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Asia's new role

Booming cities like Shanghai or Beijing are urban metaphors for truly tectonic shifts in the broader cultural, economic and political landscape. But China is only the peak of the iceberg. Asia includes over 50 countries, from the Middle East to the Pacific islands. There are vast differences and a richness of variety that are harbored within the borders of each country. Asia holds three quarters of the world's population, several races, a myriad of languages, all four of the world's major religions, and countless local faiths. Although the countries in Asia have different cultures, political climates and religions, they all have strongly expanding economies … as well as good and interesting contemporary artists. Only 10 years ago many Asian artists had to emigrate in the West because of the strict political and cultural restrictions in their own countries. Due to the social liberalization that can be found in large sections of Asia today, very active and exciting art scenes have developed all over the place: art academies, biennials, contemporary art museums, art centres and, last but not least, art galleries emerge everywhere in Asia. And the new art scenes, in combination with the explosive growth among the wealthy local upper and middle classes, also produce new collectors and new demands. Even more, countries like China or India are establishing their own scenes where global taste is being forged.

"ShContemporary is international and offers a privileged viewpoint of the contemporary art sector in Asia. Of the 101 exhibitors selected for the quality of their projects, the half comes from the West and the other half from various Asian countries. The involvement of so many different nationalities means that artists benefit from a concrete opportunity to present their work to professionals from every continent, while collectors and gallery-owners in turn can find out about different situations and markets, or discover new talents." This statement by Pierre Huber relates to the decision to include two "invitation-only" sections in ShContemporary: "Best of Artists" and "Best of Discovery".

"Best of Artists"

This first section will premiere the work of 15 emerging Asian artists on the international scene - as such uninfluenced by Western markets, fashions or mainstream "moral values", and considered in their respective home countries to have great talent. "ShContemporary will in this way revitalise the market and the tools for getting to know and analysing today's Art, on a global scale and not anymore only in the Western world," said Pierre Huber. "'Best of Artists' presents artists whose vision and the content of their works, in my opinion, has a 'historic' impact, even though their work occupies a dimension that is very different from that of current best-sellers." Bologna Fiere engaged Pierre Huber to travel for months in India, Japan, Korea, China and Pakistan to find especially interesting artists and gallery-owners.

Best of Discovery

"The second section - 'Best of Discovery' - will outline the current trends in various Asian-Pacific countries, with 20 artists selected from different generations and not only emerging. The lens is once again trained on cultural, artistic and other exchanges that such new awareness may stimulate among the protagonists, art dealers and visitors to ShContemporary." "ShContemporary is organised by Shanghai International Cultural Communication Association, Eastern Shanghai International Culture, Film and Television Group, Shanghai Art Fair Organization Committee, and by BolognaFiere Spa, in cooperation with ICE - Italian Trade Commission and under the patronage of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Trade and of the Emilia Romagna Region."

Owners of leading galleries from the East and West about the ShContemporary 2007 fair:

Fernanda Rangel M. - Galería Enrique Guerrero, Mexico

We think that organisers have enough experience, reputation and soundness to organise a reliable fair that could fulfil the expectations of collectors and gallery owners. It's not our first fair in Asia, and we know that the Asian market gets stronger every day; it's a perfect niche market to expand our horizons and broaden our spectrum of contacts and potential buyers.

José Martínez Calvo, Galería Espacio Mínimo, Madrid

Our gallery has already taken part in three fairs in China, and they always turned out to be very positive for us. This new fair in Shanghai has generated a great deal of excitement in the Chinese and international contemporary art scenes, because it's the first art fair in China with western organisers and because of the importance of the selected international galleries. The Chinese market is very young and thirsty for contemporary art; the fair will be a success.

Christina Guerra, Contemporary Art, Lisbon/Portugal

I think it's a good chance to meet the Asian market and establish good relations between Asia and West. Here we'll also try to understand how the market operates here.

Lorenz Helbling, ShanghART Gallery & H-Space, Shanghai

It is the first ShContemporary, but the atmosphere here is quite positive. It seems that many people are coming, and there are high expectations. One great thing is that the art doesn't stop at the door of the exhibition hall; many exhibitions and activities will happen around the fair time. For example there are over 15 exhibition openings here at Moganshan Rd the day before the fair starts, there are big dinners, etc. Shanghart alone organises 4 solo exhibitions, including an exhibition with new works by Liang Shaoqi, a 60 year old artist who participated in all the possible Biennials (from Istanbul, Venice to Shanghai etc) but had never given a solo show.

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