BEIJING – Art Beijing 2014 was held from 30 April to 3 May in Beijing's Agricultural Exhibition Center. The scale and momentum of the event made clear to all that Beijing remains the centre of the Chinese art world. The fair, divided into contemporary and classical sections, in total comprised an exhibition area of more than 20,000 square metres and brought together nearly 150 galleries and art organizations, roughly 30 percent of which were from Hong Kong, Taiwan or overseas galleries.
The entrance to the contemporary section at Art Beijing 2014.
Art Beijing has burnished its brand over the course of nine fairs since its inception in 2006. Today, it has become not only one of the most influential art fairs on the mainland, but also a resplendent and fashionable event on spring calendars in Beijing. In particular, the VIP preview exhibition, a magnificent and dignified evening event, demonstrated the capacity of art to mobilize the resources and energy of contemporary society.
Guests explore the galleries on VIP Preview Night.
A review of the exhibited art reveals that fine works by great masters served only as curtain-raisers and climaxes. Many of the galleries remained focused on new works by young artists at mid-to-low price points intended to attract buyers with their potential to appreciate. Contemporary ink paintings have sprung up like wildflowers this year, with multiple galleries concentrating on the medium. In response to this trend, the organizers planned a special forum on New Ink as part of the educational program. In contrast, auction houses targeted classic Chinese realist oil paintings for their relatively robust values.
Lin & Lin Gallery exhibits Sanyu's 1930 oil painting Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus.
Art Beijing Executive Director Dong Mengyang candidly stated: "Reproducing a top-level foreign art fair is not appropriate to our circumstances. On the contrary, paying attention to indigenous galleries makes us more optimistic." Indeed, one fifth of the world's population lives in China, forming an immense market. "We have no need to seek greener pastures. Beijing's greatest advantage is its strategic position. Such inclusivity and capacity is rare in Asia," added Dong, who is constantly seeking to match Art Beijing to its eponymous city. In contrast to Art Basel, with its outposts in Miami and Hong Kong, Art Beijing strives to encompass mainland China's diverse and interconnected development by including both classical and contemporary, both visual art and design, and so on. It embodies a philosophy of acting locally and prizing depth instead of breadth.
Beijing-based writer Du Ka reports on art and culture for a variety of magazines in China.