Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 reports, photographs and interviews

Ichwan Noor’s Beetlesphere at Art: 1 by Mondercor Gallery, now on view at Art Basel Hong Kong

art basel, pearl lam, white cube
Courtesy Hanart Square
“Forty-four Sunsets in a Day” by Jennifer Wen MaAn inflatable sculpture called "Lethargic Aesthetics" 2012 by Guan Huaibin, represented by Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong at Art Basel, May 22, 2013 in Hong Kong. Photo: Jessica Hromas, Getty Images / 2013 Getty Images

An inflatable sculpture called “Lethargic Aesthetics” 2012 by Guan Huaibin, represented by Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong

"Art Basel Hong Kong 2013"

There is a new Art Basel show! With half of the participating galleries coming from Asia and Asia-Pacific, Art Basel in Hong Kong assumes a significant role in the international artworld, providing a portal to the region’s artists. The new show gives galleries from around the world a platform in Asia to demonstrate the way they work with artists, and bring their highest quality work and contemporary art to Hong Kong.

"Art Basel Hong Kong 2013"

Known as the gateway between the East and West, Hong Kong ranks among the world’s most dynamic international capitals. A 21st century metropolis, it is a port city with a vast skyline rising above its bustling Victoria Harbour. In addition to the many museums, concert halls, and performance spaces, a vibrant melting pot of cultures makes Hong Kong a place of endless exploration.

"Art Basel Hong Kong 2013"

The show’s four exhibition sectors are designed to present an exceptional selection of works, including museum-quality pieces by proven masters and new artworks by emerging artists. Additional exhibitions and events, timed to coincide with Art Basel’s Hong Kong debut, will take place across the city’s thriving gallery scene and in its growing array of cultural institutions.

"Art Basel Hong Kong 2013"

"Art Basel Hong Kong 2013"

Wedding dress store (San Fernando Valley).web
Curtains - film prop for sale.web

Vincent Johnson Artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson Artist and writer in Los Angeles

Art Basel Hong Kong is clearly the most important new  major global event on the international art circuit. It will held in one of the world’s most luxurious cities, that is also one of the top dining destinations on the planet. This edition of Art Basel is already showing waves of difference in that it is anticipated to exponentially raise the stature of Hong Kong based artists who have been overlooked because of the phenomenal attention paid to mainland China’s art scene in Shanghai and Beijing. Except for a few artists, this has not been the case with artists based in Miami, evidenced by the recent moves of several of Miami’s young art stars to Los Angeles. Local Miami artists claim that they have been energized but largely overwhelmed and swept aside by the tidal wave of  Art Basel Miami Beach and its sometimes over twenty satellite fairs. This edition of Art Basel is also drawing international attention to the existing and expanding Hong Kong art scene. The debut of the 645,000 sq. ft. exhibition museum space M+ in 2017 will transform Hong Kong into one of the must visit global destinations for viewing contemporary art year round. One other key difference between the Miami Art Basel and that of Hong Kong, is that over half of the galleries showing in Art Basel Hong Kong are based in the Asia-Pacific region. Whereas Art Basel Miami Beach has seen no more than three Miami art galleries at this fair at any given year, with many years having only one Miami based gallery. Another key difference is that the Art Basel Kong Kong is specifically and definitively dedicated to empowering the Asia-Pacific Rim artworlds, from centers of production, to centers of distribution such as the gallery cluster of international commercial galleries in Singapore. The Asia-Pacific Rim region already has a spectacular number of world-class art fairs, superior and vast in size contemporary and historical art museums, and serious publications on art. It will be interesting to watch up close and from afar as Asia’s impact on the global art economy escalates and shocks. This blog post will be updated during Art Basel Hong Kong’s debut week.

Having been to the last nine Art Basel Miami Beach fairs, I dare say the Hong Kong Edition might be the most exciting and sought after new art fair worldwide.

Vincent Johnson Artist and writer in Los Angeles

Here is a small sample of Vincent Johnson’s  Strange Los Angeles Pictures photography program



CULTURE 0  0 Meneame0  0  10  0

Art Basel Hong Kong has positioned itself as the premier art fair in Asia.



Art Basel Hong Kong: A Success StoryBy Grace Piney

The first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong (2013) closed on Sunday May 26. The event was highly praised by critics and collectors, and had an impressive volume of sales.

More than 60,000 people attended the fair and admired the work of 3,000 established and emerging artists. Many of them are showing their work for the first time in an art fair in Hong Kong.

BUI CONG KHANH. The Past Moved, 2010. 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. Hong Kong, China.

A considerable number of art directors, curators and administrators from museums and international institutions visited the fair, including members of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco; the Asia Society from New York; the Pompidou Centre in Paris; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Beyeler Foundation, in Riehen; the Contemporary Arts Institute, London; MoCA of Miami; M+, Hong Kong; OCAT, Shenzhen from Beijing; The Royal Academy, The Serpentine Gallery and the Tate Gallery from London; the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art from Beijing; the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis; the White Rabbit Collection from Sydney; and the Yellow River Arts Centre from Yinchuan.

Although final figures have not yet been revealed, the information available indicates solid sales in all sectors. Several galleries have described to the media their experiences meeting new collectors from the region. Others say they had finalized sales to Asian collectors that had been in the making for up to two years, and most gallery owners reported that they had sold their entire collections during the first days of the event. The overall reception generated great excitement with this first edition, and optimism about the future of the growing art market in Asia.

ABDEL ABSESSEMED. Cheval de Turin, 2012. David Zwirner Gallery. New York, NY.

In addition to the interest shown by trade professionals, it is important to mention the participation of the public that visited the exhibition halls and attended a total of 14 lectures and 11 discussion sessions during the three days. To celebrate the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, the Asia Society and the Absolut Art Office organized a pre-program entitled “homegrown talent”, which featured the best local artists.

There were three meetings with the public. The first was a lecture entitled “The Artist and the Gallery Owner” by the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang, in a conversation with Leng Lin, President of Pace Beijing and Founder of Beijing Commune. The second was a discussion entitled “Building New Museums in Asia” and the third, “The Interest of Collectors”. Other lectures focused on the influence of the media on the development of art, and on globalization and its impact on artistic practices. In addition, there were book releases by artists such as Noritoshi Hirakawa, Li Liao, Kacey Wong, Wang Yuyang, Xingwei Wang, and Wu Zhang.

1. MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ. Measuring Body Heat (A). Galerie Krinzinger. Vienna, Austria.
2. SHOMEI TOMATSU. Misa Shin Gallery. Tokyo, Japan.

Art Basel elicits great interest in the regional art scene. The fair’s program always attracts business, and promotes short and long-term economic activity in the cities where it is held, as well as genuine interest in local art.

As it happens during Art Basel Miami Beach, on the other side of town, Hong Kong galleries and cultural organizations organized more than 150 cultural events in what is known as “Kowloon Cultural District”.

1. 2P TANG KWOK HIN. One-Man-Show. Contemporary Art Gallery. Hong Kong, China.
2. VIK MUNIZ. Pictures of Magazine 2 Study of Ostrich, After Nicasius Bernaerts, 2013. Galeria Nara Roesler. Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong featured 245 of the most important galleries in the world, divided in four sectors. Fifty percent of the participants had exhibition spaces from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, underscoring the commitment to Art Basel in the region. While the main sector, “Galleries”, presented established galleries from around the world, “Insights” was devoted to the presentation of precise contextual and thematic displays developed by the artists. “Discoveries” was the platform for younger artists. There were also displays of large-scale sculptural installations by leading artists from every continent.

Art Basel Hong Kong has positioned itself as the premier art fair in Asia. The second edition will take place from 15 to 18 May 2014. ■

© | 2013

– See more at:


“Periphery” 2013 by Seung Yul Oh, represented by One and J. Gallery, Seoul at Art Basel, May 22, 2013 in Hong Kong.

‘Encounters’ by Wang Yuyang and ‘He Tao Yuan’ by He An, represented by Tang Contempory Art gallery, Bejing and Bankok at Art Basel, May 22, 2013 in Hong Kong.


The Debut of Art Basel Hong Kong

by sue hostetler


“Hong Kong is the gateway to China,” says renowned local interior designer and architect Todd-Avery Lenahan, explaining why the cosmopolitan city has been anointed the newest host of Art Basel, the most esteemed art fair in the world. “The demographic of buyers is diverse and highly sophisticated, with tremendous interest in Western artists, as much from young collectors as from established ones.” Currently working on the new Wynn Cotai resort in Macau for Steve Wynn, Lenahan is one of many high-level art connoisseurs looking forward to the premiere of Art Basel in Hong Kong. Almost two years after the company behind Art Basel bought a majority stake in Asian Art Fairs Ltd., which founded the Art HK contemporary art fair, the newly rechristened Art Basel in Hong Kong will open May 23 to much international fanfare, boasting work from more than 3,000 artists and 245 of the world’s leading galleries. This expansion into Asia gives the storied fair an unparalleled three-continent, year-round engagement with the art world’s cognoscenti (Art Basel’s other shows are the Switzerland behemoth and its Miami Beach spin-off).

Magnus Renfrew, Art HK’s original fair director and now director Asia of Art Basel, has overseen the transformation. A longtime believer that Hong Kong is a natural home for a major international art fair, he is confident that both attendees and participants will be blown away. “We are geographically positioned at the heart of Asia, and we are the region’s financial center,” Renfrew says. “There is no tax on the import or export of art, and Hong Kong has an increasingly expanding cultural sector and culturally interested population.”

Art Basel’s shows are perhaps most renowned for each selection committee’s unflinching rigor in choosing galleries to participate, as well as for the curation of the fairs’ various sectors. In Hong Kong, more than 170 exhibitors of modern and contemporary art will show work in the main sector, including New York’s Dominique Lévy gallery and 303 Gallery. Many eyes will be on the Insights sector, which will present projects devised specifically for the fair from 47 galleries in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. The Discoveries sector will likely be the most experimental, with solo and two-person exhibitions by emerging artists and, in an exciting twist, a $25,000 prize.

Special exhibitions and events at local galleries will also be of immense interest, as the arrival of blue-chip international players like Gagosian Gallery and White Cube—joining local stalwarts such as Hanart TZ Gallery and Osage—has invigorated the Hong Kong gallery scene in recent years. The multitude of events and special exhibitions at Hong Kong’s cultural institutions and nonprofits is dizzying, including a parallel program of talks presented by Asia Art Archive. Widely regarded as the most important collection of source material on the recent history of art in Asia, Asia Art Archive has grown from a single bookshelf in 2000 to a trove of more than 35,000 records with thousands of physical and digital items. And the government is getting in on the art act, too, by celebrating the opening of its new Artspace @ Oil Street, a 1908 heritage building that has been converted into space for working artists, curators, and the public.

Not surprisingly, Art Basel in Hong Kong has proved attractive to corporate sponsors looking for a foothold in this fast-growing, significant region. Deutsche Bank has signed on as lead partner, joining associate sponsors such as Davidoff, Audemars Piguet, and Absolut Art Bureau, all of which also support the shows in Switzerland and Miami Beach. In fact, many people have compared today’s Hong Kong art market to the one in Miami Beach 10 years ago. “The market is in a relatively early stage of development here, much like the atmosphere in Miami when we opened there,” Renfrew says. “We want to be part of the cultural surge in this dynamic city, and the show provides the perfect global platform for that.”

W magazine


The Bernier/Eliades gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013

After Frieze New York and before the Venice Biennale, the tireless and likely jetlagged international art clique has touched down en masse in Hong Kong, where the first Art Basel outpost in Asia opened to the public on Thursday. Here, we’ve assembled a cognoscenti’s guide to where the insiders are eating, partying, and sleeping it off–including picks for both the elegant classicist and those willing to brave sweaty dance floors and no-reservation policies.

The Upper House’s lobby
Mandarin Oriental: The Original. Initially known simply as The Mandarin, the hotel was recognized as one of the best in the world when it opened in the 60s. A recent and quite pricey facelift has added some polish to its old glamour. This is actually the official hotel of Art Basel HK, where a slew of events are happening, although expect most of the deal-making to occur over martinis at M Bar or beers at the more casual Captain’s Bar.
The Upper House: In a city that can’t get enough ostentatious luxury, the newish Upper House has set itself apart with its tasteful and subtle interiors–nary a touch of red or gold in sight. The top floor bar and restaurant, Cafe Gray Deluxe, boasts some of the best views in Hong Kong, and was the venue of an intimate cocktail party that Net-a-Porter threw for the artist Terence Koh.
SIZEDlandmark-restaurant-amber-01 copy.png
Amber at The Mandarin Oriental
Amber: Back to The Mandarin. San Pellegrino’s highly influential, annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list recently ranked Amber as Hong Kong’s number 1–an impressive honor in a city rightly known for its many dining options. In an elegant setting best enjoyed on expense accounts, feast on French fare with a nod towards the east/west crossover culture unique to Hong Kong’s history.
Ronin: At the cusp of Hong Kong’s culinary scene, Ronin is billed as a Japanese izakaya with a speakeasy feel, but don’t roll your eyes–there are no comically elaborate cocktails here. This tiny, no-reservations eatery is located behind an unmarked door on a quiet side street–and it’s nearly impossible to score a table there, especially this week. But of course there’s also Yardbird, a yakitori in Sheung Wan from the same owners that feels like Ronin’s louder and more fun little brother.
The lounge at Kee Club
Kee Club: Picking up where the infamous China Club left off–it’s still open, but now irrelevant–this members only-ish club (annual dues aren’t exactly required) is Hong Kong’s answer to Soho House, and host to a recent Saint Laurent soiree. The upstairs has a dinner-club vibe that subtly turns into a bottle service situation, while downstairs it’s dance-y and dark. Appropriately, Kee’s chef has concocted a Swiss-themed Basel menu that is available all week.
Salon Number 10: This little gem is quickly shaping up to be Hong Kong’s version of Rick’s Cafe Americain–minus the fascists, of course. One will encounter distinguished travelers of all nationalities here, and the owners Alec and Ellis (who also run the men’s boutique Moustache) are the most gracious of hosts, DJ-ing, suggesting drinks, and generally making you feel like you’re at a great house party.

Art Basel

Art Basel stages global Modern and contemporary art shows, held annually in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong. Founded by gallerists in 1970, Art Basel supports the role that galleries play in the nurturing of artists, and the development and promotion of visual arts.


Art Basel wraps up in Hong Kong after show of world’s finest

Competition between Western artists and Asian works ‘very positive’, Art Basel organisers say

Monday, 27 May, 2013, 8:59am


  • 68a4deebd164b36a43e2902e0a4c5a4d.jpg
More than 240 galleries from around the world showed their works at Art Basel’s Hong Kong debut which closed yesterday. Mainland artist Zhang Xiaogang’s works, above, were among the many on show. Galleries from the West brought in major works from big-name artists and reported strong sales last Wednesday. It was also reported that deals were still being negotiated by regional galleries in the minutes before the show closed. Photo: Jonathan Wong.

A week of art madness ended yesterday with the closure of exhibition Art Basel’s Hong Kong debut, which turned into a showdown between 245 galleries from around the world.

Galleries from Western nations – making up half of the total number exhibiting – pulled out the big guns, bringing over major works by big-name artists, and they reported strong sales last Wednesday on “VIP day”.

Galleries from the Asia-Pacific region, including Hong Kong, said business was slow the first couple of days and they had to work extra hard to draw attention from collectors. Some said sales began to pick up towards the end of the fair and that deals were still being negotiated 30 minutes before the fair closed.

Gallery Hauser & Wirth sold SP234 by Sterling Ruby to an art foundation on the mainland for more than US$250,000. Pearl Lam from Hong Kong soldFour Noblemen by Zhu Jinshi for US$195,000. London’s Victoria Miro, co-presenting with Asia’s Ota Fine Arts, sold the 1988 Yayoi Kusama workFlame of Life – Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu) for US$2 million to an Asian collector.

Taiwanese dealer Tina Keng sold eight works from the series Eight Tall Sunflowers by Xu Jiang for US$2.6 million and Wang Huaiqing’s abstract workChinese Emperor for US$2.6 million.

Keng said the competition was particularly keen.

“All the big [Western] artists are here. So you must bring the Asian equivalent,” Keng said.

One Asian dealer said their gallery was like a monster in their home country, “but here compared to these big Western galleries, I’m like an ant”.

Art Basel Asia director Magnus Renfrew said many collectors had gone home to do some research into artists whose work they had seen at the fair before returning on the final day to buy.

“The competition has been very positive and it helps drive up the standard of the presentation across the board,” Renfrew said. “Western galleries feel the pressure as much as the Asian ones.”

Originally known as Art HK, the fair has run since 2008 under this name and became the largest in Asia. In 2011, Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach organisers MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) acquired a 60 per cent stake in Art HK organisers Asian Art Fairs, leading to the event’s transformation into Art Basel this year.

Despite the change, there was no drop in participation by local artists, with some 26 Hong Kong galleries exhibiting to the fair’s 60,000 visitors.

