The June event gives collectors the opportunity to preview works from Christie’s Asian art sale in July
Inspired by the Asian Art Week events in London and New York, Printemps Asiatique has earned its own reputation among discerning collectors thanks to an expertly curated selection of galleries and dealers.
After a two-year hiatus, the event returns in-person from June 8-16, led by a new team that includes Printemps Asiatique President Christophe Hioco and Camille de Foresta, Senior Specialist at Christie’s Paris. They intend to expand their scope and the 2022 edition will also offer collectors the opportunity to preview highlights of the Asian art sale taking place at Christie’s Paris in July.
Printemps Asiatique takes over an exceptional building on Rue de Courcelles, a stone’s throw from the auction house. According to Hioco, it’s an “emblematic” place for Asian art. In 1926, this Hôtel Particulier was converted into a pagoda with a striking red facade by Ching Tsai Loo, a celebrated collector and dealer in the field.
Thanks to Hioco and his team, collectors and lovers of Asian art now have a rare opportunity to tour the exquisite interiors. “This place is absolutely beautiful,” says de Foresta. “People don’t really know because it’s been closed for a long time.”
The new and expanded edition of the fair will host more than 50 dealers, galleries and auctioneers from Europe and the USA. It’s an exciting opportunity for Asian art to come to the fore in France, explains de Foresta. “I’ve always liked the idea of doing something interesting for clients who are focused on Asian art because there’s a lot of it in France that’s rarely seen.”
Hioco agrees: “I was elected Chair last year and accepted this position because I always believed that Paris deserved its own Asia Week. I wanted to create a group of events that would appeal to collectors – not just French collectors, but overseas collectors as well.”
According to de Foresta, one of the jewels in the auction series is a pair of Qing Dynasty Zitan cabinets that have never been seen on the market before. “Zitan is a type of hardwood that was only used for imperial commissions because it was very rare,” she explains. “Today it’s even more precious because you can’t find zitane anymore.” The cabinets are intricately carved with a dragon motif — an impressive feat, she says, considering how dense this type of wood is.
Another example of virtuoso craftsmanship is a turquoise-ground porcelain bowl that bears the imperial Qianlong sign on its base. “This dish is interesting because it’s meant to mimic the cloisonné technique,” says de Foresta. “During the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, craftsmen became so adept at their discipline that they began to imitate the other materials used in Chinese artworks—such as lacquer, bamboo, and cloisonné enamelware—just to show what they could do with porcelain. “
Other highlights include two bronze stags — an animal considered auspicious in Chinese culture, de Foresta explains — also from the Qianlong reign. These measure more than 120 cm in height and, according to the specialist, are characterized by the exceptional workmanship of the casting and for the fact that they have remained in the same family for almost 100 years.
Christie’s Asian Art auctions also feature an important selection of lacquerware, including “very good quality” Qing and Ming boxes, as well as important works of Southeast Asian art. A highlight of this auction section, which will also be on display at Printemps Asiatique, is a large thangka (a Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, silk or appliqué) from the Lionel and Danielle Fournier collection. “It’s a very important piece,” says de Foresta. “All of the adornment of the deity was rendered in relief, so the gold is really alive. This is the only known thangka with this type of auxiliary work.’
As well as showing works from auction houses and dealers, Printemps Asiatique offers visitors the opportunity to explore the public collections of Asian art in Paris, as well as works from regional museums in Boulogne, Angers, Nice and Toulon. The fair has partnered with institutions filled with treasures from this category, such as the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild – a few minutes’ walk from Christie’s Paris – which is normally open by appointment only. The fair hosts a tour of the Louvre’s jade and china shops, as well as a series of conferences. According to Hioco, these will add “depth” to the event and appeal to “true collectors”.
While Hioco remains cautiously optimistic about attracting large crowds after such a long hiatus, the ambitious line-up of exhibitors and events convened by the chairman and de Foresta show they lay, as Hioco puts it, “solid foundations” for the future of the Asian Paris created art and that this year’s Printemps Asiatique should not be missed.