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Shanghai Art Fair targets middle-class buyers
By Wang Jie

Shanghai Art Fair, one of the biggest in Asia, aims to attract more middle and upper-middle class art buyers. The theme is “Purchase art and love art.”

The four-day show opens next Thursday at ShanghaiMART. It includes 143 galleries from China, the US, Europe, Korea and many other countries. Exhibitions cover 240,000 square meters.

Around 1,000 works will be showcased, including paintings by Picasso, Dali and Zao Wou-ki (Zhao Wuji).

One of the highlights is the latest canvas created by Chinese artist Chen Yiming, the younger brother of Chen Yifei (1946-2005), an art legend who established his “visual empire” in canvas, film, model agent and fashion. Chen Yiming focuses on realistic paintings of old Shanghai, depicting a moment of great narrative power.

The show features all genres and styles, including traditional ink-wash painting, oils, sculpture, video, installation and ceramics.

Because of China’s fast economic development, buying luxuries and art is getting popular among middle and upper-middle classes, says Gu Zhihua, director of the organizing committee of the fair.

“China has already replaced Japan as the biggest nation of consumption power,” Gu says. “But consumption of art is still very low in this country.”

Gu says the idea is to encourage people to “fill the blank wall at their home with art.”

“The blank walls refer not only to a private apartment or a villa but also the office,” he says. “This is the first step in nurturing a future collector. Many have a wrong impression that a collector must be very rich such as the big crocodiles in business. But we think that once you have a passion for art, you can also decorate your home with your favorite art.”

Art is priced in a wide range to appeal to more people. There are limited editions of original work, small sculptures and ceramics.

As usual, the highlight of Shanghai Art Fair is an eye-catching outdoor sculpture. This year, the work is “Great Expectation” — two black horses and a white horse — by artist Seon Ghi Bahk.

Born in South Korea in 1966, Seon studied in Holland and Italy after graduation from a South Korean art academy.

“All my sculptures unveil illusory angels,” he says. “When we observe things around us, we can’t break the shackles of ordinary images in our mind. But I hope the unexpected shapes that I create will enable viewers to find the real essence of things around us.”

The fair is divided into three sections: Chinese and overseas galleries, Chinese ceramics, and recommended young artists.

Date: November 14-17, 10am-5pm

Address: ShanghaiMART, 99 Xingyi Rd

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164