May 06 2019

Roundup From Auckland Art Fair 2019

by Wei Hao Qi

Works by PAUL DIBBLE and KARL MAUGHAN at the booth of Auckland-based Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland Art Fair 2019. All images takes by Wei Hao Qi for ArtAsiaPacific.

Launched as a biennial event in 2005, Auckland Art Fair (AAF) switched to an annual format with its 2019 edition. The decision reflects the growth of the event, which has doubled its revenue since 2013, as well as the change in management three years ago with the appointment of co-directors Stephanie Post and Hayley White. Under their leadership, AAF has made great inroads toward expanding its lineup, roping in not just a greater number of galleries from New Zealand and Australia, but also pushing further afield, across the Pacific region and upwards into Asia, with galleries from Rarotonga, Indonesia, China, and as far as Chile taking part this year. Nevertheless, of the 41 galleries in attendance, the vast majority were fixtures of the local scene, and sales on the first day seemed to reflect this.

Nerves were high by noon on the VIP preview day, with many galleries noting that attendance was lower than usual. Some gallerists surmised that the low turnout may have been linked to the Christchurch Mosque attacks six weeks prior—speculation that was somewhat borne out when the bang of a toppling chair at the VIP dinner caused a disproportionately panicked commotion.

Despite the slow footfall, first-time participant Leo Gallery (Shanghai) quickly found takers for Huang Yan’s photograph Chinese Shan-shui Tattoo 09 (1999), priced at NZD 6,200 (USD 4,100), and also reported significant interest in the works of Chinese Abstract artist Li Lei, though this did not result in an immediate transaction. Next to Leo Gallery’s booth, Auckland-based Gow Langsford enjoyed brisk trade throughout the day, moving a series of quatrefoils by Max Gimblett for NZD 9,000 (USD 6,000) each, and a NZD 94,500 (USD 62,500) jelly-green work by Dale Frank. By the afternoon, The Vivian, from Matakana, had sold two Patricia Piccinini wall reliefs for NZD 25,500 (USD 16,900) each, as well as a painting by Rebecca Wallis for NZD 6,000 (USD 4,000).

Sales in the under-NZD 10,000 (USD 6,600) range seemed healthy. Hastings-based Parlour Projects, making the most of a tiny booth with a see-through metal frame wall, had sold four translucent silk paintings by Matt Arbuckle at NZD 2,200 (USD 1,450) each, and a larger work, also by Arbuckle, for NZD 3,200 (USD 2,100). Sydney’s Piermarq, another first-time exhibitor, sold two of Maximilian Daniels’s paintings inspired by the reflection of light on glass, each carrying a NZD 6,500 (USD 4,300) price tag, while Auckland-based Tim Melville Gallery shifted six figurative paintings by Star Gossage, with most of them priced under NZD 10,000 (USD 6,600).

As AAF’s doors opened to the general public, the mood seemed to lift in tandem with an obvious uptick in foot traffic. Whether this translated to steady transactions over the course of the fair remains to be seen. Below are some highlights from AAF 2019.

Shanghai’s Leo Gallery participated at AAF for the first time. HUANG YAN‘s photograph (far left) sold within the first two hours of the fair’s VIP opening.
Shanghai’s Leo Gallery participated at AAF for the first time. HUANG YAN‘s photograph (far left) sold within the first two hours of the fair’s VIP opening.

Auckland Art Fair 2019 ran from May 1 to 5, 2019.

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