With Asia’s growing interest in antiques, the organizer of a luxury antiques fair in France has made Taiwan one of its stops on a worldwide tour to promote the upcoming Biennale des Antiquaires, the oldest fine arts fair in France, to art collectors and lovers everywhere.
The biennial extravaganza will be held at the Grand Palais in Paris from Sept. 14 through Sept. 23, and it boasts 150 exhibitors of rare objects from antiques to contemporary fine jewelry.
The Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA) — France’s national union of antiques dealers that organized the fair — used to invite people to press conferences held in France, SNA president Christian Deydier said in Taipei recently.
However, those meetings allowed few opportunities for the organizer to get to know more collectors, artists and designers outside France.
“So I thought, maybe it’s better to choose 20 or 25 towns around the world, come and see the people there, explain what we do and show them what we do,” Deydier said, recognizing that Asia is an emerging player in the global fine arts market.
In addition to promoting the fair in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, the Biennale’s organizers are also planning to hold a mini fair in Hong Kong next year featuring about 20 dealers.
The SNA has also invited Hong Kong jewelry designer Wallace Chan (陳世英) to be the first Asian jewelry exhibitor since the Biennale began in 1962.
Deydier, a long-time art collector and expert in Chinese archeology and art, said the biggest attractions of Chan’s work are his carving technique, which Deydier said was “very exceptional,” and his ability to incorporate Chinese culture, legend and history into his pieces.
He mentioned Chan’s Butterfly series as an example, saying the legend of Liang Shanbo (梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台), a tragic Chinese love story, appeals to European and US audiences. Liang and Zhu were a couple from the Eastern Jin Dynasty who were unable to marry each other while they were alive, but were reborn and reunited as two butterflies.
“Stones you can buy everywhere, but people like stories,” Deydier said.
As the first Asian jeweler in the Biennale, Chan said he is both excited and nervous, and feels a sense of responsibility to show Chinese jewelry art to the world.
Chan said he will present 50 works, emphasizing craftsmanship, materials, creativity and artwork from Chinese Buddhist and Taoist traditions, as well as from Greek mythology.
Despite recognizing the value of the growing antiques market in Asia, especially in China, Deydier also cautioned against fake antiques and art-trading practices, which he said are prevalent on the Chinese market.
“Some sellers put pieces on auction and buy them back to raise the value of the pieces,” said Deydier, attributing the practice to the lack of regulations.
He said China has to change its laws so that dealers at auctions are required to guarantee the authenticity of their pieces.
“That means if there is any problem, you have to refund the money,” Deydier said.
“Authenticity is the most important thing,” he added.
However, China is a new market only three or four years old and there is great potential in the country, he said.
“China is quick. In other countries, it takes 10 years [to see changes]. In China, three years, if they start making the laws,” Deydier said.