It’s no secret that China’s art market has experienced a boom in recent years, thanks in no small part to household names like Ai Wei Wei. But in the photography world, a new generation of talent is emerging and creating a statement of its own.
Ever since China opened up and globalised its market, photography has slowly developed into an instrument through which artists could reflect their socio-political anxieties. For decades, the nation’s artists became known for their signature black-and-white aesthetic and ability to focus wholeheartedly on issues that matter on a local level.
Following the upheaval of the post-Mao movement in the late 1970’s, artists such as Birdhead, Yang Fudong and RongRong have been dominating the scene, leading the way for new photographers to express their hopes and concerns. Now, a new generation of photographers, led by the likes of Wang Youshen and Ren Hang, are embracing colour and maverick techniques to reflect shifts in contemporary Chinese society.
Leading the conversation in mainland China is PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2016, a new platform for worldwide artists to exhibit their work. Now in its third year the fair, running from 9- 11 September, will explore Asia’s history of photography and project its evolving contemporary work onto the eager lens of the continent’s new art market.
Around 50,000 people are expected to experience the fair’s eclectic line-up, curated from 24 cities. Spanning 50 gallery spaces, the work ranges from emerging and established photography to multi-disciplinary projects that engage with moving images. Pieces from icons such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Elliot Erwitt, Wim Wenders and August Sander will hang side-by-side with local, experimental work from the likes of Mona Kuhn and Shen Wei to create a much-needed international dialogue.
Here, Artistic Director Alexander Montague-Sparey has handpicked ‘the ones to watch’ from this year’s fair, whether you make it to Shanghai or not.
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