2013.11.29 Fri, by Translated by: 路弯弯
Art021: When a Fair Becomes a Reality

The inaugural edition of Art021 opened officially yesterday in Shanghai to general acclaim and surprise. Fair-goers were quietly surprised by the quality of the booths, their overall positive response no doubt helped by the lack of prior expectations. The fair organizers had been flying low on the PR radar, apparently aiming for an air of exclusivity for this small fair of about 29 galleries—mostly from Beijing and Shanghai. And the result was a high-quality art fair “on a human scale”—easily digestible within an afternoon, with time to really enjoy individual art works. The overall experience was more a relieved respite from the “art fair syndrome” of recent years, in spite of whatever possible gripes from excluded galleries.

Probably the most notable difference with this fair, aside from its small size, is its vertical stretch. Hosted in the NIB building of the Rockbund complex, just a stone’s throw from Shanghai’s historic Bund waterfront, the fair has spread the galleries across three floors, with the other floors divvied up between talks, “Invitational Exhibition of Chinese Young Collectors,” refreshment areas, and others. This vertical reach apparently caused some problems for slightly larger works due to the limited access through the elevators and stairs—though in fact the relative absence of loud, overwhelming art was probably a bonus.

In addition to the booths there was a small special projects area in the restored marble-clad lobby, with works by Xu Bing, Marc Quinn, Liu Wei, Yang Fudong, among others. Site-specific works include pieces by Michael Lin, Gao Weigang, and Lawrence Weiner. At the time of writing, some gallerists commented that there were fair number of collectors from the Yangtze River Delta region (it certainly helped that a number of the fair’s organizers were collectors themselves) but few galleries were volunteering much information on sales waiting to see what the last days of the fair might bring.

The VIP lounge with special installation by Michael Li.

Light installation by Gao Weigang (Shanghai Gallery of Art booth)

White Cube booth. Here are works by Mona Hatoum and Theaster Gates.

Platform China booth 站台中国的展位

Works by Chen Haiyan (Ink Studio).

Work by Yu Honglei (Antenna Space).

ShanghART booth 香格纳的展位