The Year of the Monkey is upon us!

 

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A stylised bronze monkey made by the Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng (2004)

Collection of Paul & Sulee Harris

The Year of the Monkey is upon us and we take this opportunity to wish our many hundreds of thousands of readers who come to this site every month a most prosperous, happy and successful year!

The new Lunar New Year will end the year of the sheep, a less desirable birth year according to Chinese astrology, and usher in the year of the monkey.

The lucky zodiac combined with the new government policy have many predicting a bumper year for babies in China. In Beijing alone at least 300,000 newborns are expected – a 20 percent jump from the 250,000 average in recent years. German fertility drug maker Merck, has seen a boost in sales on the mainland.

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Traditionally, the monkey is considered to be very lucky and amny parents have deferred the opportunity to have children during the last year, The Year of the Sheep..

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it is estimated that in Beijing alone more than 300,000 children (20% extra in terms of  population demographics) will be born this New Year, or at least before the end of it!

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Monkey children are said to be smart and joyful, also energetic. Accordingly, they will likely cause much extra work for their long-suffering parents!

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We are not altogether sure what thos is all about . . .

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A most ancient view of the monkey: Yi Yuanji’s ‘Monkeys in a Mountain Landscape’ painted around 1000-1054.

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Is this a rather grumpy, elderly monkey? Make your own mind up. It is downloadable from www.dreamstime.com

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This is an early 1th century view of the monkey painted by the Emperor Xuande.

 

 

 

Highlights of 2015 on Chineseart.co.uk

We look back on the year 2015 as reflected by the pages of Chineseart.co.uk

January 2015

London dealer Anita Gray offered this exquisite Kangxi figure for sale. Hardly surprisingly, it was snapped up in a matter of hours!

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February 2015

Brought the sale of contents at Eden Hall, in the Scottish borders, by the Rt Hon Lady Loch. There were several items brough back tothe UK from Yuanminguan by the 1st Baron Loch (background and below a pair of sancai roof tiles).

Rt Hon Lady Loch

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The month also saw a spectacular, hihgly organised theft from Fontainebleau. Fifteen items were stolen from the Chinese collection, many of which had been looted from Yuanminguan by French soldiers. There has been no sign of them being recovered and the artefacts are reckoned by experts to have been ‘repatriated’ to China.

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March 2015

the Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng announces his participation in the Olympia Art & Antiques Fair, November 2015 (below).

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April 2015

We visit the porcelain city, Jingdezhen, for a series of articles. Below, The Jingdezhen Porcelain Orchestra.

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May 2015

We ask if Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian (below) has got his money back from producing copies of his US$36m. chicken cup. He drinks from the original below, and also the boxed reproduction which sells at around $60 !

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June 2015

We reported from Taipei on the chronic overcrowding at The National Palace Museum.

National Palace Museum (6)

July 2015

We turned our attention to the Chinese fashion industry in our article The Traditional Etihc in Chinese Fashion goes International. Below is Guo Pei’s stunning twist on Chinese blue and white porcelain. Also fashion label Doudu’s ‘Bodybelt’, a modern piece of lingerie based on traditional underwear.

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August 2015

We published this photogrpah of a painting offered for sale at the June Olympia Art & Antiques Fair: the mystery gil with the penetrating gaze, artist unknown. Nobody volunteeered any information who she might be!

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September 2015

London dealers Marchant, Kensington Church Street, celebrated their 90th anniversary with a collection of magnificient jades they had handled over the years.

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October 2015

A top Chinese official warns on the widespread destruction of the country’s cultural heritiage at the hands of tomb robbers and property developers. Below a photograph of the unique colonial style Arxan Shan Railway Station in northern China, destroyed by property developers.

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November 2015

Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng celebrates the opening of his first exhibition in London The Winter Olympia Art & Antiques Fair. His 200 sq m stand was organised by his UK agents Paul Harris Asia Arts. His bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II (below) proved controversial and received massive TV, radio and press coverage. It was, however, only one sculpture out of almost fifty works on display.

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December 2015

The Berlin-based online auctioneer Auctionata put up a small Kangxi dragon vase for sale estimated at euro 5-10,000. It started at 5,000 and rose giddily to the heights of euro 875,000 – almost a million dollars.

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Of a Chinese sculptor, a slow press day and a sudden media penchant for art . . .

