Asian Art in London celebrates in style in the wake of Her Majesty!

20171109_195543 Roger Keverne, AAL Chairman (right), looks pleased as he makes a point at the Asian Art in London 20th Anniversary Gala Party held in the British Museum’s Joseph Hutong Gallery on Thursday evening.  Photo Paul Harris.

 

The AAL Gala Party is normally a glittering affair and the 20th Birthday Party held on Thursday probably excelled itself. Around 450 celebrants crowded into the newly renovated and redesigned Joseph Hutong Gallery of Chinese and South Asian Art at London’s British Museum. This was very much a preview. The Gallery does not fully open to the public until December and just one rather important visitor sprang in ahead of AAL the day previously, HM Queen Elizabeth II (and rightly so!).

So the surroundings were impeccable, the exhibits on show stunning and, as usual, the champagne flowed in unlimited quantities, fully justifying the £70 ticket price! All was in sharp contrast to last year’s event which took place in a cafeteria atmosphere in Chinatown.

AAL Chairman Roger Keverne, who will resign in December, at which time the Board of AAL will vote on his successor, compered and, in association with Director Virginia Sykes-Wright, introduced this year’s winners of the AAL Awards. The auctioneer section was shared by Bonhams, one of The Big Three, and Chiswick Auctions, which is emerging as a cheeky challenger to the giants – it has just opened up in South Ken and, in the wake of Christie’s abandoning its operations there, has adopted the acronym CSK. Eat your heart out, Christies!

In the dealer category, there was a very popular award to Priestley & Ferraro. David Priestley took the award which came directly as a result of their stunning display of Early Chinese Carved Cinnabar Lacquer entitled The Deeper Picture and which ran through AAL in the lower floor of their premises in St James’s.

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David Priestley clutches his well deserved Dealer Award at Thursday evening’s Asian Art in London 20th Birthday party. Pictured with Roger Keverne and the Editor of Apollo Magazine, Thomas Marks.    Photo Paul Harris

Asian Art in London announces Gala Party for 2017

logo                                The organisers of Asian Art in London (AAL) have announced a prime location for the 2017 Gala Party: at the newly opened Hutong Gallery at the British Museum. It will take place on Thursday November 9 and, as usual, will be a strictly ticket-only event characterised by the free flow of champagne. This will be the 20th anniversary year for AAL and the BM will most likely be a rather more popular locus than last year’s Soho event which took place in somewhat Spartan surroundings.

AAL runs from November 2-11 2017. In a break from previous practice, the Gala Party will take place towards the end of the ten day event, rather than at the beginning. Those who would normally head to London for the beginning of AAL may now, rather, hang back so as to combine the meet and greet opportunities of the Gala Party with their daytime visits. It is possible that the organisers have made a decision to try and avoid the ‘tailing off’ of the event after the first seven days by holding back on the popular gathering.

There are no further details of exhibitors or events at this early stage.

ed-roger-keverne-declares-aal-2016-open Flashback to last year’s Gala Party addressed by Roger Keverne  Photo Paul Harris

Asian Art in London IV Highlights of AAL in pictures

ed-saunders-studio-recreation-china-exchange Re-creation of the studio of William Saunders in Shanghai at the exhibition LIFE IN QING DYNASTY SHANGHAI: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF WILLIAM SAUNDERS which is on at The China Exchange in London’s Gerrard Street until November 12. The photographs in the exhibtion were collected by Stephan Loewentheil and represents, in his own words, ‘a valuable resource for the study of China before industrialisation changed it forever. Saunders moved from England and opened his studio in Shanghai in 1862. Loewentheil is the founder and President of the 19th century Rare Book & Photograph Shop in New York        Photograph by Paul Harris

ed-paul-martin-turquoise-frog-at-olympia Dealer Paul Martin exhibiting at The Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair had this French gilt-bronze mounted Chinese turquoise porcelain frog censer from the Kangxi period, mounted together with two spoons. The asking price is £9,500. Rather more pricey at £65,000 was a pair of Qianlong period silk wall hangings (Section shown below) finely decorated with figures in landscapes, hunting and fishing, interiors and formal meetings, horse riding and sailing.    Photographs by Paul Harris

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 Also showing at Olympia was Kevin Page Oriental Art who had some massive Cantonese vases.              Photograph by Paul Harris

ed-fleur-de-lys-ivory-water-buffalo At Fleur de Lys in Kensington Church Street we spotted this delightful Chinese ivory carving of a water buffalo.    Photograph by Paul Harris

