PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai leads as Asia’s most diverse and unique international art fair for photography.
Opening on 8 September 2016 with a Collectors Preview, PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai will present 50 leading galleries from 24 cities in 15 countries, featuring a unique and diverse selection of emerging, up-and-coming and established international photographers.
PHOTOFAIRS’ aim is to “offer unrivalled access to exciting new art from China, Asia Pacific and beyond”, as the press release explains, with the mission “to chart the history of the photographic medium on an international scale”.
The photographic art on show will span from the 19th century with artists such as Gustave le Gray next to world famous photojournalists Elliott Erwitt and William Klein and 20th century masters such as August Sander, Robert Mapplethorpe and Irving Penn.
In addition to the Main section of the fair featuring galleries of any age, this third edition of the Fair will also see the launch of three new curatorial initiatives – Connected, Insights and Platform.
The galleries in Main will show highly ambitious museum-quality presentations.
BANK (Shanghai) will present Robert Mapplethorpe and Japanese ‘father of street photography’ Daido Moriyama, while EMON Photo Gallery (Tokyo) will showcase two other Japanese photographers, Hiroshi Yamazaki (b. 1946) whose images focus on the sun and the sea, and Hiroyuki Yamada (b. 1961).
From China, ShanghART Gallery (Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore) will display the country’s most well-known cinematographer and photographer, Yang Fudong (b. 1971), alongside the work of young photographer Yue Liang (b. 1979), whose images deal with the pace of change in contemporary China. Hong Kong’s Blindspot Gallery will present Chinese emerging artist Zhang Xiao‘s (b. 1981) surreal portraits of a China suspended between past and present alongside the work of British documentary photographer and photojournalist Martin Parr (b. 1952) and London-based Israeli Nadav Kander (b. 1961) known for his landscapes and portraits.
Flowers Gallery (London, New York, Hong Kong) will showcase South Korean Boomoon (b. 1955) whose work engages with natural landscapes as a means of self-reflection, and China’s Shen Wei, while Beyond Gallery (Taipei) will feature Taiwanese artist Chen Shun Chu (1963-2014) who created mixed media work with photographic images.
From the international scene, CAMERA WORK (Berlin) will display the work of Herb Ritts, Christian Tagliavini and Paolo Roversi, and Mohsen Gallery (Tehran) will display the photography of three Iranian artists – Alireza Fani (b. 1975), Mehdi Abdolkarimi (b. 1986) and Mehrdad Afsari.
Platform spotlights international galleries that are exhibiting in mainland China for the first time. Highlights of this sector include The Empty Gallery (Hong Kong) offering a solo presentation of Amit Desai whose images engage with the perception of reality and dreams, and Elipsis Projects (London, Istanbul) featuring works by Turkey’s architecture-trained photographer Ahmet Ertung (b. 1949), who specialises in large format photography of architectural and archaeological edifices of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods of Turkish history.
Among the newcomers to China is also Belgium’s Samuel Maenhoudt Gallery (Knokke) whose focus rests on conceptual fine art photography with the work of a variety of European artists.
Connected, overseen by eminent Chinese curator Feng Boyi, celebrates artists working with the moving image in China and offers collectors the opportunity to view and buy such work for the first time in the mainland. Highlights include those presented by L-Art Gallery (Chengdu), Vanguard Gallery (Shanghai) and Hunsand Space (Beijing).
In Shanghai, PHOTOFAIRS will launch the inaugural edition of Insights, a curated exhibition of museum-quality works, with unique pieces for private sale. After Shanghai, Insights will move on to PHOTOFAIRS’ next edition in San Francisco in January 2017, and will continue across all future destinations. The San Francisco exhibition will launch on 26 January 2017 and will celebrate international contemporary photography across 150 years with a focus on West Coast photography. Works from the 19th Century will be juxtaposed with those from the 20th and 21st century and will feature artists such as John Chiara, Matthew Brandt and Chris McCaw.
