Being the fastest-growing contemporary art market in the World, Asian art market is expanding its borders by involving increasingly more countries from the region. In recent years Asia has brought out on the international art scene a number of talented young artists from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Iran and many others. At the same time, contemporary Asian art has become more Western-focused and the rising number of European collectors visiting the main art fairs – Art Basel or TEFAF – to purchase Chinese or Indian art prove that. However, Asian art needs to be also represented in Europe, as a central point between Hong Kong and New York, and in 2017 this need will be realized in Poland.
Starting from 2017 the Warsaw Institute for Modern and Contemporary Asian Art Foundation is launching an ambitious cross-cultural project named WACAW – Warsaw Asian Contemporary Art Week. A series of exhibitions and related programs will be presented, featuring a broad spectrum of contemporary art, photography, performing arts – music, theatre, ballet and circus – from across Asia. Workshops, discussion panels, an academic conference on arts and a trading platform will also be held during the art week.
The exhibition program of WACAW will focus on modern and contemporary Asian art, new media, visual arts and performing arts. It will engage in a dialogue between the past and present, tradition and innovation, local and global concerns, as well as drawing attention to the continuities and differences in various Asian art forms over the centuries.
The centerpiece of WACAW is GAAB – Grand Asian Art Bazaar – a brand new art fair of Contemporary Asian Art representing private galleries and institutions of the region. The concept of GAAB reflects the wide geographical spread of the participants, ranging from the Middle East to Eastern Asia. In between the annual fairs GAAB is planned to occupy a niche of online art trade including a virtual gallery and a specialized Asian art auction. The GAAB website is available at www.gaab.pl. The WACAW website will be launched this fall after finalizing the cultural program and related events.
WACAW is planned to be held annually at the beginning of June in Warsaw and the nearest dates are: June 5-11, 2017. Moreover, starting from September 2016 the Foundation will launch a series of workshops, lectures and group discussions on Asian art dedicated to general audience, art lovers and art specialists.
The project was highly evaluated by art academicians and market professionals. Several first figures in the field of Asian art from the International scene have already agreed to participate in WACAW as board members, curators or advisors. For instance, Dr. Paul Gladston, Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures and Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham will hold a position of the Director of the Academic Program. According to Dr. Gladston “contemporary art related to Asian identities has become increasingly prominent on the international stage in recent years. Not only that from Japan, Korea, India and China, but also newly emerging artistic communities in central and south-east Asia, the Middle East and Asian diasporas world-wide. This growing, conspicuously diverse international profile poses significant questions for previously dominant western conceptions of contemporary art as well as differing ways in which ‘Asian’ contemporary art might be interpreted. Warsaw Asian Contemporary Art Week is a timely platform for exploring such questions. It will also give audiences opportunities to engage with art works rarely exhibited outside Asian cultural contexts”.
Dr. Lynne Howarth-Gladston, independent critic and curator of East-Asian art at WACAW comments on the rising role of Poland as the third world center of Asian culture: “As part of the Silk Road during antiquity, Poland is a historical bridge between Asia and Europe. Warsaw Asian Contemporary Art Week is therefore perfectly placed for the showing of contemporary Asian art, which itself brings together western and eastern cultural thinking and practices. Contemporary art by artists of Asian identity challenges expectations by expanding the spectrum of western and Asian aesthetic experiences. As such, it also suspends absolute differences between East and West. WACAW has the potential to provide a lasting site for the rethinking of contemporary art practices beyond established cultural perspectives”.
These thoughts correspond with the vision of Alexandre Gurita, strategist in the field of art and Director of the Biennale de Paris and IHEAP: “The idea of presenting the art of Asia in Europe is representative of our time, where the local moves freely within the global. Poland is on the mid-ground between Hong Kong and New York, which I think is an ideal place to display contemporary art from Asia. This project is an adventure in art. It’s the adventure that makes sense, the rest is boring. I am looking forward to diving completely into this adventure”.
In the international artistic milieu the project was called “The Silk Road 2.0” already a year before its launch. The name refers to a trade route from China to overseas countries that passed through Poland in Medieval times and fully matches “One Belt, One Road” development strategy proposed by Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping in 2013. In 2017, connectivity and cooperation among countries, primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, should gain a brand new language of communication, which is art. Proud to say, this language will be created and provided to the rest of the world by Poland.
art financier, CEO of GAAB