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Art Basel Hong Kong Welcomes Back Wealthy Chinese Collectors After Three Years

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(Bloomberg) — As Art Basel returns to Hong Kong on a full-fledged scale after years of disruptions, a major gauge of success for the art fair will be how much wealthy collectors from mainland China spend as they travel once again after Covid restrictions ended.

Chinese attendees are grouping together to take private jets to Hong Kong, according to White Cube Asia General Manager Wendy Xu, and galleries in neighboring Guangdong province are organizing tours for collectors, according to their WeChat accounts.

Cherry Xu, 29, has already liaised with galleries for three pieces of work she is interested in before flying to Hong Kong from Shanghai. She has about 100 pieces of art across two warehouses in the cities.

“It’s as if every few steps I take, I bump into someone from the Chinese art industry I have heard about but only see in person now,” said Xu during the first day of the VIP preview on March 21.

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Chinese collectors account for the world’s highest share of spending at the $1 million level, and their median expenditure is the highest globally at $475,000 for a piece of art, according to a UBS Group AG report last year. But sales of Chinese traditional paintings, among others, declined in 2022 due to economic uncertainty and China’s Covid Zero policy, Sotheby’s said in a report this month.

Lockdowns last year temporarily “cast a bit of a chill” on the market, said Nick Simunovic, director of the Gagosian gallery in Hong Kong, adding that “basically anybody who came to Art Basel in the past from China will come again this time.” Simunovic said he is also watching new Chinese collectors who have entered the scene in the last three years.

Among these are Hangzhou-based Ethan Chai, who is going to Art Basel for the first time and who has his eyes on a painting by Swiss painter Lenz Geerk.

“There are so, so many people here. For a collector, to be able to travel, the interaction and being able to see a work in person is different from looking at a PDF,” said the 25 year-old, who started collecting before the pandemic hit with the help of galleries and overseas art advisors. He now has a space in Hangzhou where he displays some of his collection and holds exhibitions for young artists.

Mainland collectors are getting younger and have more international pieces compared with older collectors as many of them are well-traveled, said Pearl Lam of Pearl Lam Galleries. Collectors in their 20s or early 30s are willing to spend seven figures on a piece of work, said Lam, who has been advising mainland collectors since 1993.

Art Basel Hong Kong, which runs until March 25, is hosting 177 galleries this year compared with 130 last year, and the event was canceled in 2021. As Hong Kong was shut off from the world, other cities in the region tried to capitalize on opportunity — Seoul held its first Frieze Fair in September, and Singapore launched a new art fair in January.

However, Philip Hoffman, founder and chief executive of art advisory and investment firm The Fine Art Group, believes that Hong Kong remains the main regional hub.

“Singapore was not as strong as we expected. The Chinese weren’t as evident in Singapore, nor did many of the big collectors go,” he said.

One major advantage of Hong Kong for art collectors is low costs, as the city has no customs duty, value-added taxes or estate duty on artworks, while Singapore has a goods and services tax of 8%. Hong Kong also has more robust logistics and warehousing facilities for storage. In a sign of confidence in the city’s art market, three of the world’s top auction houses have committed to expanding their offices in Hong Kong.

In the first few days of Art Basel, Hauser & Wirth sold a George Condo piece for $4.75 million to a private collection based between Hong Kong and Los Angeles and placed several others with China collectors including the Long Museum in Shanghai. White Cube placed a work by Anselm Kiefer for $1.09 million and a Damien Hirst piece for $525,000, both to collectors in China.

Nonetheless, the turmoil in the global economy is having an impact on the art market. While prices last year benefited as investors turned to the asset class as a haven, worsening economic conditions means it will be a “very particular” year for the market, said Leo Xu, senior director at David Zwirner gallery.

Collectors will be more discerning and look for blue-chip artists who will withstand the test of time, instead of works that might be cheaper alternatives. Xu said people are likely to “think twice” before buying something that’s just “something like Picasso” instead of the real thing.

“Is that going to last?” he said. “People will not chase those fleeting phenomenon.”

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Renowned Queen Elizabeth II portrait on display at Art Galley of Peterborough – Global News

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As he stood in the Art Gallery of Peterborough looking at the large portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, Alex Bierk says he can “hear my dad painting on it, being excited about working on it.”

The city councillor spoke passionately about his father David Bierk as the portrait went on public display Wednesday evening for the first time since it was removed from the Peterborough Memorial Centre last fall where it hung over the ice for nearly five decades.

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“So intuitively and immediately I’m connected to my dad’s big presence and his energy when I view this work,” Bierk told the audience.

READ MORE Art Galley of Peterborough acquires Queen Elizabeth II portrait from Memorial Centre

In February, the gallery acquired the eight f0ot-by-12-foot portrait, which was first installed at the arena in January 1980 and remained there until the State Funeral of the Queen on Sept. 19, 2022.

