Taipei Dangdai 2020: Three Key Takeaways

Michael Lin’s commissioned work for Taipei 101 X Taipei Dangdai. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.
Lehmann Maupin (New York/Hong Kong/Seoul) booth at Taipei Dangdai 2020. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.
Ai Wei Wei, Law of the Journey (Prototype A), 2016, reinforced PVC, 580 × 1640 × 350 cm. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.
Installation view of Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s installation work at TKG+. Image courtesy of TKG+.
Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Taipei Dangdai. Photography by Sean Wang. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.
TOP
1657
50
0
 
24
Jan
24
Jan
CoBo Social Market News Reports

The second edition of Taipei Dangdai welcomed over 40,000 visitors last week and gathered some 99 galleries from around the world. Reena Devi sums up the fair in three key insights, shedding light on the fair and regional art scene.

TEXT: Reena Devi
IMAGES: Courtesy of Taipei Dangdai unless otherwise stated

 

The 2020 art world calendar got off to a predictable start with yet another art fair. The second edition of Taipei Dangdai, which ran from 17 to 19 January at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, showcased 99 galleries, predominantly international with approximately 20 percent from Taiwan.

Helmed by Magnus Renfrew and Robin Peckham as co-directors, the fair also had new and expanded offerings this year; IDEAS Forum involving a series of talks and panel discussions; large scale installations on-site at the fair; larger VIP Programme; daily fair tours; and the inaugural Taipei 101 x Taipei Dangdai commission displaying a façade artwork projection from Taiwanese artist Michael Lin.

Before we get swept up in the intense pace of Art Basel Hong Kong in March, we would like to take a moment to reflect on Taipei Dangdai with three key takeaways from the first major art fair of the Asian art world calendar of 2020.

 

Michael Lin’s commissioned work for Taipei 101 X Taipei Dangdai. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.

 

A lackluster fair can hold its own in terms of sales and attendance

In spite of its aforementioned new and expanded line-up in terms of programming, public talks and major art installations, most visitors and industry insiders found this edition of Taipei Dangdai to be lackluster and essentially like any other international art fair. Even the exclusive VIP parties such as the launch of Michael Lin’s façade projection on the infamous Taipei 101 building and Urban Jungle Redux at Songshou Park were not exciting enough for people to stick around for more than 15 minutes, unless you were a Taiwan art world insider. Yet in spite of its sedate aura and the travel restrictions on Chinese independent tourists travelling to Taiwan, the fair was visibly well attended with over 40,000 visitors across three days, an increase from 28,000 visitors last year.

Sales were also reportedly positive. David Zwirner (New York/London/Paris/Hong Kong) secured a number of transactions in the first few hours of the fair being opened, including works by Luc Tuymans, one of which was sold for up to USD1,500,000, and Untitled (2019) by Oscar Murillo for USD380,000. Murillo made headlines in 2019 as one of four artists who collectively won UK’s prestigious Turner Prize in the spirit of inclusiveness. Lehmann Maupin (New York/Hong Kong/Seoul) reported strong sales with a Lari Pittman painting going for USD237,000 to a private collection in Asia and a Tony Oursler mixed media work which sold for USD158,000 to Shao Zhong Art Foundation. At White Cube (London/Hong Kong), three major pieces found new homes in different local art foundations in Taiwan including a new sculpture by Mona Hatoum; a grid work by Darren Almond; and a painting by Al Held.

 

Lehmann Maupin (New York/Hong Kong/Seoul) booth at Taipei Dangdai 2020. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.

 

Regional galleries also had a good run with appetite for young artists clearly on the rise. “Most of our sales were with the younger generation of artists from our roster including Korean artist Suki Seokyeong Kang and Australian artist Daniel Boyd,” said Bo Young Song, Managing Director of Kukje Gallery (Seoul/Busan). “Our clients showed much interest in both artists’ contemporary interpretation of local tradition and history.”

Galleries which spoke to CoBo Social confirmed their participation in the next edition. “Yes, we will [return]. We continue to meet and reconnect with collectors from the region, and the fair gives me more chances to see friends and collectors who I normally only see once a year in Hong Kong. The pace in Taipei is less frenetic than Hong Kong’s so it’s a great way to start off the year,” said Daniel Chen, Director of Chambers Fine Art (New York/Beijing). The gallery had an Ai Weiwei solo at their booth and also participated in Taipei Dangdai’s public art programme, showcasing Ai’s Law of the Journey (Prototype A) (2016).

