Two days ago we welcomed the year of the Rabbit with family and friends in Beijing eating and drinking in excess. Now that families in Beijing have more disposable income, they are eating their Chinese New Year dinners at lavish restaurants versus at home. China is changing right before our eyes.
Wealthy Chinese made huge impacts on the art market in 2010. They were not only interested in Chinese works, they also sought out famous Western artists and were willing to pay well above auction estimates. Early last year a bidder, believed to be Chinese, paid a world record $106.5 million for a Pablo Picasso at a Christie’s sale in New York in May. It sold way above its estimate of $80 million.
Luxury brands are also capitalizing on China’s wealth. It is expected that China’s consumers will spend $101 billion in the luxury market by the end of this decade. The UK is already pushing to simplify visas for the Chinese in order to boost tourism.
“As society changes, every sector is moving and the changes affect each other. All this made me very surprised. I discovered that a person’s ability to adapt is like grass in the natural world. When winter comes, it is dormant, but it comes back to life when spring returns.” said Liu Xiaodong, who is the 10th bestselling contemporary artist in the world.
But for this New Year I want to ponder what life is like for the rest of the nation. For so many, China is not this economic giant that the rest of the world sees. Their lives remain untouched by the times. These following works are by the artist Ma Hongjie who has been documenting villagers from far-reaching locations in China for the last 20 years.
Art Market Monitor: China Emerges as Center of Art Market
Wall Street Journal: China to be Top Luxury Buyer
Financial Times: Simplify Visas for Chinese Urge UK retailers
Painter Depicts Country in Transition