Art Forum Berlin kicks off with a record number of artists from 23 different countries

1st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 October 2007, Berlin (dpa) - With a record number of artists and 136 participating galleries from 23 different countries, Berlin's 12th Art Forum was inaugurated by governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit Friday evening at the International Messe.

1 October 2007

Berlin (dpa) - With a record number of artists and 136 participating galleries from 23 different countries, Berlin's 12th Art Forum was inaugurated by governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit Friday evening at the International Messe.

The six-day art extravaganza occurs at a time when the contemporary art scene in the German capital is booming, and more than 6,000 foreign and German artists are living and working in the city.

Nina Menocal, who runs an art gallery in Mexico City, is one of the exhibitors with a stand at the Forum.

"This year I've brought along paintings by Cuban and Mexican artists, as well as works by Spanish artists living in the Canary Islands," she says.

"Berlin's fantastic. For me, the show improves every year, due to the efforts of Forum director, Sabrina van der Ley, who travels a lot looking at different art fairs. She's helped give the Berlin event a very special identity."

Veteran art gallery directory Alexander Ochs, whose Berlin premises are found in the city's Sophienstrasse, focusses solely on the work of Asian artists at this year's event.

"Ten years ago, I began specialising in Chinese art," he tells Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"A reason I did so was because there wasn't much of a contemporary art scene in China at the time, so I thought it offered me a chance. Now, 60 per cent of the art work I sell is in China. And in Berlin, too, we also have good collectors of Chinese art."

In 2004, Ochs established the White Space Beijing as a branch gallery in the Chinese capital, managed by artist Tian Yuan and backed by an all-Chinese team.

With artists such as Fang Lijun, Yang Shaobin, Yin Xiuzhen and Miao Xiaochun, Ochs says his galleries today rate as market leaders in China's contemporary art scene.

"I spend up to six months a year in China and other Asian countries on art business activity," he says.

Ochs praises contemporary art scene trends in Berlin, saying they've led to increasing influence, particularly among Western countries, in recent years. But where China is concerned, he doubts whether Berlin does enough to foster its relationships with the Asian giant.

"Only three weeks ago, a new art fair was opened in Shanghai. Things move fast there. It wouldn't surprise me if we didn't see a kind of art shift developing in that direction in the years to come," Ochs says.

"This fair simply does not have enough people working on relationships with China."

Young Tokyo gallery director Wako Kiyoshi, who deals with a number of Western artists in Japan - Gerhard Richter, Gregor Schneider, Luc Tuymans, James Welling, Andreas Slominski, Christopher Williams and Raoul De Keyser among them - is another Asian exhibitor at the Berlin event.

He displays the work of talented young Japanese artists.

"They are largely unknown in Europe and even in Japan are just at the start of their careers," Kiyoshi says. "So I would be delighted if they gained recognition in Berlin."

Noritoshi Hirakawa, Tomohito Ishi, Takeshi Masada, Yuji Takeoka, and Shizuka Yokomizo show a mix of paintings, photographs and video work.

All told, more than 2,000 artists from Australia, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Britain, the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Japan, Lebanon and Israel are displaying works in Berlin.

Forum director Sabrina van der Lay said at the show's opening press conference that attendance at the event has gone up by 5,000 people every year in Berlin.

"So we hope it will happen again this year," she said. "Art in Berlin is booming."

Asked about Berlin's role in the art world, Elizabeth Dee, who runs a gallery on New York's West 20th Street, said that the German capital was similar to Los Angeles in terms of lifestyle and opportunities for artists.

"It has this international profile of artists working in the city, combined with a very strong gallery system that makes it increasingly influential and international," said Dee, who said that Berlin offers great opportunities for artists, gallery directors and curators alike.

"It's a good time to be in Berlin!"

DPA

Subject: German news

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