The Shanghai Young Art Fair draws to a close tomorrow after yet another successful run.
The five-day festival held at the ShanghaiMart in Changning District, now in its fifth year, is dedicated to finding, nurturing and promoting the nation’s young, emerging talented artists.
This year’s theme “Redefine” witnesses more than 1,500 works presented by about 400 promising artists.
Divided into four sections and seven programs, the multi-faceted cultural experience features paintings, photos, films, digital art, sculpture and art installations.
One of the main purposes of the Shanghai Young Art Fair is to establish an integrated platform for talented artists to display their works and art enthusiasts to discover new trends in the visual arts.
“Some visitors bought their first original paintings at the art fair this year, whilst many young artists sold their works for the first time,” said Wang Fang, director of the art fair.
In contrast to many other art fairs, exhibitors of the Shanghai Young Art Fair are artists rather than galleries and art institutions.
Over 80 artists, included in the “Young Art — Starting” section, were born after 1985. For many of them, the art fair provides a starting point to display their works to the public for the first time.
The young artists are not charged for their participation. The non-profit art fair bears the cost of the venue rental, arrangement, transportation and production of catalogue.
“The Shanghai Young Art Fair is a platform to discover seed,” Wang said in an exclusive interview with Shanghai Daily before the official opening of the festival.
Wang admitted organizing the art fair since its inception in 2015 has been hard work. However, she is determined to continue supporting young artists as she knows how essential it is to provide a platform for talented artists.
“Since the 1990s, I engaged in the operation of museums and galleries where the artworks I was in touch with were extremely expensive and were created by famous artists,” said Wang.
“Many people might have the same feeling as me, that the art market sometimes has nothing to do with artists. Their artworks are regarded as financial products. The art market needs to be improved in this area.”
Through previous young artists’ programs, Wang realized that most young artists were confused about a path to promote their works, which inspired her and her peers to establish the annual fair focusing on a younger generation of artists.
Wang believes there are around 400,000 arts graduates every year in China and very few of them become artists.
“The support from market is significant for the young artists as it shows recognition for their works,” said Wang.
“The support doesn’t necessarily come from the galleries or auction houses but art consumers.”
Extravagance and preciousness are words that spring in mind when talking about art.
However, Wang hopes the public can dispel the misunderstanding. Most of the works exhibited at the art fair are accessible to the middle class, which are priced at 10,000 to 50,000 yuan (US$1,425 to US$7,125).
“Artworks can be classified into collection level and consumption level,” said Wang.
“The art fair focuses on the latter one. Owning an original artwork is not a complicated and unreachable thing.”
At the young art fair, visitors can socialize with the artists standing in front of their work who will explain their ideas.
“For many artists, although they are very innovative in creation, it is difficult to communicate with the public,” said Wang.
“We have recruited a number of volunteers who help artists explain their thoughts.”
I met a South Korean artist named Jamie M. Lee in front of her feminine and imaginative artwork “Another Miracle,” which combines various materials such as ink, airbrushed acrylics, fabric paint and rice paper.
The patterns of lotus flowers and colorful irregular figures are backgrounded in garnet red.
“I intend to create an emotional language with a rich vocabulary of imagery emerging from my personal memories and dreams,” Lee said.
“As an artist, I think it is necessary to communicate with visitors so they get to know how I feel about my work. Their understandings sometimes are different from my ideas but I love to hear them anyway.”
Lee is one of the 19 artists who participated in the “Young Art — Unlimited” section, which showcases art created by domestic and overseas artists.
“The section is a fusion of Western art and Chinese art,” said Wan Jun, curator of the category.
Czech artist Jiri Straka, Spanish artist Angel Peris and Chinese artists Dang Zhen and Du Xiaotong all use traditional Chinese ink wash painting techniques while giving it a modern twist. Redefining ancient Chinese art form, contemporary artists incorporate new media and concepts in order to make their ink work mirror contemporary culture and society.
The curtain will fall on the Shanghai Young Art Fair tomorrow. However, the promotion of young artists’ works will not stop here. Wang revealed they plan to work with 100 commercial buildings in Changning District to display the works in a public space. Furthermore, they will offer one-stop services facilitating the consumption art market in the district.