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The more perceptive of you, faithful readers of our blog on chineseart.co.uk, will have noted a certain connection between this blog and the Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng, who last week exhibited more than 40 examples of his work at the Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair on his 200 sq m stand, the largest stand at the Fair.

We have, in fact, known Chen Dapeng for some 14 years and have long been admirers of his work which distils traditional elements of Chinese art with a modern twist. Essentially realist in approach, his work reflects a well practised craftsmanship and fascinated visitors to the Fair with its exploration of the Eastern mysteries of Kung-fu and the spirit of China.

Little is known about Chinese sculpture in the West. It is not exactly a sexy subject and spreading the news of Chen Dapeng to the British public presented enormous challenges. Having decided to mount his first exhibition in the UK, the problem was very much how to bring him to the attention of the British public. Generally speaking, the UK media is uninterested in the specifics of art although it will carry news and features based around figures renowned for their activities outside the art arena: a case in point being dissident protester Ai Weiwei, who took on the government of China using his art as a blunt instrument.

Pursuing this train of thought, we suggested to Chen Dapeng that he might think about executing a very British piece of sculpture. And what could be more British than the rightly revered figure of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? The Chinese sculptor enthusiastically took up the challenge, spending almost five months moulding Her Majesty in clay and then firing her in white porcelain, an enormously difficult medium to fire successfully. On the 13th attempt at firing, a successful version was achieved. We were all hopeful that this might be cause for some useful publicity in the UK . . .

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The unveiling by Chen Dapeng at Olympia on November 2     Photo by Paul Harris

On November 2, when the Olympia Fair opened, Chen Dapeng was totally unknown to the British public. He had half a dozen entries if you had looked him up on Google. Not a single newspaper or magazine in the UK had featured him after sending out hundreds of press releases in advance of his arrival at Heathrow . . . dragging a red draped trolley with what was to become, for the week ahead, the most famous sculpture in the world.

At 10am on Monday November 2, the sculpture was unveiled at an Olympia photocall and press releases were distributed to photographers and journalists. There wasn’t much news around that morning . . . It was what is known in the business as ‘a slow news day’.

By midday, The Daily Telegraph Online had posted a story in which their art critic Mark Hudson likened the appearance of the bust to Tom Hanks. This was the catch line that would propel the story all around the world. Within minutes, the telephone ran red hot: What was our reaction to Mark Hudson’s judgement  – on a sculpture he had never seen ? First on the line was The Daily Mail Online, followed by The Independent. By lunchtime, the story hit New York, as the city woke up, and Vanity Fair and The New York Times came on the line.

Whether or not you agreed with Hudson, this became the hottest story online and in the media worldwide: a quarter of a million Tweets, more than 200 articles and features online (that we have tracked) in more than 25 countries from Greece, Poland, Sweden and Spain to The Philippines, Indonesia and, of course, Dapeng’s native China.

On Tuesday morning, the bust was ceremoniously ferried to ITV’s This Morning for Philip and Holly to open the programme seated beside it. Philip adjudged it ‘impressive’. He was, of course, unlike Mr Hudson, seated right beside it. This Morning would be followed with interviews on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, pieces on NBC and Fox News,  and, last Friday, with a segment on Have I Got News for You?

People flocked to our stand at Olympia to see the bust. Twelve pages of our Visitors’ Book were filled with comments: 80% positive from those who had actually seen it. Meantime, on social media and on showbiz sites in the US people were posting from offices, attics and basements their own particular view of who it looked like to them: Mrs Doubtfire, Liberace, Martin Sheen, David Walliams and, even, The Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty’s husband. Despite all these suggestions, the Tom Hanks label stuck.

Also, many patently untrue suggestions made it once into online print and were relentlessly repeated worldwide without any further research: a particularly unappealing facet of the online world. The Daily Express (to quote the aforementioned Duke of Edinburgh speaking many years ago, ‘A bloody awful newspaper’) told its readers (both of them) that Buckingham Palace had declared it had no knowledge of the sculpture being offered to HM. Well, chaps, I could offer to share with you my five months of correspondence with The Keeper of The Royal Collection. On second thoughts, I won’t!

