So Much More Than Just an Art Center - Interview with Mr. Chen Adao, Founder and Director of the Centre Artasia Paris
In autumn 2015, Paris, the city of lights and the parent of many important artists of the past, became richer due to another creativity center. In the busy zone of the first arrondissement, an original place with strong roots and a deep desire to create an exchange bridge between Asia and Europe, opened its doors and started informing the audience of the globalized world and the place contemporary Asian production and artists hold. Centre Artasia till today has presented a rich program of various exhibitions, and has showcased that the magic and appeal of contemporary art lies in its eclectic nature. From the up and coming trends of installation art, street art, and digital art, the center, guided by Mr. Chen Adao, is passionate about creativity and aims to promote not only the latest trends of Asian art and its civilization, but as a unique art hub it offers itself to the young and upcoming young artists of Paris, and the rest of the two continents.
Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Chen Adao as the center is attracting much of the attention due to its rich program of exhibitions, residency programs, and educational workshops with the youngest. Offering its space as a gallery, this unique artistic hub is much more, and the past residency program Erase and Restart showcased the center’s interest towards the process of making itself. Linking this notion to the one of the most important questions of the Dada movement in particularly, the continuation of the interest towards the re-shaping of our knowledge about art’s identity spread itself onto various other exhibitions organized at the center. The latest group show Sino Korean pays particular attention to the mentioned question about identity, and the versatility of the participating artists is a unique quality that adds to the richness of the exhibition that opened on 17th August 2016 and which lasts only a few more days, until the 22nd September, 2016. The featured artists in the exhibition, Kang Kun, comments upon the notion of vulnerability and the confusion which arises from the judgment of people, and the bounds to the environment and the other that often makes us question who we are. Firsthand experience of illness and personal loss influenced the research into the imperfections and fragility that lie at the core of the production of Paik Sujeong, while the delicate creativity of Hwang Sunyoung presents the invisible to the eyes of the rest of us.
Bearing in mind that the Center presents the above-mentioned artists, and a great number of other important artists, such as Li Wei, Mao Tao, and Zhang Wei, also featured in the exhibition, with great pleasure we offer to you thoughts and future plans we discussed with Mr. Chen Adao.
The Identity and the Spark Behind the Centre Artasia Paris
Widewalls: What catches the interest of the Centre Artasia in Paris? Focusing on creating the exchange bridge between Asia and Europe, and encouraging the dialogue between the two continents, what is the criterion that helps you choose the represented artists and whose exhibition concept your space will open its doors to?
Mr. Chen Adao: As the founder of Centre Artasia Paris, I have been in Paris for over 12 years. I first arrived in Paris in 2004. I have always been attracted to art, especially photography. In 2014, I decided to establish a contemporary art gallery in the Marais in Paris, which marked the begining for my real invasion as a wise and passionate man.
Paris is the center of both classic and contemporary art in the world. Living in Paris, I was daily amazed by the artistic environment and the creativity of the artists. I have met a lot of professionals in the contemporary art area and also many artists who live or travel to Paris or the rest of Europe. In the meantime, I realized that in Paris, we can hardly find a place where it is possible to exhibit contemporary artists from Asia. We have places for traditional culture as well as for classic art, but not even a single place is served for the contemporary artists. That is the reason why I decided to establish a contemporary art center in Paris, to serve as a bridge between Asia and Europe, and to fill in the blank of the “faux” exchange between Asia and Europe.
Today at the Centre Artasia Paris, we promote Asian contemporary artists with solo or group exhibition and we also promote young and innovative artistic creation from all over the world with the special projects like the « Erase&Restart » or « Un plus Un ». We hope that one day Centre Artasia Paris can become a qualified artistic center and exchange platform for artist worldwide.W: Reflecting upon the collective exhibition Sino – Korean organized at the Centre you represent, we couldn’t help but notice the focus of the concept on the issues concerning identity, fragility, and the modern day men/women anxieties. Regarding the question of identity, how would you describe the identity of your Center and how does it survive the contemporary fast pace existence and the bursting of the fresh trends?
CA: The identity of the Centre Artasia Paris is quite simple and clear: we consider ourselves as a contemporary art center which promotes Asian contemporary art and artists in Europe. We also feel the need and the responsibility to encourage young and innovate creation in contemporary art. Replacement speed in contemporary art is very fast. We meet with the new creations and artists every day. I think it is very important to stay passionate and motivated to the innovative creation and it is very important to be able to be one step forward then the others. Centre Artasia Paris has not only the function as a regular contemporary art center, it is also a place for fun, for new discovery and for exchange. We organize all kinds of artistic events for the public, as private visits or educational workshops for children. We want to invite more people to come and visit the art center and enjoy the exhibitions or activities that we provide. The only way to be able to survive the contemporary fast pace existence is to renew your ideas and to become the one who leads the trends.
