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Meet Aimin Liu, the founder of ArtChina UK. Below, she talks about how and why she founded ArtChina, how Chinese art is currently viewed in the UK and a bit about our upcoming participation in the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea in London from March 7-10, 2019. 

Photo: Aimin making Fine Art Ceramics in Fujian, China

ARTCHINA: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born in the city of Chengdu in SiChuang, located in the Southwest of China. It was the only gateway for western flights to Tibet. It’s also where the ‘SiChuang pepper’ comes from and is well known for its spicy food.

I came the UK to study art in 2000, met my ex-husband, and settled down in Cambridge where I’ve lived ever since. My main passion is art, and I like reading too. In recent years I have fallen in love with mountain hiking and sailing. I hiked to Everest Base Camp last November (2018) and breathlessly reached the summit of Kala Patthar (5,643m), my personal highest standing point! 

Photo: Everest Base Camp

Image: Venus, 50cmx 40cm, photogravure By Aimin Liu, 2019, Edition of 30

ARTCHINA: When and why did you decide to start ArtChina UK? What is your goal as an organisation?
AL: I trained as a classical Chinese ink painter before I came to the UK to study fine art and art history in Cambridge. I became very interested in printmaking. When I was helping some Chinese artists with exhibitions in the UK during my studies, they asked me to promote their work in the UK as a longer term project. I said, “Yes!” and have been doing so since 2003.

Since we began, ArtChina has developed extensive links with Chinese artists and art institutes globally and within China itself. Through these connections, ArtChina is able to access the best paintings, sculptures, installations and prints. To introduce an ever-widening Western audience to the wonders of Chinese art is our goal.

Photo: ArtChina artist He Kun at London Original Print Fair

ARTCHINAYou’ll be participating in the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea this spring. What can we expect from the ArtChina stand? 

AL: You will see both established Chinese artists’ work as well as emerging young artists’, works which includes paintings, prints and fine art ceramics. We’ve recently shared a blog post with details of each of the six artists who will be included, which you can find here.

Photo: Having tea with ArtChina artist Yu Chengyou

ARTCHINA: Which artist are you most excited to exhibit at the fair and why? 

AL: Yang Qi’s new acyclic paintings and Cao Ou’s new water-based woodcut ‘Theatre” series which reflects on our declining environment today, warning us that, if we don’t act immediately to protect our environment, soon it will disappear and we will only be able to enjoy it as a display in a museum.

Photo: Aimin speaking at Asian Art in London

ARTCHINA: What will be the price range of prints available from your stand at the Affordable Art Fair? 

AL: From £150 – £5000. Established and young artists’ works are in a range of affordable prices, which is great news for the newest and youngest collectors!

Photo: Talk during a special tour for Members of the Royal Academy at London Original Print Fair week

ARTCHINA: How do you build relationships with artists in China? What is your criteria when you are deciding to work with a new talent? 

AL: We maintain very close relationships with our artists. We blog about their latest activities, share their studio spaces, talk about their exhibitions, etc. We communicate with them through their personal social media.

We are most interested in artworks that reflect on the present moment in China.

Photo: Organising an exhibition in China

ARTCHINA: Can you tell us a bit about the state of Chinese art in the UK at the moment? How has its popularity evolved over time and why do you think it appeals to collectors in the UK?

AL: Along with China’s economic development and with its political position growing stronger and stronger, Chinese art has also become more and more popular in the UK in recent years. The trend of Asian culture has already long appealed to our UK collectors, which they consume through film, ads, food in the supermarket and restaurants, books, etc. and art was a natural progression from those interests.

Photo: Private View at Asian Art in London

ARTCHINA: What would you say to someone who is interested in contemporary Chinese art but not sure where to start when it comes to building a collection? 

AL: People ofter ask me a similar question like, “China is so big, with so many artists, how do I know which to choose if I want to start collecting contemporary Chinese art?” I like to suggest that they choose the one artwork that first caught their eye and start a collection from that one artist, with one technique (print) or one type of art; start from the price that they can afford. Then, after a period of time, they will be able to explore many more artists’ works and begin to collect higher value pieces.

Photo: Asia Art London, a talk for the MA students from Sothebys Institute

ARTCHINA: What’s one thing you’d like collectors in the UK to know about contemporary Chinese art? 

AL: Read our blog to discover and be inspired by stories of China now through our artists and their artwork. We will be here to help you to build up a collection step-by-step.

ARTCHINA: Where else will ArtChina be exhibiting in 2019?
AL: We have the following shows lined up for 2019 after the Affordable Art Fair in March. We hope you will be able to visit us at: 

        • London Original Print Fair: 25 – 28 Apr 2019 at Royal Academy of Art
        • Affordable Art Fair, London Hampstead: 9-12 May
        • Asian Art in London (more information soon)
        • Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair (more information soon)