Hong Kong artist Stanley Wong, who was showing at local gallery Blindspot, said the fair this year had become more sophisticated with improvement in the standard and calibre of work on show. “But at the same time, I don’t see anything very edgy and powerful,” he said.

This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on May 27, 2013 as Art fair wraps up after show of world’s finest

Art Basel fair in Hong Kong attracts global celebrities

Western art dealers focus attention on wealth of Chinese buyers

Art Basel Hong Kong

‘Aztec Pattern’ by South Korean artist Osang Gwon displayed at Art Basel in Hong Kong. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA

The branding hits as soon as you leave Hong Kong International airport and spot two huge billboards heralding the Asian debut of the world’s most prominent art fair, Art Basel. Amid a PR frenzy that drew the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, it seemed that even the torrential rain and 18,000 lightning strikes across the territory hours before the VIP preview on Wednesday were just part of the city-wide spectacle.

There is much familiar about Art Basel in Hong Kong, which joins the original fair in its namesake home city in Switzerland and a sister event in Miami Beach – not least the sponsors. Trolleys of Ruinart champagne stalk the aisles at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. A BMW “art car” brightly painted by Spanish artist César Manrique is displayed outside one entrance. Absolut ArtBureau, an offshoot of the vodka drink company, has commissioned an “art bar” by Adrian Wong, in which a Cantonese lounge singer performs with an animatronic band of multi-limbed manga-like creatures, evoking a mix of colonial kitsch andBlade Runner.

Art Basel’s purchase of the previous Art HK fair two years ago led some locals to question whether Hong Kong’s art scene was becoming a post-colonial venture for importing western art into Asia. With China now the world’s second-largest art market after the US, and Asia home to more billionaires than North America, the attraction seems obvious.

In recent years, several top commercial western galleries have set up outposts amid the Louis Vuitton and Prada stores in the city’s central business district, including American Larry Gagosian, the world’s richest art dealer, in 2008 and London gallerist Jay Jopling’s White Cube in March 2012.

At packed-out private views, both galleries brought out their big guns. White Cube showed the Chapman Brothers’ macabre new installation,The Sum of All Evil, vitrines packed with thousands of miniature figures in violent torment; and Gagosian presented paintings by the late New York graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

But the wooing of the Chinese collectors and their vast wealth is a long, slow process. Most western galleries have yet to convince the big buyers of mainland China, whose taste for contemporary art remains patriotic, according to market analysts.

Graham Steele, director of White Cube Hong Kong, said: “The barriers are coming down, but not as fast as western dealers would like them to. There isn’t the cultural momentum yet. The major Chinese collectors come to Hong Kong for Christie’s or Sotheby’s auctions of Chinese art.”

US gallery Pace’s Beijing branch, which explicitly declares itself an Asian gallery and runs a different programme from the US and UK branches, has found success by becoming a major dealer for Chinese contemporary artists. Its stand at the fair included work by Zhang Xiaogang, whose paintings have fetched multimillion-pound prices at auction.

Several British dealers said that Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines, which are more familiar with western culture, were their most important markets in Asia. Australians are also major collectors. Ellie Harrison-Read, sales associate at Lisson Gallery, said: “Big names such as Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramovic, people who are familiar, sell well. Brand is very important here.”

This seemed to be apparent in big sales of the fair’s first day. London’s Victoria Miro gallery sold a wall-sized painting by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama for £1.32m and White Cube sold a Gary Hume sculpture for £66,243, while 15 sculptures by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, depicting a cartoon version of the artist and his dog, sold for £89,428 each.

The local art scene, which has long felt overshadowed by the Chinese contemporary art boom, has mixed feelings about the influx of international dealers. Pui Pui To, director of 2P gallery, one of Hong Kong’s few art spaces to represent local artists, said: “Now that the blue chip galleries have arrived, it’s become much tougher for us to survive.”

Spiralling rents have pushed younger galleries further from the city centre. Pui Pui To’s gallery, which is showing in Art Basel, is on a backstreet in Sai Ying Pun in the city’s western district. “The only brand names round here are McDonald’s and KFC,” she said.

However, she praised Art Basel in Hong Kong’s director, Magnus Renfrew, who founded Art HK for supporting the local art scene through educational programmes and collaboration with non-profit, artist-run projects. Renfrew said that when he first arrived in Hong Kong it was referred to as a “cultural desert” with little audience for contemporary art: “Since the fair opened, the number of visitors has grown from just 19,000 in 2008 to 67,000 last year and the gallery scene is more sophisticated.”

He believes that the current imbalance between the art market, which has long had a big presence in the territory with Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, will change with the construction of the West Kowloon cultural district, which will include the M+ museum of visual culture, twice the size of Tate Modern, and 16 performing art museums. An outdoor exhibition of inflatable sculptures on the site, M+ mobile, which includes a giant upturned cockroach, a suckling pig you can walk into and British artist Jeremy Deller’s bouncy castle version of Stonehenge, has drawn 130,000 visitors in just three weeks.

Lars Nittve, executive director of M+ and the founding director of Tate Modern, compared the exhibition to the sensation caused by Carl Andre’s bricks when they first were shown at the Tate. “Really for the first time in Hong Kong it has provoked public debate about whether something that looks ugly can be art. Can you jump on art? Can art be fun?”

Harriet Onslow of Pearl Lam Galleries, based in Hong Kong and Shanghai, thinks there will be room for a wider range of galleries as the art scene diversifies. “Collectors are not going to decide against buying one of [the smaller galleries’] artists for HK$5,000 just because I’ve sold them something for HK$200,000,” she said.

However the work of one of the local artists in the Pearl Lam booth suggests that Pui Pui To is not alone in her ambivalance towards the internationalisation of Hong Kong’s art scene. Tsang Kin-wah offers a tongue-in-cheek critique of the art fair system in a text installation in which scathing comments in vinyl lettering spread across the floor like the tentacles of an octopus:





Onslow said: “It’s about how fucking awful art fairs are and how it’s no longer about the art but the fair. The text is etched on glass because that signifies how the art and the artist is disappearing.”

Yet in the Deutsche Bank’s exclusive VIP room another work by the artist, best known for painting words in English and Chinese in seemingly floral patterns, offers a more positive if rather cynical take, with the phrase “Making Art, Making Money” discernible in the grey text. It seems unlikely that Tsang Kin-wah at least will be disappearing any time soon.


May 24, 2013 6:39 pm Miami, now they take Hong Kong

By Georgina Adam

Basel brand hits HK; one fair in, one fair out in California; massive deflation for sculpture

Apowerful battalion of the art world’s grandees jetted in from New York, London, Beijing and many other points to attend the new Art Basel in Hong Kong, which launched this week and ends on Sunday.

This is the first truly “Basel” edition of the Asian fair, which the powerful Swiss firm acquired two years ago. And anyone who knows the other two fairs in its portfolio – Basel and Miami Beach – will have recognised the “brand”, with every detail, from typeface to maps, now homogenised throughout.

While the transformation from the ArtHK fair is not radical, the new owners have smoothed some things out, for instance distributing stands better between the two floors and placing the VIP lounge upstairs. The fair is spacious and well lit, flattering the art on view. But with “Basel Basel” round the corner, some galleries have not brought their best works, and others are frankly a muddle. But there are high points, among them Peter Blum’s marvellous offering of early Kusama works including “Phallic Bowl” (1965) in the $300,000 range – showing up the brash, garish offerings of more recent Kusama works. And the small Australian gallery Sullivan and Strumpf is showing subversive tableaux of figurines by Penny Byrne – “iProtest” – inspired by political unrest across the world.

Some exhibitors, including Blum, are attending for the first time, specifically because it is now a Basel event. Other newbies at the opening were the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, his partner Dasha Zhukova, Wendi Deng Murdoch and posses of collectors and museum directors including Lacma’s Jeffrey Deitch. Artists – Fernando Botero, Takashi Murakami, Abbas Kiarostami and many of the best-known Chinese names – had also hotfooted in.

As for sales, Hauser & Wirth reported a shower of deals and Arndt immediately sold a flowered puppy by the hot Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho, “Flower Generation II” (2012), to Adelaide’s South Australia Museum for $54,000 and a Jittish Kallat to the Belgian collector Guy Ullens, tagged at $180,000, while Hanart quickly placed four ink paintings by Qiu Zhijie with a big New York museum for $20,000 each. “There’s a dramatic difference in sales this year,” said a beaming Tim Blum. while Paul Kasmin also said business was “excellent”.

. . .

Along with the new fair, the week marked an extraordinary change in Hong Kong as an art hub. The night before the fair opening, the six galleries in the Pedder Building staged a joint vernissage and were so mobbed that a sign outside announced “Queuing time approx 30 minutes”; once in, visitors could see Basquiat at Gagosian or the new Lehmann Maupin space, showing a quintessentially Hong Kong scene by Zheng Guogu. The same crowd then packed into White Cube and Perrotin nearby. All of this was inconceivable just two years ago before the Basel juggernaut, with its 50,000-plus list of VIPs, rolled into town.

. . .

While there is certainly a lot of buzz about the growing art market in California, fairs there are not gaining any traction. The third edition of Art Platform Los Angeles, one of a portfolio of fairs owned by Chicago’s Merchandise Mart Properties, has just been cancelled. Held in a hangar in Santa Monica airport – where it had relocated last year after being held downtown – the fair had failed to attract enough support for its upcoming September edition.

But as one dies, another is born: Silicon Valley Contemporary, planned for April next year in San Jose Convention Center. The founders, who already organise other fairs in upscale locations such as Aspen and the Hamptons, come from the technology sector and say they will revolutionise the fair model. “We will look for the intersection between a physical art fair and a virtual one with online auctions,” says executive director Rick Friedman, adding that he will “introduce basic Valley tenets such as open systems, transparency in pricing and art value, full disclosure and ease of transaction.” About 60 international exhibitors are being sought for the first edition, which is slated for April 10-13 2014.

. . .

Inflation art is the newest thing – blow-up sculptures. Cynics who dismiss such works of contemporary art as “just a lot of hot air” are delightedly pointing to the fate of a number of these pumped-up monsters. In Hong Kong, a crowd-pleasing exhibition – called Inflation! – on the site of the future M+ museum in West Kowloon was recently hit by heavy rainfall. McCarthy’s “Complex Pile”, a giant brown simulacrum of excrement (you read that right, sadly) as well as a flower sculpture by the Korean artist Choi Jeong-hwa, “Black Lotus”, were punctured and collapsed. And the much ballyhooed giant rubber duck floating in the harbour, the work of Florentijn Hofman, popped and flattened into a yellow omelette. They have all been pumped back up now.

Georgina Adam is editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper


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Art Basel Hong Kong 香港巴塞爾藝術展 2013 展覽現場回顧

Art Basel highlights Hong Kong’s new statusMay 24, 2013 12:52 AMBy Aaron Tam

Agence France Presse
HONG KONG: The first Art Basel to be hosted by Hong Kong boasts a prestigious array of international art. Staging the art fair here highlights the city’s new role as an arts hub amid an explosion of personal wealth in mainland China.The annual four-day show is the world’s premier art fair and has until now only been held in Switzerland and the United States. Wealthy VIPs flocked Wednesday to the waterfront exhibition center hosting the fair, which opened to the wider public Thursday. Dressed in glamorous outfits and against a backdrop of popping champagne corks, they perused an eclectic mix of works from more than 3,000 international artists exhibiting through 245 of the world’s leading galleries. The main section showcases work from an international group of 171 modern and contemporary art galleries, with selections of paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and video. In one room a Volkswagen Beetle had been compressed into a giant sphere. Another installation drawing crowds featured a dishevelled human-sized rabbit sitting on a log, created by the U.S. artist Marnie Weber. Internationally renowned artists whose work is on display include Britain’s Damien Hirst, French artist JR and the German photographer Andreas Gursky. Other sections feature selections from the Asia-Pacific region curated for the show, large-scale sculptures and a section with solo and two-person exhibitions from emerging international artists. The boom in Hong Kong’s international art market is largely a result of the fast-growing wealth of mainland Chinese, some of whom are investing heavily in art. “Having seen the high quality and vast range of presentations from galleries across the globe,” Art Basel director Marc Spiegler told reporters, “I can assure you that the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong promises many discoveries and delights.” Art Basel ordinarily exhibits at home, in the Swiss city of Basel, as well as in Miami Beach in the US, but, Spiegler said, the Hong Kong show will emphasise works from Asia. Hong Kong is “a place where all Asia feels at home and with many bridges to the west,” he continued. “Here in Hong Kong, we will provide a global stage of international exposure for galleries and artists in Asia.” There is also a growing interest among Asian collectors in different types of art aside from traditional works. Gagosian, White Cube, Acquavella, Lehmann Maupin and Galerie Perrotin are just some of the big-name galleries to have arrived in the city in the past two years despite sky-high rents. “Art Basel in Hong Kong is evidence that Asia is becoming paramount to the international art world,” said Pearl Lam in a statement for Art Basel’s opening. Lam runs galleries of the same name in the southern city and in Shanghai. Art Basel replaces Art HK, Hong Kong’s former art fair, which was set up in 2008. It was recently taken over by Switzerland’s high-profile Art Basel franchise, which has been showcasing modern and contemporary art since 1970. “This is a truly historic moment for the art scene in Hong Kong and in Asia,” Art Basel Asia director Magnus Renfrew said. “The arrival of Art Basel in Hong Kong strengthens the city’s position as the leading art hub in Asia.”

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Art Basel Hong Kong

Local pride

THE Hong Kong art market is strong and prosperous, buoyed by low taxes and free of the censorship that inhibits much of the art on the mainland. But the local scene has long felt overshadowed by the big-name Chinese contemporary artists. So many were jittery at the opening today of the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong, concerned that an influx of big galleries from New York, London and Paris would crowd out the booths peddling home-grown talent. There was little need to worry. “Competition drives up the standards. It already has after five years,” said Magnus Renfrew, the Asia Director for Art Basel Hong Kong. He is well placed to know, having spent years running Hong Kong’s art fair when it was an independent, scrappy event. Art Basel bought the fair last year, and its first Hong Kong incarnation runs until May 26th. Of the 245 galleries showing at the Hong Kong Convention Centre, over half are Asian. Of these, 26 are from Hong Kong, the strongest showing for any city except New York. This week Hong Kong is filled with art events, talks and the usual high-flying parties. To expose Hong Kong’s contemporary art scene to international buyers, Art Basel invited its top dealers and collectors to a special tour of the Wong Chuk Hang area on the waterfront of Aberdeen, where old warehouses have been renovated into new galleries. Some of Hong Kong’s most venerable art galleries have been decamping to Aberdeen to escape the exorbitant rents of the central district and to inhabit a livelier, younger area. Among those with branches there are Alisan Fine Arts, the first professional gallery in Hong Kong to show contemporary art, and Pekin Fine Arts from Beijing. So what are Hong Kong artists producing? Mostly art that feels very Chinese.

The booth of Schoeni Art Gallery is dominated by a video installation by Hung Keung (pictured). Trained at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, Mr Hung also studied art in London, Germany and Switzerland. Yet his piece “Dao x Microcosmic Play and Appreciation” feels rooted in Chinese culture. It features three round tables topped with black glass arranged a few feet apart. Tiny cameras circulate around the tables, their images projected on white screens. One table holds a black Buddha, small but his presence looms. Another is scattered with black toy-like tanks, helicopters and jet fighters. The third features a solitary small stone. This work is about peace and calm in an era of violence, explains Mr Hung. Traditional Chinese art views the white colour of rice paper as “an infinity surface,” he adds. “Now I am saying the screen represents white paper. The black toys on black glass give the feeling of black ink.” The booth of Gallery EXIT, a local gallery based in the Wong Chuk Hang neighbourhood, features the work of Ivy Ma, a Hong Kong-based artist. Her piece “Mother” is a large, hanging portrait of her mother carved in plywood. Measuring one meter by two meters, the image is from a photograph taken in the early 1950s, when Ms Ivy’s mother arrived from southern China as part of a wave of immigrants escaping the Communist revolution. “Mother” smiles pleasantly at passers-by, her face brimming with hope, her hair fashionably styled in a ‘50s bob. The work feels quintessentially Chinese, but with a wider contemporary appeal.

Artists from Guangdong province in southern China have long influenced art in Hong Kong. At the Pekin Fine Art space, works on paper by Chen Shaoxiong capture images of protests, such as democracy advocates who oppose Beijing’s efforts to restrict political freedoms in Hong Kong. His sweeping brush strokes on white paper give these pieces an unusual intensity, though they are not much larger than a legal pad. “He is making ink relevant to contemporary society,” said Meg Maggio, the founder of Pekin Fine Art. “Not many can do that.” In the confines of the exclusive VIP room run by Deutsche Bank at the fair, a large wall length work by one of Hong Kong’s best-known painters, Tsang Kin-Wah, is the star piece. The artist is known for painting words in English and Chinese in patterns that evoke wallpaper. In this piece, the phrase “Making Art, Making Money” is easily discernable in grey against white. Like a growing number of Hong Kong artists, Mr Tsang is happy to embrace the creed.