By the end of the week, Chen Dapeng was the most famous sculptor in the world. More famous, even, than Ai Weiwei. But he was getting a bit doubtful about all the publicity. ‘What about my other sculptures?’ he asked. Of course, the bust of HM was the least important on the stand in strictly artistic terms. His vastly impressive and challenging other works had merited scarcely a mention. But he had become famous worldwide.

It is probably a parable of our times: of a world dominated by the power of an all pervasive digital media. Of a world where real appreciation of anything other than the immediate, the sensational and the easily digested must be regarded as a prized rarity. However, it could be said Chen Dapeng is now a name to be reckoned with. After all, he now dominates almost twenty pages of entries on Google. Is that success, or is it not?

Paul Harris

 

Glitzy launch for Asian Art in London

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Asian Art in London launch last night      Photo Paul Harris

There was a glitzy launch last night for Asian Art in London. Hundreds of art loving partygoers swilled champagne from 7 – 10pm inside London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Knightsbridge.

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Chinese entertainment at Asian Art in London launch   Photo Paul Harris

The party not only celebrated the start of Asian Art in London’s ten day programme of exhibitions, auctions and social events, but also 2015 UK-China Cultural Exchange Year. Representatives of the Chinese government were present but only one artist was in evidence: Mr Chen Dapeng, the Shanghai sculptor, who was recognised in The Great Hall of the People in Beijing as representative sculptor.

Since that occasion, he has been in London exhibiting at Winter Olympia Art & Antiques Fair with a large 197 sq m stand. His bust of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II generated massive publicity worldwide earlier this week. Some journalists, none of whom had actually seen the bust, criticised his depiction of the Queen. However, the many pages of entries in the Visitors’ Book on the stand tell a rather different story. Overwhelmingly, positive, they praise the sculptor for capturing a fine likeness of the monarch.

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Chen Dapeng on his crowded stand at Olympia yesterday  Photo Khalid B

Chen Dapeng’s secret sculpture is of . . . H M Queen Elizabeth II

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It can now be revealed, exclusively by this site, that the top secret sculpture that Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng has been working on since May of this year is of the British Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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A September 2015 picture of Chen Dapeng working on the clay version of his sculpture of HM Queen Elizabeth II  Copyright Photo by Paul Harris

This information will be revealed tomorrow morning at 1030 Beijing time (0330 UK time) at a press conference being held in the Chinese capital’s No. 1 prestige venue, The Great Hall of the People. It will also be revealed that Chen Dapeng is to be recognised by the Chinese government as official sculptor for UK-China Cultural Exchange Year.

On Friday, Chen Dapeng and his team will leave China and fly to London. The bust of the Queen – the final version is to be in priceless white porcelain crafted by Jingdezhen’s Hanguang Factory – will go on public show on the evening of Monday, November 2 at the opening party for this year’s Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair.

Expanding Asian Art in London to start November 5

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The annual Asian bean-feast Asian Art in London continues to grow apace. Its new handy vest-pocket sized catalogue is decidedly the thickest yet. There are more exhibitors than ever at the event which runs from November 5-14. New AAL participants include contemporary art galleries Art China, Gallery Elena Schukina (contemporary Koean photo artist Seung-Hwan) Oh and Paul Harris Asia Arts with the sculptures of Chen Dapeng at Olympia.

You can get a copy of the invaluable pocket catalogue (we use ours all the year round as an essential reference work in the office) by emailing info@asianartinlondon.com or you can, of course consult the website www.asianartinlondon.com.

There are a couple of what might be termed ‘prestige events’. On November 5, the event opens with a symposium at The Royal Institution which is intriguingly entitled The Psychology of A Collector. Collectors intending to turn up will probably be relieved to hear that there are no qualified psychologists speaking so they need have no fears of any serious embarrassment! Attendance will knock you back £105 so you have a right to expect some special insights . . .

The following night the Gala Party takes place. This year it is at The Mandarin Oriental and it celebrates the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange with support from the Chinese Embassy. Although he has been rushed off his feet by the long, intensive visit of President Xi Jinping last week, you can expect to see Ambassador Li Xiaoming and several brace of Chinese dignitaries basking in the glow of last week’s successful visit. Tickets for the bash are available at a mere £60 a go.

Other definite notes for the diary are the drinks party rounds on Saturday November 7 (Kensington Church Street), Sunday November 8 (St James’s) and Monday November 9 (Mayfair). It is an excellent series of opportunities to get around the exhibitors without cutting into the routines of actual business. They’re also free . . .

