Berlin’s newest gallery fills what has long been a curious gap in the European commercial art market: a space owned and run by a Chinese dealer. While Chinese art has made huge waves across the world stage — hello, Zhang Daqian — Europe has lacked a native perspective on contemporary art in China. Opened in coincidence with the Chinese lunar new year, Zhong Gallery is here to change that.
Founded by avid Beijing collector Gaowen Zhu, Zhong’s Berlin outpost will be headed up by Jiangnan Wang, a past master at shuttling between the European and Chinese art scenes. In an interview with BLOUIN ARTINFO Germany, via Jiangnan’s translation, Gaowen said, “Though Chinese contemporary art and the Chinese art market have already gained attention from all over the world, there are still sometimes quite stereotypical opinions outside China. Art is art.” Gaowen wants to break down what could be seen as an othering of Chinese artists by placing them in direct conversation with Western practices.
But this translation doesn’t end in Berlin. Gaowen says that he also hopes to introduce young German artists to China through Zhong’s sister gallery in Beijing. “We would like to play the role of a bridge between Beijing and Berlin, so more young German contemporary artists will get much better known and vice versa,” he says. An immediate comparison could be made to Alexander Ochs, a German dealer with galleries in Berlin and Beijing. Ochs too has been invaluable in opening up the Berlin scene to myriad new artists and artistic practices from china. However, Gaowen stresses that Zhong’s “base and origin in China itself, where we meet all the artists, gallerists, and collectors personally and are very involved in the art scene,” will help it to open up new and different kinds of channels for cultural exchange.
For their first exhibition, “Dawn: New Art from China,” Zhong has brought together a promising group of emerging Chinese artists, all born after 1970: Chen Yujun, Li Jikai, Li Qing, Wang Guangle, Wang Yabin, Wu Di, Yuan Yuan, and UNMASK. “They are energetic and promising,” says Gaowen of the group. “The styles of there art seem to have very few similarities, but the essence of the work has many things in common, which is stamped by their upbringing.” The show features a full range of painting, collage, and sculpture, and will be on view through March 31.