Channel Newsasia "Asia Pacific News"
Greater appreciation of Chinese art pushes prices to all-time high
By Channel NewsAsia China Correspondent Ca-Mie De Souza | March 2007
BEIJING : Chinese stock markets took a tumble this week, just as economists were saying the bubble would burst.
Now analysts are also predicting that the red hot Chinese modern art market is unsustainable.
Prices fetched by contemporary Chinese art at important auctions in New York, Hong Kong and Beijing continue to rise.
Last November, Beijing's Poly Auction sold off Liu Xiaodong's huge oil painting of the Three Gorges under construction for a world record US$2.75 million.
But it's still far from contemporary western art like the Warhol Mao which scored US$17.4 million.
But Chinese art is getting there.
"I can only say the market is immature, not the works. It's immature because it's a new phenomenon. From the consumers' viewpoint, they need time to know it better," says art commentator Nan Nan.
Zhu Wei, pioneer of the scene, should know.
Nearly all of his collectors are foreigners.
He says his specialisation in traditional ink brush painting technique doesn't go down well with the locals even though he makes a modern interpretation of Chinese society with them.
Local collectors somehow prefer Western imports.
"The popularity of Chinese contemporary art lies in oils. That's because oils is something of the east and the west, something collectors from both sides can accept," says contemporary artist Zhu Wei.
Chinese modern art first caught the world's attention only in the 1990s.
"Why Chinese contemporary art has to do with many years that China was closed off to the world. Perhaps, years later North Korean contemporary art may also be hot, just like China. The real good works will endure," says Zhu.
Contemporary Chinese art is just about the hottest thing now.
But as artists work to meet demand, some are concerned the artistic value may just go down.
For the sustainable development of the art market, taking the long-term view will mean focusing on the art itself.
But that can be hard to assess.
"If you are in a very hot, bubble-like state, you'll find it hard to decide what's good and what's bad. You can't tell from who fetches the highest price, who's known by everyone because that's just what's trendy and it can't tell if a thing is good. Actually it's hard to tell, so we'll have to wait till this fever passes over," says Zhu.
And hope that artists and investors are pursuing art for art's sake. - CNA /ls
新加坡亚洲新闻频道驻中国记者Ca-Mie De Souza2007年3月报导
但愿艺术家们和投资者们都为了艺术而追求艺术吧。 - CNA /ls