More importantly perhaps, Asia is now part of the mainstream, not just a source of exotic works. The regional market has grown, as collectors in Asia begin to appreciate the value of Asian art, and are gradually growing out of a slavish adherence to Western artistic orthodoxy.
Lin said that there was an increase in the regional exchange of art. “It is a trend that is gradually taking off, but still needs encouragement,” Lin said, pointing to a shift in emphasis among Taiwan collectors from Chinese works to those by artists from other Asian countries.
This year’s show looks back and celebrates the achievement of early Taiwanese artists with a special section dedicated to the works of artists such as Chen Cheng-po (陳澄波) and Liao Chi-chun (廖繼春), who, inspired by European and Japanese education, developed their own artistic style and recorded the beauty of Taiwan’s natural and cultural scenes.
New media art
Looking forward, Lin said that Taiwan itself had a large proportion of artists currently working in new media. “For collectors, many are still hesitant to engage with new media, as by their nature these pieces are very different from conventional art works. … One of the things we want to emphasize for new media is that in many respects these works are easier to collect. Without special care, a painting can deteriorate quite quickly in Taiwan’s damp climate, while a CD ROM of a digital work can be preserved more easily,” Lin said.
“New media works are also considerably cheaper than conventional art works, giving them a lower entry barrier, especially for new collectors. The potential for gains on the original investment are also greater,” Lin added.
Lin said that last year many younger collectors took an interest in new media art. These collectors, typically in their 30s and 40s, grew up with the technologies used in new media art and are comfortable with them.
“These are works using the media of their generation,” Lin said.
Collecting for love of art
All this said, art fairs are often perceived as a venue for the super rich to drop tens of thousands of dollars, whether to adorn their mansions or as an investment. Lin pointed out that while investment is naturally part of what Art Taipei is about, collecting for the love of art is equally, if not more important. The curators have ensured that lower-price categories are also represented in the fair to provide an impetus for those entering the art market for the first time.
Lin said that Art Taipei has included numerous events to appeal to visitors with various levels of art knowledge, including talks by leading artists, to provide casual visitors with a better understanding of what art is about. To ensure that these visitors are not forced merely to window shop, Lin said that the organizers had specially requested that galleries include works selling for under US$2,000.
“Last year we had many people who bought their first original art work here,” Lin said. “Of course this is not like buying a book or a CD, but this price is within the reach of ordinary people with a bit of money to spare. This is not an event restricted to professional collectors.”