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The Art Fairs of Asia

Over the past ten years, East Asia has seen an unprecedented rise in the establishment of art fairs within the region, including the arrival of Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2013, the launch of Taipei Dangdai Art & Ideas in 2019, the arrival of Frieze in Seoul in 2022 and its collaboration with Kiaf, and the launch of Tokyo Gendai in 2023. These developments are widely seen as not only reflective of the growth of the Asian art market at large but also indicative of the fact that evolution in the regional art scene is currently unfolding with art fairs as its focal point and the opinion that such a directionality should continue to be upheld.

We examine the tenability of this viewpoint with the directors of the art fairs at hand. Our conversation also addresses the critique laid out in certain circles that the robust organization of new art fairs will lead to nothing more than the annexation of the Asian continent at the hands of Western galleries and Western artists. More specifically, we discuss how the art fairs of Asia might indeed formulate identities that set themselves apart from the art fairs of the Western world and come to bolster Asian galleries and artists. Further, we deliberate over whether the art fair itself ought to function as a public art event or whether greater significance should instead be placed on the art fair remaining committed to its role as a marketplace for art.

  1. Some maintain that newly established art fairs that have begun to crop up across Asia not only speak to the growth of the Asian art market but also constitute the central axis around which regional art scenes in Asia now evolve. Is this in fact the case?
  1. Other critics have opined that the enlivened organization of new art fairs in Asia will merely end in a takeover of the continent’s art scene by Western galleries and Western artists. How might Asian art fairs make their own mark and forge their own identities in a manner distinct from their counterparts in the Western world? How should Asian art fairs go about highlighting and supporting Asian galleries and artists?
  1. Should art fairs serve as public art events tied to regionality, or is it of greater import for them to stay their course as marketplaces for art?