A charming 1930s shot of The Bright Moonlight Singing and Dancing Troupe in Shanghai. The photo is published in Shanghai: 1842-2010 Portrait of a Great City by Liu Heung Shing and Karen Smith (2010).
The Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng is to collaborate with the French-Argentinian painter Ana Perez Grassano, it has just been announced. Dapeng, who mounted a much acclaimed exhibition of 39 of his sculptures at The Louvre in Paris last November, is to exhibit his works in Britain 20215-16. The two met at The Louvre.
By all accounts, Grassano was captivated by Dapeng’s sculptures, which the French press dubbed as the work of ‘the new Rodin’. The two have agreed to enter into a collaboration which will involve Perez incorporating the sculptures into her bold non-figurative expressionist-style paintings.
Said Chen Dapeng this week, “This is both a practical and a symbolic union for the two of us. This year is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.” Accordingly, this union of talents is, it is understood, is to be supported by the Chinese Ministry of Culture Department.
Perez was born in 1969 in Rosario, Argentina, and has lived in France since 1993. She is a qualified architect and practises architecture and designer professionally. She developed her talents as an artist in the atelier of Martin Reyna. It was announced recently that the sculptor has entered into an exclusive marketing agreement in Britain with Paul Harris Asia Arts Group.
Affordable Art Fair London June 2014 Photo Paul Harris
***Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong Exhibition Centre May 13-15 2016 Down to earth, everything-priced (reasonably) fair for both new and established artists. www.affordableartfair.com/hongkong/
*Affordable Art Fair London Battersea March 10-13 2016 Hampstead Heath June 16-19 2016 Cutting edge art at budget prices (maximum allowed in 2014 was £4,000). Vietnamese art represented Asia in 2014. Garden party atmosphere under canvas on Hampstead Heath. www.affordableartfair.com/hampstead/
**Art Antiques London June 24-30 2016 A Haughton International Fair in which approximately 70 dealers show in a purpose-built tent in Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall. Noted for its garden party atmosphere. In 2014 and 2015, Asian Art in London participated with its own pavilion showing star items from its own participants. www.haughton.com
*Art Basel June 16-19 2016 For 45 years, one of the great premier shows for modern and contemporary art. Approximately 300 leading galleries show paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, video and editioned works. www.artbasel.com
***Art Basel Hong Kong March 24-6 2016 The newest Art Basel show featuring galleries from Asia, Asia-Pacific as well as from other parts of the world. There are many additional shows and events across Hong Kong’s vibrant art scene. www.artbasel.com/en/hong-kong
*Art Basel Miami Beach December 1-4 2016 A favourite winter meeting place for the international art world. Over 250 leading galleries display modern and contemporary works. Many satellite fairs now associated with this event. www.atbasel.com/en/Miami-Beach
Asian Art in London Pavilion, Art Antiques London June 2014 Photo Paul Harris
***Art Central Hong Kong March 23-6 2016 Central Harbourfront, Hong Kong island The new kid on the block, mounting a determined challenge to Art Basel Hong Kong. VIP Private View March 22. Over 100 exhibitors with cutting edge contemporary art. 30,000 visitors in 2015. http://artcentralhongkong.com
***Asian Art in London Across London November 3-12 2016 London’s major acknowledgement of the world of Asian art, encompassing a range of exhibitions of private and public works of Asian art, as well as important auctions by Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Many provinicial auctioneers also schedule Asian art events around this event. www.asianartinlondon.com