 

Ai Wei Wei, Law of the Journey (Prototype A), 2016, reinforced PVC, 580 × 1640 × 350 cm. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.

 

The most exciting aspect of Taipei Dangdai had very little to do with the fair and a lot to do with the distinctive and bold Taiwan art scene.

The scene-stealing Gallery Night in Taipei, which took place on the evening before the fair’s Vernissage, was initiated by Taipei Dangdai during its first edition last year. In an interview with CoBo Social on the fair opening day, Renfrew said the purpose of Gallery Night was to “create a focal point where international visitors could really come and see the very best galleries from Taipei in their own spaces.”

It definitely was the very best. Leading Taiwan commercial art space, Tina Keng Gallery’s futuristic contemporary platform TKG+ held a group show “Plus X” featuring experimental and confrontational works generally atypical for a commercial art space of our time. There was Burmese artist Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s installation work People’s Desire (2018) presenting a miniature clay army juxtaposed against The Myanmar Peace Industrial Complex, Map II (2018) spanning across the first floor, which was also littered with expressive yet subtle video works such as Taiwanese artists Chen Ching-Yuan’s the (flare-s) (2013), Chia-En Jao’s Father’s Tongue (2007) and Yuan Goang-Ming’s Dwelling (2014). On view until 22 January 2020, the exhibition, organised in celebration of the gallery’s 10th anniversary, filled three floors of its behemoth space.

This was only the tip of the iceberg with even more incredible shows such as Liao Chien-Chung’s solo at Double Square Gallery featuring a jaw dropping installation of a pickup truck being hit, with gas tanks flying in the air, and Lin Guan Ming’s solo at Project Fulfill Art Space with highly intimate yet expansive video and photography works focusing on time and space. Also, everyone who saw Vietnamese-Danish artist Danh Vō’s current exhibition at Winsing Arts Foundation’s newly opened space in the Neihu district of Taipei City spoke of the show with a note of awe in their voice.

 

Installation view of Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s installation work at TKG+. Image courtesy of TKG+.

 

The regional art fair is here to stay (for now)

The most recent phenomena of the global art fair industrial complex involves art fairs proving successful by staying regional, focusing on their local and neighbouring collector base and dynamic art scene, such as Art Düsseldorf and Art Jakarta. The team behind Taipei Dangdai seemed to be employing a similar approach, citing Taiwan’s “fantastic cultural production,” “longstanding high caliber gallery scene” and “sophisticated and active” Taiwan art collectors as their focus.

“Taipei Dangdai is really a Taiwan-centric fair to a degree. We have great collectors here we want to engage with and expand the market here by bringing great galleries from elsewhere and we also want to attract people from elsewhere in the region to discover the great things happening in Taiwan,” said Renfrew.

In fact, this local and regional centered approach looks set to continue with Renfrew, founding fair director of ART HK and founding director of Art Basel Hong Kong, spearheading an upcoming new fair, Art SG in Singapore and exploring other new markets in Asia. “My feeling is [that] with Singapore, there is the necessity to engage with all of the different constituencies around the region together to make a fair audience big enough to sustain the fair,” he observed. Regarding murmurs of a possible new art fair similar to Dangdai in Korea, Renfrew said, “We are always looking at new markets. It’s kind of our role as fair organisers to explore new possibilities and Korea is undoubtedly a very important market and a very strong domestic scene and so we’re looking at various different options.”

 

Magnus Renfrew, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Taipei Dangdai. Photography by Sean Wang. Image courtesy of Taipei Dangdai.

 

As commercially viable and organic as these regional art fairs seem to be currently, it remains to be seen whether such efforts provide the global art fair industrial complex, currently strained by economic and geopolitical issues, with a much-needed sustainable breath of fresh air. On that note, see you all in Hong Kong.

 

 


 

Reena Devi Shanmuga Retnam is a Singaporean arts journalist and critic who writes for regional and international media such as ArtAsiaPacific (HK), Hyperallergic (NY) and Artsy (NY). Previously she was a full-time reporter with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore and TODAY newspaper (SG), breaking stories and exploring issues such as leadership, race, funding and censorship in the Singapore arts scene.

 

 

 
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply