Ask any avid collector of photography about Alfred Eisenstaedt’s V-J Day in Times Square (1945) and he will respond with a big smile and a knowing look. Follow up by asking him about Wang Ningde’s Some Days No.6 (2002) and you will only get puzzled glances. Although Beijing’s up and coming art scene is increasingly drawing the eyes of various foreign art collectors, the works of many Chinese artists remains somewhat inaccessible for the Western buyer. However, thanks to Artspace, an innovative online marketplace for contemporary art, and its new photo collection, “From Past to Present: Chinese Photography”, some of China’s most renowned contemporary photographers are provided with a platform to present their work to a more global audience. So far, the collection has been very successful.
WildChina has maintained its insider’s status on this new collection and the constantly evolving art scene in Beijing as one of its experts, Tiffany Beres, is not only a connoisseur in her field, but also, the curator for Artspace’s new collaboration.
So, why should a foreign buyer consider purchasing any of these works rather than paying a visit to galleries in New York City for work created by more familiar names? According to Tiffany, the photographers of this collection have used the camera to mold their individual “photographic eye”. Medium aside, unlike their Western counterparts, the lack of any inhibition allows for these Chinese artists to “simply express themselves without having to worry about the works that have preceded their own.” As products of their respective artist’s personal exploration of China, these works snapshot modern China without any manipulation, highlighting the nation’s constantly evolving popular culture. These pieces, “distinctively Chinese in style, don’t just bridge East and West, but also two significant eras of Chinese modern history”.
For example, the photographer, Cang Xin, in his piece Communication Series 2 (1999), uses his tongue to engage with the world at large, founding his work on traditional Maoist thought. “Any other artist in the West would never attempt to create an art piece like this.”
What is one work that Tiffany would rather keep than sell to a collector? “It’s hard to pick one specific piece as my favorite, but having been exposed to Beijing and experiencing first-hand its changing culture, I am very intrigued by the dream-like qualities of Wang Ningde’s photographs of Some Days No. 30 and the Some Days No. 6.”
As the art scene in Beijing continues to expand and evolve, Artspace’s online collaboration provides a great introduction for a foreign collector unfamiliar with Chinese contemporary art. With this collection and the growing international interest in Chinese art, Tiffany hopes the preconceived notion that much of Chinese art is “superficial and commercial in nature” will soon dissolve. As art in modern China comes into its own there is “no more big smiley faces, smiling Maos, and an increasing focus on real issues pertinent to present-day life in modern China.”
WildChina is excited to use Tiffany’s expertise and insight into the city’s extensive list of galleries and private art studios to provide our clients with a unique opportunity to access the works of some of Beijing’s most renowned artists. Art fanatics traveling to Beijing will have the opportunity to explore its dynamic art scene through tours tailored to individual interests. “Hopefully, foreign buyers will come to realize that though there may be a language barrier, both the Chinese artist and his work remain accessible. The most powerful piece of art speaks for itself surpassing differences in culture and language.”
Tiffany gives WildChina an insider’s preview of what to expect from Artspace – “Right now, I’m working on a new photography collection that is tentatively named ‘New China Through Photography’ which focuses on emerging Chinese artists who are using digital photography to break the traditional molds of the medium. In their manipulation, we can see a more playful reality as they confront the issues of the modern society in which they live.”
Interested in modern Chinese ink painting? Contact us for more information on organizing a tour with Tiffany to explore Beijing’s galleries and private art studios: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by: Artspace Marketplace