Why hear from us when you can hear straight from leading cultural stakeholders on insights about the Asian art scene in 2020.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial
IMAGES: Courtesy of various
At the end of each year, we are typically bombarded with predictions and insights about the coming year and sometimes, the decade ahead. At CoBo Social, we decided to do one better—in order to find out more about what 2020 might look like for the Asian art scene, we approached some of the leading personalities of the art world for their predictions. These are the insights from those who were kind enough to take some time and pen down their thoughts about the year ahead based on their relevant expertise and experience.
Aaron Seeto, Director, Museum MACAN, Jakarta, Indonesia.
“Currently, there is a willingness and energy to imagine sustainable infrastructures and platforms within Indonesia that will continue to drive exciting opportunities for global conversation and artistic development within Southeast Asia. The establishment of Museum MACAN partially illustrates a greater confidence within Indonesia to take a role in creating awareness of art in Southeast Asia, and local developments including the most recent Biennale Jogja have shown how organisations are seeking to support exciting national and regional conversations between artists and audiences.
This is happening on different levels, from the independent scene through to the museum level and art fair market. One of the leading examples is ruangrupa’s appointment as Artistic Director of Documenta in 2022, an event which is highly anticipated, and which has placed increased attention on Indonesian art and infrastructure.”
Charlotte Raybaud, Head of Evening Sale, Associate Director, 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Phillips, Hong Kong.
“Fresh in my mind is Greta Thunberg being named as the TIMES Person of The Year: the championing of young persons, and increasingly female, will hopefully carry on into 2020. I predict that we will see more female artists breaking world records at auction, with more academic institutions exploring their oeuvres. Another event that comes to mind is the Turner Prize being co-won by all four shortlisted artists at their own request. I also predict that art will become increasingly democratised, with representation from a wider range of backgrounds from the artists’ side, but also from the audience’s—we will see Art become popularised.”
Ho Tzu Nyen, artist and Co-Curator, Asian Art Biennial 2019.
“A lake on fire: the symbol of revolution.
Thus the sentient human
renews the order of history
and makes the significance of the times manifest.
– 49th Hexagram of I-Ching
Image: Forest fires rage, while icebergs melt. An animal loses its skin, and unrest permeates the world. The view ahead is clouded, while stories from the past are distrusted. The way forward and the way backwards connect, in revolution.
Explanation: In its original sense, the Chinese character for this Hexagram refers to an animal’s pelt, changed during the course of the year by molting, which in turn points toward revolution. Artists dive into the entangled histories of the past such that the unfinished projects of decolonization connect to the profound geopolitical shifts of today and the planetary ecological crises of tomorrow.”
John McDonald, long serving art critic for the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Over the past decade the art market in Asia, and especially Hong Kong, has been through a period of rapid expansion, with the consolidation of Art Basel Hong Kong as one of the world’s top fairs, a booming auction scene, and the leading commercial galleries opening glamorous, expensive outlets. It has all the signs of one of those economic bubbles that looks as if it will expand forever, even though the lessons of history tell us it always, inevitably, bursts.
Coming into 2020, with ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong, and the unpredictable trade war between China and the United States, the art market must be in serious danger of contraction, if not actually crashing. One assumes that speculative, fashionable buying will be the first thing to decline, as with the 2019 run on KAWS’s vacuous work. Those with serious money will be thinking harder about how they spend it.
The 2020 Art Basel Hong Kong (which is still scheduled to go ahead as planned), and the accompanying auction season, will set the tone for the rest of the year. There are huge vested interests that want the market to remain strong, so if it fails this early test we can expect a rocky road ahead.”
Leo Xu, Director, David Zwirner, Hong Kong
“2020 will see the Asian art market going stronger with various regional markets (such as Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei, and very possibly Singapore) standing out thanks to their successful fairs. That said, Hong Kong will remain the art hub of Asia, no matter what is happening now. The Hong Kong art scene is the strongest ever, offering a substantial exhibition program from both institutions and galleries. Hong Kong artists have caught much global attention over the last couple of years, and 2020 will keep them in the spotlight.
Artists from South East Asia have been in the curatorial focal point of regional museums and they will go beyond that and step up to the global stage. The attention of collectors follow, as suggested by their steady presence in art fairs. A pan-Asian interest is becoming common among young professionals. Curatorial research and business interaction within Asia will be a big move. The joint efforts from many major Asian museums, biennales and curators may be the most exciting part of the year.”
Robin Peckham, curator and Co-Director, Taipei Dangdai.
“Next year we’re all going to be gratified by the cultural resilience of Hong Kong first and foremost, and we’ll also continue to see a healthy fragmentation in the Asian art world, a professionalisation of how market actors drill down deeply into regional art scenes rather than relying on an overall pan-Asian strategy. China is no longer a metonym for Asia. Contemporary art is also going to continue working its way into popular culture in new and surprising ways.”
Savita Apte, art historian specialising in South Asian Art, independent curator and Co-Founder, Art Dubai.
“I think that from 2020 onwards, we will see a spate of new models in art commerce, specially art fairs, as the carbon footprint of collectors, artists and curators comes under deserved scrutiny: I am sure that all concerned will move towards a creative solution that is more sensitive to the fragility of our planet.
Globally, more artists will address the contagion of rising nationalism, whilst museums and curators will attempt to redress geographical, temporal and gendered biases by presenting hitherto overlooked artists within new contexts. In spite of the fact that international attention will be focused on private museums, it will be the not-for-profit spaces and initiatives in Asia which will further non-siloed, inclusive creativity, becoming sites of discovery and discourse.”