GALLERY TAKEOVER | Matthew Liu Fine Arts | PHOTOFAIRS

GALLERY TAKEOVER | Matthew Liu Fine Arts

 

We speak to the founder of Matthew Liu Fine Arts to discover more about his affiliation with the photographic medium, art fairs and why he changed from working within the financial to fine art sector.

Tell us about the history of your gallery, when did you open your gallery and what made you decide to become a gallerist? 

The gallery was founded in 2014 after I left my job in banking to pursue a career I knew would really motivate me. At the time, I wasn’t very clear about what type of job I wanted within the arts industry – many ideas popped into my mind. I thought if I started a gallery it would have the most impact by providing a better and broader platform for people. It can influence both artists and the public. I finally decided to open this gallery. It just so happened that at the time there was no such kind of gallery devoted to Western artists in Shanghai.

© Shen Haopeng, Waiting for Bauhaus, 2021 - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts 

©  Vik Muniz, Brazilian Jungle, after Rugendas, 2019  - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts

 

Tell us about the history of your gallery, when did you open your gallery and what made you decide to become a gallerist? 

The gallery was founded in 2014 after I left my job in banking to pursue a career I knew would really motivate me. At the time, I wasn’t very clear about what type of job I wanted within the arts industry – many ideas popped into my mind. I thought if I started a gallery it would have the most impact by providing a better and broader platform for people. It can influence both artists and the public. I finally decided to open this gallery. It just so happened that at the time there was no such kind of gallery devoted to Western artists in Shanghai. 

Please describe your take on the Asia-Pacific art market in three words

It keeps getting better and better! Even though the Asia-Pacific art market won’t overtake the US market so soon, it is at least the second place on the art map.
 

© Candida Höfer, Monnaie de Paris II, 2018 - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts

© Thomas Canto, The Void Will Never Stop Falling, 2020 - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts

 

We look forward to welcoming you back to the 2021 Fair. Can you tell us what works you’ll be bringing? 

The photographs we’ll be bringing to this year’s fair are all very intriguing and exciting. We’ll be showing the multimedia artist Yang Yongliang, who happens to be exhibiting in our gallery this month. He will present his new, previously unseen, colour series. We’ll also be exhibiting a piece by Thomas Canto, and he made his exceptionally creative and the first installation work related to photography. This work has never been shown before as well. Of course, we don’t remember to present the traditional ones. For example, we have been representing the new works of Vic Muniz and the latest work from Candida Hofer. Last but not least, we are also showing works of our local artist in Shanghai, Shen Haopeng, who is very good at shadow contrasting. 

Online viewing rooms and digital offerings have increased exponentially within the art fair market over the past 12 months. We see on your Instagram a recent show of yours, Qu Fengguo, is using this viewing room format. What are your thoughts on these virtual initiatives?

Although I still miss the traditional display methods, this new way of presenting works is becoming a key part of our program. The viewing room format is still the most important way to digitally display artworks but I have always been willing to participate in art fairs like PHOTOFAIRS because everyone can see the actual work. You can move in physically to see the details or textures of the pieces, see how the light shines on the work and get a sense of scale. It creates a different response to just seeing a flat image online. 

I see on your website you have been attending art fairs since 2014. How have you seen the art market change in the past nine years? 

One of its most significant changes within the photography art market is how it’s become more mature and at a fast rate. The learning curve of Chinese collectors has risen quickly and appreciation for art has grown rapidly. Today, I can confidently say the Chinese collector is no different from international collectors. 
 

© Yang Yongliang, Hound, 2021 - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts 

© Yang Yongliang, Sitting alone by a stream, 2019 - courtesy of Matthew Liu Fine Arts
 

What makes you represent a photographer or artist? 

This question is a bit complex but I would say a photographer’s work should fully demonstrate his style. The style needs to be independent, sophisticated and I also need to understand it from my perspective.

What makes you want to look at an artwork again and again? 

It needs to be unforgettable so draw me in so I will continue to look at the work. I think it should be a good work of art in essence. Chen Qiang (an artist represented by our gallery) has shared this quote with me: ‘Art is a tool that resonates with you. It should be an incubator for the viewer to produce some chemical reactions beyond its physical appearance. If it can't achieve this effect or function, then it can't be said to be a good work of art.’ 

Therefore, the artwork that makes me look back repeatedly is the work that resonates the most. There are many good works of art. They may make me feel refreshed, disgusted or be a mix with other emotional reactions, but it must be completely unforgettable. 

INSTAGRAM | WEBSITE