• Asian Art Advisory

Want to sell art? Then get creative

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BENNETT VOYLES in his article: Why Hasn’t Chinese Money Reshaped the Global Art Market? highlights trends that Asian Art Advisory has witnessed across Asia. Research undertaken by the Asian Art team concludes that small galleries suffer from the scale to build a strong online brand and social media presence while simultaneously facing the challenge of successful artists in their portfolio leaving to join bigger stables. In addition there is the added factor of high rents in countries such as Singapore forcing galleries to locate outside of central districts. Research shows that a number of galleries and independent art platforms are responding to these market forces in innovative ways.

Globally, a handful of galleries in New York and London continue to dominate the art business according to a 2018 study by New York-based cultural economist Magnus Resch. Resch examined the careers of 31,794 established artists born between 1950 and 1990 who had at least 10 exhibitions. They found that of the 4,058 artists who started out in a leading gallery, 60% stayed there for their whole career. Meanwhile, most of the artists who weren’t in the magic circle from the beginning never got there; only 10.2% ever worked their way up to a higher-prestige position. Signifying that small to mid-sized galleries have very little opportunity to build their business on the back of the artists who attain global success.

In Asia, competition from Western galleries is also increasing, “In recent years, we’ve seen very aggressive marketing activities from the Western galleries in China,” said Kejia Wu, a faculty member of Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York, in a statement that coincided with the March release of her report on the Chinese art market sponsored by TEFAF (The European Art Fair). Voyles reports that "The big galleries’ experts have offered their knowledge, joined museum boards, and made themselves generally available in China’s art world, badly outgunning the local galleries. As a result, Wu and some other analysts see a difficult consolidation ahead for Chinese artists and art dealers. Mid-level artists and galleries will be “starved” to an extent, like their peers in the West, even as the power of top Western galleries continues to grow, says Tim Schneider, a New York art economics writer."

As Asia becomes further integrated into the global art market, the prognosis for small to mid-market galleries is poor. In countries across Southeast Asia galleries face the additional difficulty of censorship. This has led to a trend of art being sold in new and imaginative ways. Increasingly there is a movement towards curating art experiences that merge different art genres in alternative spaces. Such trends are providing welcome alternatives to the white cube. One such example was a recent performance of Macbeth in Thailand wherein characters from this famous play responded to art works, artists working in the medium of textiles created the costumes, and a sound artist produced the sonic landscape.

Similarly at The Substation, Singapore, Jassy Husk the critically acclaimed music artist is collaborating with visual artists at a charity gala Truth on 16th April. Husk will be performing songs, from a career which spans classical and popular themes, against a backdrop of contemporary environmental themed works. Like the Macbeth sold-out performance, there will be only a limited number of seats available: many of which have already been reserved in advance of their release in early February.

In order to survive, smaller galleries need to out-think the larger galleries and the demands of high rents by being nimble and creative. Unlike the Western galleries they can offer the art buying public new experiences in non-traditional formats to build brand loyalty and a strong social media presence. Should they continue to offer only white cube experiences they will struggle to compete.

To read Voyles article in full visit

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