‘There’s been such a sea of change…It’s an exciting time,’ says Chinese art specialist Emily De Wolfe Pettit, speaking at the opening of Circle Lines — an exhibition hosted by the Hurun Art Foundation, established in 2015 to promote the country’s most promising contemporary artists, including Mao Lizi (毛栗子) and Wang Tiande (王天德)
‘Initially the Chinese contemporary art market was largely export driven,’ explains Wolfe Pettit. ‘The majority of collectors were based outside of China, and primarily sought oil paintings. There was a whole generation of painters — Zhang Xiaogang, (张晓 刚), Zeng Fanzhi (曾梵志) and Fang Lijun (方力钧) — who were initially collected by non-Chinese collectors’.
‘As the market matures, there’s more of an emphasis on the production of the work; it’s become less market-driven,’ continues Wolfe Pettit, who introduces the intricate burnt paper works of Wang Tiande. ‘There’s more of an engagement with artists which is positive, not only for the production, but for the reception of art in China.’
If contemporary artists take centre stage, traditional practice is not forgotten: ‘the weight of history rests on their shoulders, through ink and calligraphy specifically,’ she acknowledges. ‘But these artists are ever more exposed to Western concepts and materials — there’s a real convergence of East and West.’
Set to be released later this month, the annual Hurun Report follows the Foundation’s work in raising the visibility of Chinese contemporary artists across the world, tracking the rising popularity of the country’s best contemporary artists.
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