The Place of Contemporary Creative Production from China and the Push Forward by the Center
W: Speaking about the trends, can you tell us a little bit more about the differences, similarities, or the overall feeling of the creative production in Asia and the innovations you see produced in Paris or the rest of the Europe? Do you think that there is even a need to speak about the differences if we take the idea of the globalized art market and its production as true?
CA: For over so many years, contemporary art has been considered as a “stranger” in the big artistic environment. Contemporary artist has to bear unfriendly critique and pressure. For a long time people consider that Asian contemporary art is just repeating the old ways of expression from the occidental world.
Nowadays within the globalization and the development in Asian countries, we don’t see that much of a difference between Asian and European contemporary art. There are so many artists from Asia who travel or live in the occidental world. There are also so many western artists that go to Asia to get inspired. This kind of cultural exchange is very interesting and important to the advance of contemporary art. But I don’t think that there is even a need to talk about the differences in terms of the art market or productions because there is a whole different strategy for the art market. Asian culture exists since the beginning of history. We used to have a period where art from this location has been placed in a neglected place. Now it is like a revived moment for us: more and more Asian contemporary artists are presented all over the world. The art market in Asia is emerging and promising. I think it is a good moment to promote and invest in Asian contemporary art.W: As we mentioned before, your Center represents a great number of Asian artists. Can you tell us a little bit about the reception your artists received from the European public? What do you possibly see as the major setbacks or in contrast awards if a gallery or a center decides to focus on a particular group or a set goal as your Center seems to have done with the desire to create the exchange dialogue between the two continents?
CA: Till today, we have received so much praise and good comments about the art center’s cultural politics as well as for our exhibitions. People seem so interested and fascinated by our Asian artists’ creation because they look “new” to them. “This is something I’ve never seen before” is the comment that we hear the most. There are also lots of European visitors who love Asian culture, who came to the art center and they are very happy to see the little symbol or relation between the Asian culture that they know and the European perspective that they are familiar with. We are pleased and proud about our art center and each and every exhibition we present because Centre Artasia Paris is a unique place of Asian contemporary art.
Choosing to be an art center focusing on Asian Contemporary art and also its young creatives is a decision that brings definitely advantages and disadvantages. It is just like a double-edged sword. An Asian contemporary art center will limit the public that we receive, being not as large as other modern gallery or museum. But we have deep faith in Asian contemporary art and the emerging art market in Asia. By building the bridge to connect Asian and European artistic world, we can benefit the resources from both Asia and Europe and will be able to achieve that big goal one day.
How Will the Center Make the Contemporary Asian Production Speak More and Shine Bright in the Future
W: What are the future plans for the Centre and the development of this dialogue? We also noticed that alongside the exhibitions the Center organized a visit and a workshop with children? Can we expect more in the future concerning the educational part of the Center as well?
CA: On 29th September 2016 Centre Artasia Paris will present to the public the first solo and retrospective exhibition of the Chinese abstract master WANG Yigang. This exhibition is organized in collaboration with the well-known curator Monsieur Ami BARAK and we hope that this exhibition can be one of the memorable exhibitions of 2016. For the year of 2017, we are planning a rich and full charged program. There will also be exciting collaborations with other artistic institution in France and in China. We can’t wait to announce them to the public.
Alongside the exhibition, we will definitely organize more workshops and visits with children because we hold an interest for the developing of the educational part of the center. It is interesting to see how children react in front of different artworks because they never lie about their feelings, and they have a whole different perspective than the adults do. Sometimes we do get inspired by children.
Founder & Director of the Centre Artasia Paris: Mr. CHEN Adao Curatorial Team ( Artasia Team ): Adao CHEN, Yuqi BO, Agathe PLANTEVIN, Yueh Jung SHEH, Yulian CHEN, Liya MA.
All images courtesy of the Centre Artasia Paris. Featured image in slider: Logo of the Center; Inside the gallery space Centre Artasia Paris; Street View and the Interest of the Passer-bys; Featured Artwork by the Centre Artasia Paris; Inside look of the gallery space of the Centre; Poster for the Exhibition Sino Korean; Represented Artists Centre Artasia Paris – From Up Left – Zhang Wei, Bottom Left – Paik Sujeong, Middle – Hwang Sunyoung, Right Up – Mao Tao, Bottom Right – Kang Kun; Zhang Wei – Note d’etrange