NEW YORK CHINA Two leading New York galleries are opening spaces in China this summer. PaceWildenstein will unveil its 22,000 sq. ft gallery in Beijing in August, while James Cohan Gallery opens a 3,000 sq. ft space in Shanghai in July. Both galleries are counting on the rise of the Asian art market and the proliferation of regional collectors.
Gallery owner Jane Cohan says: “We did very well with collectors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea during the ShContemporary fair last year. Chinese collectors have traditionally been China-centric, but we believe that in time they will buy more broadly.”
Longtime Cohan director Arthur Solway, a fluent Mandarin speaker, will launch the venture in a 1930s garden villa in the Luwan district. He plans to mount six exhibitions a year, showing work by Bill Viola, Nam June Paik, Roxy Paine and Yinka Shonibare among other artists. The new space will be the first American gallery to open in Shanghai.
Meanwhile, Pace Beijing opens its doors in a former munitions factory in the Dashanzi 798 Art District in time for the August Olympics. The massive space is being renovated by New York architect Richard Gluckman. The inaugural show will include portraits by Zhang Huan, Zhang Xiaogang, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Tim Eitel and Lucas Samaras.
Well-known art critic and curator Leng Lin is to become president of Pace Beijing. In 2004 he founded Beijing Commune, an alternative centre showing emerging and established Chinese artists such as Zhang Xiaogang, who is represented in the US by PaceWildenstein.
When asked about the 34% tax on imported art for mainland buyers, Pace Gallery director Peter Boris said: “Quite honestly it’s not that we expect to sell a lot of western art in mainland China initially. We want to present it and develop the market.” He added: “There are so many big question marks about doing business in China, but we think we have the best artists, a great space and someone extraordinary to run the gallery.”
Mr Boris also hopes the Chinese artists will respect their exclusivity with the gallery: “Right now we are the sole agents of Zhang Huan and Zhang Xiaogang in the US and hopefully we will be that in Asia. We believe that by placing their work in great collections, and keeping it away from speculators, we can convince the artists we have a good management model.”
For more on dealer expansion in Asia http://artradarjournal.com/2008/06/15/globalisation-of-asian-art-galleries-gathers-pace/