PAGE?15 Surge art ARVIN MAHANTA SURGE Art, previously known as ‘Affordable Art China’, was established in 2006 with the goal of making good quality art more accessible to the general public. Whilst the art market in China has of grown immensely in the last few years, it still lacks the depth that more developed markets in the West have - here, buying art is still seen as the preserve of the rich. With this in mind, the works on sale at Surge Art Fairs all sell for less ed a name that was shorter and snappier, and a brand that is instantly recognisable. It also reflects a change in our outlook. Whilst affordability is still very important to us, we do not want to give the impression that we are just concerned with price. We are equally focused on discovering new talent: it is about quality, not just bargains. Of course, it is great for people who bought, say, a Zhang Xiaogang painting at one of our fairs a couple of years ago, because now works from the same artist can fetch two million RMB at auction, but we would rather people come to our fairs and buy works for aesthetic pleasure, rather than seeing them purely as an investment that might appreciate in value. You have received praise for ‘getting to grips with the market trend’. What, in your view, have been the major trends in the Chinese art market in the past few years? Well, since 2006, I would say that the quality of works out there has improved enormously. The standard of teaching at the major art schools has improved, and more people are studying fine art than in the past, so this has had a positive effect on the Chinese art scene, as there are now so many talented young artists coming out of these institutions. Not only has there been improvement at the technical level, but at the conceptual level, ideas have become more sophisticated. The new generation of contemporary artists are more international in outlook and as a result, the themes they explore are often more universal, rather than focusing specifically on Chinese issues, as was the case before. Finally, contemporary art itself has hit the mainstream: whereas in the past the market was dominated by traditional works, now there is a wider awareness of Chinese contemporary art. One reason for this is the work of contemporary artists making a name for themselves in the commercial sphere, as designers or photographers for instance. In art, as with a lot of things, it seems impossible to mention the Shanghai scene without comparing it to Beijing. Do you think there are any major differences between the two? As a rule, in Beijing the focus can be described as than 30,000RMB, which is very reasonable indeed when compared to the millions being spent at leading auction houses, both in China and abroad. Beyond merely selling art, SURGE Art provides a platform for emerging artists from all over China to showcase their work, not just to art enthusiasts, but industry professionals as well. With SURGE Art Shanghai just around the corner, we caught up with founder and director Tom Pattinson to find out more about the hidden intrigues of the Chinese art market. You were established in 2006 under the name ‘Affordable Art China’. Why did you decide to rebrand yourselves? We have been operating in Beijing since 2006, and this upcoming fair will be our second successive year in Shanghai. We also have a fair in Chengdu later this year, and next year we plan to expand to other cities on the mainland, as well as Hong Kong and Taipei. So in practical terms, we want- SHANGHAI247.NET 247TICKETS.CN