Art Basel Prepares To Open Its Doors To The Public

HONG KONG – MAY 22: A woman looks at work by Yayoi Kusama, represented by Victoria Miro, London, and Ota Fine Arts, at Art Basel, May 22, 2013 in Hong Kong. (Photo by Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)




Art Basel Debuts in Hong Kong

Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Art Basel, an international art show that has been held annually in Basel and Miami Beach, made its debut in Hong Kong Thursday. Here, artworks by Ugo Rondinone. ====

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Art Basel in Hong Kong Keeps Rolling With Strong Sales on First Public Day

art-basel-in-hong-kong-sales After a strong showing by VIPs on Wednesday, Thursday saw more swift business in the aisles and booths of the inaugural Art Basel in Hong Kong fair (the best of which ARTINFO has highlighted in this video). During its first day of being open to the general public, fair heavyweights like Hauser & Wirth, Paul Kasmin, and Arndt made major sales, while a slew of Asian galleries also made big moves. New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery sold three pieces from Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne’s “Famille De Moutons” series of sheep sculptures for a total of $650,000 to a Hong Kong-based collector. The gallery also sold the Ivan Navarro neon and mirror works “Sway (Grand Gateway)” (2011) and “War Hole” (2012), the latter fetching $20,000 from a Swiss collector. Hauser & Wirth had another big day, selling two works on paper and four paintings by Zhang Enli at prices ranging from $25,000-$180,000, as well as Michael Raedecker’s “suspended” (2008) for $200,000. Arndt, of Singapore and Berlin, sold Jitish Kallat’s “Prosody of a Rising Tide” (2011-12) for $180,000, two editions of Entang Wiharso “Feast Table: Undeclared Perceptions” (2012) for $90,000 each — one of them to Berlin’s Thomas Olbricht CollectionEko Nugroho’s “Flower Generation II” (2012) for $54,000, which was acquired by an Australian museum, and Jiechang Yang’s “Burning Tree” (2009), which was snapped up for €70,000 by a German collector. Long March Space from Beijing sold Made In Company’s “Play 201301″ (2013), which is featured in the fair’s Encounters section, for $325,000 to Australia’s White Rabbit Collection. The gallery also sold Wang Zhan’s “Artificial Rock No.146″ (2011) for $280,000. The Taipei- and Beijing-based gallery Tina Keng sold eight works from Jiang Xu’s “Eight Tall Sunflowers” series for a total of $2.6 million. Tokyo’s SCAI The Bathhouse sold Daisuke Ohha’s “BUKKA” (2011) for $22,000. ShanghART sold Yang Fudong’s “Forest Diary” (2000) for €45,000. And Sao Paulo’s Mendes Wood sold three untitled works by Lucas Arruda in the range of $10,000-20,000 each. A few galleries also reported additional sales from Wednesday’s VIP preview. Local gallery De Sarthe, did especially well, moving works including pieces by Alexander Calder and Lin Jing Jing for a total of $4 million in sales, all of the to Asian collectors intending to open private museums. Also on Wednesday, Sao Paulo’s Casa Triângulo sold two untitled works by Mariana Palma for $14,000 each to Hong Kong-based collectors. ===== OCULA

When it comes to art fairs these days, it’s not just about selling. With collectors being extra cautious and new collectors (and new money) entering the art market, art fairs are also about building relationships, tastes and, in the 21st Century, more expanded notions of object-based art. Indeed, with art fairs and biennales proliferating around the world, there is not one art centre, but centres.

That Art Basel has come to Hong Kong to occupy two halls of the Hong Kong Exhibition Centre – (the world’s most occupied convention centre) – is a case in point. It is a clear indication of a certain global expansion taking place in the contemporary arts, mirrored by the sheer number of artists and galleries operating globally, each with their own approach, style and focus.

In reflection of this, Art Basel, which has always predicated itself on a certain globalism, is moving with the times. During Art Basel in Hong Kong’s press conference on Vernissage Day, Art Basel’s Director Marc Spiegler noted that 2013’s inaugural Art Basel in Hong Kong (ABHK) was not only a historical moment because Art Basel has come to Asia, but also because there has never been such a strong combination of eastern and western galleries presented together at an art fair. More than fifty per cent out of the 245 presenting galleries come from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, from Turkey, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent to Australia and New Zealand, with twenty-six alone coming from Hong Kong. The result is eclectic (35 nations in total are represented), with styles intermingling but not necessarily blending. Some visitors commented on the mixed quality at ABHK during the preview. But perhaps this is not so much about good or bad art as it is about different art(s). In this, naming the sectors complementing the main Galleries section Discoveries, Insights, and Encounters, is telling if not instructive. Curated by Yuko Hasegawa, Encounters presents large-scale installations installed in various “plazas” within the fair halls. It aims to explore the ideas of “East” and “West,” looking at memory, history, and social contexts from a transcultural perspective. Works showing in Encounters include Jitish Kallat’s bamboo scaffolding encasing a large square column, Circa (2011), MadeIn Company’s leather-clad cathedral hung from the ceiling with rope, Play (201_B01) (2013), and a series of coloured venetian blinds arranged to produce a hanging mobile by Haegue Yang. Like the fair itself, Encounters is a patchwork of cultural (con)fusion. It is a state most clearly illustrated in the Discoveries section. Here, Kalfayan has presented photographs by Syrian artist Hrair Sarkissian against a series of vases produced in China in the Ming style, depicting scenes from the Lebanese Civil War in Raed Yassin’s, China. The work was produced as part of the 2012 Abraaj Capital Art Prize of which Yassin was a recipient. In this work, the global clusterfuck produced by the constant circulation and trade of objects and people is made apparent. The precision of Yassin’s statement is a testament to the artist’s sharp response to the notion of global culture and historical heritage in the 21st Century. This same kind of clarity is evident in other artists presented in Discoveries; a vibrant mix of emerging talent, from Brendan Early at Dublin’s mother’s tankstation, Tang Kwok Hin at Hong Kong’s 2p Contemporary, Becky Beasley and Matthias Bitzer at Milan’s Francesca Minini and Sanné Mestrom at Melbourne’s Utopian Slumps. Meanwhile, in the Galleries sector, there is a dynamic show of cultural range. Tokyo’s Gallery Koyanagi presents a mixed roster, including Olafur Eliasson, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Marlene Dumas, while Seoul’s PKM has opted for a selection of works including Minouk Lim’s Portable Keeper_White (2012) and a pair of Paradise Pies by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen. Of course, there are those who have made safer bets: Pace presents paintings and sculptures by China’s most expensive contemporary artist, Zhang Xiaogang, and Victoria Miro has brought Yayoi Kusama, who is everywhere. But not all choices have been so conservative (or calculating). Japan’s Mizuma provided a refreshing presentation showcasing new works including Yoshitaka Amano’s epic (and dirty) acrylic on aluminium panel Spring (2013), teamLab’s intriguing interactive animation installation, United, Fragmented, Repeated and Impermanent World (2013), Jane Lee’s deliciously textural oil painting, Fetish series-RB I (2013) and Makoto Aida’s ironically named, The Non-Thinker (2012). In this, ABHK isn’t just about cultural (or market) encounters. There are artistic face-offs happening everywhere, most of them unexpected. Take Haim Steinbach’s Untitled (plant, artichoke) (2012) at Lia Rumma: a green plastic form resembling a bonsai tree and an artichoke resting on a book. Steinbach’s green object immediately recalled a Tony Cragg sculpture, probably because I saw so many at the fair. Later, I chanced upon a Cragg bronze painted literally the same colour as Steinbach’s green plastic bonsai at Marian Goodman, aptly titled Versus (2012). It was a perfect moment of accidental (dis)unity. These relations make ABHK a promising space with which to assess global artistic practices, trends and tastes. Jose Davila, a favourite at 2012’s Art Basel Miami Beach, for example, is showing at both Mexico’s OMR and London’s Max Wigram, and his work chimes well with Seher Shah at Nature Morte. Similarly, The Breeder, presenting Greek artists Antonis Donef (ink drawings on archival paper), Andreas Lolis (marble carved to look like a pool of oil) and Stelios Faitakis (iconographic revolutionary paintings) are shown with Tao Xue’s paper sculpture, Socrates in China (2012), producing a synergy between two very different (yet wholly related) cultures. At the end of ABHK’s preview day, and after thinking about the significance of the fair from a cultural perspective rather than from buying and selling art (or lack thereof, given it is still early days), fair fatigue set in. I had become embroiled in Tang Contemporary Art’s installation of Yan Lei’s Limited Art Project (2012), exploring the complex narratives (and political ideologies) that have fed into the discipline of painting on canvas, a westernised tradition. Upon leaving, the only words I could muster to describe all that I had seen and thought in a day at the fair were those used in a work by Newell Harry, showing in a stellar group presentation at Australia’s Rose Oxley9 Gallery: “This Dam Mad Shit.” – [O] Tomorrow, Stephanie will assess the debates and discussions taking place at the fair, while reviewing the hotly anticipated opening ceremony, Paper Rain.

Lui Chun Kwong, Au Hoi Lam Osage Gallery Yuko Hasegawa giving a curator’s tour, standing with Haegue Yang’s Encounters installation, Journal of Mundane and Uncertain Days, 2013 Haegue Yang Journal of Mundane and Uncertain Days, 2013 Martin Bell Tolarno Galleries Sehar Shah Mammoth – Aerial Landscape Proposals, 2012 Nature Morte Brendan Early Presented by Mother’s Tankstation as part of Discoveries Matthias Bltzer and Becky Beasley Presented by Francesca Minini as part of Discoveries Hrair Sarkissian and Raed Yassin Presented by Kalfayan Galleries as part of Insights Tony Cragg Versus, 2011 Marian Goodman Gallery Barbara Kruger at Sprüth Magers Berlin London, and Kohei Nawa at Arario Gallery Madein Company Play (201B01), 2013 Part of Encounters
Installation view, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery Installation view, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery Tang Contemporary Doug Aitken More, 2013 303 Gallery, New York Haim Steinbach Untitled



Art Basel Hong Kong 2013

At Art Basel Hong Kong, International Dealers Bet Big on Asian Market

Boers-Li Gallery's booth, with 'Fondle' (2009–13) by Yang Xinguangon on the ground. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Boers-Li Gallery’s booth, with ‘Fondle’ (2009–13) by Yang Xinguangon on the ground. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

“We are really an Asian gallery,” said Pace President Arne Glimcher on Wednesday evening at the opening of the very first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, at the Hong Kong Convention Centre on Victoria Harbour. Pace may be based in New York, but the gallery has run a Beijing outpost for the past five years, and that counts as a major plus at an art fair like this one, where dealers compete to make an impact in a burgeoning Asian market.

Technically, this fair has been taking place annually at the convention center for the past six years, bearing the name Art HK. But two years ago it was purchased by MCH Group, owner of the 43-year-old Art Basel, the world’s most prominent modern and contemporary art fair, and that fair’s wildly successful, 11-year-old sister event, Art Basel Miami Beach. This year’s edition, which runs through May 26, is the first under its new Swiss management, and although the morning of the opening on Wednesday brought torrential rains, the weather cleared up by the afternoon and collectors, sometimes accompanied by art advisors in stiletto heels, streamed in to tour the booths of 245 dealers.

Works by Andy Warhol at the booth of Dominique Lévy Gallery.

Works by Andy Warhol at the booth of Dominique Lévy Gallery. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Certain improvements could be immediately felt, such as the floor plan, which is more open and spacious, and gives the lion’s share of space to blue-chip international dealers and major players from Japan, Korea and mainland China. There are also sections, called “Discoveries” and “Insights,” devoted to more recently established Asian galleries showing younger artists. The new management promised a boost in European and American collectors at the fair, and though a few could be spotted in the crowd on the VIP preview day, including Miami’s Debra and Dennis Scholl as well as the London-based Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova, the heavy hitters at this fair are collectors of Chinese contemporary art like Baron Guy Ullens and Uli Sigg, as well as Asian collectors, like the Indonesian-Chinese businessman Budi Tek, who is building a museum for international contemporary art in Shanghai.

For dealers from the West, a working knowledge of the market in the region comes in handy here. Building on its Asian client base and cultivation of Chinese artists, Pace brought “what we know appeals to Asian collectors,”  as Mr. Glimcher put it, and that strategy met with success early in the day. Pace’s booth was consistently crowded with visitors clamoring for million-dollar examples of work by Chinese artists like Zhang Xiaogang,  Zhang Huan and Li Songsong, whose works have seen soaring sums in the auction houses.  Gagosian Gallery,  whose two-year-old Hong Kong branch had opened a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition the evening before (it’s the first major Basquiat exhibition in Hong Kong), was also busy at the fair. Too busy to talk to a reporter, said gallery director Nick Simunovic as he pointed out details of a Damien Hirst piece to a group of Asian collectors.

Art Basel Prepares To Open Its Doors To The Public

Works by Basquiat, Hirstt and Calder at Van de Weghe Fine Art’s booth. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

But most New York dealers come to this fair with low expectations. “If I was doing this amount of business anywhere else, I’d shoot myself,”  said Sean Kelly,  who has scored a major coup recently in selling an archive of work by Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh to Hong Kong’s mega-museum project M+, which isn’t scheduled to open until 2017 but is already spending its sizable acquisition budget.

“This fair you can’t judge in four hours,”  Mr. Kelly continued.  “It’s a much slower affair than that.  People come, they look, they ask questions, they return. So it’s a different rhythm.”

By contrast with other major contemporary art fairs, like New York’s Armory Show and Frieze New York, Frieze in London or Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong doesn’t have a collector feeding frenzy on opening day. Here buyers from throughout Asia were much more laid back, taking their time to familiarize themselves with European or American artists whose names were new to them.  One artist every Chinese collector I’ve spoken with has told me that they want is Gerhard Richter—not so surprising, as his market is surging internationally at the moment—and the artist’s agent, Marian Goodman Gallery, which has branches in New York and Paris, managed to sell a major painting on 16 panels to an Asian collector in the opening hours of the fair.

Works by Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins Co.'s booth.

Works by Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins Co.’s booth. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Other New York galleries brought more challenging material. Brent Sikkema spread across two walls of his booth a series of silhouette pieces by Kara Walker, whose work deals specifically with African-American imagery, much of it deriving from the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War. But Mr. Sikkema said he’d found that a surprising number of visitors to his booth were already familiar with Ms. Walker’s work.  (As a kind of insurance, there were also the European visitors that the fair’s organizers had promised him would be on hand.) Like most New York dealers at Art Basel Hong Kong, Mr. Sikkema signed on to the fair with the understanding that patience will be required—it will take some more time before Hong Kong becomes an international art hub along the lines of Basel or Miami.

Hong Kong has, however, come a long way. Six years ago, the city was a sleepy backwater, art-wise, with only a handful of galleries and no major contemporary art museum in the works. At that time it appeared that Beijing—with its 100,000-plus artists and 400 galleries—would be the art capital of Asia, with Shanghai, which had its own burgeoning art fair and gallery district, in second place. But the mainland market faced two major obstacles. First, sales of art in mainland China incur a whopping 34 percent value added tax (VAT), making it almost impossible for foreign dealers to make a profit at mainland art fairs. Another hindrance was government censorship—the Ministry of Culture regularly plucked works out of booths. And hence, the rise of Hong Kong. In no small part due to the success of Art HK,  the Hong Kong government started putting substantial muscle into the local art scene, first and foremost into the massive West Kowloon Cultural District with its $2.8 billion budget and planned M+ museum. That infusion of money and interest attracted Western dealers like White Cube, Gagosian, Emmanuel Perrotin and Lehmann Maupin, all of whom have opened galleries here in the past two years. Meanwhile, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been holding auctions here since the late-1980s, more aggressively in recent years, and Hong Kong is now the third-largest auction market in the world.

Works by Yayoi Kusama, shown by Victoria Miro, and Ota Fine Arts.

Works by Yayoi Kusama, shown by Victoria Miro, and Ota Fine Arts. (Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

The question for Hong Kong going forward is whether it will function more as a kind of post-colonialist art enterprise, importing Western art into Asia, or as a gateway for Asian buyers to have an impact on the global art dialogue. Ideally, it will do both. The Art Basel organizers have said that they will maintain a 50-50 split between Asian and international galleries—mainland Chinese galleries like Shanghart, Boers-Li, Pekin Fine Arts and Long March Space make a strong showing at this year’s fair—a sign that the fair will continue to have local character. Meanwhile, most galleries from New York and Europe, especially those that do not have a regular presence in the region, are still learning how to tailor their approach to Asian preferences, and to take things slow. “This is about us showing up, showing face, answering questions and taking inquiries seriously,”  said Sean Kelly.  “But it is equally about us learning from their culture. It’s a two-way street.”