**Asian Art Week, London (Spring 2015) Series of auctions rather than actual fair
**Asian Art Week New York (March 15-18 and also autumn) Series of auctions rather than actual fair. Heavily hyped.
Edinburgh Art Fair November 18-20 2016 at the Old Corn Exchange. A wide selection of Scottish contemporary art www.artedinburgh.com
Edinburgh Art Festival Across the city end July 28-August 28 2016 Now developed into a major festival with events throughout the Festival city; running in tandem with the official Edinburgh Festival and the Fringe. www.edinburghartfestival.com
***Fine Art Asia Hong Kong October 2-6 2016 HK Convention & Exhibition Centre Started in 2006, this event is possibly Asia’s leading international fine art fair timed to coincide with a rash of commercial Asian art auctions in the city. www.fineartasia.com
Frieze London October 6-9 2016 Contemporary art on show in Regent’s Park http://friezelondon.com/
Frieze New York May 5-8 2016 on Randall’s Island, Manhattan
International Antiques Fair Hong Kong May 24-6 2016 Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Hall 5BC www.iaf.com.hk
*International Fine Art & Antiques Show, t.b.c, Park Avenue Armory, New York. A strictly vetted showcase for exceptional works of art and antiquity.
Masterpiece London June 30-July 6 2016 A heady mix of art taking place at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, near to Sloane Square www.masterpiecefair.com
*New York Ceramics & Glass Fair January 21-24 2016 Private view January 20. Long established fair rebranded in 2015 to include glass. Includes dealers from China.
Ajassa stand at Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair June 2014 Photo Paul Harris
Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair June 27-July 23 2016 The summer version of the Winter Fair, both operated by Clarion Events. A ‘quality’ event being challenged somewhat by the Haughton fair, Art Antiques London (see entry above).
**Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair October 31-November 6 2016 Private view October 31. Premier event with around 130-50 top dealers participating. Now moved to the National Hall at Olympia. www.olympia-art-antiques.com
**TEFAF Maastricht, Netherlands March 11-20 2016 The major, big money art and antiques fair which tends to set new record prices every year. A major event for the big spenders. www.tefaf.com
**Venice Biennale Since 1895 An amalgam of events and fairs taking place between May and November 2016 at various locales including the Arsenale and Giardini. Now featuring a Chinese pavilion. http://labiennale.org
Photographs by Paul Harris
It is becoming abundantly clear that all the major London auction houses are vying with each other to establish themselves in pole position in what they see as the lucrative Chinese market.
The main competitors presently are Sotheby’s and Christie’s and it is understood that Bonham’s, currently for sale on the market itself, will also likely join the race as soon as its future is determined having recently opened opulent new premises in Hong Kong’s Pacific Plaza.
This week, Christie’s have made some important announcements.
- Christie’s Shanghai is opening its new home at a historical landmark building on the Bund
- A new category of Chinese Contemporary Design to be featured at the Shanghai Autumn Auction on 24 October, in addition to Asian and Western 20th Century and Contemporary Art evening sale and a Prestigious Lifestyle sale
- A ground breaking and cross-category private sales exhibition, The Art of The Horse, tours Shanghai and Hong Kong
One year after its ground-breaking inaugural sale in mainland China, Christie’s announces the opening of a new home and a multi-purpose art space at Shanghai’s historical Bund. To mark the occasion, Christie’s will present its Shanghai autumn auctions on 24 October featuring an evening sale of Asian and Western 20th Century and Contemporary Art, a Prestigious Lifestyle sale, and the launch of a new category of Chinese Contemporary Design. A private selling exhibition, The Art of The Horse, will be the opening exhibition at Christie’s Shanghai on 21 October, and tours to Hong Kong in November.
Christie’s are establishing themselves on Shanghai’s historic Bund on the banks of the Huangpu River. Photo by Paul Harris
Located in the heart of The Bund, the historic commercial centre of the city graced by its most elegant buildings, Christie’s Shanghai is housed at the Ampire Building which was built in 1907 and has been part of the urban landscape over the past century. The combination of heritage and style is a perfect match for Christie’s. Covering an area of nearly 1,000 square meters for exhibition galleries and offices, Christie’s Shanghai will serve as a convening place for collectors and art lovers by holding exhibitions, lectures, events, private sales, and embodies the same spirit of similar spaces developed by Christie’s in New York, London and Paris.
