their perspectives towards the Chinese contemporary art market, their current show and upcoming plans.
Jing Daily (JD): Could you tell us a little about Asian Art Piers?
Asian Art Piers (AAP): Asian Art Piers is an American-owned Chelsea art gallery that collaborates with seasoned Chinese art dealers in Beijing. We are looking forward to introducing groundbreaking Asian art with high cultural value and social significance to the U.S. audience.
JD: What made you decide to open Asian Art Piers in New York?
AAP: There are lots of reasons! Contemporary art is a window onto societies. China continues to undergo dramatic social changes and growing global relevance. It’s enjoying an economic and cultural boom of unparalleled comparison.
There is a high level of growing interest, especially in New York, among collectors fascinated by China’s culture and art. However, unlike in Europe, there are limited number of galleries [here] that present these works. The presence of Chinese contemporary art here in New York is far from being heterogeneous and comprehensive. The public and art collectors are missing out on a lot of the exciting things happening in China. Asian Art Piers will add another dynamic to the scene, further expanding the platform for Chinese and Asian artists, and contribute more content and substance to the showings of their artworks.
JD: Is there any art fund, auction house or art institution supporting the gallery?
AAP: We are an extension of private dealerships in Beijing, funded and managed by U.S. investors. Our curatorial criteria remains very much independent. However, that certainly does not preclude us from collaborating with institutions and various players in the art market – past, present or future.
JD: Asian Art Piers chose now to open a new gallery in New York. Does that mean the Chinese contemporary art market is doing very well?
AAP: I’m happy to say the Chinese contemporary art market is performing beyond “very well” and we couldn’t time our entry any better. The downturn in 2009 washed out the speculators in Chinese contemporary art and provided healthier soil for a new group of artists. The shortage of China-focused galleries in New York presents a tremendous opportunity. In the primary market, virtually every major NYC gallery has, or is looking for, Chinese artists in their stable. In the secondary market, the top auction houses enjoyed record-breaking activity in the Chinese contemporary art market this year.
JD: How do you see the Chinese contemporary art market developing in 2012?
AAP: It will be even better than 2011. The entire contemporary market has rebounded, and Asian contemporary will outpace other art sectors. China’s consumption of its own art will continue to grow at an incredible pace. Meanwhile in the U.S., the overall “pie” of the contemporary art market may only be expanding slowly but the “slice” for Asian-artwork consumption will continue to get larger, and that slice is growing at a faster pace.
JD: What kind of role do you see Asian Art Piers playing in terms of promoting Chinese contemporary art?
AAP: The art scene in China is changing as quickly as its society. Our role is to be a leader, a beacon and a navigator through these dynamic times. Through gallery talks for academia and the public, exhibition programs and private viewings, we are planning to contribute to the ongoing dialogue in New York.
JD: How does the gallery choose its artists and their work?
AAP: Our formula is fairly simple: we select highly regarded artists with an extensive presence in Asia and Europe and who show great potential in the U.S.
Through our network of curators, art critics and art professionals in China and throughout Asia, we carefully select artists whose works reflect the spirit of the times in their society, the wide spectrum of today’s art in China and Asia, and the unique way they present their individual identities as well as the collective psyche.
JD: Who are your target clients?
AAP: Everybody. We very much enjoy interacting with experienced U.S. collectors who are well-versed in Asian contemporary art. We are also interested in assisting young and emerging collectors in building their collections and guiding them through the world of Chinese art.
JD: How does Asian Art Piers differentiate itself from other Chinese contemporary galleries in New York?
AAP: There are so many differences on and behind the white gallery walls, such as curatorial approaches, artists and management and so on. The state of contemporary Chinese art, after its emergence in the 1980s, is now entering the next 20 years–it demands much more from its gallerists and dealers.
What’s different about Asian Art Piers is that it is an extension of a successful 25-year art dealing experience in classical Chinese art and antiquities, as well as modern and contemporary art. So far, very few galleries in this sector in New York, that I know of, have this level of expertise.
As such, we run all of our own curatorial shows, write all our own press releases and reviews, and give in-house gallery talks and panel discussions.
JD: How do you promote the gallery?
JD: The gallery is currently displaying its first show, China Happenings 2.0. What’s the idea behind this exhibition? Why 2.0? What do you have planned next?
AAP: As mentioned, China has been growing economically and socially, but that’s been going on for the past 20 years. Collectors are already aware of art movements in China like “Cynical Realism” and “Political Pop” and so on. At this point, Chinese contemporary art is evolving into a “second phase,” a second chapter, if you will, and hence the “2.0.”
In terms of our upcoming plans, our next exhibition will showcase artists fresh from the Venice Biennale. It is a very exciting time to be involved in Chinese art.