Westerners and Easterners Alike Flock to Art Basel In Hong Kong

Art Basel in Hong Kong, formerly known as Art HK, is the place to go for East-meets-West-style work like Wu Di’s Plaything (2013). The painting shows a monkey-headed human figure in Western Renaissance garb on the end of a leash held by a human-headed monkey, all against a background of old master-style gold leaf.

View Slideshow Wu Di, Plaything, 2013. Courtesy of Shanghai Gallery of Art.; Zhuang Hui and Dan’er,  11 Degree Incline, 2008, lacquered metal sculpture, dimensions variable. Courtesy Magician Space, Beijing. ;

The artist, who is represented by the Shanghai Gallery of Art, showed A.i.A. an image of the print that had inspired the work on her phone. She didn’t know its origins or date, she said, speaking through a translator: “I downloaded it from the Internet.”

Overall, Tuesday’s preview of the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong (May 23-26) saw steady sales and increased numbers of visitors from outside the region.

Major area collectors such as Budi Tek and Uli Sigg were in attendance, along with museum directors from near and far, such as the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art’s Philip Tinari and Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’s Jeffrey Deitch.

This is the first year that the five-year-old fair is under the management of Art Basel. With the Swiss conglomerate newly behind it, the fair drew visits from many more European dealers than in past years, according to several gallerists who spoke with A.i.A. during the fair’s first hours.

The fair’s 245 exhibitors, hailing from 35 countries and territories, are spread over two floors of the gigantic Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, on Victoria Harbor. Younger galleries, in the Discoveries section, paid as little as $14,000 for their stands, while larger booths ran into the upper tens of thousands.

Dealers were reporting sales by the end of the first day, though the VIP preview wasn’t marked by the feeding frenzy that sometimes characterizes Basel’s home fair in Switzerland or its 11-year-old outpost in Miami Beach.

Victoria Miro (London) and Ota Fine Arts (Singapore and Tokyo), which are jointly exhibiting Yayoi Kusama, sold the artist’s 1988 painting Flame of Life-Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu) to an Asian collector for $2 million. Galerie Gmurzynska (Zurich, Zug and St. Moritz) sold Fernando Botero’s painting Quarteto (2012) for $1.3 million to a Malaysian collector.

Dealers told A.i.A. that an already well-run enterprise is only getting better under new management.

“The fair’s layout is more orderly and calm than in past years,” said Daniel Lechner, of New York’s Cheim & Read Gallery, which has participated in the Hong Kong fair in the past, though not this year.

The question on many minds has been whether Art Basel’s acquisition of a 60 percent share of the fair would lead to it becoming more generically global. The organizers are keen to emphasize that over 50 percent of the participating galleries are from the Asia-Pacific region­. Some 26 exhibiting galleries have spaces in Hong Kong, though a few of them are outposts of global enterprises like Gagosian.

Though attendance figures built slowly over the day, Arnold Glimcher, of Pace Gallery, which has had a venue in Beijing since 2008, told A.i.A. that a large part of the fair’s audience would attend over the weekend, when businessmen from Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia come into town.

Magician Space, from Beijing, is showing a work by Chinese artist duo Zhuang Hui and Dan’er in Encounters, a selection of large-scale sculptures curated by Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. The artists’ 11 Degree Incline, a giant black-lacquered metal sculpture of classicizing architectural ornaments, is based on garden architecture from the Qing Dynasty Summer Palace that was designed by an Italian, Giuseppe Castiglione.

While the uptick in Western visitors was the most salient first impression for many exhibitors, different dealers come to Hong Kong looking for different things. Simone Battisti, of Gladstone Gallery, New York, more highly valued the Malaysian and Chinese collectors he was meeting during the preview. “Why come to Hong Kong to talk to European collectors?” he said.

Rose Lord, of New York’s Marian Goodman Gallery, hadn’t noticed a significant increase in American visitors this year compared to the previous two trips the gallery made to Art HK. “Frieze New York was just last weekend,” she said by way of explanation. “And 15 hours is still a very long flight.”


Sean Kelly Announces Acquisition of Work by Tehching Hsieh

Back to the Articleby BWW News Desk

Sean Kelly announces a major museum acquisition of work by gallery artist Tehching Hsieh to the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority/M+ Museum in Hong Kong.Michael Lynch (CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority) and Lars Nittve (Executive Director of the M+ Museum) announced the acquisition this morning in a press conference held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, timed to coincide with the opening of the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong.
This acquisition is the largest to date of Hsieh’s work and will be the most comprehensive collection of Hsieh’s work to be held in a public institution. The acquisition comprises a complete editioned set of the One Year Performance works and Hsieh’s final long-duration performance, which lasted thirteen years.The years from 1978 through 1999 witnessed Hsieh’s development of six individual performance works- all but one lasted for periods of one year at a time-which are informally referred to as:Cage Piece, Time Clock Piece, Outdoor Piece, Rope Piece (with artist Linda Montano), No Art Piece and Thirteen Year Plan. During this 22-year period, his contribution to long-form durational performance art is the most profound of any artist. M+ has acquired a complete set of these works:One Year Performance 1978-1979 (Cage Piece) One Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece) One Year Performance 1981-1982 (Outdoor Piece) Art/Life One Year Performance 1983-1984 (Rope Piece) One Year Performance 1985-1986 (No Art Piece) Tehching Hsieh 1986-1999 (Thirteen Year Plan)The West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong is one of the largest arts and cultural projects in the world. A centerpiece of Hong Kong’s future West Kowloon Cultural District, M+ is a new museum for visual culture, encompassing 20th and 21st century art, design, architecture and the moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia and beyond.Tehching Hsieh (b. 1950, Taiwanese-American) has been represented worldwide by Sean Kelly Gallery since 2009. Work by Hsieh will be on view this week at the gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Hong Kong (1D08).


All eyes on Hong Kong as Art Basel hits city, bringing tourism boost with it

Hong Kong’s newest arts fair may reflect the cultural and economic value of art, but also a globalisation of culture that can stifle artistic expression
Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 5:20pm
As the curtain goes up on the first Hong Kong excursion of the Art Basel international art show today, it will become the focal point not just for the art world, but for the city’s tourism efforts. The Tourism Board is promoting the Asian outpost of the world’s largest contemporary art fair as the centrepiece of an “Art Month”, which also includes a range of satellite fairs and the irrepressible, inflatable Rubber Duck. Even Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will attend the fair’s opening ceremony this morning – the first time the city’s top leader has presided over the opening of a major art fair. The dramatic boom in Hong Kong’s art fair business since the forerunner to Art Basel – Art HK – made its debut in 2008, has resonated across the region. So also has the emergence of the city and the West Kowloon Cultural District as centres for art auctions. Cities from Singapore to Tokyo and Abu Dhabi to Manila, are embracing art fairs not just for the lucrative business opportunities they create, but also for their power in branding the city and bringing in affluent visitors. But as more Asian cities rush to join the game, there are growing warnings of the key risk from the trend; the globalisation of culture via contemporary art. “Culture is very important in marketing a city,” says cultural critic and consultant Desmond Hui. “Similar to the construction of cultural districts and the cultivation of a creative economy, art fairs are part of the equation.” Unlike art biennales – which are organised by the authorities as an official presentation of arts and culture – art fairs are engineered by market forces and have a different role, and can forge a close relationship with a city. Governments should recognise the fact that art fairs play an important role in cultural and creative industries, Hui says. “In Hong Kong everything is market-driven, so the government doesn’t have to think. But if the government can provide appropriate support and let the private sector grow, the impact could be bigger,” Hui says. “A city’s cultural infrastructure does not equal the commercialisation of art.” Hong Kong government statistics released this month shed light on the attraction of building a cultural industry. Cultural and creative industries were worth HK$89.6 billion in 2011, 4.7 per cent of gross domestic product and a marked increase on their 3.8 share in 2005. Amid general growth in the number of art fairs, the Art, Antiques and Crafts sector was ranked as the third most lucrative cultural and creative industry, generating just over HK$10 billion – almost double the HK$5.4 billion recorded in 2007, the year before Art HK made its debut. It’s inevitable that other cities are doing their best to replicate such growth. Taking Singapore as an example, the government proactively supported the Art Stage Singapore fair in January. The Singapore government also offers overseas galleries the use of the historic Gillman Barracks, a contemporary art site put together by the government’s Economic Development Board. A tax-free zone has been created to draw auction business away from Hong Kong, while government bodies such as the National Arts Council and the Singapore Tourism Board actively co-operate to generate a creative buzz. Art critic John Batten says an art fair can draw the attention of outsiders and also takes on a wider public perception – thereby adding something to the city. But while a successful fair can serve as a branding tool for a city and draw cultural events to take place around it, it also needs the city, he adds. “The art scene wants to associate with Art Basel. But a good art fair also wants to associate with a city – an art fair wants to be seen as part of the fabric of a city,” Batten says. Art Basel Asia director Magnus Renfrew says that rather than simply being a forum for the trading of artworks, an art fair shares both cultural and commercial functions. He wants the art fair to form a positive relationship with Hong Kong, and even serve as an ambassador for the city. “Art fairs can help promote a city as a cultural destination. We want to benefit the cultural scene in Hong Kong. We are not just bringing audiences to discover the city, but also curators and museum directors,” he says. “There is this increasing recognition of Hong Kong as a major centre, not just for the trading of art, but also as a networking and meeting place for the international art world. The fair helps build the brand of Hong Kong as a cultural and financial hub.” Renfrew recognises that cities also hope to ride on the back of art fairs to promote themselves. “It’s very natural for a host city of an art fair to use this opportunity to demonstrate their cultural strength. Governments are more aware of the importance of art fairs [as] key events of the cultural calendar. Culture is an important part of the identity of a city, and art fairs can play a strong PR role,” he says. But, Hui says, other cities such as Taipei and Tokyo, which host art fairs on a different scale, can benefit from a more established cultural infrastructure – the network of public and private institutions that cultivate creativity – than Hong Kong, Singapore, or mainland Chinese cities. Take, for example, March’s Art Fair Tokyo. It may not be the most glamorous event on the arts calendar, but it is able to showcase local art to a local audience already familiar with the subject from the city’s museums and other cultural institutions. Surrounding the fair is the Roppongi Art Night, an all-night art happening in the hip Roppongi Hills area. A smaller contemporary art fair, G-Tokyo, is held concurrently. These events, crowded with local youngsters, offer a different side of Tokyo to visitors. “There’s a long history of art in Japan. The Japanese like to appreciate art with their own taste. We don’t have to follow the global trend,” says Art Fair Tokyo’s executive director Takahiro Kaneshima. Kaneshima says many young art fairs in the region look up to Art Basel and Frieze, a contemporary art fair in London and New York. But by achieving a “global standard”, he says, they end up featuring the same galleries and the same artists. “We try to make our own style of art fair. It doesn’t make sense to have just another Art Basel,” he says. “The rich can go to Switzerland and Hong Kong. We feel that we should make a fair that is more interesting locally.” Kaneshima says he wants his fair to be a platform for local artists and collectors, and make art accessible. This year’s fair attracted 44,000 visitors viewing art works brought by 136 galleries – almost all of them from Japan. The balance is in stark contrast to Art Basel Hong Kong, where half of the galleries came from the West. “I always think; why doesn’t our fair have big international galleries? But the truth is, few people here are interested in them,” he says. “We should learn about the global context, but Asia has different aesthetics. We want to show and create our own. For Asian people, it’s nice to have this kind of ‘global’ art fair …but isn’t such a Western-style strategy some kind of colonisation?” Kaneshima says it is inevitable that art fairs will follow a western model. But he believes creating a uniquely Asian system is important. Japan’s economic troubles of the past two decades have been a wake-up call to collectors and artists, he says. They now take time to sell works of art through galleries and there is more effort to cultivate talent. “It takes five years to sell an expensive sculpture, and it takes 20 years to make an artist,” he says. Internationally popular Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is in Hong Kong for a solo exhibition of his new works at Central’s Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong. He says that today’s art fairs and the market are vibrant. “When I debuted [in the international scene] 20 years ago, I hoped for such conditions,” the artist says. “But young people misunderstood the concept of making money. Auctions put up the prices [of art works] in a short time, but there’s also a short lifespan for artists.” Murakami is helping the next generation of artists. He “coaches” emerging artists under his company, KaiKai Kiki, ensuring they create art with a “healthy” mentality so that the money goes into the pockets of the artists’ families as well as the artists themselves, reducing the temptation for them to blow their new-found wealth. In 2002, he founded the GEISAI Operation, an art fair offering emerging Japanese artists a taste of the art market. The development of Tokyo’s largely homegrown art fair scene contrasts starkly to that of Hong Kong and other cities, which have a weaker cultural infrastructure and rely on foreign-run fairs. The concern is that the interest of foreigners in a city can be transient. “Foreigners bring the Western style to Hong Kong, which serves as a platform for them. But what if they move away from Hong Kong?” Hui asks. This worries artist and critic Anthony Leung Po-shan. She believes the vibrant art scene – a parade of glamorous openings, parties and free-flowing champagne – is in fact sending an alarming signal to the city. “It is a new form of globalisation,” Leung says. “Contemporary art becomes a tool, the best social occasion for global elites. It is not about the cultural diversity that [UN cultural body] Unesco advocates. Contemporary art becomes a new label, like Louis Vuitton, that people are after.” Leung worries that such globalisation of culture through the contagious art fairs obsession will eventually undermine or even extinguish most indigenous local craft and cultures in Asia in the long run. In fact, Britain is already experiencing such a phenomenon, with officials deciding that the country’s age-old craft industries no longer warrant inclusion within its creative industries. While the British contemporary art scene has blossomed, last month Britain’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport released a consultation paper proposing to remove craft as a category within the creative industries as “most craft businesses are too small to identify in business survey data … we’ve not been able to provide gross value added data”. Leung says the growth of the culture sector in Hong Kong is mainly in contemporary art, while traditional art forms stagnate. “Will it kill the local art forms? It depends on the local authorities,” she says. “Art fairs create great synergies. The positive side is that these fairs help widen the spectrum of arts and culture. But with this developmental-state mentality dominating Asia, and creative industries becoming state policy, Asia becomes a place that is just about making money. Art fairs then become a merger not just of culture, but also of capital. Cities have to beware of art fairs.”


Fabien Merelle Sculpture

A sculpture by French artist Fabien Merelle at the Hong Kong Statue Square. It sold for 250,000 euros to a Southeast Asian collector. Photographer: Frederik Balfour/Bloomberg

Jolie Gems, Warhol, Wine Lure Billionaires to Hong Kong

By Frederik Balfour on May 22, 2013

Hong Kong is taking center stage on the global conspicuous-consumption circuit this week as billionaires descend on the city to choose from Angelina Jolie’s diamonds, Andy Warhol’s paintings and bottles of Romanee-Conti.

In what promises to be a champagne-fuelled 10 days, the city will see billions of dollars of contemporary art, wine, jewelry and snuff bottles go on sale.

Anchoring, what is informally referred to as Hong Kong art week, is Art Basel Hong Kong which opens to the public tomorrow. VIPs at today’s preview included Kate Moss; Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova; and Jeffrey Deitch director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

“I am very happy this year,” said gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin who was beaming after spending time showing works of Takashi Murakami to Abramovich. Though the Russian hasn’t yet settled on a purchase, Perrotin sold out 10 Murakami fiberglass figures in the first few hours of the preview at $135,000 each.

Others share his enthusiasm.

“There is high anticipation as opposed to last year when everyone was holding his breath,” said Jasdeep Sandhu, director of Singapore-based Gajah Gallery, which is selling a new painting by I. Nyoman Masriadi for $350,000.

Dozens of galleries are taking advantage of the influx of well-heeled visitors to host openings, dinners and parties.

Four Dinners

“I’m attending four dinners tonight but I won’t sit down at any of them,” said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. “I’ll eat while I’m in the car.”

At the Pedder Building, six galleries held simultaneous vernissages last night. Gagosian opened with a show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, Pearl Lam has Chinese abstract painter Zhu Jinshi. Hanart TZ Gallery is featuring ink-on-paper works by Qiu Zhijie, while Lehmann Maupin has hung embroideries and neon by Tracey Emin.

“We’ve got a security guard to manage the crowd,” Lehmann Maupin partner Courtney Plummer said before yesterday’s opening. “It’s a great problem to have.”

A few blocks away, on two floors of a retro-1930s building designed by Robert Stern, White Cube held a party to mark the opening of a show by Jake & Dinos Chapman. On the 17th floor, Murakami held court at his opening at Galerie Perrotin.

Balancing Act

Earlier, Galerie Malingue put on show in Hong Kong’s Statue Square a larger-than-life statue by Fabien Merelle. The French sculptor portrays himself balancing an elephant on his back. Numbered one in a series of three, it has already been sold to a private Southeast Asian collector for 250,000 euros ($322,770).

