July 1, writer Melissa Twigg wrote an article for the South China Morning Post about the Chinese’s newest venture involving Africa- collecting African art. China has been a part of Africa’s development for 20 years now. China’s need for resources prompted investments in the mineral rich content, bringing much needed development in the process. Though the Chinese have been a real part of many African nations ( it’s not unusual to see Chinese families at the airports or even Chinese men dating African women) it is noted that the interaction between cultures could use improvement. Further, China’s imports are practically decimating portions Africa’s economy in terms of importing cheap knock offs and causing factory closings as plastic trinkets and cheap fabric replace hand-made items and African made wax cotton.
From the article:
“Chinese collectors, by and large, are interested in three things here in London,” Peppiatt says. “Repatriation of Chinese objets d’art, European contemporary art and African contemporary art. The relationship between China and African art makes a lot of sense once you think about it. Firstly, I would say the biggest demographic buying contemporary African art is sophisticated, knowledgeable collectors who purchase for aesthetic pleasure. They are people who look at an El Anatsui [sculpture] and think, ‘That would fit with the rest of my collection’, no matter whether they own any other art from the region. And, as we all know, Chinese collectors are some of the bravest and most ambitious in the world.
“Secondly, the Chinese contemporary art market is slowing and local art lovers need to find a new region to focus on. Thirdly, China has been in Africa for some 20 years, searching, dominating, digging it up. People want art they have some kind of connection with and none of us can deny China and Africa have a relationship, no matter how difficult it is. And finally, of course, there is the price point. Which is very alluring to any collector.”
Read more of Can contemporary art help mend the relationship between China and Africa