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French antiques festival promoted in Taiwan

2012/04/23 16:05:58

Taipei, April 23 (CNA) With Asia's growing interest in antiques, the organizer of a luxury antiques fair in France has made Taiwan one of its stops on a worldwide tour to promote the upcoming biennial extravaganza to art collectors and lovers around the world.

The Biennale des Antiquaires, the oldest fine arts fair in France, will be held at the Grand Palais in Paris from Sept. 14-23, and boasts 150 exhibitors of rare objects from antiques to contemporary fine jewelry.

The Syndicat National des Antiquaires (SNA) used to invite people to press conferences held in France, Christian Deydier, president of the SNA, France's national union of antiques dealers that organized the fair, told CNA in Taipei recently.

However, those meetings allowed few opportunities for the organizer to get to know more collectors, artists and designers outside France.

"So I thought, maybe it's better to choose 20 or 25 towns around the world, come and see the people there, explain what we do and show them what we do," said Deydier, who agreed that Asia is an emerging market in the global fine arts market.

In addition to promoting the fair in Asian countries and regions such as Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, the Biennale's organizers are also planning to hold a mini fair in Hong Kong next year that features around 20 dealers.

The SNA has also invited Hong Kong jewelry designer Wallace Chan to be the first Asian jeweler to exhibit at the Biennale, which began in 1962.

Deydier said the biggest attractions of Chan's works are the carving techniques, which he said were "very exceptional," and his ability to incorporate Chinese culture, legend and history into his pieces.

He mentioned Chan's "Butterfly" series as an example, saying the legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, a tragic Chinese love story, is appealing to European and American audiences.

Liang and Zhu were a couple from the Eastern Jin Dynasty who were unable to marry each other when they were alive but were reborn and reunited as two butterflies.

"Stones you can buy everywhere, but people like stories," said Deydier.

Despite recognizing the growing antiques market in Asia, especially in China, Deydier also cautioned against fake antiques and art trading practices, which he said are prevalent in the Chinese market.

"Some sellers put pieces on auction and buy them back to raise the value of the pieces," said Deydier, attributing the fake trading practice to the lack of regulations.

"Authenticity is the most important thing," said Deydier, a long-time art collector and expert in Chinese archaeology and art.

He said China has to change relevant laws so that dealers at auctions are required to guarantee the authenticity of their pieces.

"That means if there is any problem, you have to refund the money," he said.

China is, however, a new market of only three or four years and there exists great potential in the country, he said.

"China is quick. In other countries, it takes 10 years (to see changes). In China, three years, if they start making the laws."

As the first Asian jeweler to exhibit his works at the Biennale, Chan said he is both excited and nervous, and feels a sense of responsibility to show Chinese jewelry art to the world.

Chan said he will present 50 works, emphasizing craftsmanship, materials, creativity and artwork from Chinese Buddhist and Taoist traditions, as well as from Greek mythology.

(By Christie Chen)