Wendi Deng Murdoch is hosting a party tonight at the Asia Society to promote her art website Artsy, while New World Development scion Adrian Cheng is holding a party at the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt hotel(owned by his family) in honor of his K11 Art Foundation.

Ground zero for the week’s selling extravaganza is Art Basel Hong itself which opened its doors to VIPs at noon.

Rebranded this year as Art Basel Hong Kong, the fair formerly known as Hong Kong International Art Fair, is trying to maintain its distinctly regional flavor, with more than 50 percent of the 245 exhibitors coming from Asia and Asia-Pacific while focusing more attention on deep-pocketed visitors.

“Three years ago we had one person handling VIP relations,” said Art Basel Director Asia Magnus Renfrew. “Now we have 25 around the world and nine in Asia.”

Warhol Dollars

The fair features a strong showing of European and U.S. heavyweights too. First-time exhibitor Dominique Levy Gallery from New York is selling Warhol dollar-sign works priced from $500,000 to $6 million and Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska is featuring pneumatic figure paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero.

Christie’s is holding its spring marathon of eight sales including contemporary Asian art, ceramics, jewelry, watches and wine from May 23-29 with a presale estimate of HK$1.3 billion ($167 million).

On May 24, Hong Kong-based Tiancheng International sells an antique diamond choker belonging to Angelina Jolie estimated at HK$4 million to HK$6 million in a charity auction to benefit Education Partnership for Children in Conflict.

Sotheby’s (BID) is selling 270 lots of snuff bottles on May 27, and fine watches on May 28.

At tonight’s Bonhams wine sale at the Island Shangri-La Hotel, an estimated HK$12 million of wine, cognac and whisky go under the hammer, including a bottle of Macallan 1946 (aged 56 years in oak barrels) that may fetch as much as HK$320,000.

The top lot of the sale contains six bottles of Romanee-Conti with a high estimate of HK$620,000.

Art Basel Hong Kong runs from May 23 to May 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The lead sponsor is Deutsche Bank AG.


(Frederik Balfour is a reporter-at-large for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on New York dining and Amanda Gordon’s Scene Last Night.

Editors: Mark Beech, Richard Vines.



Hong Kong Finds Its Footing in Art World

Thomas Lee for the International Herald Tribune

Visitors at the booth of Galerie Gmurzynska at last year’s Art HK fair, the precursor to Art Basel Hong Kong.

Published: May 22, 2013
As Art Basel inaugurates its first fair in the Far East on Thursday, it will not only be staking its claim to a growing market for contemporary and modern art, but also bolstering Hong Kong’s position as the dominant art hub of Asia.
Courtesy of Jitish Kallat and ARNDT Berlin

Jitish Kallat’s “Allegory of the Unfolding Sky” is on display at Art Basel’s inaugural fair in Hong Kong.

With the show, which features 245 galleries at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center through Sunday, the Art Basel Group has not strayed from its predecessor’s goal of staging an Asia-focused event. “I know there was an initial fear that Basel would just make a copy of what they do in Switzerland and Miami,” said Magnus Renfrew, Art Basel’s director for Asia and the founder of Art HK, the precursor to Art Basel in Hong Kong. “But we’ve maintained our original mission. A majority of galleries are still from the Asia-Pacific region.” Many galleries in the region had indeed expressed fears that they would be pushed out of the event in favor of bigger, global names in the art world. While the presence of international galleries has certainly increased, the fair has put a spotlight on regional galleries in its Insights section, which features projects developed specifically for the Hong Kong show. Art Basel is also continuing its tradition of presenting large-scale works from leading international artists in the Encounters section. This year’s selections, curated by Yoku Hasegawa of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, will feature 17 artists, including the Shanghai-based MadeIn Company, the Indian artist Jitish Kallat and the New Zealand-based artist Seung Yul Oh. There was little a decade ago to presage that Hong Kong would draw so many galleries, artists and collectors. When Art HK, the precursor to Art Basel Hong Kong founded by Mr. Renfrew, had its premiere in 2008, much of the art world viewed the city as little more than a gateway to the more artistically flourishing centers of Beijing and Shanghai. Demand for Chinese art was soaring at the time, and although Sotheby’s and Christie’s had already established presences in Hong Kong — international auction houses were not permitted to operate independently on the mainland — many of the city’s arts representatives were turned toward the blossoming arts centers of mainland China. The Hong Kong gallery offerings were little better. Save for a few veterans like Hanart TZ Gallery, which opened in 1983, and Osage Gallery, established in 2004, contemporary art galleries in the city were dealing largely with commercial art and offering few platforms on which artists could thrive. But Hong Kong has experienced an arts renaissance in the past few years, and the city now has 80 contemporary art galleries, according to Art Asia Pacific Magazine, with reputable dealers including Ben Brown Fine Arts, Gagosian, White Cube and Lehmann Maupin opening outposts in the city. For the economist Clare McAndrew, the author of a market report for the European Fine Art Fair this year in Maastricht, the Netherlands, Hong Kong’s free market and its lack of taxes on imports or exports of art have contributed to drawing these foreign galleries. The local government, meanwhile, has announced plans to invest 21.6 billion Hong Kong dollars, or about $2.8 billion, in a new arts hub, the West Kowloon Cultural District, where the M+ contemporary art museum is scheduled to open in 2017. Some of these developments have been in play for years, but many arts specialists credit the success of the Art HK fair, and its takeover in 2011 by the international giant Art Basel, with strengthening Hong Kong’s position as the artistic hub of Asia. “The acquisition of Art HK by Art Basel has unquestionably cemented the city’s position as a mandatory destination for collectors, curators and critics in the global art circuit,” said Nick Simunovic, director of the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong. For Courtney Plummer, director of Lehmann Maupin’s Hong Kong space, which opened in March this year, the idea of a Hong Kong gallery matured over time. “It really was a natural progression,” she said of the gallery’s decision to open in the city. “But we did notice that Hong Kong was in the air a lot, with the auctions, the opening of the Asia Society and the fair itself. The fair did not directly influence our decision to come, but it certainly made it clear to us that people love coming to Hong Kong.” In 2012, China had a 25 percent share of the global art market, much of it based in Hong Kong. The city is now the third-largest art auction center in the world, after New York and London, and Sotheby’s Hong Kong alone had sales of more than 7.8 billion dollars in 2011. Some major players in the Hong Kong art world caution against overstating the reputation the city had for many years as a “cultural desert,” however. Mr. Renfrew of Art Basel said that this “was the prevailing thought” when he was scouting in Hong Kong in 2007 but that it “was an unfair assessment.” “There were many different organizations, like Asia Art Archives and Para/Site, who were contributing to the city’s cultural life,” he said, referring to a regional cultural research organization founded in 2000 in Hong Kong and to a contemporary space founded in 1996 that is run by artists. “There were also a number of strong galleries, like Hanart and Osage, who had strong programming that was different from the purely commercial objectives of the city’s established antiques galleries,” he continued. “I see the city’s artistic developments as happening more in parallel with the fair.” Central to that development are Hong Kong’s protections of free speech and a culture of openness and critical thinking, said Robin Peckham, the founding director of Saamlung, a small project space and gallery in the Central district of Hong Kong. Mr. Peckham moved to the city from Beijing in 2009. “I was attracted by the more scholarly approaches in the working methodologies of artists in Hong Kong, and the broader culture of research in the art world,” he explained. “Hong Kong is already more significant than Beijing and Shanghai: the transparency of the gallery and auction business, the possibilities of serious curatorial research offered by M+ and AAA — none of that exists elsewhere in China.” Once Hong Kong’s art fairs and galleries shined a global spotlight on the city, the local government took notice. “We were seen mainly as a commercial enterprise, so they were not familiar with the cultural significance of an event like ours,” Mr. Renfrew explained. “But I think the local government has since been greatly encouraged by the success of the fair. Fair attendance has risen from 19,000 visitors our first year to 67,000 visitors last year. They realize now that there is a hunger for contemporary art from the local populace.” The city, which posted a surplus of 64.9 billion dollars in the most recent fiscal year, has embarked on an ambitious plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District, which will include 60,000 square meters, or 645,000 square feet, of exhibition space at the M+ contemporary arts museum. Lars Nittve, a former director of the Tate Modern in London and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, has been appointed executive director of the museum and Pi Li, a major figure in the Chinese art world, a senior curator. “The interest in Hong Kong developing a major institution has become stronger as a result of the fair and all the other developments throughout the city,” Mr. Nittve said of Art HK and its successor. “The perception of Hong Kong, and its position in the region as a major art hub, has been strengthened.” For some, however, the influx of international galleries like Gagosian and White Cube presents a risk to local artists and galleries because they often focus on global heavyweights like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol, rather than on local artists. While this is sometimes true — Gagosian did have a Damien Hirst show last year at its space in the Pedder Building — the galleries are generally viewed as bringing fresh air, money and new collectors to the city. “The increased presence of international galleries is a very positive thing for Hong Kong,” Mr. Renfrew said. “They have raised the level of artistic programming and introduced major international artists to the city.” Not least, the changing landscape has encouraged local galleries to deepen their programming in the city. Tang Contemporary and 10 Chancery Lane are just two of the driving forces behind Art East Island, a series of exhibitions held in a warehouse building on the eastern reaches of Hong Kong Island. Past exhibitions have included an Ai Weiwei show and a Dinh Q. Le solo project. The spotlight that comes with each gallery opening, and with prominent fairs like Art Basel Hong Kong, could also presage good things for local artists. “There are dozens of great artists working in Hong Kong who for many years were more or less overshadowed by the developments in mainland China,” said Mr. Simunovic of the Gagosian Gallery. “As the cultural community grows,” he continued, “I think you will see Hong Kong-based artists rise to greater prominence.”


Arts & Leisure


Posted on May 21, 2013 05:34:52 PM

Art Basel to bring international flair to Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Art lovers, collectors and gallerists will gather on Thursday for Hong Kong’s inaugural edition of Art Basel, sealing the city’s status as an international art hub and Asia’s leading art destination.

The Hanart TZ Gallery, which showcases Chinese contemporary art, will be exhibiting at Art Basel Asia, in Hong Kong. — AFP

The four-day annual show is the world’s premier art fair and has until now only been held in Switzerland and the United States each year. More than 2,000 international artists and 245 leading art galleries will come together for the event to be held in the city’s waterfront convention center. “Art Basel really helps to affirm in people’s minds the status of Hong Kong as the art destination in Asia,” Art Basel Asia Director Magnus Renfrew told AFP. It replaces Art HK, Hong Kong’s former art fair which was set up in 2008 and recently taken over by the high-profile Swiss Art Basel franchise which has been showcasing modern and contemporary art since 1970. “It really helps to take this from being a fair of regional significance to one of global significance,” says Renfrew, who also headed Art HK. “The quality of application this year was far greater than what we received previously, it’s getting more difficult to get in.” Renfrew and his team are predicting huge growth potential in the Asian art scene and are expecting a greater presence from collectors from outside Asia. “There’s clearly a huge potential in Asia, there are now more billionaires in Asia than there are in Europe,” says Renfrew, adding that 25 VIP relations managers have been deployed around the world to drive VIP traffic to the fair. Better known as a fast-paced commercial hub which is home to global banks and designer brands, Hong Kong’s reputation as a thriving center for art collectors has only been established in the last few years. It has surged to third place in the global art auction market behind New York and London and Western galleries are falling over each other to open franchises in the former British colony. The sudden boom in the international art presence in Hong Kong has come largely thanks to the explosion of personal wealth among mainland Chinese who are investing in art and a growing interest among collectors for different types of art aside from traditional works. Since Art Basel acquired Art HK in 2011, 11 galleries have opened up in Hong Kong hoping to tap into the growing international art presence, Renfrew said. “I think the cultural ecology of Hong Kong is really starting to come together,” he said. Gagosian, White Cube, Acquavella, Lehmann Maupin and Pearl Lam are just some of the big-name galleries to have arrived in the city in the past two years, despite sky-high rents. The local art scene is also buzzing with the government’s development of a massive art and culture district on the harbor in Kowloon where contemporary art museum M+ is expected to boast a world-class art selection. International art stars are launching shows at major galleries in the city to coincide with Art Basel and tap into the current cultural buzz. Controversial British siblings Jake and Dinos Chapman — known as the Chapman brothers — will be opening an exhibition at White Cube on Tuesday, their first exhibition in China. Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami will launch a show at the French Galerie Perrotin on the same day. Art Basel’s four main sections at the Hong Kong show will focus on significant works from the past 100 years, projects specially developed for the show and large-scale sculptural and installation pieces. Selected emerging contemporary artists will also vie for a $25,000 prize. The city’s Hanart TZ Gallery, which showcases Chinese contemporary art, will be exhibiting at the show and is hoping to push its own reputation beyond its regional fan base. “With Art Basel, the promise is that the international is being brought to Hong Kong,” Johnson Chang, the gallery’s curatorial director, told AFP. Chang is hoping the show will help his artists reach global collectors and spark “new interest, new business and new connections.” Hong Kong has already made international art headlines this year with thousands of people flocking to see a giant rubber duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman floating in the city’s famous Victoria Harbor. It also hosted a major Andy Warhol exhibition which received more than 200,000 visitors during its three-month run. — AFP

Manila galleries participating in Art Basel HK

FOUR MANILA galleries will be participating in Art Basel Hong Kong which will run from May 23 to 26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. They are: Silverlens and The Drawing Room under the “Galleries” category, and Manila Contemporary and ArtInformal in the “Insights” category. Silverlens will be presenting five of its represented artists: Mariano Ching, Patricia Perez Eustaquio, Gary-Ross Pastrana, Rachel Rillo, and Maria Taniguchi. The Drawing Room will be presenting new works by Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Gaston Damag, Kawayan De Guia, Jose Legaspi and Mark Salvatus. Manila Contemporary will present new works by painter Winner Jumalon, while ArtInformal will be presenting works by Pam Yan Santos and Marina Cruz.



Chapman brothers unveil diabolical art in Hong Kong

The Chapman brothers presented their latest epic installation featuring thousands of little figures in violent conflict Tuesday at the sidelines of Art Basel in Hong Kong, but dismissed the renowned fair as a “shop”.

A close up view of “The Sum of all Evil” by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman. The installation — which showcases miniature Nazis soldiers in various states of diabolical torment — is on display at Hong Kong’s White Cube gallery from May 21, 2013.

“The Sum of all Evil” by Jake and Dinos Chapman builds on previous works such as “Hell” (1999) which showcased innumerous miniature Nazis soldiers in various states of diabolical torment.

Their ambitions to use themes of war, genocide, the apocalypse and the evils of mass consumerism come in the form of tiny, tortured Nazi soldiers, skeletons and bloody corpses, and crucified Ronald McDonalds, the mascot of the fast food giant.

“I don’t want to think that making art or works of art are the pioneering objects of capitalistic markets, which ultimately they are, but I don’t really want to think about that,” Jake Chapman told AFP at Hong Kong’s White Cube gallery, as he unveiled the siblings’ first exhibition in China.

“One of the ways in which we proof our work from being implicated in that process is to make the work as awful as we can, so it can’t be mistaken for anything positive — it’s as cynical and pessimistic and anti-human as possible,” he said.

The four-day annual Art Basel show, the world’s premier art fair that is enjoying its inaugural showing in Hong Kong, is offering a crowded platform for around 2,000 international artists to promote and sell their work.

Nothing could be further from the artistic vision of the London-based pair, Jake Chapman insisted to AFP.

“If you’re an artist I think you allow yourself the privilege of believing that what you do is something to do with producing culture, rather than commodities,” he said, adding it was “best (to) keep away” from the massive fair happening nearby — dismissing the gathering as “a big shop”.

Art is, in fact, “to do with producing commodities and not culture”, he admitted, “but you don’t have to force yourself into the awful truth of it by going to art fairs”.


Roast-Duck Vodka, Anyone?

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Skull for dessert? A Damien Hirst-inspired creation at the Mandarin Grill in Hong Kong

Where to eat, drink and be merry during Art Basel in Hong Kong? We pick three artful spots:

In a Fringe Club basement formerly used for ice storage, experience the world of artist Adrian Wong at his immersive installation “Wun Dun” (“cosmic gour in Cantonese). The Absolut Vodka pop-up bar shakes up visitors with drinks inspired by Hong Kong flavors (try the stiff roast-duck vodka served with a fresh bok choy leaf), colorful neon fish tanks, a cast of characters that includes a Star Ferry captain, a soundtrack courtesy of a furry robot backing band and an elderly Cantonese opera singer turned karaoke crooner.

After scoping out the Asia Society’s show of artist groups from China, sit down at sleek museum restaurant Ammo, sited in a former munitions depot. Can’t get a booking? Swing by for afternoon tea.

The Mandarin Oriental hotel isn’t just sponsoring Art Basel; it’s also hosting works from “Hong Kong Eye” at its mezzanine Clipper Lounge. Over at the Mandarin Grill, chef Uwe Opocensky is serving up culinary homages to artists from Andy Warhol (Campbell’s-based tomato soup) to Damien Hirst (a chocolate-skull dessert sprinkled with hundreds and thousands).