We shall be posting news and pictures on chineseart.co.uk.

 

Chen Dapeng en route to Olympia via The Great Hall of the People

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Chen Dapeng in his Shanghai studio                                       Photo Paul Harris

Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng, who will be at Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair November 2-8 with a massive 200 sg m stand, is to stop en route to London and hold a press conference in Beijing’s top venue, The Great Hall of the People in Tianneman Square.

The press conference will be at 1030 hours next Wednesday October 28 with a live internet stream and coverage by Chinese national broadcaster CCTV. Chen Dapeng will announce that he is newly recognised by the government of the PRC as an official part of UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

He will also reveal the identity of the important British figure he has just finished sculpting and there may even be a physical sighting of the mystery sculpture which he will then bring to London for a press photo call at Olympia on November 2, followed by the official unveiling during the Olympia Collectors’ Preview that evening..

 

 

Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng plans major London exhibit at Olympia, book and top secret unveiling

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Chen Dapeng at work in his Shanghai studio, June 2015     Photo Paul Harris

The Shanghai-based Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng is next month to mount a major exhibit at the prestigious Winter Olympic Art & Antiques Fair; launch a coffee table book on his work; and promises the unveiling of a dramatic, top secret bust of ‘a most prominent UK public figure’.

Said Paul Harris of Paul Harris Asia Arts today, ‘We are proud to be organising the first exhibition in the UK for the Shanghai-based Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng. This follows his successful showings at the Shanghai EXPO (2010) and the Carousel du Louvre (2013), where he was greeted by the French press as ‘the new Rodin’.

‘The 197 sq m Chen Dapeng exhibit (Stand A25) will be the largest at this year’s prestigious Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair, which takes place at The National Hall from November 2-8, and represents for us an investment of more than a quarter of a million pounds sterling. There will be a champagne preview on November 2, as well as a press photo-call. ‘

This year the Fair itself celebrates its 25th anniversary as the most important winter art and antiques show in London.

‘At 1830 hours there will be the unveiling of Chen Dapeng’s new bust of a most prominent UK public figure and which he has executed to celebrate the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. More details of this event will be released on Wednesday October 28 and you will be informed accordingly. A new full colour coffee table book on Chen Dapeng containing a catalogue raisonné of his sculptures will also be launched at the Preview.

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Paul Harris with Chen Dapeng in  Shanghai studio, 2003. Photo Paul Harris Asia Arts

On Friday November 6, Paul Harris will be giving the lecture CHINESE SCULPTURE: FROM THE TERRACOTTA ARMY TO CHEN DAPENG at Olympia National Hall.’

This lecture is free to all Olympia ticket holders. Paul Harris is an accredited NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) lecturer in the UK and Australia, as well as the author of half a dozen art books (www.worldoflectures.com). His also owns this website www.chineseart.co.uk, as well as www.vietnamart.co.uk.

The Chen Dapeng exhibit is also a participant in Asian Art in London.

Chinese exhibits, buyers and media all seen at Olympia summer Fair

The Ajassa Arte Antica Cines stand at the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

The Ajassa Arte Antica Cines stand at the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair

At the June 18 private view of this summer’s Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair many Chinese orientated exhibits, Chinese buyers and, even, Chinese media were all in evidence.

Exhibitors with strong Chinese exhibits included Turin-based Ajassa Antica, who exhibited at Olympia twice last year; a combined exhibit of Chinese porcelain and works of art by a group of Oriental dealers from Kensington Church Street, a noted centre for the genre; and Paul M Peters Ltd of Harrogate, Yorkshire. Peters, established for almost 50 years in the Yorkshire spa town, showed Chinese and Japanese antiques, as well as some European ceramics and objets d’art.

 The Paul M Peters stand at Olympia


The Paul M Peters stand at Olympia

There were many Chinese buyers visible in the aisles and on the stands, clearly taking advantage of the private view day. Additionally, Chinese Television were in evidence interviewing the organisers and exhibitors with Chinese items on their stands.

