Art Stage Singapore has been a beautiful fair with plenty of fresh works by established artists and new, interesting young artists being introduced to collectors, so why are so many galleries unhappy?
While local galleries seem to have done well at the lower end of the market, some established international galleries have not managed to sell anything and are clearly disappointed (given the booth cost of $20,000 and shipping cost, many will need to make at least $40,000 to recoup their cost), while many have sold just enough to cover their costs. The small, but fresh to the market Mask by Zeng Fanzhi (above) is still up for grabs and plenty of other top works by leading artists have remained unsold.
So what happened?
Galleries' gripes include the Larasati-Borobudur auction, which took place on the first night of the fair, right above its ground, sucking in 100 Indonesian collectors - while Christie's also hold auction in HK during ART HK, it does so at the end of the fair, not at the beginning -; the top collectors' trip to Indonesia Art Stage organized, which took away 15 top collectors before the end of the fair - "Many they're keeping their money for the trip to Yogya and the artists' studio," one gallery owner quipped.
Some Chinese galleries are reportedly so incensed they are considering a petition to ask for some rebate on the booth rental.
The Taiwanese presidential election didn't help as Taiwanese collectors headed home earlier to vote, while the closeness of the Chinese new year may have also helped keep some Chinese collectors away.. But ultimately, it is more likely that the lack of collectors' buying just reflect the economic situation. One could already see this at the recent auctions in Hong Kong.. Indeed all the collectors I talked to actually bought something. They just didn't go crazy! One should see the Singapore fair as a warning of what is to come for the art market this year… But collectors have plenty to rejoice, with galleries ready to look at introducing a new generation of artists, there are plenty of bargain around and who knows.. the next Zeng Fanzhi might have been bought just this week.