Looking to run into a billionaire art lover or gallery owner at Hong Kong’s new Art Basel? Much of the air kissing and champagne swilling takes place off site, as VIPs land in the city in droves.

In Hong Kong, Art Basel organizers hope to replicate the social scene of its Miami Beach and Basel events. Here, Paris Hilton, left, poses at a Moncler anniversary party in December at Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Getty Images for Moncler

In case you missed rubbing elbows with superdealer Larry Gagosian and Indonesian collector Deddy Kusama at the Asia Society’s Art Gala on Monday, you’ll find much of the same crowd at Duddell’s, where a high-end Cantonese restaurant and Ilse Crawford-designed lounge meet exhibitions curated by the likes of Ai Weiwei (works aren’t for sale). Booked back-to-back throughout the fair, the space this weekend sees a private dinner hosted by Beijing’s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art and an after party hosted by Paris’s Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Meanwhile, high-rolling individuals are pulling out the stops for their own fetes, from Adrian Cheng’s Art Basel vernissage after party at the Grand Hyatt on Wednesday to collector Richard Chang’s Thursday event at club-lounge Fly. Co-hosted by Dee Poon, daughter of Harvey Nichols department store owner Dickson Poon, the evening will also feature Chinese art duo Birdhead as the official photographer of the night. While most Hong Kong galleries unveil their exhibitions on Wednesday, Galerie Ora-Ora is staging a yacht party for the Art Basel elite the next day. Owner Henrietta Tsui said response has been so strong that she’s now taking two trips, each a group of 50, on her family’s 80-foot yacht to cruise Victoria Harbor and take in Hong Kong’s skyline. “I’m a local gallery trying to reach out to the international crowd,” she said. The most coveted invitation of the weekend? Saturday’s Art Basel closing party hosted by Yana Peel, founder of the debate series Intelligence Squared. The event takes place at the Jumbo Seafood Restaurant, the gilded floating palace in the middle of Aberdeen Harbor on Hong Kong’s south side.


Where to Find Hong Kong Art During Art Basel

Getty Images

‘House of Treasures’ by Chinese contemporary artist Cao Fei, part of the Mobile M+: Inflation! exhibition at the future West Kowloon Cultural District. See more photos

Years before the West Kowloon Cultural District opens, Hong Kong’s art scene is still something of a treasure hunt.

Start at West Kowloon’s harborfront site: The city’s museum for visual culture M+ (projected opening: 2017) is making its presence felt with “Mobile M+: Inflation!(through June 9), a crowd-drawing exhibition of six large-scale inflatable sculptures that include an outsize suckling pig by Cao Fei, a giant cockroach by Otto Li and Paul McCarthy’s scatological “Complex Pile.”

Para/Site, Yale University, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library

‘Portrait no 48.Yang Kang,’ 1830-1850, by Lam Qua, part of a Para/Site exhibition marking a decade after SARS.

Next, head to a former abattoir in Kowloon’s old town center, where the Burger Collection has joined forces with artist-run collective 1a Space for “I Think It Rains (through June 30), the second of four experimental shows in its “Quadrilogy” series. On display are works by 20-odd artists and writers, from pop lyricist Chow Yiu Fai to conceptual-based artist Vittorio Santoro, while Friday sees a full day of “real time” art, including participatory performances by Wen Yau, Reds Cheung and Lau Ching Ping.

Back on Hong Kong island, “A Journal of the Plague Year(through July 20) marks the 10th anniversary of the SARS epidemic, as well as the suicide of Cantopop star Leslie Cheung, with a series of installations that have already generated headlines. Among them are Lee Kit’s melancholy karaoke room dedicated to Mr. Cheung, a ghostly video by Apichatpong Weerasethakul screened in a 1970s tenement, and Ai Weiwei’s baby milk-formula bottles configured as a floor-based map.

Over in the corporate Island East complex, survey show “Hong Kong Eye(through May 31) spotlights more than 60 works on home turf after debuting at London’s Saatchi Gallery last year. Pieces on display range from Chow Chun Fai’s painted film stills to a warped life-size taxi sculpture by Amy Cheung, but the real gem is the hefty 408-page catalog, complete with essays by curator Johnson Chang and critic Anthony Leung.

On nearby Oil Street, just a stone’s throw from the erstwhile Oil Street artist village, new government-run space Oi opens on Wednesday in a red-brick building that dates to 1908. Works by four artists explore themes of water and space (through Aug. 18), including a mist installation by mainland Chinese artist Yuan Gong and a video and sound work by Tsang Kin-Wah that uses footage from Japan’s 2011 tsunami.

Back west, conceptual artist Warren Leung Chi Wo occupies tiny 2P Gallery with “Bright Light has Much the Same Effect as Ice (through June 11), a tongue-in-cheek look at Hong Kong’s coldest recorded temperature in 1893. For the record, it was zero degrees Celsius.



Is Hong Kong ready for contemporary art?

Posted: 22 May 2013
That is the question. At a time when our city has been taken over by art more passionately and comprehensively than ever before, Edmund Lee takes stock of the conflicting notions that are shaping our future. In Hong Kong, circa May 2013, it seems reasonable to start the exploration of any topic with reference to a rubber duck. But in the context of our city’s art scene, it takes on a relevance all the more poignant than a mere passing allusion to Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s 16.5m-tall Rubber Duck, which is presently braving the polluted waters of Victoria Harbour. In the glorious days of our toy industry in the 1970s, rubber ducks were one of the major earners for Hong Kong, yet conspicuously absent from the homes of 99 percent of our population. And so it is the case with our abrupt rise towards the pinnacle of the global art market in the past few years, which certainly hasn’t been sufficiently reflected in the maturity of the art-viewing public. Hong Kong is a great gathering point for money, which art always follows. The odyssey for it to become a legitimate art capital, however, is only starting now. Here are some of the major issues that we must address, negotiate or generally begin to grapple with… Being a leading art market vs Becoming an art-conscious city As if you didn’t know, Hong Kong’s art market is flourishing. Some 67,000 people flocked to last year’s ART HK, compared to 19,000 during its first edition in 2008. There has been an expanding army of smaller fairs, like the recent Affordable Art Fair, to offer ‘cheaper’ pieces that are priced below $100,000. And our fair city has, somehow, grown to become the world’s third largest art market by auction sales. Indeed, in terms of business, it has been a period of exponential growth. But does this boom necessarily coincide with an increase in public awareness when it comes to contemporary art? “Absolutely,” says Claire Hsu, co-founder and executive director of the Asia Art Archive. “When we began over a decade ago, we had to beg people to come to our programmes and were lucky to get 10 people for a talk. Now we can easily get a full house with one email to the mailing list. We had about 7,000 people visit the Song Dong exhibition in January in under three weeks, and the staggering [attendance] figures at the art fair every year show people’s hunger to see contemporary art.” Magnus Renfrew, the director Asia of Art Basel who has closely witnessed our evolving art market over the past few years, agrees that things are turning for the better: “One learns about art through having the opportunity to see it, and I think historically in Hong Kong, there had been very few opportunities to see modern and contemporary art in an institutional setting. But that’s changing.” It is indeed a great time to be an avid art audience in Hong Kong. Aside from the fairs and auctions, local galleries specialising in contemporary art are growing more established by the year, while more multinational galleries are opening branches here than ever before. Just as an impressive diversity of non-commercial exhibition producers are emerging across the city (from the Asia Society to Oi!, the awkwardly titled new community art space at 12 Oil Street), the curatorial team behind M+ – the visual culture museum to be opening in late 2017 at the 40-hectare West Kowloon Cultural District – has been making great strides in assembling a collection to rival some of the world’s best. So all in all, what else could hold back Hong Kong’s ferocious climb up the art world ladder? An open mind vs The legacy of Hong Kong education When the M+ museum acquired 1,510 artworks from Swiss collector Uli Sigg’s legendary collection of Chinese contemporary art in September, the irrefutable coup was met with generally positive responses from most cities in which art matters – except right here in our city, where the reception was decidedly mixed and more than a few people questioned the quality of the works. Putting aside the debatable view that we might have overpaid for the collection, it’s hard to shake the impression that any informed and sensible discussion is simply way off the cards as our city continues to be run by generations of people who finished their education without ever encountering the notion of art history. In the February 2 episode of leading channel TVB Jade’s programme News Magazine (which was subtly titled Art – Rubbish), the oil painter Lin Minggang – the chairman of the Hong Kong Oil Painting Research Society who issued an open letter to condemn the Sigg Collection as ‘rubbish’ – elaborated on his philosophy. “Some of these works are nonsensical. Some are the opposite of art. There are, however, some people who do their utmost to promote and push these works,” bemoaned the conservative artist, who later added: “An artwork should give pleasure to the viewer. It should make you feel comfortable.” If Lin’s understanding of modern art is outdated by a century, so it appears to be the case of the television programme’s writer, who at one point enlightened the public by declaring – with reference to a Zhang Peili glove painting – that ‘one of the major characteristics of contemporary art is perhaps its incomprehensibility’. As if confirming that we’re indeed far behind the rest of the art world, the show then channelled Duchamp and played party pooper at this year’s Fotanian Open Studios by asking the visitors – including a bemused William Lim, the dedicated collector of Hong Kong art and co-chairman of Para/Site Art Space – if a mug for brushing teeth was an artwork. The casual preference of this mainstream television programme to find a clear-cut definition of the object over considering its origin, context or even the creative process reflects the jarring lack of art knowledge even in the most prominent of media. To the cynics, this is but a natural extension of our ingrained culture to find a model answer in everything. You see a porcelain urinal and you get a porcelain urinal. Simple. Artistic excellence vs Political consideration The stilted perspective presented by the programme didn’t end with its meditation on a ready-made object, however. After highlighting the negative coverage on the Sigg Collection in the Mainland and the pro-Beijing local press, it went on to pull out a controversial quote from the respected cultural critic Oscar Ho, who went on camera to dismiss the importance of Chinese contemporary art. “With a collection of such things, how meaningful would it be to put them in Hong Kong?” he asked, before adding: “Not only to Hong Kong, but these works are meaningless to the Chinese people too. Most of the people in China have no idea what these works are about.” The mainland Chinese population has certainly had little appreciation of the politically sensitive works on Mao and Tiananmen. But even if we pretend for a moment that artists such as Ai Weiwei, Fang Lijun and Zhang Peili weren’t already notable throughout the art world, is it by itself a valid reason to dismiss the group of historically important works that are finding a home here – precisely due to our freedom of expression – solely because they were severely censored in their place of origin over the decades? What are the odds that one can tie up art and politics in any constructive conversation when the country in question is still prohibiting the showing of iconic works like Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings of Mao – as is the case with the touring exhibition Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal, which is currently at Shanghai’s state-owned Power Station of Art before its next stop in Beijing? It’s disheartening to see the way our art development is scattered with comical putdowns by people in power, who, despite being well into middle age, may be coming across contemporary art meaningfully for the first time in their lives. Following the claim of Christopher Chung Shu-kun, chairman of the Joint Subcommittee to Monitor the Implementation of the West Kowloon Cultural District Project, that dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s middle finger to Tiananmen ‘can’t be considered art because even children can do that’, lawmaker Chan Kam-lam merely added to the idiocy by stating that political works ‘are not works of art’. If half of these many outrageous claims were meant for building up Hong Kong art instead of putting it down, we could well be in for something special. In a society that’s accustomed to polite applause instead of true and informed critical voices, however, it’s reasonable to conclude that Hong Kong simply doesn’t have the mature cultural atmosphere for its own art scene to really blossom yet. At a recent forum in Wan Chai’s Foo Tak Building to discuss the obstacles facing Hong Kong contemporary art, artist/scholar Anthony Leung Po-shan cited the 2009 transformation of the Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition to the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards as an illustration of the effects of the colonial political principle of ‘fairness’. By turning the biennial into a competition, it ensures a sense of fairness to the selection process. And where will that lead us? Artist development vs A lack of meaningful critique While there’s an enviable degree of artistic freedom in Hong Kong when compared to the Mainland, what we lack sorely is a culture of professional art criticism that could effectively give the artists an honest assessment on their practice – an essential part of the art ecology to situate the art created into a larger discourse. Good critics usually make good curators, but when critics are largely absent and artists begin to regard staying in the profession as a triumph in itself, it becomes increasingly difficult for Hong Kong art to rise above its sideshow status to the city’s prospering market. According to Cosmin Costinas, the executive director of Para/Site Art Space, there’s been a sense around here that the recent growth in our art scene ‘can lead to other opportunities – and not just in terms of [the operation of] commercial galleries’. “For some of the artists in Hong Kong, I think they need to make bolder decisions,” says the curator. “Now, both the galleries and all of us – including the non-profits and institutional – are trying to build something in Hong Kong. But I think it’s important to hear more loudly the voice of the artists.” And it’s not like a platform hasn’t been set for Hong Kong art to finally take the spotlight. As the first major Hong Kong contemporary art exhibition outside the city since 2007’s Horizons at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the recent Hong Kong Eye showcase at London’s Saatchi Gallery attracted more than 200,000 visitors over its duration. The show’s co-curator Johnson Chang, who famously brought Chinese contemporary art to the world with his landmark exhibition China’s New Art Post-1989 in the early 1990s, told us ahead of the London showing last December: “The ‘export’ of art suggests influence. It builds self confidence and builds bridges of connection, which are very necessary for Hong Kong art now.” Speaking of the fundamental improvements that are required of our art scene, artist Lam Tung-pang says: “I believe the turning point could arrive when local entrepreneurs and private foundations – together with the support of the government – make a long-term goal to develop our local art and collecting culture.” The good news is that a concerted effort to contextualise Hong Kong art looks to be happening through a variety of different channels. Of the 867 works of visual culture that M+ has acquired outside of the Sigg Collection and that may be exhibited prior to the opening of the museum building, 700 are from Hong Kong and are mostly either collected from the artists directly or through their local galleries. More than three books have been published inside the past 12 months on the subject of Hong Kong contemporary art, while the growing interest in writing about our art history has also seen the AAA and the Hong Kong Museum of Art collaborate on an Oral History project with Hong Kong artists. Gallerists advocating conceptual art vs Prohibitively expensive overheads It’s one thing for a gallery to focus on selling wall-hanging pieces that go nicely into any living room; it’s quite another to be dedicating your space to conceptual art installations which are sometimes practically ‘unsellable’. When we talked to Nigel Hurst in late 2012, the gallery director and chief executive of Saatchi Gallery observed that many of our homegrown artists are not ‘particularly market-engaged’, which ‘makes their works more appealing to the art market in the first place’. Tell that to the resolute gallerists who are striving to carve out a place for our emerging artists with limited international reputation and non-existent secondary market potentials. “Hong Kong has a good, interested audience for contemporary art, but I don’t think there’s enough of an educated audience for conceptual art [yet],” says Pui Pui To, the Central Saint Martins graduate who founded 2P Contemporary Art Gallery in 2010. “We make exhibitions with works that nobody really needs or wants to buy. The biggest challenge is how you try to keep your gallery if you have nothing to sell – or if nobody wants to buy anyway. Our programme is extremely experimental, risk-taking and progressive. A lot of people who come by the gallery would be like ‘what’s this?’ The educated audiences are usually those who are already involved in the art world, like curators and writers; many of them come from overseas.” While a whole heap of overseas galleries are expanding into Hong Kong, galleries which are more committed to Hong Kong or Asian contemporary art have seemingly found the need to adjust their strategies. Just as Gallery Exit moved from Central to Tin Wan and Osage closed its Soho space to concentrate on its Kwun Tong galleries, Saamlung ceased operating as a commercial gallery and will move forward as a non-commercial project. Magnus Renfrew of Art Basel describes the environment for young galleries in Hong Kong as being ‘very challenging’. “The overheads for galleries are very, very high here, and the price point for emerging artists or perhaps other conceptual artists tends to be relatively low,” he says. “So to make it viable, you need to sell a huge quantity of work.” Given that it normally takes at least HK$2m to start a gallery, and that every exhibition costs about $15,000 to set up, a good and regular audience base appears to be the very least that a gallerist should be hoping for. “The rental in Hong Kong is just way too high for us to survive,” says To. “People can see that [2P] is not like those galleries on Hollywood Road. There are people coming to the gallery who want to know and take the time, listen to the audio, watch the video properly from the beginning to the end. Sometimes you put art in a context, and it’s not [about finding] any conclusion. Art doesn’t always have a conclusion. You can give the audience a direction but not a certain interpretation.” Rubber Duck vs Complex Pile Since late April, the imagination of the Hong Kong population has been ruthlessly captured by various large-scale inflatable sculptures around town. A few days after the exhibition Mobile M+: Inflation! was unveiled at the West Kowloon Cultural District, featuring such controversial pieces as Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy’s poop-like Complex Pile and Chinese artist Cao Fei’s roasted pig sculpture House of Treasures, Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck arrived at the harbour to put the snap-happy public into a craze. The number of visitors to the M+ exhibition had topped 100,000 at the time of press, whereas nobody can really keep count of all the duck photos floating – or, indeed, otherwise – on the internet. The phenomenon for artists to scale up their works in order to grab attention is usually reserved for the more prominent art markets in the world, although, in Hong Kong’s case, the impressive sight couldn’t have planned for a better time to deputise here. To many people in the crowds, the question ‘is it art?’ may well be their first ever art awakening. “I think it’s a great show,” says Renfrew of Inflation!, probably no pun intended. “There’s a lot to debate about what art should be, what art could be. There had been other similar debates in other places around the world historically, as well. It’s a very important part of raising people’s awareness. It’s really quite an important moment.” Now that everyone is going to see the gigantic works, does it matter if quite a number of them have no idea whatsoever that they’re actually looking at, uh, art? “That’s a very good question, very interesting,” says M+ curator Tobias Berger, who goes on to distinguish Inflation! from works of public art, such as Rubber Duck. “Public art is the kind of art you talk about, you encounter it on the way to work and you cannot get around it. It’s public, it’s there, and I cannot choose not to go there. [As for] what we do with Inflation!, everybody who goes to that exhibition, they [have to] go there on purpose. We don’t really talk about our exhibition as a public art exhibition; it’s a sculpture exhibition for us. It’s basically like going to a museum. You would not use Complex Pile as a public art piece, because people would misunderstand it. But you can show it in an exhibition.” Ironically, the remarkable thing about our city’s burgeoning awareness towards art appreciation is that SK Lam – the AllRightsReserved creative director who has previously presented well-received showcases of the works by Yue Minjun and Yayoi Kusama for Harbour City’s marketing campaigns – has almost been forced to apologise for the inflatable duck’s immense popularity. “At first, we were only trying to avoid the typhoon season. We were also hoping to coincide with Art Basel and to take advantage of its momentum,” says the celebrity designer. “It’s an artwork after all. It’s not a toy or a prop. It’s not Doraemon. It’s not a licensed [cartoon] character.” He then turns whimsical: “It’s funny to say. Someone told me the other day that the rubber duck piece doesn’t inspire much introspection. I didn’t know what got into me but I just spontaneously replied ‘when it’s gone, you’d be thinking about it for a long time’.” Lam chuckles. “It’s not going to be here forever, you know.” Is that a threat to the unsuspecting public, the local art scene, or the precious overlapping section of both?



