An Experience With Italian Art Treasures

This week we turn back to the field of art to hear from the Italian point of view. We were honoured to visit the China Room Gallery and have the opportunity to listen to the voice of Italian art specialist: professor Andrea Baldini, PhD at Temple University (USA) and Executive Director of the Chinese Room Art Gallery.

Introduction


I have been trained as a philosopher of art. Because of my background, I had the opportunity to meet many Italian artists. So last year, together with two partners, I have founded the Chinese Room Art Gallery in Nanjing: our company deals with Italian art, while targeting the Chinese market. Our collection includes both works that we acquired through the years and some that are in loan. We are in the “business of beauty” and we cooperate very closely with designers and visual artists in organizing cultural events.


Difficulties


In Chinese art market, our difficulties are mainly of two kinds: one is structural, and the other is cultural. Structural difficultiesare mainly related to laws, such as custom regulations, taxes, and constantly changing legal systems. Selling art is very complicated business, and protocols in the art industry are very strict, especially at the economic level. For instance, importing artworks from Italy requires to pay fees even before they have been sold. Shipping and selling artworks are also tightly regulated, and one needs to apply for several authorizations, too. As for cultural difficulties, it is not easy to communicate the value of our artworks to Chinese customers. Because art is actually an “irrational” investment, the challenge is explaining the relationship between artistic value, realization costs, and selling prices of works of art. Although the Chinese market is huge, it is not easy to navigate it. The Chinese public is usually more willing to invest in traditional Chinese art, but the interest is growing also for modern art. Our company’s goal is to help the Chinese market understand the value of contemporary Italian art, by sharing with our customers relevant details about our artists their reputation. With our gallery, we intend to promote Italian art by engaging the Chinese public.

Picture: Federico Gori, Chinese Mountain. Green Mountain Perch: In the Wake of LiBai


Advantages


The big advantage in what we do is passion: our team is driven by passion and is constantly inspired by it. This in turn fuels our motivation. There are two very positive features of the Chinese art market: first, it is very large; and, second, is not yet fully saturated. The art market in many western countries is going under a cultural shift, which goes hand in hand with the economic crisis and the reduction in disposable income. As a consequence of such a cultural decay, the middle class is less interested in investing in art than before.

In China, however, with the improvement of people’s living standards, more and more people's material conditions can favor investing in art. Anyway there are not many Italian galleries in China, and even if they exist they mainly display Chinese art works. This is a good moment for Italian emerging artists to be known and appreciated in China, and our final aim is to bring them into light here and help them build a reputation.

Two works by Francesco Barbieri


Marketing and communication


The support of a third party is crucial, especially in the process of importing, understanding trade laws and custom regulations. Publicity and marketing are very complex but also very important to us. For example, the cost of preserving an artwork for a long time is an element that is often hidden to the public. As a writer myself, I understand that the big challenge is to deliver content in the right way, tailoring communication to target specific audiences. Here in China social media marketing is diverse and it is very important to be able to handle the different channels in the most effective way. Different audiences respond differently to information. Letting customers understand the process behind creation of a piece of art is fundamental for us, so using all the different channels like Wechat, weibo, tiktok in a professional way is very important.


Thanks to Professor Andrea Baldini for the time dedicated and our trainee Angelica Wang.

Stay tuned for the next interview!


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