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Easing travel restrictions draw collectors to Asia Now fair in Paris this year

The Asia Now art fair opened its doors on Friday, October 21 in a glamorous new location at La Monnaie de Paris, a neoclassical building that once housed the Monnaie de Paris. With 88 participating galleries, showcasing artists from some 40 different countries in Asia, the Middle East and their diaspora, as well as a busy schedule of special projects and off-site exhibitions, the eighth edition of the exhibition ( until October 23) is one of the biggest Parisian events dedicated to the art of the region.

The new, larger location “corresponded to our desire to welcome everyone with joy and with open arms,” ​​said the show’s founder, Alexandra Fain. This festive atmosphere was also reflected in the theme of the fair, “Feux de joie” or “Bonfire”. And the effort seems to have paid off. with some 9,500 visitors present on the day of the preview.

International attendees were back after a long hiatus as ongoing travel restrictions due to the pandemic made it particularly difficult for Asian visitors to come to last year’s fair, organizers said. And it was clear to everyone that the new Paris+ by Art Basel fair, which took place simultaneously this week in Paris, did its share of attracting crowds to the capital.

“We have met quite a few potential new collectors, especially Asian ones, and you can really see that they are back in Europe,” said Adeline Jeudy, co-founder of Galerie LJ in Paris. “That’s excellent news.”

These dynamic attitudes have been tempered by the growing energy crisis and concerns about inflation, as well as the ongoing war in Ukraine and the women-led uprisings in Iran, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the State Morality Police for improperly covering his hair.

Indeed, throughout the fair there are no shortage of reminders of lives lost in Iran and Ukraine. “We really wanted to emphasize Iran’s independence, women’s freedom, and allow for strong political gestures from some Iranian artists, who were offering installations,” Fain said.

For example, Tehran-based gallery +2 presented by Dastan postponed its planned exhibition for the fair due to the struggles in Iran. Instead, they kept the walls of their booth empty except for a screen showing a 2006 documentary film about Iranian artist Behjat Sadr (1924-2009), directed by Mitra Farahani, in which Sadr talks about his life and his freedom of expression.

“We modified the original program to publicize the work of Behjat Sadr, a pioneer of modern art in Iran,” said Hormoz Hematian, the founder of +2 Gallery. “We thought it would be important for people to know about her work right now” because Sadr is proving “how inspiring an artist can be to her society.” [by] not following the norm,” he added.

Another large outdoor installation, titled Antifragility performance/installation (part of the series: Unstable Equilibrium), by Iranian performance artist Neda Razavipour, addresses female domestic roles, as well as chaos and vulnerability. Presented by AB-ANBAR Gallery, the work features a large dining table covered with a white tablecloth, topped with a pile of broken dishes. It is part of the “Places” program of large-scale works, installed in the courtyards and enclaves of the building, and organized by Kathy Alliou, director of the Department of Fine Arts in Paris.

Installation Garden by Korean artist Park Chae Biole, in the fair’s “Places” programme.

Another artwork in “Places” is titled Garden by Korean artist Park Chae Biole, represented with her twin sister Park Chae Dalle by Parisian dealer Anne-Laure Buffard. The piece features a cocoon-shaped hammock that “whispers” a looping soundtrack of Biole reading his own poetry.

For their first fair, the Park Chae sisters remodeled Buffard’s square booth with colorful hanging works, including cloud-shaped light pieces suspended from the ceiling and knitted and stretched textiles on which Dalle paints. “To feel the passage of time, I create this long working process,” Dalle said of her handmade canvases, which she processes, paints and stretches into quilts that she attaches like cobwebs. giants around the room. Meanwhile, Biole paints on bamboo blinds in similar, watery tones and builds small diorama sculptures. Both sisters also write and read poetry in their works.

Buffard, who opened his own gallery earlier this year, is among more than 30 newcomers to the fair. She made several sales to international visitors by the end of the first day, she said, and attracted strong interest from a museum to acquire several works by the Park Chae sisters, which vary in price. from €1,000 to €25,000.

