Each year, the arrival of spring announces the opening of Art Paris Art Fair. Held between 30th March and 2nd April, this year fair brought together 139 galleries from around the world, with a special focus on the African art scene. In light of the opening held on 29th March, we can surely say that this year fair has highlighted the richness and diversity of contemporary African creativity.
It is not my intention here to repeat what will be eloquently said about the African works and solo shows. Instead – and since it remains the main goal of this platform – I would like to briefly mention the presence of Asian galleries. In fact, a fair number of booths were coming from Asia, including Japan, Korea and China. A special mention should be made of the Korean galleries, such as the Mo J Gallery that displayed works of striking quality.
The ON/Gallery (Beijing), the A2Z Art Gallery (Paris, Hong Kong), and the Galerie Paris-Beijing (Paris) seemed to be the only ones that introduced interesting works from Chinese artists, including some photographers. The Galerie Paris-Beijing played around shapes, textures and volumes in its booth, in which the South Korean artist Chul Hyun Ahn’s mirror and light works were juxtaposed with stunning trompe l’oeil works by the German Sebastian Wickeroth. On an exterior wall, Yang Yongliang’s photographs grouped as a triptych echoed a particular anxiety about rapid urban transformations in Chinese metropolises, such as his hometown Shanghai.
While the A2Z Art Gallery did not feature any Chinese artist, their large booth was nicely curated so as to engage artworks in a peculiar visual dialogue. The gallery notably advocated colourful marker drawings by the French Hom Nguyen, unsettling organic matter sculptures by the French Emeric Chantier, paintings by the Chinese Ma Desheng, and large format pictorial photographs by the French Wahib Chehata.
Of particular interest was the ON/Gallery, which distinguished itself with a group show entitled “Our Story” focusing on Chinese artists. Amongst the exhibited artists, two attracted my attention. First, Wang Kaichen’s satirical neon installations that claim “We love art and seafood” and “Art no discount”. Second, Liu Tao’s coloured photographs that call into question the changing and conflicting relationship between man and its urban environment. Partly performative partly autobiographical, Liu’s photographs captured his naked body amid the exterior urban world as an allegory of self-alienation.
Slightly hidden behind a wall in the background, a small format photograph by Ren Hang was discretely hung on the wall. The director of the ON/Gallery - Mrs Wang Lingyun - declared that selling his works has been somewhat delicate because forgeries have been circulating since his tragic death last February 2017 (read Ren Hang's obituary).
More information: Art Paris 2017