Article: The Taiwan Art Market Now

Despite the worldwide economic recession, art galleries are booming in Taiwan. In the past half year, 5 contemporary galleries opened in Taipei City and several in other areas. Last week, one of the most established Indian galleries, Sakshi, opened in Taipei City as well. It is their first branch outside of India. In its opening reception, well-known Indian artists works were shown, including Subodh Gupta, TV Santhosh, Ravinder Reddy and Jitish Kallat.

Taiwanese collectors have been thought of as the most established Asian collectors. The tradition of collecting art has been passed down since the Japanese colonial period. In 1989, the Eslite Gallery opened and devoted itself to contemporary arts. Eslite has been promoting Taiwan contemporary artists as well as Chinese contemporary artists, like Xu Bing and Cai Guo-Qiang since the 90's, however, contemporary arts did not become popular until 2003.

Following the Chinese art boom, most Taiwanese collectors turned to contemporary art after 2003. They also expanded their interests into Japanese, Korean, South-East Asia and India. Although the expansion was somewhat opportunistic, it also made the market wider and stronger. However, there are still other problems hidden in the boom: most galleries launched during these few years are much more like dealers rather than galleries. They import artwork from Japan, Korea, put them in a group show and sell them. They don't work with the artists nor treat them as gallery artists. And it has become harder to see an interesting solo exhibition which can present an artist's career in Taiwan. Another problem for the Taiwanese art market is the huge gap between the market and academics. The 6th Taipei Biennial was the most impacted one among Asian biennials last year, but galleries shows are still very conservative.

However the Eslite Gallery is still a great gallery. They spent a decade to establish some incredible Taiwanese artists such like Michael Lin and Tsui Kuang-Yu. Eslite will present them in Art Basel this year, the first time a Taiwanese gallery will enter the fair. Eslite will also relocate to a 1,000 square-meter space and reopen this April. The first exhibition will be a solo show of Michael Lin.

By Ya-Ji Huang

Ya-Ji Huang

Yaji Huang is an art writer and curator based in Taipei and Shanghai. She worked for Art Taipei and the Aura Gallery (Shanghai) as managing director and has been writing for CANS-Chinese Contemporary Art News as a column contributor. In October 2008, she started Perception Unit and is working with young artists.