“This first morning was a real success. I’m impressed with how many museum groups they were able to bring in,” Buffard said. “People are excited and sales are strong.” Among his first visitors were representatives of the Abhishek Basu Foundation in Calcutta.

Another highlight of the fair was the spellbinding folk paintings by Mumbai native Rithika Merchant, represented by Galerie LJ, Paris. Merchant will be attending the upcoming Dhaka Art Summit in February 2023, where she has been commissioned to create her first large format piece by the Samdani Art Foundation. It is also expected to be featured in a museum exhibition in the United States, although further details could not yet be shared, the gallery said. His canvases oscillate between 3,000 and 12,000 €, and some were sold during the opening.

My-Lan Hoang-Thuy, CanadaFrance (2022). © My-Lan Hoang-Thuy. Courtesy of Galerie Mitterrand. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

A new discovery at the fair was My-Lan Hoang-Thuy, whose parents fled Vietnam for France during the war. Represented by the Galerie Mitterrand, she will be the subject of a personal exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, in Paris next October. Hoang-Thuy paints and prints images on small pieces of acrylic and dried canvas. Her works move in and out of abstraction, but retain personal, dreamy narratives that often reference her parents’ flight from Vietnam, when they left behind all their possessions.

“All my life my parents tried to convince me that I was an aristocrat, but we were poor,” she said. This made Hoang-Thuy particularly aware of status symbols, and is one of the reasons why she will not classify her works. “As soon as you name it, everything stops,” she said. “I try to make objects that defy definition.”

Elsewhere, at the Yavuz Gallery, which comes from Singapore, Sydney and soon Munich, Ukrainian artist Stanislava Pinchuk exhibited Root Systems (ITAofUA, Day 127, Roseltorg), which at first appeared to be just a large piece of white paper. Upon closer inspection, viewers found thousands of tiny punch holes forming letters and numbers that are codes for the Ukrainian IT Army’s DDoS attack on Russian intelligence systems. Pinchuk recently participated in Manifesta 14 in Kosovo and has two other big institutional projects coming up.

Sokyo Lisbon Gallery had a solo stand of works by Japanese artist Yoichi Umetsu.

Sokyo Lisbon Gallery had a solo booth by Kanagawa-based artist Yoichi Umetsu, who is well known in Japan but has had little exposure outside his home country. His ceramic sculptures and abstract paintings, priced between €2,600 and €5,000, will soon become more visible in Europe, with plans for exhibition at an art foundation in Lisbon. The gallery said it sold some works early in the day and had a lot of interest from collectors.

Other new entrants included a mix and established galleries, such as Parisian dealers Frank Elbaz and Loeve & Co, as well as Richard Saltoun from London, Hafez Gallery from Jeddah, O Gallery from Tehran, Ora-Ora from Hong Kong and P21 from Seoul.

Local gallery Almine Rech said they sold a few works for between €45,000 and €100,000 by Minjung Kim, while Perrotin was very interested in their Takashi Murakami exhibition of painted wooden vases and storage boxes, between €8,800 and €30. $800.

Other special projects at the fair included the European edition of do it china (2021), a Chinese and English publication edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Cao Dan. The book includes 108 recipe-like instructions from Chinese artists on how to create a work of art. First launched during the pandemic lockdown, the idea was inspired by cookbooks, a popular source of home activity for many.

And offsite programs included four exhibitions through January 23, 2023 at the National Museum of Asian Arts-Guimet, including the recently discovered work of pioneering photojournalist Anne de Henning on the Bangladesh War of Independence.

“There are so many different proposals, and it’s hard to have an opinion, but I like the place and the energy,” said Belgian curator Gregory Lang, who particularly liked the “Mingei Asia Now” exhibits. ” of the fair, organized by Nicolas Trembley.

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