Original commissioning documents, held at Trent Valley Archives in Peterborough, state that if the painting ever needed to be removed, it should be donated to the Art Gallery of Peterborough, or the Peterborough Public Library, whichever was preferred.

Briefly in 2003, the painting was removed from its original location due to arena renovations. However, public protest saw the portrait rehung.

Peterborough city councillor Alex Bierk talks about his father David’s Queen Elizabeth II portrait during a reception at the Art Gallery of Peterborough on June 7, 2023.


Peterborough city councillor Alex Bierk talks about his father David’s Queen Elizabeth II portrait during a reception at the Art Gallery of Peterborough on June 7, 2023.


Harrison Perkins/Special to Global New Peterborough

Bierk follows in his father’s footsteps as an oil painter and says the portrait is a labour of love. He recalled running around the Memorial Centre as a kid looking up at the painting.  Bierk’s brother Zac is a former Peterborough Petes player. David died in 2002 at the age of 58.

“The painting intersects my dad’s love of sports and his life as an artist and how it hung over Zac’s head all those years he played for the Petes,” Alex said.

The portrait was launched as part of the gallery’s Special Project: Tea with the Queens exhibition, a short-run project to showcase David Bierk’s painting, Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II before it goes into collection storage joining the Permanent Collection.

The portrait will hang in the gallery until June 29 alongside works by artists who are Indigenous, queer, and living with disabilities.

“We’ve got a lot of works by David Bierk so it’s pretty exciting to have this joining a number of his other pieces,” curator Fynn Leitch said.

There will also be a series of afternoon tea sittings or “Tea with the Queens,” hosted by local drag performers Betty Baker and Sahira Q.  Seatings will take place on June 11 and June 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and June 22 at 4 p.m. Tickets are available to purchase in person at the gallery or by calling 705-743-9179 during regular business hours.


David Bierk and members of the Major Bennett Chapter of the IODE as his portrait of “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” was installed at the Peterborough Memorial Centre on Jan. 9, 1980.


Photo provided by Trent Valley Archives from the Major Bennett IODE Fonds.


The portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hung over the Memorial Centre from 1980 to 2022.


Peterborough Petes photo

Mayor Jeff Leal recalled he and others taking classes under David Bierk who was seen as an “artistic genius” and helped many to “develop a unique love of the arts.”

Bierk says his family is appreciative of the gallery for accepting the painting.

“The amount of calls I got asking if I was going to take the painting — no!” he quipped as he waved his hands. “We’re really glad it’s here. It’s safe and being a part of the collection at the Art Gallery of Peterborough will ensure it will live on in our community in really beautiful ways — ways like I felt when I walked into this room tonight.”

Also launched Wednesday was Wayfinding: Works from the Youth Art Mentorship Program, a collection of works by youth artists Amber Rose, A. Carabine, Charley Pesonen, Kellan Mackenzie, Lauren Armstrong, and Mujgan Hussein Zada who spent the last three months working with artist-mentor Spencer J. Harrison. The goal was to explore the professional practice of being an artist and produce an exhibition of their work. The youth were selected by a jury of arts professionals earlier this year.

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Andy Warhol paintings sell for $936,000 at auction

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Four Andy Warhol paintings that were part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s collection have sold at auction, with the money being used to help increase the Indigenous art collection at the gallery.

Four colour silkscreens of Queen Elizabeth II created in 1985 were on the auction block Thursday at Cowley Abbott Auctioneers, where the realized price when the auction ended was $936,000.

A spokesperson for the gallery says the money from the sale will go towards an endowment that will sit for at least one year. The gallery will use the accumulated interest to begin purchasing artwork by Indigenous artists to add to its permanent collection.

While the Winnipeg Art Gallery contains the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art, only around one per cent of its collection is from First Nations and Metis artists.

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The artwork by the famed pop artist was estimated to sell for between $700,000 and $900,000. It was donated to the WAG in 1999 by a collector.

-With files from CTV’s Taylor Brock

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Jaw-dropping immersive environmental art exhibit ‘Arcadia Earth’ is coming to Toronto this fall

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Just when you think Toronto has been spoiled enough with world-class interactive art exhibits we get yet another one.

But we’re not complaining.

A jaw-dropping immersive environmental art exhibit called Arcadia Earth is coming to Toronto this fall and from the looks of it, it’s not one to pass up.

 

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After a wildly successful run in New York, Las Vegas and Saudi Arabia, the exhibit is making its way up north for its Canadian debut.

Visitors can experience a 17,000-square-foot journey through planet Earth in all its glory and weaknesses.

The exhibit combines both large-scale art installations and technology.

“Arcadia Earth Toronto will transport visitors to the heart of global challenges such as overfishing, plastic waste, and biodiversity loss,” the exhibit creators said in a statement.

“From an underwater world built from salvaged commercial fishing nets to a large-scale beehive made from thousands of pages of reclaimed books, the spaces promote individual empowerment and equip guests with actionable suggestions to help protect the future of our planet.”

The exhibit will officially open in the fall of 2023 and set up shop at The

 

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