Friday, November 6, 2015

Pseudonyms aren't only for authors, it seems . . .

I had to laugh at the revelation that a leading Chinese artist . . . isn't.

A French artist has revealed to surprised international buyers that the work they have been purchasing for more than a decade by a Chinese artist named Tao Hongjin was in fact made by him.

Fifteen years ago Alexandre Ouairy was an unknown French conceptualist living in Shanghai, China’s commercial hub.

The country’s economic transformation was well under way and the Chinese appetite for luxury goods extended beyond cars, clothes and furniture to expensive modern art.

But as just another foreign artist in China, struggling to get his work included in exhibitions, this all passed Mr Ouairy by.

. . .

Spurred on by the promise of getting his work shown at exhibitions, Mr Ouairy slipped into the background and re-branded himself as Tao Hongjing, taking the name from a fifth-century philosopher.

The re-invention paid instant dividends and it wasn’t long before his alter ego had established a reputation on the local art scene. He was now being compared to other Chinese artists, but his work – neon Chinese characters, golden Buddha statues – had a distinctly foreign feel, which made it stand out.

. . .

As Chinese and Western artists have gradually converged in style, Mr Ouairy felt he no longer needed Tao Hongjing, and his Chinese self will be laid to rest with an exhibition opening in Beijing this weekend titled “Death is Going Home".

While the work that Mr Ouairy produced before he changed his identity used to be priced at 1,500 yuan (£150), prices at the Beijing show are up to 200,000 yuan (£20,000).

There's more at the link.

So, by adopting a Chinese name, prices for Mr. Ouairy's art went up by several orders of magnitude, to the benefit of his bank balance and his lifestyle.  I wonder if any of the patrons of his Chinese persona will now sue him for impersonation, or fraud, or whatever?

Since so much of Chinese technology is based on Western inventions, it's deliciously ironic to find that a Westerner has reversed the principle in terms of their art market.


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