Billionaires Lured by Masriadi’s Warrior at U.K. Art Fair

A new art fair opens in London today that plans to be Europe’s “first truly global” event of its type, feeding a growing appetite for contemporary works.

Art13 London, with 122 dealers from 31 countries and sponsored by Citi Private Bank, previews for VIP visitors at the Grand Hall, Olympia. About half the artists on show will be of non-Western origin, the organizers said in an e-mail.

“It will be interesting to see galleries from places like Turkey, Korea and Singapore, if they bring their homegrown talent,” the London-based art adviser Annabel Thomas said. “The fair may be an opportunity to find up-and-coming new artists. It depends on quality control.”

The market for contemporary art is growing as rich people from both established and emerging economies look to invest in alternative assets.

Evening and day auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s International and Phillips earlier this month in London raised 203.5 million pounds ($307 million), an increase of 18.9 percent on last year. Buyers came from 33 countries, Christie’s said, demonstrating “a truly global appetite for the category.”

Art13 London is organized by Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus, co-founders of the Hong Kong International Art Fair, which sold a majority stake to Art Basel’s MCH group in 2011. They also plan sister fairs in Sydney and Istanbul in September.

Asian Interest

Asian names are prominent in London. There are 12 galleries with spaces in China and nine U.S.-based dealers. South Korea and Singapore both have six stands.

“Fairs like Frieze and Art Basel tend to be a bit Western-centric,” Jasdeep Sandhu, director of the Singapore-based Gajah Gallery, said. “This presentation has a more global focus. It’s what the future of the art market might be.”

Gajah is among the 70 percent of Art13 London’s exhibitors to show in the U.K. capital for the first time. The Singapore gallery will be bringing “Godlike,” a 2013 painting of a samurai sword-wielding warrior by Nyoman Masriadi, the star of Indonesia’s contemporary art scene. It is priced at $350,000.

Other canvases of the artist’s trademark black heroes have made as much as $1 million at auctions in Hong Kong.

“There’s a huge body of collectors in the West,” Sandhu said. “They’re educated and sophisticated, and this is a good opportunity to cultivate some of them.”

Art13’s organizers said Frank Cohen from the U.K., Dakis Joannou from Athens and Don and Mera Rubell from Miami are among big-name western collectors committed to visiting.

Affordable Prices

The chance of snapping up a next big thing at affordable prices is a lure for buyers. Others, noticing the absence at Art13 of “destination” galleries such as Gagosian and White Cube, as well as the prevalence of U.K. dealers who show at second-tier London contemporary art fairs, will be biding their time.

“I’ll be waiting until the second or third edition,” the New York art adviser Judith Selkowitz said. “There are a lot of art fairs and some markets in emerging economies can be fairly volatile.”

Pearl Lam Galleries, based in Hong Kong and Shanghai, will be showing two Western-trained Chinese abstract painters that are making their debuts at a London fair.

Zhu Jinshi, who is collected by the Rubells, worked in Berlin with Joseph Beuys in the 1980s and had contact with Robert Rauschenberg. Su Xiaobai was a pupil of Gerhard Richter in Germany during the same decade.

Their more recent abstract works range from $50,000 to $300,000, reflecting the upper price levels for most of the better-quality works at Art13.

Bamboo Boat

Zhu’s 12-meter (39 foot) installation “Boat,” made out of bamboo and 8,000 sheets of rice paper, will be one of the stand-out works in the fair’s projects section.

So too will be 10-meter aluminum bottle-top hanging, “In the World But Don’t Know the World,” by the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, shown by the London-based October Gallery.

Athr from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Temnikova & Kasela from Estonia and Cape Town-based Brundyn + Gonsalves are in London First, a section of 17 younger galleries that have never participated at a fair in the U.K. capital.

“There are too many fairs that are identical,” the London-based adviser Arianne Levene said. “If you work in the art world, you want to see something different. This gives you the opportunity of seeing new pieces from outside Europe without getting on a plane.”


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