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London Facing East: Asian Art Week

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Collectors, museums and galleries come together to celebrate one of the world's most important Asian Art events.

Marta Olszewska


Fine Art

Antiques






Figure 1: Ivory Head of the Virgin Mary
Philippines, 17th - 18th Century  
Image courtesy Joost van den Bergh  Image source


Marta Olszewska, London

Every November for the past 16 years, London has been flooded by Asian art enthusiasts. They come from far and wide to enjoy Asian Art in London - one of the most important arts events in the world. But what is it that makes it different from all the other Asian art related events? And why is London such a major centre of Asian art?


The event caters for all tastes and needs: exhibition openings, gallery and museum talks and important auctions appeal to buyers, collectors, scholars and curators as well as admirers of all things Asian.


"Asian art in London has been one of the most important events on my dealing calendar,” says Francesca Galloway, renowned dealer of Indian miniatures and works of art. Asian art dealers constitute a large segment of the city’s art market. They cover all geographical areas and periods: from ultra contemporary Chinese to ancient Mesopotamian bronzes.


The organisers have seen a slow but steady increase in the number of participants from outside the United Kingdom (especially dealers from the USA, Belgium, France, Portugal, and Holland). They hire gallery spaces in Central London specially for the duration of the event to exhibit their collections.


The major auction houses schedule their most important sales in the field to coincide with Asian Art in London as well.


So what makes London the best place for such a specialised event?


"Art business develops near important academic centres. Knowledge and expertise result in awareness of the value,” says Jessica Curtis the organiser of Asian Art in London. “People in England have been collecting and researching Asian art for centuries and major museums developed on British soil,” she adds.



Figure 2: Installation image of 'Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 - 1900',
Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum
Image Source


Apart from dealers and auction houses, major academic bodies also plan their exhibitions correlating with Asian Art in London. Recently institutions and societies from outside the capital adjusted their calendars to fit in with the events in the city. The Burrow Collection in Glasgow, The Ashmolean Museum and the Oxford Asian Textiles Group in Oxford, The Chinese Art Centre in Manchester, and The Museum of East Asian Art in Bath represent leading examples.


“As a scholar, I am less interested in the art market. But I came to London especially from Poland to meet authorities in the field of Asian art, and to see the exhibitions,” says Maciej Góralski, curator at the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw.


Asian Art in London enables every Asian Art lover to satisfy their interests and absorb some of the most beautiful pieces available for sale or exhibition today. This week in November certainly remains one of the city’s most important art happenings.