2 DAYs agoLife and Style
With 245 galleries, including 48 that have never shown in Asia, the event will rival Miami’s iteration of the fair in size.
First it was Switzerland. Then it was Florida, with a 2002 expansion that brought art-world glitter to Miami. Now, on Thursday, Art Basel arrives in Hong Kong. With 245 galleries, including 48 that have never shown in Asia, the event will rival Miami in size but remain smaller than the Swiss fair, which hosts 300-plus exhibitors. One big reason for the debut: China is now the world’s second-largest art market, after the U.S. The Art Basel network draws some of the world’s wealthiest collectors and bon vivants—including (at December’s Miami fair) Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. “It’s parties, food, companionship,” said Graham Steele, Asia director of the gallery White Cube, with sites in London, Brazil and Hong Kong. “This is a lifestyle for certain people.” The Asian iteration is a rebranded version of the large Hong Kong International Art Fair, often called Art HK, which launched in 2007. Art Basel organizers are making sure the VIPs are attended to. Art HK had just one person dedicated to important clients; Art Basel has 25. Many collectors are squeezing in the event, coming as it does just after New York’s Frieze and before Venice’s Biennale and Switzerland’s Art Basel in June. Collector Richard Chang, who splits his time between Beijing and New York, plans to be at all four events. “It’s a marathon,” he says. –Jason Chow


May 17, 2013 6:51 pm

East, west and points in between

Super-curator Yuko Hasegawa’s flair for fusing cultures and disciplines is ideally suited to Hong Kong
Yuko Hasegawa
©Hisashi Kumon

Yuko Hasegawa

Horizontal: it’s one of curator Yuko Hasegawa’s preferred words, though she is anything but. When we catch up over Skype in the week before Art Basel in Hong Kong, it’s 10.30pm in Tokyo, and Hasegawa, in fluent English, launches into an energetic discussion on the shifting geopolitical and cultural landscape and what this means to the wider art world. “Different methodologies, different cultural ideas, and a horizontal approach,” she says, leaving the high v low and east v west orthodoxy trailing in her wake.

Hasegawa is one of the contemporary art world’s global super-curators, popping up everywhere from São Paulo to Kiev, ushering artists from everywhere into a position that she hopes runs counter to what she calls the “west-centrism of knowledge in modern times”. In March this meant assembling the work of more than 100 artists and architects (a third of them from the Middle East) for the 11th Sharjah Biennale in the United Arab Emirates. She included critical work, such as a piece by the young Saudi Sara Abu Abdallah of a veiled girl staring at a written-off car. “It’s the nearest a Saudi woman will ever get to having a car,” explained Abu Abdallah at the time. “Icons of Christianity are taboo there,” says Hasegawa, “and nudity and pornography. But politically, it’s very free. I was surprised.”

Last year for Art Hong Kong (which has since become Art Basel in Hong Kong following its acquisition by Art Basel owner MCH), she curated a Projects programme of larger-scale work. This year it is reprised as Encounters, with 17 galleries delivering weighty installations that will appear in two piazzas that have been designed into each floor of the fair by architect Tom Postma. While these works – which include a series of brightly coloured acrylic boxes by New York-based Brit Liam Gillick, a Venetian blind installation by the Korean Haegue Yang, and a suspended sculpture by Beijing-based Wang Yuyang, who has been known to create vast spheres from energy-saving lightbulbs – are for sale, their presence is equally intended to widen the visitors’ vision and liven up the show. Magnus Renfrew, one of the fair’s four directors, says: “In a relatively new market like Hong Kong, it’s important to show the full perspective of what art can be.”

'Visibility is a Trap' (2013) by Laurent Grasso

‘Visibility is a Trap’ (2013) by Laurent Grasso

This is all extracurricular for Hasegawa. She has a full-time job as chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo (MOT) and is professor of curatorial and art theory at the city’s Tama Art University. At the museum she has just presided over the opening of an exhibition of the Mexico-based Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, and is working on an autumn show that will blur the boundaries between art and design.

'Complete Bin Developments' (2013) by Liam Gillick

‘Complete Bin Developments’ (2013) by Liam Gillick

“I’m interested in cross-disciplinary work. I’ll be working with 25 to 30 artists and designers with a focus on how data and information can be visualised,” she says. Among them will be Ryoji Ikeda, a Japanese musician/artist/mathematician who creates challenging imagery and music out of binary code. “I’m less concerned with art historical positions and more interested in creating a platform,” she says.

Jitish Kallat's 'Allegory of the Unfolding Sky' (2012)

Jitish Kallat’s ‘Allegory of the Unfolding Sky’ (2012)

Hasegawa has been a name to reckon with since the late 1990s – she was on the jury of the Venice Biennale in 1999 – but made her mark with the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, where she was chief curator and founding artistic director from 1999 to 2006. She commissioned the Japanese architects Sanaa to create the museum’s exquisite circular glass building, and introduced 10 site-specific installations by artists including James Turrell and Anish Kapoor that are integrated into the architecture.

Since its opening in 2004, Kanazawa has been an extraordinary success (and also put Sanaa on the international architectural map). “Everything there is horizontal,” says Hasegawa. “There are no borders. The museum is a part of the city and the city is a part of the museum. People come as though they’re visiting a shopping mall. They don’t know anything about contemporary art. In Japan, there is not such a hierarchical divide. High and low culture are on the same plane.”

'La Rite Suspendue/Mouille' (1991) by Chen Zhen

‘La Rite Suspendue/Mouille’ (1991) by Chen Zhen

It’s this that has drawn her to Hong Kong, where last year she sat on the advisory board of the HK$21bn West Kowloon Cultural District project, which by 2018 will deliver a new arts complex to the city. “In Hong Kong and mainland China, people don’t have much opportunity to see big institutional presentations. In Hong Kong until now there’s been little cultural provision, though the film industry is really important. That’s the local culture. If I make the right selections for Encounters, it will really expose people to this kind of work. People come to the art fair out of curiosity, and it’s an open entry point.”

Hasegawa’s curation of Encounters does, in fact, have a historical viewpoint. There is an eight-metre wide 1991 installation by Chen Zhen. A Chinese artist who grew up during the Cultural Revolution and emigrated to Paris as soon as Deng Xiaoping came to power in 1986, he represents the artistic diaspora of that decade.

'Log Lady & Dirty Bunny' (2009) by Marnie Weber©Todd White

‘Log Lady & Dirty Bunny’ (2009) by Marnie Weber

“Haegue Yang lives in Germany,” says Hasegawa. “There’s a cultural hybridity there, and an artist making their own reality.” And as for Turner Prize-winning Scottish artist Susan Philipsz, Hasegawa sees her sound art – in this case a piece called “It Means Nothing to Me” in which she sings a traditional Welsh folk song – as perfectly tailored to the Asian sensibility. “Asian people like performance, sound, music and memory. We are interested in temporality. Take calligraphy, for example. A western person will see the final form. But an Asian person will see the process and the work as something imbued with time.”

And with that, Hasegawa has leapt seamlessly from a Turner Prize winner to calligraphy; a woman who, rather like Hong Kong itself, can synthesise west and east.

All works shown above are in Encounters at Art Basel in Hong Kong

Art Basel in Hong Kong, May 23-26,


The numbers are impressive. Almost dauntingly so. Visitors to this week’s first Art Basel in Hong Kong will have as many as 250 galleries, originating from some 35 countries, to relish. The organisers make much of the fact that almost 50 per cent of the participants are from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, as well they might: one of the strengths of their December fair in Miami is its distinctive regional nature (in that case, its relation to its Latin American neighbours), and the last thing we want from a fair is globo-blandness.

At Hong Kong, along with three other distinct sections – Galleries, for 170-plus mainstream international players; Encounters, for large-scale work; and Discoveries, for budding hopefuls – is the Insights section.

This features work that has been made specially for the event, from galleries in the Asia and Asia-Pacific region, and its inclusion reinforces the emphasis on that chunk of the globe – a vast and varied part, but united in its determination to make concrete its not-western identity.

'Komedi Mafia Peradilan Indonesia' (2008) by Heri Dono at Art:1 by Mondecor Gallery

‘Komedi Mafia Peradilan Indonesia’ (2008) by Heri Dono at Art:1 by Mondecor Gallery

'Saturday Night' (2007) by Insook Kim at 313 Art Project

‘Saturday Night’ (2007) by Insook Kim at 313 Art Project

'Frida in Green' (2012) by Chen Ke at Star Gallery

‘Frida in Green’ (2012) by Chen Ke at Star Gallery

'Untitled' (2012/2013) by Brendan Huntley at Tolarno Galleries

‘Untitled’ (2012/2013) by Brendan Huntley at Tolarno Galleries

'Sèvres Vase à Bobèches' (2012) by Francesca DiMattio at Houldsworth

‘Sèvres Vase à Bobèches’ (2012) by Francesca DiMattio at Houldsworth

'Beetle Sphere' (2013) by Ichwan Noor at at Art:1 by Mondecor Gallery©Mondecor Gallery

‘Beetle Sphere’ (2013) by Ichwan Noor at at Art:1 by Mondecor Gallery

'Horse with Bridles' (2009) by Fernando Botero at Galerie Gmurzynska

‘Horse with Bridles’ (2009) by Fernando Botero at Galerie Gmurzynska

'Tribute to Thomas Struth' (2010) by Tang Kwok Hin at 2P

‘Tribute to Thomas Struth’ (2010) by Tang Kwok Hin at 2P

'Madame Zoo Zoo' (2005) by John Chamberlain at Timothy Taylor Gallery

‘Madame Zoo Zoo’ (2005) by John Chamberlain at Timothy Taylor Gallery

'Contemporary Terracotta Warrior No. 10' (2007) by Yue Minjun at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

‘Contemporary Terracotta Warrior No. 10’ (2007) by Yue Minjun at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013. You may share using our article tools. Please don’t cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.



A New Art Basel for Asia

de Sarthe Gallery

de Sarthe Gallery will exhibit Zhen Chen’s ‘Le Rite Suspendue/Mouille’ installation at the new Art Basel in Hong Kong.

Just as the jet set leave one art fair in New York, they descend on Hong Kong for the next.

Art Basel in Hong Kong, the latest in what has become an international circuit, kicks off on Thursday. The fair comes at a busy time for art lovers, just two weeks after Frieze New York and a week before the Venice Biennale. Art Basel, in Switzerland, takes place later in June.

“It’s a marathon—really intense,” said Richard Chang, a collector who splits his time between Beijing and New York and plans to attend all four events over two months.

Despite the crowded calendar, the international art world is making room for the Hong Kong fair, which represents Art Basel’s first foray into Asia. The region has never been more important: China is now the world’s second-largest art market after the U.S., according to an annual survey conducted by the European Fine Art Fair, and Southeast Asia’s wealthy have grown into voracious collectors of regional art, pushing the value of Asian works ever higher.

White Cube

Damien Hirst’s ‘Ptolomeo, 2012′ appears at White Cube’s Art Basel booth.

A newcomer in name, Art Basel takes up the mantle from the Hong Kong International Art Fair, often called Art HK, which became the continent’s biggest art event since its 2007 launch.

Eyeing its growth, MCH Group, Art Basel’s owner, bought a majority stake in 2011, and is this year rebranding it in line with the fairs it has held in Basel since 1970 and Miami Beach since 2002.

Art Basel draws some of the world’s wealthiest collectors and bon vivants—Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton were among the attendees of December’s Miami fair—and organizers hope that the same will be true of its Asian edition.

“Before, the spotlight was already on Asia and Hong Kong,” said Art Basel Asia director Magnus Renfrew, formerly director of Art HK. “With Basel’s resources, that spotlight is so much brighter.”

With 245 galleries, including 48 who have never shown in Asia, the Hong Kong event rivals Miami in size but remains smaller than the Swiss fair, which hosts 300-plus exhibitors. It already looks set to trump both fairs in terms of attendance: Last year’s Art HK counted more than 67,000 visitors, a figure that exceeds Art Basel numbers and which organizers expect to match this year.

The new fair will maintain Art HK’s focus on Asia: More than half of the galleries attending will be from the region, Mr. Renfrew said.

But the most deep-pocketed attendees are likely to notice one change: Art HK had just one person dedicated to VIP clients, which typically include major collectors, museum curators and gallery owners. By contrast, Art Basel has 25.

Among the institutions confirmed to attend are the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and the Dallas Museum of Art, while the guest list for a gala at the Asia Society on Monday includes the dealer Larry Gagosian, Blackstone Group Vice Chairman J. Tomilson Hill and philanthropist Fayeeza Naqvi.

Meanwhile, the fair has attracted Western galleries looking to tap into the growing ranks of Asian collectors, including Budi Tek, a Chinese-Indonesian tycoon who is building a private museum in Shanghai, and Qiao Zhibing, a Shanghai-based nightclub owner who decorates his establishments with works by Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley.

“The goal is to explore new markets,” said Marina Schiptjenko, director of Andréhn-Schiptjenko in Stockholm, which is exhibiting in Hong Kong for the first time. She added that the Art Basel name “guarantees quality” and was a major factor in convincing her to commit more than $90,000 to cover booth fees, transportation of the art, and travel expenses.

Artists are also making their first trip to the city. Brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman will attend their own exhibition at White Cube’s Hong Kong branch, where dioramas mixing Nazi soldiers and Ronald McDonald will be on display, and Berlin-based British artist Angela Bulloch will hold a solo show a few blocks away at Simon Lee Gallery.

“As artists, we’re hearing more about Hong Kong,” said Ms. Bulloch, whose “Short, Big, Yellow Drawing Machine” scribbles yellow ink on the wall in response to sound and will appear the fair. “When they asked me, I leapt at the chance.”

Basel organizers don’t track sales among exhibitors, but big spenders have come to Hong Kong in the past. At last year’s Art HK, gallery owner Pascal de Sarthe sold “No. 313,” a nearly 9-feet-tall oil painting by Chu Teh-Chun, for more than $3 million during the early hours of the fair.

As White Cube’s Asia director Graham Steele noted, however, Art Basel isn’t just about the art. “It’s parties, food, companionship,” he said. “This is a lifestyle for certain people.”

Hong Kong may have an edge on Switzerland on the cuisine front. “A lot of Asians come to Hong Kong because of the food,” Mr. Steele added. “They’re not so excited about restaurants in Basel.”



