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Art Beijing - Interview with Fan Fang

Fang Fang and Marek Claassen

This is an Artfacts.Net interview with Fang Fang.
Mr. Fang Fang is the founder of the Star gallery and the Hi Art magazine in Beijing. The Hi Art Magazine is one of the special media supporters of the Art Beijing 2007.

AfN: Hello Mr. Fang.

Fang Fang: Hello.

AfN: By looking at the September 2007 issue of the Hi Art magazine I was spotting a lot of articles about artists shown at the Art Beijing. It is the first time that I noticed such a strong appreciation of artists shown at a fair by a magazine. I think that this was marvellous because it helps the visitor to understand what´s going on at that fair. Did you do this intentionally and if yes, will you keep on doing so?

Fang Fang: I would like to start from the background of our magazine. It is the first free art magazine delivered to the readers by mail in China . The main features of the magazine include the following: first, it is a fast way to transmit the viewpoints of the art circle to the public. Secondly, it is of high quality because two of the three founders of the magazine were senior reporters of CCTV (China Central TV), reporting on contemporary art. The third one was an editor of the Trends Magazine Group, one of the most exclusive fashion magazine groups in China. This is a combination of expertise from both, art circle and magazine publishing.

As to your question, yes, we did it on purpose. On the one hand, important
exhibitions are one of the major parts of our magazine. On the other hand, it is a good way to improve the recognition of our brand. In addition to art fairs, we also report exhibitions of top auctioneers and academic exhibitions in art museums, introducing the profiles and works of artists.

AfN: It is very good because it gives a deeper understanding of what is going on at the fair. And in the catalogue, there is just one image. That is it, no text, no additional information.

Fang Fang: Yes. Generally, the catalogue of the fair is very simple, with just one page and no focus.

AfN: Isn't there a conflict of interest: being publisher on the one hand and a gallery owner on the other hand? How do you separate the spheres?

Fang Fang: I can separate these two things well. Besides, I am considering a third project, namely to establish a website about China's contemporary art. We will learn from and Artnet. But our website will be in Chinese and serves the Chinese public.

AfN: So we will collaborate.

Fang Fang: Yeah. Jay Jopling, the director of White Cube, also works for a BBC programme. He has a third role as a committee member of the Turner Price. I think he is more likely to be questioned about how to separate the three things he does.

AfN: The Chinese auction art market is sky rocking. But in terms of curatorial appreciation, contemporary Chinese artists are is still not broadly visible in the West. Do you think that western museum curators are looking strongly enough at Chinese art?

Fang Fang: I think the most important thing for China's contemporary art is to establish its own value system, its own ecosystem, from artists to art galleries, to museums, to media. What I care more about is the existence of this value system. In the past ten years, China's contemporary art has been too heavily relying on the western value system. China's own value system will be established in the next 10 years.
Then it will be the right time to discuss how the western world regards China's contemporary art. However, in the near future, in terms of western recognition and appreciation of Chinese art, it is likely to be, more or less, aimless and fragmentary.

AfN: It will be incorporated as part of the global system.

Fang Fang: Yes. Only on the condition that China's contemporary art has its own value system, it will be able to obtain the true recognition from the western world and to enter into a genuine communication.

AfN: When evaluating the participation on biennials, we've found that the video artist Yang Fu-Dong is the most shown artist in Europe and America. Yang Fu-Dong is born in 1971, and your gallery is also representing the post-70ies. Do you think that the artists of this generation will be the coming shooting stars?

Fang Fang: My gallery is focussing on (the art and artists of) the post-70ies. I think, the post-70ies will carry out the cultural renaissance in China.

AfN: What makes these artists so special in your eyes?

Fang Fang: I live with them everyday, and I know lots of details about them. But it's already sufficient to tell the foreigners that they (the post-70ies) are the people that genuinely experienced the social change (including the change of the value system) after (the government carried out) the reform and "opening-up" (policy) in China.

AfN: They are more open-minded.

Fang Fang: It is not that simple. They experienced a dramatic change of the (social) ideology during their teenage years, a phase when a person's character and beliefs are formed. This experience was affecting every aspects of their life, including their thoughts and their habits. In their works, you can find the characterizing marks that were left by this experience.

AfN: This year, your gallery did not participate in the Art Beijing. Is there a particular reason? What are your future plans in terms of fair

Fang Fang: We have our own work schedule. We just participated in the
ShContemporary. During Art Beijing, we had an opening of a new space. It would have been too busy for us to attend Art Beijing in addition to all that. But it does not mean that we will not attend Art Beijing in the future.

AfN: Any future fairs you want to go?

Fang Fang: Next week, I will submit the application for the Art Basel statement unit and Art Llista. Art Arco in Spain is another fair I would very much like to participate in. In China, ShContemporary, Cige of Beijing and Art Beijing are the fairs I would like to attend next year. We will go to three or four fairs within the year.

AfN: Dear Mr. Fang, thank you for the interview

Fang Fang: Thank you very much.

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