Tang Dynasty statue, Ajassa Antica stand

Tang Dynasty statue, Ajassa Antica stand

At the upcoming November 2-8 Winter Art & Antiques Fair the Chinese presence promises to  be even more pronounced. Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng has booked a very large 197 sq. m. stand at which some 40 of his impressive sculptures will be exhibited. Notable Chinese public figures will be accompanying him to the Fair to launch his exhibit with a champagne opening within the Fair’s own opening on the evening of November 2. Organisers of his exhibit, Paul Harris Asia Arts (www.paulharrisasiaarts.co.uk), promise “something very special” at the event as a new sculpture, a gift of the Chinese people to the UK, is unveiled.

The The Olympia International Art & Antiques (summer) Fair runs until June 28.

Ana Perez Grassano paints Chen Dapeng sculptures

6 Grassano and Chen Dapeng with the first painting in Songjiang, Shanghai last week

French-Argentinian artist Ana Perez Grassano has just returned from Shanghai, China, where she has painted several of the sculptures of Chen Dapeng, the important Songjiang-based sculptor. We have previously written about Grassano and her cooperation with Chen Dapeng. She is based in Paris and first met Chen Dapeng during his exhibition at Le Carousel du Louvre in November 2013. Chen Dapeng has recently announced that he is to exhibit at this years Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair in London (November 2-8). His exhibit is being organised by Paul Harris Asia Arts. Our picture below shows Grassano, Harris and Chen Dapeng after making the announcement in Shanghai on March 29. SONY DSC

Dining on the best porcelain in Shanghai

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A dehua figure graces the prawns Picture by Paul Harris

We had the unique experience this evening of a private dinner party in Shanghai where we were privileged to dine off some of the most exquisite porcelain, much of it a full five or six hundred years old.

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A Xuande duck amidst the meat platter Picture by Paul Harris

Our gourmet host, Taiwan-born film director and man of many talents, Qiu Ying Hong, produced by his own hand the most exceptional meal and served it in the most exquisite aesthetic manner: each charger (themselves several hundred years old) had strategically based ceramic objects of great beauty.

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A celadon dragon guards the pork Picture by Paul Harris

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A 500 year-old piece of blue and white made for the Middle East Picture by Paul Harris

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Dinner party guest Chen Dapeng, who has just announced he is to exhibit at London’s Olympia for the Winter Art & Antiques Show 2015, samples a curried dumpling from a plate graced by a Yixing teapot! Picture by Paul Harris

It was truly an outstanding and memorable evening. We shall post some more photographs over the coming days and weeks. Needless to say, there were no museum curators present! We were not allowed to wash the dishes. We guess the maid was required to wash them by hand . . .

Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng announces Olympia exhibition: welcomed by Minister for Foreign Affairs

From Paul Harris in Shanghai SONY DSC The renowned Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng today opened a major retrospective exhibition of his quarter of a century of work and took the opportunity to announce publicly that he will exhibit at this year’s Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair (November 2-8 2015).

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More than 150 people attended for the announcement and exhibition opening. Minister of Foreign Affairs Xie Wei speaks.

Following his successful exhibition at the Carousel du Louvre in 2013, he now seeks to expose his body of work to the British audience. Several Chinese government ministers and other dignitaries attended the event which was held in the grounds of The Dragon Building in the Songjiang suburb of Shanghai.

The Dragon Building, built in the shape of China’s most significant emblem, was designed and built by Chen Dapeng and, together with other associated buildings, provides studios, workshops, offices and home for the 53 year-old sculptor. More than 150 guests from the media, government, business and academe attended the event which also featured tai chi demonstrations, and traditional Chinese music and dance. It was also attended by Ana Perez Grassano, the Paris-based Argentinian artist who is in Shanghai to paint Chen Dapeng. The event was filmed by Xinhua News Agency and Shanghai Television. It is an integral part of The Shanghai People’s Festival 2015.

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs from the office of the government of Shanghai (now a region of some 25 million people), Mr Xie Wei, welcomed Mr Chen Dapeng’s efforts to export art from China to the west and evinced his support for the Olympia exhibition. Mr Chen Dapeng also publicly announced that Paul Harris Asia Arts (www.PaulHarrisAsiaArts.co.uk) has been appointed to represent him in the UK and to organise his exposure at Olympia. Paul Harris Asia Arts is a sister business to ChineseArt.co.uk.

A 200 sq m series of stands have been booked at the Olympia event and it is thought he may well be the largest single exhibitor at the Winter Art & Antiques Fair, the most significant public exhibition of its type held in the winter months.