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TWO new fairs aiming to crack the elusive high-end market in the Middle and Far East will launch next year. Both will offer Contemporary art as they try to tap into the burgeoning Asian art scene.

First up is a new Contemporary art fair slated for next September in Shanghai. It is the brainchild of two prominent figures on the European Contemporary scene – former Art Basel curator Lorenzo Rudolf, now based in Lugano, and the Geneva gallery owner Pierre Huber.

Styled ShContemporary, the fair will run from September 6 to 9 at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. It has the backing of the City of Shanghai and is underwritten by BolognaFiere, the trade fair specialists best known for running the Arte Fiera Contemporary fair in Bologna, who have an office in Shanghai.

The number of exhibitors will not exceed 120, though names have yet to be announced. The first two days of the fair will be invitation only.

The event aims to feature both Asian and Western galleries and artists, but Huber insists there will be a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region “from India to Australia via Korea and Japan”. Huber will curate a subsidised Discovery section showcasing Asian artists without gallery representation, and promises to scour Asia over the next few months to track down the brightest talent. “We in the West don’t know what Asian art is all about,” he says.

ShContemporary will dovetail in even years with the Shanghai Biennale, now six editions old. Shanghai already hosts two Contemporary art fairs, Art Shanghai in May and the Shanghai Art Fair in November, but neither has cemented an international reputation. “We all know there aren’t any high-level international art fairs in China,” says Ferdie H. Ju, Director of Shanghai’s Gallery 55.

Another Shanghai gallery boss to welcome the new fair is ShanghArt director Lorenz Helbling. “Asia needs a good Contemporary art fair,” he says, “and Shanghai – an open, cosmopolitan city, halfway between Beijing and Hong Kong, and not too far from Korea or Japan – could be just the place for it.”

The fair comes after news that another new international Contemporary fair, Gulf Art Fair, will run in the Madinat Arena at the beach-side resort of Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai from March 7 to 10 (first day invitation only).

A truly international line-up of 40 Contemporary and Modern galleries have signed up for the fair, among them Albion, Lisson and Ben Brown from London; Max Lang of New York; Forsblom of Helsinki; Hyundai of Seoul; Third Line of Dubai and Gallery Chemould from Mumbai.

The fair director is London art dealer John Martin, whose gallery is in Albemarle Street, Mayfair, and the fair’s patron is HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai.

Mr Martin, who on the home front is on the advisory committee of the successful Art London, says: “Dubai is set to become a major centre for the art market. In bringing together the most innovative art in one of the world’s most dynamic countries, the Gulf Art Fair hopes to establish Dubai as Asia’s leading centre for Contemporary art.”

Sotheby’s will sponsor an educational programme at the fair where noted speakers will discuss aspects of Contemporary art and collecting.

• Just announced is The Salzburg World Fine Art Fair which will launch at The Residenz in the Austrian city from July 28 to August 4 next year. It is organised by Yves Bouvier of ArtCultureStudio, the Geneva-based owners of The Moscow World Fine Art Fair, the fourth of which will be held early next summer. With about 50 exhibitors, the Salzburg fair will be less ambitious than Moscow, but we await further details.

By David Moss and Simon Hewitt