“Shanghai blends a fascinating history and a dynamic spirit, which makes it one of the great cultural centres in the world. The character and elegance of the classical building on the Bund, which has become Christie’s new ‘home’, is a perfect illustration of the uniqueness of this city. It will provide an ideal setting for us to continue developing our activities, with an expanded programme of auctions, exhibitions, lectures and events tailored to the interests of Chinese collectors,” said François Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific.
Since setting up as the first international auction house in China in 1994 with a representative office, this latest landmark in Christie’s history demonstrates the auction house’s commitment to China and its art market.
Jinqing Cai, President of Christie’s China, said, “As we continue to expand in China, Christie’s new art space will allow us to accommodate the many activities that we have planned for China. Our mission is to become an integral part of the art community in China while promoting great works of art by Chinese artists and creative talents globally. The launch of our Chinese Contemporary Design category, for example, is also part of our plan to offer exciting initiatives to art lovers in China and worldwide. After being exhibited at Christie’s Paris, Hong Kong and New York, the collection will be offered at Christie’s Shanghai autumn auction.”
Returning Olympia exhibitor Ajassa Arte Antica Cines, who showed in the June event, will return in November. Photo Paul Harris
The 24th Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair (3-9 November 2014) is one of the regular highlights of the Winter art season and even more so now for followers of Asian art. For the second year running it coincides with Asian Art in London when large numbers of serious Asian buyers focus on London.
Run in association with the UK’s top trade associations, BADA and LAPADA, it showcases 120 top dealers selling the finest British craftsmanship through the centuries. Several Asian specialists will be present including Laura Bordignon, Ajassa, Neil Holton Japanese Art and Matthew Holder
Popular with collectors, interior designers and those looking for something different, the stock on sale encompasses a wide range of interests. There is always a sparkling preview night.
Every piece on sale is strictly checked by experts before the fair opens to ensure it is authentic so visitors can buy with confidence.
For more information visit: www.olympia-antiques.com or follow on Twitter @WFAAF
The renowned Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng (www.chendapengsculptor.com) has appointed Paul Harris Asia Arts (www.paulharrisasiaarts.co.uk) as his UK and Ireland representative from September 1 2014 for eighteen months. The appointment follows his successful exhibit at the Louvre in Paris last November where he showed 39 of his bronzes to considerable acclaim: it is understood that an offer in the region of Euros 30 million was made during the event for all the exhibits by a French gallery director.
Paul Harris Asia Arts director Sun Yumei, speaking this week, said that exhibits in the UK were currently under negotiation with the November 2015 Olympia Art & Antiques Fair, Asian Art in London, also for 2015, and for the Edinburgh International Festival 2016. It was also hoped to exhibit the sculptor’s work in either Manchester or Birmingham and in Dublin. Said Sun Yumei, “Chen Dapeng is well known in China for both his public sculptures and by private patrons. The town of Songjiang [part of the Shanghai conurbation] will open a 3,000 sq.m. museum to him in February next year and we think the time is now right, having known and worked with him since 2003, to launch a major international promotional effort.”
At The Louvre, Paris, last November, bronze by Chen Dapeng
Paul Harris Asia Arts is owned by Coldingham Investments Ltd. The group also operates as Chinese Art in Scotland (www.chineseartinscotland.co.uk) and retails modern Vietnamese art through the Coldingham Gallery (www.coldinghamgallery.co.uk) and www.vietnamart.co.uk. It is also the owner of this website chineseart.co.uk, which gets up to 300,000 visitors a month.
Said Sun Yumei this week, “We are constantly developing our position in the Chinese art market and this new contract serves to firm us up as a major player”.
Soaring Chinese demand for valuable rosewood timber is threatening the prized rainforest species with extinction in countries of the Mekong region, as well as in the rainforests of Madagascar. The illegal trade is driving corruption and weakening state governance in both the Mekong and Madagascar.
From 2000-2013, some 3.5 million cubic meters (123.6 million cubic feet) of Hongmu (red rosewood) timber was imported by China, the only country to have a specific customs code for Hongmu species indicating the country’s “global dominance of trade” in the wood, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) said in a report.