Commissioned by PHOTOFAIRS Artistic Director Alexander Montague-Sparey and co-curated by Shanghai-based curator Biljana Ciric, Insights in Shanghai aims to chart the progression of major changes in photography-making processes and the move in the medium towards unique, rather than editioned, prints.
During the Fair, there will be a public programme of exhibitions presented by PHOTOFAIRS official partners. Photo partner LEICA will present “China – Seen from Inside and the Air”, an exhibition featuring a comprehensive cross-section of works by French Magnum photographer Marc Riboud (b.1923) shot between 1957-2002, who owes his fame primarily to his series of photographs of China.
The show will also include the aerial pictures of China, captured by aviation pioneer Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen, a pilot who explored and photographed China from the air with his Leica in the 1930s. In addition, contemporary images show another facet of photography in China with the work of two young Asian photographers – sometimes peaceful and poetic.
Leading partner Mercedes-Benz will present “Marc Lee | 10,000 Moving Cities — Sense Version”, an exhibition of the new work by Swiss new media artist Marc Lee, entitled 10,000 Moving Cities — Sense Version. The installation is meant to be, according to PHOTOFAIRS, “a wonderful dreamscape of the ultimate urban experience”.
The fair’s vernissage partner NET-A-PORTER, will feature an exhibition of fashion images of celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, Chinese stars like Li Bingbing and He Sui and fashion icons Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr, among others. The exhibition includes the work of world-renowned fashion photographers such as David Bellemere, Yin Chao, Steven Pan, Chris Colls, Yelena Yemchuk and Sebastian Kim.
Event partner XITEK will present the “XITEK Annual Special Exhibition”, a dynamic new solo show by contemporary artist Wang Ningde (b. 1972). The show will include the public debut of the artist’s new series entitled “No Name”. Wang uses his works to expand the boundaries of image art, and the new series reflects his experimental vision. In the new work, Wang creates painting-quality photographs by collecting numerous markings left by the brushstrokes of nameless people in urban spaces as creative elements.
5. Modern Media Group
Returning as the Fair’s Strategic Media Partner, Modern Media Group will present exhibitions by three of its leading titles. High fashion magazine Numéro will present the work of Spanish photographer Txema Yeste, lifestyle publication Life Magazine will show 13 artists with long-standing collaborations with the magazine, and contemporary art’s LEAP will invite nine China-based artists to explore the body in the midst of mass media in the exhibition “Action! Imaged Bodies”.
Collecting photography in Asia
Photography is becoming more popular in Asia and as Christopher Philips observes,
“Regional institutions and private collectors, having finally recognized the significance of photography as a visual medium, are now making serious acquisitions of top-tier historic and contemporary work.”
Photography is an increasing attractive investment, as prominent Chinese collector Jin Hongwei states, quoted by PHOTOFAIRS:
“Financially speaking, good photography – on the whole – is more accessible than blue chip paintings. It is therefore an interesting way into the art market. One of the advantages of photography is its wall presence. I find that it is therefore easier to really get carried away with it as a medium.”
In a talk at Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai for the 2015 edition of the Fair, Scott Gray, CEO of the World Photography Organisation behind the event said:
Our ambition with Photo Shanghai for this year, and in the future, is to raise the profile of Chinese artists and the medium of photography. The response we had to our inaugural show  was terrific – collectors, the media and the city itself have been very embracing and supportive of what we are looking to do. We want to enrich the fabric of the local society with photography and allow local artists to shine. We hope we can change the photography market here in China in the next 3-5 years in a considerable way.
Liu Heung Shing, Founder of Shanghai Center of Photography (SCOP) comments, as quoted in the press release:
The idea of collecting photography began in the U.S. in mid 1970s. For China it has just begun a few years ago in a small community. PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai serves as a window for the large pool of would-be photography collectors. This potential cannot be underestimated given the size of China and that it will be the largest economy in the next ten years.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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