Monthly Archives: September 2009

11th Shanghai International Art Festival Set To Begin Next Month

Festival Will Present 55 Stage Performances Alone, 28 From Abroad, 27 From China

China.org writes today about the upcoming Shanghai International Arts Festival, which will take place for an entire month beginning on October 18:

It will feature classical ballet, dance, music, opera, drama, art exhibitions, Colombian gold, puppets, magic and a youth piano competition, as well as traditional Chinese arts and performances.

“We are trying our best to make this one of the best art festivals in the world,” says Chen Shenglai, director of the festival.

In addition to stage performances, the festival will feature art exhibitions, forums and other events, such as the pre-Hispanic gold art of Colombia at the Shanghai Museum; realist painters from the Repin Academy of Fine Arts from Russia; a retrospective of the history of China-Japan drama exchange; a South Korean modern art exhibition and Xie Zhiliu’s painting and calligraphy.

Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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Warren Buffett Gives Little-Known Chinese Clothier A Global Boost

Buffett’s Endorsement Of Trands, Suitmaker For China’s Government Elite, Gives Small Clothing Brand International Notoriety

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett’s interest in China as an investment destination is well known, and his words of praise for (or investments in) the occasional Chinese company seems to have the effect of boosting that company’s visibility abroad virtually overnight. H is company’s $230 million investment in Chinese electric and hybrid automaker BYD has elevated what was only a few years ago a fledgling battery maker into a brand which is set to enter the US market as early as next year. So for little-known (even in China) Chinese menswear designer Trands, Buffett’s endorsement of his newest Chinese-brand-of-the-moment is definitely exciting news — especially because their stocks have risen 70% since the release of a video in which Buffett extols the brand’s qualities. As the Wall Street Journal writes today,

Move over Brioni, the truly rich and powerful are wearing Trands.

The obscure menswear label is produced by Dayang Group, a clothing company founded by Li Guilian, 63 years old, a diminutive farmer-turned-fashion mogul, in northeast China.

Ms. Li’s company got a major boost after Mr. Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., recently appeared in a Dayang promotional video, posted on the company’s Web site. He heaped praise on Ms. Li, her company, and the nine Trands suits he proudly owns. Shares of Dayang’s Shanghai-listed subsidiary, Dalian Dayang Trands Co., have soared by more than 70% since the video was posted on Sept. 10.
 

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More American Vintners Looking To Expand In China Market

Growing Interest In “Pú Tao Jiǔ” Among Urban Chinese Spurring Wineries To Intensify Their China Expansion Strategies

By next year, wine imports to China are projected to reach 250,000 tons

By next year, wine imports to China are projected to reach 250,000 tons

China’s growing middle class has emerged over the last 20 years to be one of the world’s most closely-watched demographics, with marketers in virtually every industry keeping a keen eye on every purchasing trend they make. In more recent years, one of the industries that has benefitted the most from this sizeable group’s interest in all things foreign has been wine. Although the vast majority of Chinese are either unfamiliar with foreign wine or simply do not drink it very often (if at all), many vintners see great potential in the market, as target customers in more remote urban areas remain underserved by existing bars, liquor stores or supermarkets, and returnees who’ve traveled, worked or studied abroad often come back to China wine aficionados with a taste for wine.

Although per capita wine consumption in China remains miniscule by comparison, in China’s major cities it is becoming a more popular beverage, particularly in business or family settings, and in recent auctions of fine wine mainland Chinese buyers have increased exponentially, gaining notoriety among seasoned wine investors as intense bidders (and avid drinkers). Trying to maximize their appeal in China while reaching new markets, wineries outside China are working overtime to get their products to the mainland market while promoting wine drinking in China and building sustained brand equity.

