David Forrest will close Gallery East in December after 22 years of showing leading contemporary WA artists.

North Fremantle neighbour Perth Galleries will go at the same time, followed by Galerie Dusseldorf in Mosman Park next June and Goddard de Fiddes will have a break in trading for a year.

"This is unprecedented in Perth," Mr Forrest said. He estimates 120 to 150 - about a quarter - of WA's high-end exhibiting artists will be left without gallery representation.

"Closing is not something we want to do but have no alternative," he said. "If I won Lotto on Saturday, I would continue to exhibit artists."

He said the new "draconian" superannuation rules had clearly had a direct effect on slowing sales but they were "only one of the factors" that had come together to create a difficult market.

"In WA, both private collectors and the public institutions have largely withdrawn from the market and members of the public are being ultra cautious faced with rising utility prices, the coming carbon tax and the economic turmoil in Europe," he said.

Interestingly, the international art market continues to grow, according to artprice.com, a publicly listed European company which tracks art market trends.

In 2011 there was a worldwide growth of more than 20 per cent, with China leading the way at 49 per cent.

"It's a crisis of common sense," said Ian Flanagan, of Perth's GFL Fine Art auction house.

The West Australian

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