During the third week of May, Kenyan customs officials seized dozens of shipping containers holding hundreds of tonnes of illegally logged rosewood from Madagascar, the largest swoop of its kind in Kenya and said to be worth as much as $13 million.
Illegal logging of hardwood in the Indian Ocean island’s rain forests spiralled out of control after a coup in 2009 and remains rampant, conservationists say, threatening rare species, including lemurs, that are found nowhere else.
Famed for its wildlife and eyed by foreign firms for its minerals, Madagascar’s tourism has struggled since the coup.
The haul on May 26 at the port of Mombasa, a popular transit point for drugs and ivory smugglers, was being shipped to Hong Kong and was loaded in Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago off mainland Tanzania.
“The ongoing crisis of illegal logging in Madagascar is wreaking havoc on the country’s extraordinary biodiversity, and its hopes for sustainable development,” the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) said, noting that the 34 containers were carrying 640 tonnes of rosewood worth $12.8 million.
From Hong Kong, rosewood is commonly smuggled into mainland China where it is used to make luxury furniture.
Fatma Yusuf, a senior commissioner at the Kenya Revenue Authority, said the wood would be worth $6.8 million in China.
“We monitored the ship which along the way, was rerouted to Zanzibar and the cargo loaded on another ship, but eventually this ship docked at the port in Mombasa,” he told Reuters.
The December election of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina is seen as a vital step to rebuild confidence in an economy which was crippled after investors fled and donors suspended support. Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest countries
The Mekong region — consisting of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar — has historically been China’s supply base for Hongmu and has been most affected by the surge in demand over the past decade, EIA said, accounting for nearly half of the imports since 2000 at a value of nearly U.S. $2.4 billion.
It said that despite measures put in place by Mekong countries to prevent illegal and unsustainable logging, the value of the industry has rendered such efforts ineffective, and Siamese rosewood — a particularly rare form of Hongmu — is highly sought after by traders.
“With rare timbers already threatened with commercial, if not biological, extinction, laws put in place to protect Siamese rosewood (Dalbergia cochinchinensis) have been swept away by corruption, driven by the huge financial incentives offered by timber traders supplying the Chinese market,” the report said.
While Siamese rosewood has been protected from unsustainable and illegal trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since March of last year, EIA said that its investigation revealed weaknesses in the listing that “fundamentally undermine the application of the treaty.”
“Crime, corruption, and ill-conceived government policies from Thailand to China, via Laos and Vietnam, are likely to result in the demise of Siamese rosewood in the coming years, unless significant and rapid reforms are made,” the report said.
“While responsibility lies with countries in which the tree grows … it is the state-supported commodification and commercialisation of China’s rich Hongmu cultural heritage that has provided all the money, and China is where all the timber has gone.”
Found in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Siamese rosewood is one of the most valuable and threatened of the 33 official Hongmu species, EIA said, adding that declines in the species’ population have prompted all four countries to put laws into place to prevent further logging.
“Despite these controls, all of the range states have been hit by a predatory crime wave of illegal logging and timber smuggling driven almost entirely by booming demand for Hongmu in China,” the report added.
“A combination of weak enforcement and corruption, soaring demand and the lack of a legality standard on China’s imports, has enabled the lucrative trade to flourish and has turned forests into conflict zones,” it said.
“Organised syndicates control the trade, and violent and fatal clashes between armed loggers and rangers continue to cost lives on both sides.”
Tom Johnson, a forest campaigner with the EIA,said that with its booming market, China “is essentially exporting corruption and weakening forest governance in all of the range states” for all species of Hongmu.
“Essentially, China is systematically eradicating the natural heritage of its neighbors,” he said.
“On a broader scale, what happens is we see a huge impact on forest governance and enforcement, and governance generally in the range states. Because of the level of money that goes in, it really boots down the door and corruption floods in. And that has huge implications for states that are less stable.”
EIA said that when loggers seeking Siamese rosewood — many of whom carry guns and even rocket-propelled grenades in addition to chainsaws — are confronted by enforcement officers, violence often ensues.
