Meg Maggio is the owner of Beijing-based gallery Pékin Fine Arts. The seasoned gallerist clearly hit her mark when she selected Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa’s work to exhibit in a hat trick of Shanghai art events earlier this month, effectively turning him into the mascot of this year’s Shanghai art season.
How did she do it?
Step 1: Aug 7 | Start the buzz with a museum exhibit
Choi Jeong Hwa’s Plastic Garden was part of Minsheng Art Museum’s Korean contemporary group show which opened August 7th. Being included in a museum exhibit legitimizes the critical value of an artist’s work. The sprawling balloon garden was installed in the wide glass corridor that serves as an exterior wall of the museum, ensuring that people would see it whether or not they entered the building to see the rest of the show.
Step 2: Sept 8 | Be the centerpiece of Shanghai’s biggest art fair
Despite concerns over the levels of gallery participation and collector attendance, ShContemporary remains the city’s most buzzed about art fair. This year the main hall housed the curated Discoveries section, featuring two of Choi’s sculptures. From the vernissage on September 8th until the close of the fair on the 12th, Choi’s works were easily the most photographed pieces in the fair; the colorful balloon sculptures were particularly well-suited for an audience that loves photo ops.
Step 3: Sept 10 | Throw a party!
The week of ShContemporary is always dotted with satellite parties; it’s impossible to attend them all. But Choi’s Plastic Garden at Minsheng Museum was the perfect setting for the launch party of Randian, a contemporary Chinese art site, reminding everyone that Choi Jeong Hwa’s work is not just fun to play with, but also an elevated art form.
The world according to Meg:
Opportunity to present artists to international curators for potential inclusion in museum exhibits is critical to a gallery fulfilling its professional obligation to assist artists in building meaningful careers…
Choi is poking fun at the carnival-for-adults atmosphere of all art fairs. He is also implicitly critiquing the excess commercialism and tendency toward “preciousness” of art viewing and so-called art conniessurship at most art fairs. Choi is definitely an “art for the masses” kind of guy. He wants art to be available to all and appreciated by all. As someone who is trained in architecture as well as visual art practice, Choi is particularly adept at transforming an environment in a way that shifts the viewers’ attitude in a different direction, typically forcing the viewer to engage with art in a different and novel way. Choi plays with colors and every day objects, using them to shake visitors out of complacency as they drift through an art fair or museum show. Choi wants viewers to rethink the art fair and art museum going experience.