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Clifford Street is a busy hangout for Chinese art buyers with top drawer premises of Eskenazi and, opposite, above, the beautifully lit and tastefully laid out display at Berwald Oriental Art. Below, Roger Keverne’s display of sancai glaze Tang Dynasty pottery.                 Photographs by Paul Harris

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And, finally, very slightly off subject for this site, but, nevertheless an event we never miss is Raquelle Azran’s showing of Vietnamese art in Mason’s Yard. We were enchanted by this carved lacquer piece by Tran Huu Chat titled Highlands Ritual and which, despite its age, was available for a very reasonable £4,500 or so. If I wasn’t paying for a new warehouse next week, I would have snapped it up!

Photograph by Paul Harris

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Asian Art in London I AAL kicks off but ‘Where are the Chinese?’

ed-roger-keverne-declares-aal-2016-open Asian Art in London Chairman Roger Keverne opens the 2016 event last Thursday evening at The China Exchange  Photo by Paul Harris

It was a chilly evening, in more ways than one, as AAL Chairman Roger Keverne opened this year’s event. He acknowledged difficulties within the trade and the economy but, of course, wished the event and its participants well. The champagne event was held in rather more spartan manner than is normal (previous locations have included the Knightsbridge Mandarian Oriental and The British Museum) It was in the former telephone exchange now known as The China Exchange in London’s Chinatown. The venue might have been lacking in charm (the overlit premises paid no homage to wrinkles) but, at least, the Laurent Premier flowed in the same unlimited quantities as were in evidence at previous events. It was, though, announced that next year’s event will return to the British Museum. This news was met with a heartfelt rousing cheer . . .

Dealers and gallerists reported that the first couple of days of AAL were disappointing. As one dealer in New Bond Street observed, ‘Very quiet. Where are all the Chinese? We’ve seen hardly any.’

I was musing on this as I went down Park Lane last Friday evening en route to the Duton’s (Tianjin, China, auctioneers) party in the Grosvenor House Hotel. As I passed the Aston Martin dealership, I could hardly fail to note that it was full of Chinese. I noted several prominent dealers and collectors (all Chinese, of course) underneath the bonnets, playing with the steering wheels and energetically pushing buttons to the general consternation of the sharply suited sales staff. Others were arguing the toss on sales prices, ‘We need at least £50,000 off that for a deal!’

ed-dutons-exhibit-notice Exhibition poster

A few doors down the road, guests were flooding in to the Duton’s party and exhibition at the Grosvenor House, APPRECIATION OF CHINA. There were more than 100 fine pieces of porcelain on display, many of which probably came from private collections in China, and elsewhere. Half a dozen or so bore red dots next to the descriptions. As the room filled with people, I counted that I was one of ten laowei present (also including Roger Keverne from AAL): the rest, approximately 150, were all Chinese.

ed-dutons-vips-pretty-girl Front rown VIP guests. Duton’s Charman Geng Du, second right Photo Paul Harris

The predominantly male, well suited Chinese businessmen represented a significant cross section of Chinese money: big business, very wealthy collectors and socialites. Many had flown in from Beijing esepecially for the event and a few days spending in London (some had been up the road at Aston Martin’s). After the lengthy introductions and welcomes, the preamble was followed by a charity auction.

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Dutons announced that they will fund a London memeorial to 96,000 Chinese who apparently died fighting in the First World War (on the Allied side, of course) and a charity auction followed: some of us had hoped that the glittering objects in the display cases were to be sold in the room. No such luck! The offerings included bottles of wine signed by the VIPs in the front row, and a couple of rather recently produced paintings. Bidding was good humoured and highly competitive.

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This is intended to be the first in a number of exhibitions and similar events presaging a move by Duton’s into the UK market. The evening raised several thousand pounds (more than £600 was put in a box that was handed around by, I was told,  ‘Ladies from Buckingham Palace’), although rather more is going to be required for the statue which is to be erected. However, there was rather a lot in terms of assets in the room: representatives of the Dalian Wanda company, who are behind the massive luxury development One Nine Elms City Tower on the banks of the Thames. Raising a relatively small amount should not be too difficult . . .

Watch this space. When the Chinese get their teeth into something, they do not let go. Expect to hear more from Duton’s and don’t doubt the fact that the Chinese are always somewhere around . . .

Further reports on Asian Art in London will be published this week

ed-dutons-the-girls Glitz and glamour at the Duton’s party . . .