New institution bridging the gap between art investment and a younger generation

Shi Jia
Shi Jia
A new art institution opened recently in Hangzhou attempts to bridge the gap between art investment and a younger generation.

Shi Jia
Shi Jia

The prestigious Art Basel, Hong Kong, one of the world’s premier modern and contemporary art institutions, last week witnessed a private buyer shell out US$35 million for a Willem de Kooning piece at Lévy Gorvy before business closed on the exhibition.

Not only is that a jaw-dropping amount of cash but, to most people, collecting, buying and selling art for huge amounts of money is still regarded as a rich person’s privilege. Yet a new art institution in Hangzhou is trying to bridge the gap between art investment and a younger generation to make it more tangible for lovers of art to become buyers and investors. works both as an exhibition space offline and an art investment platform online. It teams up with art dealers in Hangzhou and offers upcoming artists a chance to showcase and sell their work on the website.

Users have to register on and, once signed up, subscribers can make a profit from reselling work in the art market. 

“The thing is not new in the gallery world,” said Zhai Pengxiao, CEO of ART170, who was previously employed in the Shanghai financial sector before turning to her great love of art and literature. “We just put it online and shorten the investment cycle.”

There are more than 300 pieces of artwork and the cheapest piece available is priced 4,000 yuan (US$634.47).

New institution bridging the gap between art investment and a younger generation

People appreciate Xu Wenkai’s work at the opening of the exhibition organized by

Wang Jingwei, artistic director of ART170, told Shanghai Daily that a great part of their collection cost between 30,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan.

“What people have heard from the news is always about Sotheby’s or Art Basel so they thought it had nothing to do with them. But remember even those big-name artists started with only a few thousand bucks,” said Wang.

The artwork featured on the website includes paintings, photography and print works. 

And only emerging artists whose work has still got space for value appreciation are being selected.

The reaction from the market has been positive so far. In a soft opening sale, collaborating with Shenchang Arts in February, the rate of subscription was over 70 percent. And the online sale presently reaches around 10 million yuan.

At the same time, their 150-square-meter gallery, located in a creative industrial park west of downtown, will serve as a forefront art space communicating with potential collectors and investors directly.

The first exhibition features installation and mixed media photography from three young artists who come from different backgrounds: Li Shun, Xu Wenkai, better known as aaajiao, and Zeng Han.

The exhibition discusses new appropriations of traditional Chinese art language such as calligraphy and landscape painting in a modern, technological context.

Li cuts out fragments of his long exposure photography of night views in Chinese cities and makes them into a montage of abstract painting disguised in a way of Chinese calligraphy.

Aaajiao, on the other hand, teaches an AI program to recognize different Chinese fonts extracted from ink rubbings of historical steles. He reproduces the process in a video, which poses a question of whether AI can really understand the human language system.

Apart from holding exhibitions, more lectures and short-term courses will be offered to investors, who are encouraged to keep their artwork after securing profits through financial operations.

“In the end, we hope to lower the barrier of entry in art investment for ordinary people,” added Zhai. “They have the money, but lack professional knowledge. We would like to break the ice and build a bridge, like what I did in my translation.”

Date: Through April 15 (closed on Mondays)

Address: Rm 201, Unit 4, Block 10, Anno Domini Park, intersection of Chongyi Road and Wenyi Road W. 

Admission: Free

Special Reports