Since 2009, dozens of forest rangers have been killed in Thailand, the report said, though fatalities among loggers from Cambodia, who stream across the border under the cover of night to seek out rosewood, are even higher, with 45 reportedly shot dead by Thai forces in 2012 alone.
Methamphetamines, which are used as stimulants to overcome fatigue, contribute to the violence and leave border communities ravaged by addiction.
“The money on offer to impoverished rural communities from traders lures a stream of people willing to undertake potentially lethal work,” the report said.
“Villagers can earn hundreds of dollars from logging excursions, returns that dwarf those offered by other forms of local employment such as farming.”
Rosewood is then channeled from remote forests to furniture showrooms in China, the report said, enabled by “major governance failings across all range states,” including weak and corrupted law enforcement and policy contradictions that provide mechanisms for trade at the expense of protection for the species.
“The volume of money that is available within this industry is just staggering. And when you look at that in the context of the levels of poverty in many of the range states, you can see why it is practically impossible to stop this without addressing the demand and controlling imports to China,” Johnson said.
“Enforcement alone isn’t going to stop this because the money available is so high that you are always going to be able to find people who are willing to risk their lives to go out logging and you are always going to be able to find government officials who are willing to take huge bribes to allow things to go out of the country,” he said.
EIA has recommended that all Siamese rosewood range states and China improve their reporting process to the CITES Secretariat, while all range states must end government auctions of seized rosewood and other species, prosecute those behind the illegal trade, and strengthen penalties to act as a credible deterrent.
It said that Thailand must provide enforcement agencies with adequate resources to protect the country’s remaining stands, while Laos should utilize current negotiations with the EU for an agreement to combat illegal logging and trade in rosewood.
Vietnam must prohibit exports of illegal rare timbers currently allowed if purchased from government auctions and processed into finished products, it added.
EIA also called on China to institute a clear legal prohibition on imports of all illegally logged timber, deploy effective border controls on imports of Siamese rosewood, and to reform the Hongmu industry to ensure it stops stimulating demand for endangered species and trading in illicit timber.
“China needs to step up to the plate. It needs to take responsibility for the way its trade operates in other countries, but it needs to take really robust measures to regulate imports—to determine whether imports of timber have been harvested and exported legally or not,” Johnson said.
The Scholar’s Table was a sort of altar for the learned Ming man. An Eight Immortals Table in the exhibition Ming The Golden Empire at The National Museum of Scotland. It is made from the much-prized wood huanghuali and such tables would have been known as Eight Immortals, Six Immortals or Four Immortals, depending on how many might be able to sit at it. It could have been used by the scholar (scholarly objects are placed on the table) or for dining, games or other domestic uses. Photo Paul Harris
During the Ming period, wealthy and elite literati engaged in self-cultivation and the study of the arts. They amassed private libraries and created studios for their literary and artistic activity. Here, scholars surrounded themselves with objects reflecting their tastes and interests. Studios were filled with fine furniture, bamboo, wood and ivory carvings, brush and scroll pots, musical instruments and other objects for use and amusement.
Snuff bottle decorated with scholarly objects. Courtesy Chinese Art in Scotland
The essential literati trappings – the so-called Four Treasures of the scholar’s studio – were paper, ink sticks, ink stones (on which to grind ink) and brushes. Reading and study featured heavily in the lives of such literati. Jesuits arriving in late Ming China recorded their astonishment at the size of the libraries of the literati.
Portrait of Xu Wei From The National Museum of Scotland exhibition Ming The Golden Empire From The Nanjing Museum Photo Paul Harris
Xu Wei (1521-93) was such an accomplished man who would have fitted admirably into the scholar’s studio. He was variously renowned as a painter, dramatist, poet, writer and calligrapher. His style of painting was individual and marked by expressive brushwork. Like so many artists before and since, he led a chaotic life, lived in poverty and traded food and clothing for paintings. he made several suicide attempts and was imprisoned for seven years for the murder of his wife.
Ming The Golden Empire continues at The National Museum of Scotland until October 19 2014