“We hope to make Taipei Dangdai the most important event in the art scene around the world and in Asia,” was co-director Robin Peckham’s speech opening, speaking in Mandarin as a nod to the local market. Returning for a second year, Dangdai’s (台北當代) goal is to put Taipei on the map for the art world.
Asia is already a leading force in the global art market, and it is only expected to grow in importance in the upcoming years. However, which cities play a key role is constantly changing — especially in light of unstable business in Hong Kong over the last year.
“Taipei city is vibrant and collectors are hungry,” said Mariko Kawashima, director of Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong, one of the newcomers this year amongst 99 galleries — 23 of which have spaces in Taiwan.
Photo: Ella Csarno
Dangdai’s co-founder Magnus Renfrew said there is interest from galleries around the world in potentially joining next year.
COLLECTORS DO THEIR HOMEWORK
International galleries were impressed by the Taiwanese crowd.
Photo: Ella Csarno
“For a small country, it’s astonishing that there are so many collectors,” said Rachel Lehmann, co-owner of Lehmann Maupin. “They do their homework very well, and they collect in depth.”
It was a sentiment echoed by gallerist Sean Kelly.
“People here are very sophisticated, they understand quality,” Kelly said.
Photo: Ella Csarno
Though Kawashima said they are still learning about Taiwanese collectors, Kelly believes in bringing recognizable names and leading works to Taiwan. Indeed, the number of artworks from world-renowned artists like Marina Abramovic, Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei (艾未未) or Julian Opie have gone up considerably.
Galleries reported successful sales. David Zwirner sold multiple artworks within the first two hours of the fair, mostly to Taiwanese collectors. TKG+, the contemporary branch of Taiwanese Tina Keng Gallery (耿畫廊), said they were happy with the results, and, perhaps more importantly, made connections to new collectors.
NOT JUST FOR PROFIT
Backed by the Ministry of Culture, the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Taipei’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Dangdai provided a platform for many artists who were never presented in Taiwan before.
Oscar Murillo, co-winner of last year’s Turner Prize, who hosted a talk at the “Ideas” program of the fair, where he said that collaboration with a local institution is on the horizon for him.
Lehmann Maupin are also working with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (臺北市立美術館) on a show about Erwin Wurm curated by Jerome Sans, and a solo exhibition with Tony Oursler at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art (高雄市立美術館).
THINKING LONG TERM
Shanghai and Hong Kong used to be absolute centers for the market in Asia, but international galleries have started diversifying, setting their foot in multiple cities. This mindset comes as political tension in Hong Kong caused a dip in the business of galleries last year.
“The art world is not isolated,” said Lehmann, “but with long-term strategies it’s easier to adapt to change.”
Arthur de Villepin, founder of Villepin, a gallery opening in Hong Kong in March added: “The energy of Hong Kong is beyond the political situation. The fact that it dilutes itself in the region is not a bad thing.”
Alongside his father, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, he hopes to open a salon-like space where long-term relationships with artists and collectors can be built.
“Cultural difference is richness to me,” he said.
Ultimately events like Dangdai continue to lay the foundations of Taipei as a safe haven for art. Taipei Dangdai will return again in January next year, promising a longer lineup.
On the day I rode a 125cc two-wheeler to 2,312m above sea level, the northwestern corner of Taitung County wasn’t merely beautiful. It was “renounce all worldly possessions and walk out on your family, if that means you can stay” sublime. At first light in Chihshang (池上), I rode through jacket-dampening fog. Outside the town, I escaped the morning mists, and zipped inland on an empty road. In the space of just under 6km, Provincial Highway 20A (20甲) exits Chihshang, passes farms, crosses the Sinwulu River (新武呂溪), and merges into Provincial Highway 20. The latter road is also known as the South
I sat down this week for a chat with Taiwan Internet stalwart T. H. Schee (徐子涵, @scheeinfo on Twitter). Schee’s career for the last two decades has been focused on Internet and public policy in Taiwan. At 24, in 2002, Schee became project manager at Yam.com for blogs. Since then he has been involved in the digital transformation of Taiwan, consulting for and participating on government, academic and private organizations and panels. He has built up a reputation for his work on the intersection of Internet and public policy. Schee was invited to a UN expert council in 2011 based
Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 The Hunan Braves (湖南勇) are famous for their ferocity in combat. It’s said that while defending Taiwan against the French during the 1884 Battle of Tamsui, they would rush back to the battlefield immediately after having their wounds treated. The combined forces of Qing Dynasty troops, irregular warriors like the Braves as well as local resistance fighters eventually fended off the French in a shocking victory. The Hunan Braves, who belonged to the Zhuosheng Battalion (擢勝營) under Qing Dynasty general Sun Kai-hua (孫開華), himself a native of Hunan, were no strangers to Taiwan. They first arrived in
“Think of your bike as your child,” says Tsai Shih-chiang (蔡士強), “because you have to pay a half fare to take it with you on the train.” Tsai doesn’t have any children; no human ones at least. He has four bicycles. His current favorite is his trail bike because, after giving up triathlons, his favorite cycling is off-road. And since Taipei, where Tsai lives, is not great for trail riding, his weekends usually start and finish with a train journey to Yilan and back. Or Hsinchu. Or Taichung or further afield. TRAINS ... And, as Tsai says, the Taiwan Railways Administration