The contemporary art calendar is already crowded with fairs: New York’s Armory Show in February, Art Basel in June, London’s Frieze Art Fair in October and Art Basel Miami Beach in December. So it’s no surprise that with the explosion of critical and commercial interest in the Asian art market, Shanghai is throwing its hat into the ring with SH Contemporary, which will be held from Sept. 6 to 9.
The fair, which will take place at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, an over-the-top Baroque-looking structure built by the Russians in the Fifties, is being launched by former Art Basel director Lorenzo Rudolf (who’s also responsible for the popular Miami Beach spin-off), along with Swiss collector and gallerist Pierre Huber. They’ve positioned their creation as the Art Basel of Asia, with the potential to court new collectors and artists, as well as foreign galleries.
“A lot of things have changed in the meantime since Art Basel became what it is now,” Rudolf says. “The art scene is really globalized now. Nowadays you find interesting contemporary artists all over the world, networked with other scenes.” Taking his lead from the increasing influence and market potential of China, Rudolf decided to situate the art fair in Shanghai, which he calls “the lifestyle center of Asia.”
So far, SH Contemporary has attracted some blue-chip galleries to show in its inaugural fair, from locales as far-flung as Brussels, Copenhagen, New Delhi and Taipei, including galleries such as de Pury & Luxembourg from Zurich, and the Marlborough and James Cohan Galleries in New York.
“The next generation of artists is going to be coming to this fair,” surmises James Cohan, who represents artists like Bill Viola and Fred Tomaselli. Even established galleries like his are looking to reach out from well-trodden avenues to find new collectors. “We’ve discovered going out of the mainstream and going to places like Shanghai, outside of Miami and outside of Basel, gives us an opportunity to offer work to people who are not clients of ours today.”
Shanghai Exhibition Center