ART TAIPEI: opening soon

[16 Oct 2020]

While many art fairs have been cancelled or postponed around the world, Art Taipei will take place in October (23-26) and will be all the more eagerly awaited for its rarity in the current context. We interviewed its director – CHUNG Ching Hsin – to get a better understanding of Art Taipei’s developments, challenges and offering. The fair is scheduled to open on 23 October.

CHUNG Ching Hsin CHUNG Ching Hsin, chairperson of Taiwan Art Gallery Assosiation / Director of Art Taipei.

If I am not mistaken, Art Taipei is now 27 years old. Can you tell us what have been the major developments of this fair since it began?
Each year, ART TAIPEI has set a theme. From 2017’s “The Rise in Private Art Museums”; 2018’s “Indefinite Museum”; 2019’s “Reproduction of Light”, to 2020’s “Art for the Next”, they each represent a step in the evolution of the theme.

When I took on the position in 2017, I proposed the ideal of academia first, market second, for planning ART TAIPEI. By inserting academic thought processes into the spirit of curation to move outside the box of formal perspectives for commercial fairs of the past, the art fair in Taiwan has already left the idea of caring only for commercial value behind. We hope to use diverse perspectives with an abundance of art appreciation, to further drive infinite energy for more thoughtful and creative curations. In the past three years, we curated three special exhibitions: early, pioneering Taiwanese artists; the post-war artists; the post-martial law and contemporary artists. This year, the “Foreign Country. My Homeland-Special Exhibition by Post War Taiwan Alumni Artists” is curating works created by overseas Chinese students who studied in Taiwan in the late 1950s, demonstrating how after these overseas students came to Taiwan, they took the energy from Taiwan back to their homes and let it flourish, to blossom there.

2018 ART TAIPEI introduced the new ASIA+ exhibit, and even before ART BASEL, we provided less expensive and practical solutions for small to medium high quality art galleries when they are considering attending art fairs but are faced with the financial burden of doing so. ART TAIPEI has created more streamlined, leaner stall specifications, so that we can welcome more diverse exhibitors to the fair, allowing us to present a richer view of the Asian galleries, to remold people’s imagination about the Asian art landscape.

In 2018, the internationally renowned curator Annie Ivanova curated a large scale installation – the UK artist Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, which can be considered ART TAIPEI’s first real large-scale public art piece.

In 2019, to reflect the theme of Reproduction of Light, ART TAIPEI curated the “Dedication to the masters” series, exhibiting the Mirror Sculpture series from the Indian-born UK artist Anish Kapoor. In addition, 9 profound pieces of public art that placed emphasis on the splendour of ART TAIPEI’s rebranding, which included “After the Tribes”, a composite medium installation from the hands of the Israeli artists Beverly Barkat which was based on the biblical tales of the Twelve Tribes of Israel; the “Big Palm” by Hong Kong artist Victor Wong, which interacts with the viewers in real-time with constantly changing lights and sounds; the work “Spring cloud amongst the peaks: the story behind it” by Chinese artists Bing Xu, and others.

2018 ART TAIPEI Exhibition

How would you define the identity of Art Taipei today? What are its strengths? What would be the key words of the fair today?
Art collectors are the lifeblood of art fairs. In April 2017, the first Night of the VIP collectors was held, which was jointly hosted by TAGA and National Palace Museum’s “Impression•Left bank Musée d’Orsay 30th anniversary exhibition”. In March 2018, I was the holding ART TAIPEI’s VIP dinner in Hong Kong, and during that event, I announced the establishment of the Taiwan Collector Association, and became the first chairperson. At ART TAIPEI of the same year, we immediately curated the first collectors’ exhibition, titled by yours truly as “Opening•window” Collectors’ Video Art Collection Exhibition. In the past 20 years, the steadily emerging technology and technique in Asia has led to changes in the forms of art development, which indirectly opened the gate to creation of video art in Asia. In 2019, I set the theme as “Stand. Gaze afar – Taiwanese collector special exhibition”, which was focused on photography and installation arts. The curation was focused on the collection of non-mainstream medium for two years in a row, because I wanted to use the proof by contradiction approach to demonstrate the potential of Taiwanese collectors. The Collector’s Special Exhibitions attempt to bring focus to the role that collectors play and their influence on the art market. Through the process of “collecting”, one can observe and collate one’s own context for art collection, and to derive the development of the art industry.

At every year’s ART TAIPEI academic lectures, we focus on different issues and social concerns, and through deep dives, we try to reduce the distance between the fair and art lovers. The main thread running through the 2017 event was the Asian perspective, where the theme of the international forum was “See the New Asia – contemporary art that is moving towards regional integration”, which not only collated the new looks of Asian contemporary art, but at the same time also integrated and responded to the changes of the global art market and opening up new opportunities. In 2018, “art galleries X art ecology” and “collection X promotion of art” responds to the theme of the Indefinite museum. In 2019, the Reproduction of Light and Whose museum were the themes, where the content and nature of art fairs were discussed from the angles of art fair organizers, art gallery owners and international collectors. In this age where art fairs can be found all over the world, how should fairs present themselves? For fairs that have international influence, what prospect and future should they bring to the art industry? For 2020, in response to the international climate of the new coronavirus pandemic, we locked onto the topic of “Asian trends‧shared lives of Asia” to talk about the culture, economy, and art industry in the pandemic era.