As most of these vintners remain completely unknown within China regardless of their size overseas, the Chinese market represents a blank slate of sorts, allowing them to brand themselves at will without the stigmas that may exist in other markets. A good example of this is American wineries, who are often shunned for their European counterparts among American wine aficionados. As the China wine trade has opened up in the last 10 or so years, vintners from California and Washington state in particular have worked to get their bottles in the hands of the emerging Chinese wine drinker, to mixed success. California’s Lodi News-Sentinel, interviewing Van Ruiten Wineries’ Kevin Sherwood, today illustrates some of the opportunities the Chinese market presents for American and other foreign wine producers:

Around 2006 [Sherwood] developed a desire to market to China. It was around the time of the Beijing Olympics that Sherwood started to sense an opportunity. “It’s just as easy to sell to China as it is to go and sell to the restaurants in San Francisco and Walnut Creek,” he said.

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China Lends Rare Art To Taiwan

First Time China Has Lent Rare Artifacts To Taiwan Since End Of Chinese Civil War In 1949

This exhibition will mark the first time Beijing has lent artifacts to Taipei

"Art Diplomacy" has the potential to increase cooperation between China and Taiwan

As ties between China and Taiwan have gradually become closer (particularly in the last year, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou), stories of cross-straits cooperation are becoming increasingly common. From China’s opening of direct flights to Taiwan to increased Taiwanese investment in the mainland (and vice versa) to today’s story about China sending 40 Qing Dynasty-era artifacts to Taipei’s National Palace Museum this October, cooperative gestures between Beijing and Taipei are something of a welcome sign.

Although simmering disputes remain between the two governments about thousands of artifacts taken to Taiwan as the Nationalist army made its retreat to the island in 1949 — which Beijing has sought to repatriate for decades — this exhibition is seen by many as a conciliatory step towards more direct talks on the future of the Chinese artifacts held in Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. As the BBC writes,

About 650,000 paintings, bronzes, porcelain and jade from Beijing’s imperial collection were packed into crates to escape the Japanese army in the 1930s.

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Luxury China Travel Agent Unveils Shanghai Expo Packages

Mandarin Journeys’ 2010 World Expo Package To Target High-End Foreign Travelers During Shanghai’s “Coming Out Party”

The Shanghai World Expo is expected to attract upwards of 70 million visitors

The Shanghai World Expo is expected to attract upwards of 70 million visitors

Mandarin Journeys, a “Western-run, China based luxury tour operator,” has announced an innovative tour package for visitors to Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo, set to take place from May 1 to October 31 of next year. According to a press release, the luxury tours will be designed in association with some of the leading hotels of Shanghai:

Working with such exclusive properties as Langham, Hyatt, Portman Ritz-Carlton, PuLi and JW Marriott, Mandarin Journeys presents a comprehensive selection of Expo tour packages targeted at a worldwide discerning client base.

Based in China and operated by former tour managers and long-term Western expatriates the company caters to independent travelers from Europe, the United States and Australia. Our destinations include China & Tibet, Japan, Central Asia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

 

Mainland Shoppers Set To Flock To HK For Golden Week

1.8 Million Tourists And Shoppers Made The Trip Last Year; Will This Year See Similar Figures?

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong retailers, hoteliers and merchants of all shapes and sizes are getting ready for the second of two “Golden Weeks” which take place annually in China — the first celebrating Chinese New Year and the second beginning on National Day (Oct. 1) and continuing through the Mid-Autumn Festival (Oct. 3) until finally ending on the 8th. For Hong Kong’s luxury retailers, Golden Week has traditionally provided a much-needed boost to their sales, particularly as fall begins and the flow of foreign tourists slows down significantly.

For many mainlanders, however, Golden Week is a chance to hop over the border and do some serious shopping. As Hong Kong retailers aren’t saddled with the same high sales and luxury taxes as those in the mainland, shoppers from throughout China often take advantage of the timing of Golden Week to enjoy the cultural ambiance of Hong Kong while stocking up on expensive products that would — at home — cost up to double the price.

Today, the New York Times Globespotters blog gives a glimpse into the fun (and chaos) of Golden Week in Hong Kong, when millions of shoppers (many of whom have saved up throughout the year for their HK shopping spree) converge on this small but densely-packed city to queue up for hours and open their wallets:

European designer emporiums, jewelers and gold shops will all be packed, as mainland Chinese rush to buy goods that are both cheaper, and more likely authentic, than back home. (Unlike China, Hong Kong has no sales or luxury taxes.) For upscale shopping, avoid the crowds by trying department stores like Lane Crawford instead.

