CIGE Art Fair Enlivened Somewhat by Scandalous Pop Star Edison Chen
Source:Artinfo.com Date: 2011-04-27 Size:
The China International Gallery Exposition, known as CIGE for short, wrapped up on Sunday after a lackluster outing that had many questioning how much longer Beijing can sustain two rival art fairs.

  

The 2011 China International Gallery Exposition art fair in Beijing

BEIJING— The China International Gallery Exposition, known as CIGE for short, wrapped up on Sunday after a lackluster outing that had many questioning how much longer Beijing can sustain two rival art fairs. This dynamic has been in effect since 2006, when a split in the CIGE management team lead to the establishment of the alternative spring fair, Art Beijing (which this year will be held between April 29 and May 2) — forcing the two fairs to battle at close quarters for supremacy, and for a still-fledgling collector base.

This year the local galleries have split fairly neatly between the two events, with some choosing to show in both. Meanwhile, almost no foreign galleries are in attendance, with the success of Hong Kong's Art HK in the international arena having firmly relegated the Beijing fairs to being merely domestic events. Just shy of 60 galleries took part in CIGE, and drawing a total of 40,000 people over the five days of the fair.

Sales were soft, and most success was seen at booths that showed modestly priced pieces, like that of Gallery Yang, which presented an engaging series of works on paper by young artist Chen Wei. Priced at RMB 14,000 ($2,150) they quickly sold out. Elsewhere Taiwan's Tina Keng Gallery did well with a booth perfectly pitched to conservative mainland tastes. Particularly popular were works by Taiwanese artist Chen Chun-Hao, who had rendered monochromatic simulacra of traditional Chinese landscape paintings using thousands of tiny nails. The visual trickery involved immediately attracted buyers, with two of these selling early at RMB 380,000 ($58,500) apiece and the gallery subsequently signing up a healthy waiting list.

The general attitude among the galleries was that participation in one of the local fairs was simply something you needed to do for appearance's sake. "It would be bad form not to," confided one. Every dealer ARTINFO China spoke to agreed that it would be much better to have only one fair, which would mean that the limited number of outside collectors now interested in attending a Chinese mainland fair would not have their attention split between the two.

Fortunately some glamor was added to the proceedings by the participation of Chinese-Canadian pop star Edison Chen, who famously fell from grace in 2008 when sexually explicit photos he had taken of a number of his girlfriends found their way on to the internet. At the time, the career of at least one of the actresses involved was ruined, and Chen announced he was going into self-imposed exile from his career in penance. Now apparently redeemed, he is re-inventing himself as a contemporary artist. Having debuted last year in Singapore he has teamed up with local artist Xu Zhen and his MadeIn collective to create a series of fabric-based works under the moniker Etalier des Chene. Featuring polaroids of watching eyes, these are supposedly meant to analyze "observing as a social phenomena." Whatever the intent, the MadeIn and Etalier des Chene booth proved one of the hits of the "Mapping Asia," section of the fair which was dedicated to art projects.

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern