Art

From Asia, with love

By Adeline Ooi

The Asian art scene, though young, is booming and art fairs continue to play a significant role in taking the region’s finest to the world

When it comes to art, I always say that Asia presents a bit of a paradox. It is incredibly diverse: the Asian art scene isn’t a monolithic entity but a compendium of many distinct art scenes; and while they are all growing rapidly, the overall art scene is still very young. There are several Asian artists who are internationally renowned, and there are several Asian masters of whom the Western world hasn’t even heard yet. Even the galleries here – so many people have set up galleries over the last decade or so, some of them without a clear understanding of what it really means to be a gallery to begin with. And yet, young Asian gallerists and curators are pioneering new approaches and new processes, and international art fairs such as the Hong Kong Art Basel are giving them a platform to come together and learn from each other. Such fairs offer a fertile meting ground not only for collectors but also peers, where they can discuss the professional challenges of setting up a gallery, compare notes, and also collaborate with each other. Over my years of working with the Hong Kong Art Basel, I’ve seen relationships grow from being neighbours at the fair to collaborators and great friends. It’s truly wonderful! I have also seen Asian art make its way farther into the international art world than ever before.

In the story of Asia, everything is exponential in terms of lived experience. Over the last decade, there has been a boom, with local galleries finding their way to an international art market. While it may only have been a decade, it is a long and significant story for the region as a whole. The reasons for this boom can be many – the works themselves, the changing tastes, the acceptance and the deepening of knowledge among collectors and art enthusiasts across the world... the art market in general has grown leaps and bounds in Asia.

Certain regions have seen ups and downs due to a variety of reasons – economic, political and otherwise – but on the whole, the growth has been exemplary. Not only has the number of collectors risen, but also galleries and initiatives, including those that are privately led. There is a lot to feel positive about right now, and art fairs continue to play a significant role in the process. For Asia in particular, art fairs work very hard to tap into the sheer diversity of creative expression in the region. Asia is home to such different histories, so many languages, so many practices and belief systems, and it is important to highlight this variety and richness through art. Art fairs, in this context, serve not only as bridges between the East and the West, but also as bridges within Asia itself, bringing about greater interaction and engagement between different regions.

Gallery.

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