An Artist’s Insight into the Shanghai Art Market

IMG_3815-e1382278155941Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit down with Katy Roseland, an American artist, to discuss her first hand experiences with creating art in Shanghai and the Shanghai art market. Katy moved to Shanghai 6 years ago and has been working here as a freelance artist. She is primarily a painter but also works in multimedia creating installations. In the past few years Katy has dedicated a majority of her time to founding Basement 6 an artist collective. As an artist collective Basement 6 offers studio, gallery and other multifunctional spaces for artists.

After drilled Katy with questions about Basement 6 and how an artist collective works, we talked about her general views of the Shanghai art market. Katy addressed a few issues she saw within the art market; how many of the key figures in the Shanghai art market are ex-patriots, the type of art being produced and government regulation of art.

Most artists Katy knows in Shanghai are either expatriates or internationals and most gallery owners and curators are as well. She attributes this to the art education westernized societies provides to youths and the art appreciation instilled in these societies. Katy experienced this first hand when she had the opportunity to teach a few art classes to Shanghainese children. “Nobody has ever taught them that being creative is cool. In art there are no rules, and the kids are blown away by this idea. You should have seen heir faces when I told them they could mix colors”.

The types of art being produced in Shanghai was another issue Katy spoke passionately on. She identified photography and more modernized artistic styles (silk screens, digital, video works, installations) as art forms that she had seen done with great skill throughout Shanghai. Painting, drawing and printing on the other hand are art styles she doesn’t see often and are typically of a low quality. These styles are considered to be traditional Chinese art forms. “I think it’s hard for Chinese to experiment in these are forms because they don’t want to challenge tradition.” Katy believes that experimenting with these styles could be seen as a form of rebellion and thus newer art forms, with no traditional relevance, are a safer method of artistic expression.

The last issue we touched on was Katy’s experience with government intervention in the art market. Katy said that usually government intervention isn’t an issue, but it occasionally comes up. “If the art being displayed is clearly challenging the government or societal norms, or if an art movement gains to much support and can’t be regulated the government will step in and shut it down.” We talked about how this kind of government regulation has potential to stunt the development of the art market.

In the future Katy hopes for the art and the art market to become more diversified; integrating more local Chinese and Shanghainese artists, collectors and administrators as well as the display of more artistic styles. Both of these aspects of the art market however are contingent on the actions of the government. Katy thinks the Shanghai art market has a long way to go if it’s going to compete with New York and Paris, but that at the rate the city is developing she think’s its bound to happen sooner rather than later.