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Bringing art to the middle class in China

Cultural Exchange: The Surge website is marketing contemporary works mostly by Chinese artists. It's a matter of supply meeting the country's increasing demand.

June 02, 2013|By Gabrielle Jaffe

A few exhibitors away was the Israeli gallery Litvak, where one buyer arrived just before closing and, according to the gallery, spent $130,000 on three paintings. "He wasn't a collector. It was just an impulse buy," said sales manager Ronen Mechanik. He explained that the buyer had been attracted to the pieces because they used pigment extracted from semi-precious stones such as sapphires. The chance to meet the artist, a flamboyant Parisian with Sino-Vietnamese heritage named Boun, who stood grinning in his floral print suit and beret beside his works, helped seal the deal.

For the local artists it can be rewarding on several levels. "It was a great opportunity to get feedback. As an artist you spend most of your time in the studio doing your own work, so it's very easy to lose perspective of what is relevant to the market," says Li Jinguo, a sculptor who sold several pieces at Surge. "And when you see people enjoying your creations, it's like a harvest after you have worked hard for a long time."

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