Wednesday 25 May 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 25/5/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Christie's Images Ltd. 2022

Opinion / James Chambers

Down to a fine art

Asian art collectors are coming on like gangbusters for Western contemporary art and the scale of demand is on show this week at the spring sales at Christie’s in Hong Kong. Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie is attracting plenty of buzz ahead of tomorrow’s marquee evening auction, despite being in the company of Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet. His “Pie Fight Interior 12” (pictured) is expected to set a new record for the prodigious painter, whose work sold for €8.2 in 2016 at Christie’s in London. Ghenie’s style has been compared to that of Francis Bacon, though the Berlin-based 44-year-old denies any direct influence. “He is definitely one of the most important artists of the 21st century and there’s a lot more to talk about than his technique,” says Arthur de Villepin, a Hong Kong gallerist.

De Villepin’s forthcoming exhibition features the work of Ghenie alongside that of Bacon and Chinese contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi (another auction darling). A record-smashing sale for Ghenie on Thursday night would reflect the growing influence of Asian collectors and the art market’s continued shift eastward. Hong Kong has leapfrogged London as the world’s second-largest market after New York and is no longer just a place to flog household names to clueless collectors. The big Western auction houses are bringing out younger artists from all over the world and setting the types of records that used to be the preserve of Western art capitals.

Ghenie leads a new generation of “ultra-contemporary” artists encompassing those from countries beyond the Anglosphere. A work in tomorrow’s Christie’s sale by Polish artist Ewa Juszkiewicz could push up her own record, which was set earlier this month in New York. Global trade might be in decline and geopolitics may currently resemble a pie fight but the international art market appears to be a picture of health.

Image: Shutterstock

Aviation / Switzerland

Fresh air

The annual European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) returns for the first time since 2019 with a three-day event in Geneva. As ever, it brings an array of aircraft, thousands of trade visitors and a sprinkling of wealthy end users. While the sector might never shake off its luxury image, EBACE’s message this year is about making business aviation sustainable – or as sustainable as a mode of transport designed to cocoon its customers and take them to faraway destinations can hope to be. Biofuel and electric propulsion will probably play their part on that journey. Private aviation had a good pandemic, winning many first-time customers when passenger flights were grounded. The industry hopes to keep them. Gulfstream and Bombardier have long tussled for the title of longest-range, fastest business jet. For now, Bombardier has the upper hand after launching its Global 8000 aircraft with a range of almost 15,000km.

For more analysis from Fightglobal’s Murdo Morrison, tune in to today’s edition of ‘The Briefing’.

Image: Getty Images

Film / Iceland

Celluloid dreams

Iceland looks set to attract more international film and television productions to its soil. Its minister of culture and trade, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, presented a bill to parliament on Monday proposing to boost the current 25 per cent rebate of production costs to 35 per cent if the projects are big enough. To qualify, productions must cost at least €1.4m and employ 50 Icelandic taxpayers, while shoots must last 30 days or more.

The motion is expected to pass by late June. Iceland has been a popular production location for some time but the competition is getting tougher. The list of countries offering concessions is getting longer and the perks bigger. A couple of years ago, Spain increased its rebate to 30 per cent, while Malta recently upped its incentive to 40 per cent. All of which is good news for production companies. Countries hoping to boost both their economy and their global cachet should look to Iceland.

Image: Kohei Take

Tourism / Global

Wish you were there

Japan has surpassed 116 other countries in the new Travel & Tourism Development Index, launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF) yesterday in Davos. The effects of the pandemic have led the organisation to prioritise sustainable tourism, social safety nets and robust health and transport systems in its criteria. Lauren Uppink Calderwood, the WEF’s head of aviation, travel and tourism industries, says that nations should seek to spread visitors and businesses around their countries and focus on their infrastructure. “Japan is a great example of what we’re trying to do,” she says. Pandemic restrictions have stung tourism in places that depend on it. The Dominican Republic’s tourism sector comprises a higher share of its GDP than any other Latin American nation. Throughout the pandemic, Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, the country’s president, chaired weekly meetings of a special “tourism cabinet” of ministers to co-ordinate policy and help the industry to rebound. “To recover my economy was to recover tourism,” he explained at the unveiling of the index.

Image: Globo

Culture / Brazil

Animal attraction

With its gentle river swims and occasional jaguar sightings, telenovela Pantanal (pictured) is a love story set in the Brazilian wetlands of the same name. The wildly popular programme was Brazilian broadcaster Globo’s biggest bet of the year. It paid off. “It’s a remake of a story that had a profound effect on Brazilian dramaturgy – a family story that has nature as its main protagonist,” Ricardo Waddington, Globo’s entertainment director, tells Monocle.

Pantanal’s audience is growing each week and it frequently takes a 50 per cent share of all viewers in Brazil. It’s also the most watched soap opera on the broadcaster’s streaming service, Globoplay. Brazilian soap operas often deal with more urban and controversial themes, such as racism and homophobia. But Pantanal has been successful precisely because it offers escapism, with its beautiful scenery and tales of romance. Clearly, there’s plenty of life left in the telenovela.

Image: Getty Images

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