In 2019, TAGA collaborated with Chinese Public Television to produce a 6-episode TV mini-series The Promoters of Art, to reveal to the viewers the quiet effort that the art industry is putting in behind the scenes. Behind each number lies the culmination of the efforts put in by TAGA, the participating exhibitors and partners of the event, all working to the best of their abilities to fuse art and aesthetics into the lives of the general public.

Leading the aesthetics trend has always been something that TAGA strives for and considered to be part of the organization’s responsibility. TAGA is happy to shoulder the social responsibility of promoting the arts and further hopes to be a guide on the path to a health, comprehensive development of art ecology in Taiwan. ART TAIPEI, managed by TAGA, is always thinking about how to not only preserve but also emphasize the unique nature of Taiwanese art and culture even under the wave of globalization. At the same time, it is broadening its global perspective and linking up with the international community, while hoping to lead and guide the boni mores of the industry. We are also working harder to promote Taiwan’s soft, artistic power onto the international stage, and emphasizing Taiwanese collectors’ potential and global perspective at the same time.


What do you think makes Taiwan such an important marketplace for art?
ART TAIPEI’s advantage is that we have a strong group of Taiwanese collectors who are also highly involved in research and learning. On top of that, the Taiwanese government’s Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Bureau of Tourism and other branches of the government are all very supportive, collaborating and acting as joint organizers of various events under ART TAIPEI.
Keywords: Art for the next, rebranding



What can you tell us about this 2020 edition? Are there any emblematic or innovative works that you would like to present to us?
ART TAIPEI is an international art fair that has stood fast in the age of the coronavirus pandemic even as other similar events have been cancelled or postponed around the world. Since its inaugural event in 1992, it has had an unbroken 27-year run. This year, despite the difficult circumstances, it will be held as planned, bringing the global focus to Taipei City!

2020 ART TAIPEI resolves itself to be just like this year’s theme, Art for the Next, to have the courage to climb to the top without fearing the obstacles and difficulties, and to strive to create perfection. At the same time, ART TAIPEI has proposed “industry, government, academia and collectors” as the four major arms supporting the structure of the art industry, which helps to consolidate our stable foundation.

In the past 4 years, ART TAIPEI has been ART TAIPEI have been working on re-branding effect. With international important art events being cancelled in 2020, the event is looking back at Taipei, featuring special exhibitions linked with Taipei have been planned, for example, the Visualizing the City- 101 Photography Special Exhibition held in collaboration with Taipei 101. Viewing the city from 101 while also gazing at 101 from within the city, using realistic artworks to present Taipei as a feature, and an important member of Asian cities of art and culture. Also, ART TAIPEI has built a NPO Art Space Special Exhibition to link up with those NPO art venues in Taipei, such as Taiwan Art Space Alliance, Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Arts, Art Station x Residence and others, which have all gathered at ART TAIPEI to present the diverse and colorful cross section of the art ecology, and artistic creations in Taiwan through different styles of art.  

2019 ART TAIPEI – Reproduction of Light was honored with the gold award from a field of 70 entries at Taiwan MICE Awards in the exhibition Group A category, held by the Bureau of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The insight and potential of Taiwanese collectors have earned Taiwan an important spot in the international art market, and these collectors are working hard to increase their international collection, connecting and exchanging views and ideas with international collectors. On top of which, the cover picture of several prominent art auction house catalogues were taken by Taiwanese collectors. In recent years, a group of 40-something art collectors have appeared in Taiwan, and their collection style is turning towards international contemporary art. The Taiwanese collectors as whole are also getting younger.

Starting from 2017, I started to care a lot about managing the relationships with the collectors. Besides establishing the Taiwan Collectors Association, monthly classes have been organized, along with master classes during spring and autumn, plus various events involving the collectors being held at the Taichung, Tainan and Taipei art fairs.

Collectors are key players in the art industry, resonating with the artwork during their collection process. This also generates a spiritual pull, seemingly constantly pushing to look towards the far horizon, but also creating a bird’s eye-view from a higher vantage point. This is the attitude Taiwanese collectors have towards collecting art, and that is what we want to maintain.

Art Taipei is an international fair, but above all it allows discovery of the great diversity of galleries from all over Asia. Which countries are best represented?
Oversea exhibitors at ART TAIPEI account for 50%. However, due to the impact of the pandemic, the original number of 34 oversea exhibitors has dropped to 12 exhibitors. Even though the precautions are well-implemented in Taiwan, with the government measures responses, the cost of business travel in terms of money and time have greatly increased, which also caused an impact on the willingness of oversea exhibitors coming over. Galleries in Asia area are represented by Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. What’s more, the Swiss gallery, MAI36, established a branch office in Taipei in 2019 and this year it is also participating in ART TAIPEI for the first time, illustrating its strategic business layout of setting a foot in Taipei to gaze into Asia. There are still 6 new oversea exhibitors participating in ART TAIPEI, which exceeds the 5 first-time domestic exhibitors this year. It shows the brand influence of ART TAIPEI and the importance of Taipei as a hub of Asian art market, to be able to attract oversea art agents to this event.

Lastly, what was your biggest challenge for this 2020 edition in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis?
The biggest challenge this year, of course, is the lack of international exchange due to the international flight restrictions. Oversea exhibitors and collectors are unable to make their presence to Taiwan, which will cause a varying degree of loss in various sectors. Though this is the largest challenge, it is also the best moment to reflect upon oneself, an opportunity to concentrate and modify one’s own direction.

Logo art taipei

Private Viewing: October 22, 2020
Dates: 23-26 Oct 2020
Location: Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1