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  • May 14, 2020

Are Galleries Making Sales via Online Platforms?

ERWIN WURM, Untitled (with fruits) (One Minute Forever), 2019, acrylic, plaster, 92 × 67 × 45 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York / Hong Kong / Seoul.

One of the few fairs to take place as planned this year in January, Taipei Dangdai, in collaboration with Ocula, launched Taipei Connections (May 2–10) with 84 galleries, approximately 85 percent of its exhibitors. Viewers could enter the platform through the fair’s site. As Tomio Koyama, who participated with a thematic presentation, reflected to AAP, the platform “has an exceptional network within the Chinese-speaking communities.” Most of the audience hails from Taiwan, with viewers from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Singapore, and other areas of Southeast Asia as well.  

With a focus on connecting with the community, organizers curated a well-received live-streaming program on art-market topics and artist studio visits. Shasha Tittmann, director of Lehmann Maupin in Hong Kong, stressed the significance of contextualization for Taiwanese collectors. The gallery received positive responses to Erwin Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures series (1997– ). Wurm’s exhibition at Taipei Fine Arts Museum garnered attention from local collectors, and an online conversation between Wurm and Jérôme Sans was watched by more than 1,600 viewers on the Facebook Live Channel. Tittmann added that the platform can serve as a conversation starter: “If we can build more context ahead of (or during) our artists’ museum shows in Taiwan, then we have confidence that collectors will get to revisit the works in person with a new lens.” 

Asia Art Center (Taipei / Beijing / Shanghai) shared similar insights, saying it witnessed an increase in visitors to Chuang Che’s retrospective currently on view at its Taipei space after the launch of Taipei Connections. Abstract works by Indonesian pioneer Fadjar Sidik received the most inquiries from both private and institutional collectors, especially the early oil-on-canvas Space Dynamic in Yellow (1978), which will be displayed at an upcoming show at the Center’s Taipei space.

With the launch of online platforms, small and midsized fairs have now taken up the task of promoting galleries to not only their domestic audiences but also to potential buyers around the world. However, all three virtual fairs extended their end dates to attract more attention and to allow galleries more time to close their deals, suggesting that perhaps online views do not translate so easily, or so quickly, into online sales.

Pamela Wong is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor. 

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