ArtDiscover talks to the directors of Pantocrator gallery, a spanish gallery in China.

Art Talks: Pantocrátor Gallery in Shanghai
Shanghai - SEP 10, 2013

ArtDiscover talks to the directors of Pantocrator gallery, a Spanish gallery in China, about the relationship between western art and the Asian art market, and especially about Spanish art in the Chinese context.


First was Pantocrator in Berlin. Later came La Pan, your space in Barcelona. Now you also have a space in Shanghai. Can you tell us a little about the origin of your jump to Asia?

We could say that Pantocrator Gallery is a nomadic project. We started our journey in Europe (Berlin and Barcelona) and although we've left those autonomous spaces once they have served their purpose, we continue to work in both cities in a timely manner.

Pantocrator Gallery is a project since the beginning has worked without any financial support from public or private institutions. That is why we have always had to seek more sustainable options to move forward, wherever they are.

Perhaps the cultural landscape of Barcelona in recent years, little favorable to us, together with the general crisis has coincided with an "awakening" of Berlin, the city where the housing market has soared dramatically, leaving the private arts sector those spaces so cheap for so many years.

The economic liberalization that is occurring in China, and the interesting art scene that is unfolding in Shanghai, Beijing, or Hong Kong is just the tip of the iceberg of what is happening in that country and the vast openness that is starting from east to west. Only in Shanghai, the Warhol retrospective 15 Minutes Eternal and the great, avant-garde, post-industrial space that houses it (Shanghai Power Station of art) are an example of this.

So let's say that the European recession and the openness of the now leading world power, has made us take ??the leap and put us in a setting more suitable "Shanghai M50" to continue with our project.

Art Talks: Pantocrátor Gallery in Shanghai

© Hans Gullickson, courtesy Pantocrator Gallery

As one of the new economic powers, China is giving lot to talk about in the international art market. From your point of view, this has also boosted Western contemporary art in a city like Shanghai?

Well, most of the artists with whom we have worked in Shanghai are Western artists and of course Spanish. And it is true, that in three years we have seen Asian audiences increasingly showing interest towards Western artists.

What differentiates the emerging art scene in the context of Shanghai compared to Barcelona?

Shanghai at the moment is a city that is changing rapidly. And while the price of land is very expensive, the offer for art venues is very high. Perhaps in Shanghai the situation as far as space is concerned is less hostile than in Barcelona, where in the last decade we have seen as hotels and more hotels erected in areas for culture, making more and more expensive over the few art spaces left and without a institutional alternative. And where the cultural level of the city was decaying towards an tourism distant to emerging and quality art.

Shanghai is a city that reinvents itself every day. It has all the factors necessary to make it a global metropolis and international asian culture center and they are achieving it. You can feel that excitement where everything is yet to be done, and that for the artists is very comforting.


Art Talks: Pantocrátor Gallery in Shanghai

©Luca Benites, courtesy Pantocrator Gallery

How does Spanish art relate to the context of Shanghai? Is there much interest from the public and collectors?

The Spanish art in the context of Shanghai relates quite well. We believe that despite the distance that separates us, there are many links between our Mediterranean culture and Chinese culture.

The Chinese public year after year, feels a greater interest toward Western culture. Lately, for instance, the wine industry or pastries are boom among Chinese middle class. As far as pop art is concerned, the public is increasingly showing interest, but collectors still do not feel safe one hundred percent when investing in emerging art. All purchases of works of this kind in China are very slow and take another type of protocol, in which the collector in most cases has to form a friendly bond with the gallery or artist.

Art Talks: Pantocrátor Gallery in Shanghai

©Francesco Liberti, courtesy Pantocrator Gallery

What is the biggest difference between your three spaces?

The Berlin space was different from Barcelona and Shanghai in that it was an exhibition gallery for emerging art both Spanish and German and internationally. During the two years it was open we had a very dense exhibition program.

In Barcelona and Shanghai, in which the price of land was much higher, we had to find another way to self-finance and this was achieved using the residency program.


The space in ??Shanghai has been the combination of Berlin and Barcelona, where the residency program runs parallel to the gallery program but simultaneously in the same space. In this way the resident artists are working in an active space where daily all types of visitors pass by: gallerists, collectors, curators, journalists, etc..

With this new type of residence, we are putting the artist and his work, in an exceptional showcase to be projected in Asia. In this link you can find details of our residence:

Right now, during the month of August, we have as residents artists Luciano Benites of Brazil and Hans Gullickson of New York.


Art Talks: Pantocrátor Gallery in Shanghai

©Luca Benites, courtesy Pantocrator Gallery

Hypothetically, if tomorrow could open a new space, what city would you choose and why?

Well lately we have hadk the idea of setting up a residence in a paradisiacal region in Southeast Asia. Where artists can work in a totally opposite way to that imposed in an urban space. But for the moment we can not give more clues.



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