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Asia Now fair swoops up would-be Fiac exhibitors

Paris fair makes up for lack of Asia-based exhibitors with some blue chip galleries who were meant to be participating at the larger, cancelled fair

A still from Ma Haijiao's video If we delete green, if we start caring about plants (2019-2020) on show with Tabula Rasa at Asia Now Courtesy of the artist and Tabula Rasa

Asia Now is benefitting from the cancellation of the Fiac (Foire internationale d'art contemporain) fair as several leading Paris galleries have jumped on its bandwagon in order to participate in a French fair this week.

Perrotin, Daniel Templon, Nathalie Obadia, Almine Rech, Galerie Georges-Philippe and Nathalie Vallois are all helping to boost the sixth edition of the fair, which is missing some of its Asia-based exhibitors that are unable to travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Held over two floors in a townhouse on Avenue Hoche from today until 24 October, the boutique fair dedicated to art from the Asian region features 33 exhibitors.

“We're very good friends with the organiser [Alexandra Fain] and thought that as Fiac was cancelled, we had the freedom to participate in the fair—a decision made collectively with my team—and it seemed natural as we have so many Asian artists,” Emmanuel Perrotin tells The Art Newspaper. “It's a bet for everybody as there are not many foreign collectors but it's about showing solidarity for each other and bringing vibrancy to Paris this week.” The gallery is presenting works by Bharti Kher, Lee Bae, Otani Workshop and Ni Youyu. Two charcoal ink on paper works, priced at $9,000, by Lee sold at the preview.

Jitish Kallat's Untitled (2020), with Templon at Asia Now Courtesy of the artist and Templon

“We've had Continua in the past but never had such a big number of these galleries which helps to keep the quality elevated,” Fain says. ”We can maintain and adapt the fair as it's a small format and, even though some Asian galleries couldn't come, the artists represented by international galleries in Paris can be shown.”

As Asia Now is spotlighting Indian artists this year, Templon is exhibiting works by Jitish Kallat, Atul Dodiya and Anju Dodiya; Obadia is showing Rina Banerjee; Jeanne Bucher Jaeger is showing the recently deceased Zarina (Zarina Hashmi), and Galleria Continua has a solo show by Shilpa Gupta. “It's like what Fiac used to be like decades ago,” Daniel Templon says of the intimate, collegial atmosphere.

Stalwart exhibitors such as Magda Danysz welcome the change of flavour to the fair. “It's very different to other years but the presence of the big French galleries is good,” says Danysz, who is presenting the Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho.

Among the Asian galleries here are Tabula Rasa from Beijing which has a solo show by Ma Haijiao. As Tabula Rasa's founder Sammi Liu could not fly over, her friend, Zhen Shi, is managing the stand instead. “We couldn't have all the pieces sent over from China in time so, as well as Ma Haijiao videos, we're showing printed images [rather than the actual photos],” Shi says.

Patricia Kaersenhout's Food for Thought (2018) on show at Paris Internationale Courtesy of the artist

Another Parisian fair, Paris Internationale, also held its preview yesterday in a reduced exhibition format in a vacant supermarket. Curated by Claire Le Restif, the sixth edition features works by emerging artists from 26 galleries from 14 countries and three non-profit spaces. Each gallery sent over three works with highlights including Patricia Kaersenhout's textile collages from Wilfried Lentz (Rotterdam), Annie Bourse's painted bed installation from Crèvecoeur (Paris) and Amitai Romm's sculptures from Veda (Florence). “Our idea was to propose a format that would enable our exhibitors not to travel and be a more appropriate response to the current situation,” the fair's co-director Clément Delépine says of the move.

“The reaction of visitors has been very positive as people are happy to see art and this renewal,” Guillaume Sultana, one of the co-founders, says. “Viewing rooms should be complementary [to physical events] and appeal to collectors but less to critics and curators and here we can show and talk about art again.”

Despite the limit of 1,000 people in Paris events, the fair Galeristes is also taking place this week (Carreau du Temple, 23-25 October) along with Private Choice (7 Avenue Franklin D. Roosevelt, 19-25 October).