As far as the local government is concerned, you can’t have too many festivals. During this hectic period, there is also the Hong Kong International Arts and Antiques Fair from Oct. 3 to 6, and the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival from Oct. 1 to 15. Jazz and antiques aren’t big Chinese tourist draws, so they might be another way to escape from the maddening crowds.

In addition to these festivals and events, this year’s Golden Week will also coincide with Sotheby’s Autumn Auction of Contemporary Chinese and Asian Artwork, taking place on October 6 in Hong Kong. It’ll be a great opportunity for luxury buyers who have come over from the mainland to bid on some domestic contemporary artists and maybe take home a few Yue Minjuns, Zeng Fanzhis or Cai Guo-Qiangs in addition to the boatloads of Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Rolexes they’re going to tote back over the border.

World Gold Council Planning Huge Sales Push In Rural China

Council Hoping Government Stimulus Measures Will Spur Consumption In Notoriously Frugal Rural Areas

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

Shanghai Daily reports today that the World Gold Council has started a major sales drive in rural China, banking on indications that the country’s second- and third-tier cities have more sales potential than their first-tier counterparts in terms of gold consumption. This sales push follows similar drives by antiques, visual artsshopping center and luxury car companies to attract customers in China’s interior — where any semblance of “luxury fatigue” has yet to sink in and the middle class is seeing gradual growth.

As one of China’s traditional hedges, the World Gold Council is banking on gold’s allure to buyers in remote areas both for its value as well as its cultural resonance.

“Rural areas showed better-than-expected demand for gold in the first half in China,” said Gerry Chen, business development manager China of World Gold Council.

China is the only country in the world where gold jewelry demand has risen in the aftermath of the world financial crisis, the council said. Sales in China’s mainland rose 9 percent in the first half, while global demand contracted 8 percent.

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“Art Colonies” Springing Up All Over China

Songzhuang Cultural And Arts Festival, Taking Place From September 20 To October 12, Showcases Artwork From Artistic Districts Around The Country

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

This year's Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival follows the success of last year's exhibitions

Although many art enthusiasts are familiar with Beijing’s larger and more established art districts, such as Dashanzi (大山子) and Caochangdi (草场地), one of the Chinese art world’s best-kept secrets is that the country is home to a number of smaller, more exclusive art communities. Running until October 12, the Songzhuang Cultural and Arts Festival looks to showcase the work of artists from these art colonies — both large and small — and give art lovers a glimpse into the wide range of artwork currently being produced throughout China. Titled “Community! Community!” this festival puts a strong emphasis on the work of artists in distinctly non-mainstream art communities in ten art “zones”:

Artists from ten different art zones in Nanjing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Wuhan and Changsha. were invited to display their artworks. Each art district has a separate location at the festival, featuring recently created artworks by artists representing each community.

Thirteen large-scale art museums and galleries, such as the Songzhuang Art Museum, Sunshine International Art Museum, and the LDX Contemporary Art Center, provide exciting exhibits.

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Luxury Watch Brand Richard Mille Opens Flagship Store In Beijing

Watchmaking Iconoclast’s New Location At Jin Bao Street’s Legendale Hotel Features Decor And Accents Shipped From Paris

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille's flagship store in Beijing brings an air of bygone Europe to Beijing's Jin Bao Street

Richard Mille, the French luxury watch brand,has just opened a flagship store in Beijing’s five-star Legendale Hotel, according to a company press release. Mille’s fixation with high-tech materials and unique alloys inspired by F-1 motorsport and the aerospace industry, has made him one of the most unusual — and fastest-rising — luxury watch forces in the world, and with the flood of spending we’ve seen in China on luxury goods like watches, cars, wine, jewelry and contemporary art, Beijing’s flagship Mille store should attract the city’s free-spending elite in no time.

[T]he flagship occupies 260 square meters of space at this platinum 5-star hotel that represents European elegance and luxury in the heart of this capital of the People’s Republic of China. With such a prime address and grand interiors, Sparkle Roll Group Limited, the exclusive dealer of Richard Mille in PRC, invested HK$45 million in building this flagship in Beijing.

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