Asian artists’ insights and discoveries to be unveiled at HK fair

Art Basel, the famous art fair that attracts art lovers from all over the world is set to launch its first Asian event in Hong Kong in the coming week (May 23 and May 26). The art fair will present 245 galleries from around the world with half of the exhibitors coming from the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand. Art Basel Hong Kong 2013, offers four distinct sections to showcase four different moods. Titled Insights, Encounters, Discoveries and Galleries, the first three offer visitors a sense of anticipation and expectation, whereas the section on Galleries is a viewing of artworks of artists represented by various Asian galleries along with others across the globe offering works of Asian artist.

Among the well-known Indian galleries participating from Delhi are the Vadehras, Nature Morte and Delhi Art Gallery. From Mumbai, there are Sakshi Gallery, Chemould Prescott and The Guild. We can expect today’s better-known painters such as Anju and Atul Dodiya, Jagannath Panda and Zakkir Hussain to be seen in this circuit. What caught my eye was Delhi Gallery Exhibit 320’s presentation of some very interesting work by Nandan Ghiya, a Rajasthan-based self-taught artist.

The Encounters section curated by Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 13 and promises to be exciting, with 17 ‘large-scale sculptural installations’ by leading artists from Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, China, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK. A variety of materials are used in these installations — traditional materials such as marble and bronze as well as wood and natural substances to highlight the need for conservation. Chinese artist Chen Zhen is one of these and will explore the earth’s physical forces in his natural media installation, Le Rit e Suspendue/Mouille, with disparate material including metal, plexiglass, water, earth, sand, found objects and pigment. There are other installations that might be very popular as the cry out for ‘audience participation’. Some of these major artworks are more than five metres in height and others may even stretch across more than 70 sq metres, on the two floors where they will be located.

Interesting installations include Japanese artist Takuma Uematesu’s agate set in shards of mirror to create chandeliers of reflections. Chinese artist Qin Chong’s 18 six-metre-high paper scrolls with paintings in soot is a giant installation. Perhaps the most unique one is Chinese artist Guan Huaibin’s somewhat eerie artwork, in which he creates a three-metre-high inflatable sculpture of a garden rock that expands and contracts to recreate the act of breathing.

What may be of particular interest to our Indian readers is that Berlin’s Arndt Gallery will present Circa 2011 by Indian artist Jitish Kallat (1974). The 120-part sculpture, which has been an on-going activity for the artist involves the painstaking recreation of ‘real bamboo scaffolding’, thus evoking what he calls ‘the transitory image of Mumbai as one sees it today: caught in a state of perennial (re)development’.

Peter Nagy of Gallery Nature Morte, was the very first from India to be invited to participate at the prestigious Art Basel in 2006. It was there that Nature Morte made one of the biggest sales at the fair, when Nagy sold Subodh Gupta’s acrylic on canvas for Rs 1.2 crore. This time, however, Gupta is being presented by Hauser and Wirth. As usual, we can expect that his tall creation of utensils moulded into an enormous vase-like structure with a long neck, will again attract plenty of attention.

(The writer is a winner of many advertising design awards and a painter of repute)



Art Basel Hong Kong 2013

Uma Nair 12 May 2013, 07:31 PM IST

Four distinct divisions of exhibition ideations bring together a diverse reckoning in this year’s Art Basel Fair at Hong Kong (May 23-26, 2013). Galleries, Insights, Discoveries and Encounters promise to create more than a murmur of appreciation and candor.

Among galleries are Indian galleries of long standing repute and integrity-Chemould Prescott Mumbai, The Guild Mumbai, Vadehras Delhi, Sakshi Gallery Mumbai and Nature Morte.

At Hall 3, in  Booth C24 Vadehras will showcase the best names in the Indian art circuit with the likes of works by Anju Dodiya , Atul Bhalla , Atul Dodiya , Faiza Butt, Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Juul Kraijer, Nalini Malani, Paribartana Mohanty, Shibu Natesan, Shilpa Gupta and Zakkir Hussain.

Interestingly two galleries that will showcase works by Indian artists will be Hauser and Wirth Switzerland and Arndt Berlin. Hauser and Wirth will showcase Subodh Gupta’s work and Arndt will showcase Jitish Kallat. Subodh Gupta’s untitled work with utensils moulded into a vessel with a long neck stand tall and draw eyeballs.

The second group called Insights has solo exhibitions and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke will showcase the works of artist Manish Nai. Insights presents projects developed specifically for the Hong Kong show. These galleries must be based in Asia or the Asia-Pacific region – from Turkey to New Zealand, including Asia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent – and exclusively present works by artists from that region. Solo shows, exceptional art-historical material, and thematic exhibitions of two or more artists are selected on the strength of the proposed project.

Discoveries gives a global platform to emerging contemporary artists from all over the world, showcasing work by the next generation of talent at an early stage in their career. Galleries present an exhibition of work by either one or two artists from their gallery program, preferably new and created specifically for the show. The prestigious Seven Art run by Aparajita Jain will showcase the works of artist Rajorshi Ghosh-while Bangalore’s Gallery SKE will present Mariam Suhall.

The fourth  group Encounters  is dedicated to presenting large-scale sculpture and installation works by leading artists from around the world, Encounters provides visitors with the opportunity to see works that transcend the traditional art fair stands. The sector presents these works in prominent locations throughout the exhibition halls. Encounters is curated by Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and Curator of the recent Sharjah Biennial 11. The Indian gallery will be Project 88 who will present the Raqs Media Collective.

Among magazines of repute there will be Bhavna Kakar’s TAKE a magazine that portrays Indian contemporary art and its happenings at its zesty best.

Organisers are stating that this fair is very  Asian; it had previously been criticised for neglecting its regional roots before its collector base was ready for the gloss (and prices) of the international art market. This year, organisers say that over 50% of galleries are from Asia and the Asia Pacific region—although this includes Western galleries that have set up shop in Asia, such as Gagosian and White Cube, both of whom recently opened in Hong Kong. But of the 171 galleries in the main section the percentage of Asian galleries has risen, from 40% last year to 43% in 2013, considerably higher than at other international fairs.

Atul Dhodiya, Churning

Atul Bhalla, Two chairs in Johannesberg

Zakkir Hussain Man with a Public Telephone

Paribartana Mohanty, Different Jobs (Two)

A Cafe at Thiruvannamalai



Adrian Wong is an artist, born and raised in suburban Chicago, who left to pursue undergraduate studies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Wong completed his first Masters degree in developmental psychology, splitting his time between the Bay Area and Armenia, where he was studying the development of metacognitive awareness in residents of the orphanage system. Throughout his research, Wong used art as a means of establishing a rapport with subjects fuelled by his limited ability to converse in Armenian. “But at some point, — Wong notes, “I shifted my focus to my art practice and completed an MFA in sculpture in 2005.” Soon after that, he wound up serendipitously in Hong Kong on what was initially planned to be an extended vacation. In Wong’s words, “A three month trip became six months, six months became a year, and I’ve been here ever since.”

You live between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, where you also teach sculpture and theory at UCLA. Does this living ‘between’ affect your approach to your own practice both formally and conceptually? What sort of theory do you teach your students?

Being constantly in transit allows me to see both places with fresh eyes. Conceptually, this has been incredibly useful, and has helped me to develop several research based projects from, Orange Peel, Harbor Seal, Hyperreal, which focused on the architecture of Chinese diasporal communities in California, to my current project, Wun Dun which draws inspiration from “soy sauce Western” restaurants and cafés in the Pearl River Delta. Formally, it’s been somewhat difficult, simply due to the logistics of international freighting. It’s led me to rely on on-site fabrication and modular modes of construction to allow for easier shipping and install.

I teach a range of topics in my classes. Most recently we’ve been working through a great deal of material reassessing social practices and dialogical/relational aesthetics. I also like to integrate a fair amount of material from outside of the field of art, from social psychology to comparative literature to experimental cookbooks.

Your work is often irreverent – exploring the cultural dynamics of Hong Kong. Exhibitions such as A Fear is This (Fountain – Tuhng Ngoh Dei Wan) at 1a Space, exploring the ‘vivid’ anxieties of Hong Kongers; superstition, public health, the mainland threat. But you mediate these fears (or horrors) with humour at all times so as to temper and perhaps mediate the irrational aspects of urban life and the impact 21st century city living has on cultural identity. Why is this sense of play so important to you?

Play has always been important to my way of making, because it allows me to maintain a healthy dose of uncertainty in my practice. I find that when playing, I can surprise myself, while planning often leads to a different kind of decision-making. It’s the difference between digging for treasure and searching for Easter eggs. It’s my constant hope that viewers of my work can engage with the materials and ideas in an analogous way.

You are doing a project for Art Basel Hong Kong in May 2013 – the Absolut Art Bar, which has sponsored such artists as Los Carpinteros, who produced the Guïro at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012, and Jeremy Shaw, who produced the Kirlian Bar at Art Basel 43 in 2012. Your bar will be staged in the basement of the Fringe Club from the 22nd to 25th May, during the inaugural edition of Art Basel Hong Kong. Can you describe the idea behind this project and what intentions you have for it as (quoting from the statement on the piece) a performative and participatory piece drawing inspiration from Hong Kong’s history?

The term Wun Dun comes from Taoist cosmology, and refers to the nebulous state of the primordial universe before the celestial and terrestrial realms were demarcated. Depending on which text / translation is used, it is referenced both objectively—as a “cosmic gourd”—and subjectively—as a deity who “looks like a yellow sack” with “six legs and no eyes,” partial to singing and dancing.  

As the previous two bars were designed with in-built references to critical theory, I found it particularly interesting that the Eastern concept of Wun Dun nicely parallels a range of Western analogues: George Bataille’s writings on the informe: “All of philosophy has no other goal [than to give the universe shape]…affirming that the universe resembles nothing and is only formless amounts to saying that the universe is something like a spider or spit;” Jacques Lacan’s Object Petit A, an object of desire which facilitates our participation in the symbolic order—the most significant being the phantasy of a coherent mirror-self; Julia Kristeva’s description of the processes of abjection as caused by the primal repression of “the archaism of pre-objectal relationship…the immemorial violence with which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be;” among others.

For the bar, my aim is to create a fantastical space, infused with the “feeling” of Hong Kong’s history, untethered from its “real” history. A city with a notorious poor record of historical preservation, modern Hong Kong is as close to a city built on a “feeling” as any other that I’ve ever visited. It is populated with simulated historical facades and materials, reproductions, and reproductions of reproductions. Essentially, I want to concentrate this “feeling” into the venue, which will be populated with iconic architectures, performers, animatronic lounge musicians, exotic sea creatures, and the smells—both metaphorical and physical—of my adopted home.

What cocktails have you designed and what performances can we look forward to?

I’ve designed four cocktails in collaboration with Andres Basile-Leon, each drawing from the flavor profiles of southern Chinese cuisine. For one of them, we worked very hard to infuse the flavor of roast duck into Absolut vodka to create an elixir that is closer to an old, complex whiskey than a traditional vodka cocktail. In another, we incorporated a rare monkey-picked oolong, which is married with egg white. It should be a very exciting and unusual menu.

Each of the nights that the bar will be open, we’ll have a series of live performances by operatic lounge singers, accompanied by six-limbed animatronic musicians from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Then from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM, several invited musical guests will be performing, including electronic music pioneer Christiaan Virant and sound artist Alok Leung.

In terms of audience, the Absolut Art Bureau, which organises the Absolut Art Bar series has stated an interest in producing bars so as to create a space solely for the artists – how would you respond to this relationship between artists and alcohol…or artists and Absolut?

I like to think of Wun Dun as an art installation that happens to serve alcohol, rather than a bar that happens to have art in it. And I believe that my sentiment is in synch with the way that the Absolut Art Bureau has managed the project. The entire team has been incredibly generous and supportive of my ideas from the get-go, and set out very few restrictions on what I could realise for my version of the Art Bar. (My original idea was to take over a section of the Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Gardens, possibly even encroaching on a section of the orangutan habitat. This was only set aside after every possible effort to secure the venue was made.)

I guess I see the intent of the Absolut Art Bar series as an initiative to produce “installations” more so than “bars,” and as a sculptor I find this incredibly exciting. It marks a shift from a historical focus on two-dimensional works to more immersive modes of making.

Aside from Art Basel Hong Kong (and the Fringe Club’s basement), what else would you recommend for visitors to the city during the art fair? What is it that makes Hong Kong, well, ‘Hong Kong’?

I’d strongly recommend taking an afternoon to get away from the island, to explore the incredible diversity of the rest of Hong Kong. Over the past few years, I’ve led a number of excursions to the outer reaches of the city—hikes with wild macaques on Monkey Mountain in the New Territories, dining at the Sai Kung Public Pier, squid fishing off the coast of Lantau, night-swimming on Lamma.

If you were to introduce Hong Kong to visitors in five words, what would they be?

Efficient, Anachronistic, Fast-moving, Slow-walking, Fragrant. – [O]

Adrian Wong was in conversation with Stephanie Bailey


Only two weeks to go before the inaugural Art Basel HK kicks off and it feels like the circus is coming to town. Inboxes are flooded with invites to art-related and art-themed bars, restaurants, new art clubs, pop-ups, collaborations and art retail and luxury events, ready to capitalize on the anticipated flood of international art visitors to the city. Art, art, art everywhere! What a difference a few years makes.

Held from 21-25 May Art Basel HK comes two weeks after Frieze NY and will be followed by the Venice Biennale, with a week rest before Art Basel opens in Basel. It will be an exhausting month of art, and with more and more art fairs and events crowding the annual art calendar, galleries and dealers will increasingly have to become choosier over which fairs to attend. But the importance of having a reach beyond the West, and a presence in a rapidly growing Asian market — particularly for European galleries doing business in an increasingly fiscally austere environment– is not lost on many international galleries, with a number already opening branches in Hong Kong and investing in building an audience in the region. It will be the “strongest ever line up, anywhere in Asia to date”, says Asia Director Magnus Renfrew, “with works from emerging young artists to the modern masters of the early 20th and 21st centuries on show”. Demand for booths at the transformed Hong Kong fair has been great and countless galleries didn’t make the cut with the selection committee. The number of exhibitors has been whittled down from a total of 266 in 2012 to 245 this year, allowing for larger booths and larger works. It will be the “strongest ever line up, anywhere in Asia to date”, says Asia Director Magnus Renfrew, “with works from emerging young artists to the modern masters of the early 20th and 21st centuries on show”. Although the list of galleries reads like the Debrett’s of the art world — lots of familiar established blue chippers and important heavy hitters — there are also a few newcomers this year including Tina Keng gallery from Taipei, New York’s 303 and Peter Blum galleries, and Wentrup and Johnen Galerie from Berlin, OMR from Mexico and Nara Roesler from São Paulo. Like Art Basel Miami Beach, which emphasises galleries from the Americas, and Art Basel, which largely features European galleries, Art Basel HK will stay rooted in the region and maintain a distinctly Asian flavour. Asian galleries will make up 50% of the exhibitor line-up, and the fair will feature 28 galleries with exhibition spaces in Hong Kong, including Platform China, Blindspot Gallery, Gallery Exit, and Grotto Fine Art as well of course as Western galleries who have recently set up in HK. Art Basel Director, Marc Spiegler, stresses that, “The selection confirms Art Basel’s commitment to Asia. The Hong Kong fair will look very different to Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Basel,” a prospect that many are looking forward to and counting on. “It will be a refreshing treat to Art Basel followers worldwide!” states gallerist Katie de Tilly of 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. “There is such a small presence and understanding of Asian art in the Western art fairs.” The fair will be divided up into four sectors: Galleries, the main wheeling-and-dealing sector of the show with modern and contemporary galleries; Insights, which will present 47 galleries from Asia and Asia Pacific with specially developed curatorial projects; Discoveries, a showcase of solo or two-person exhibitions by emerging contemporary artists from around the world; and Encounters, a presentation of large-scale installation pieces from around the world, which will become a key feature of the fair. This year will include works galleries including ARNDT (Germany) who will present a 120 part sculpture by Jitish Kallat; Long March Gallery (Beijing), who will show a suspended sculpture by MadeIn Company; Edouard Malingue Gallery (HK) who will showcase a neon text installation by Laurent Grasso; and Kerlin Gallery (Dublin) who will showcase a new commission by British artist Liam Gillick. A parallel program of talks and panel discussions, long a feature of the Art Basel fairs, will also be presented in collaboration with Asia Art Archive (AAA); the Asia Society; and M+, Hong Kong’s future museum for visual culture, which is currently exhibiting an installation of monumental inflatables at the site of the future West Kowloon Cultural District promenade. Para/Site Art Space and Spring Workshop, will offer an associated program of events throughout Hong Kong that will take place during the week of the shows. Hong Kong Eye, a curated group show of contemporary Hong Kong art which opened earlier this month and debuted at the Saatchi gallery in December, will be showing at ArtisTree until the end of May. The Art Basel Program will also be supplemented by gallery tours hosted by the Hong Kong Art Gallery association; Fotan Studios, a complex of industrial buildings housing dozens of local artists’ studios; and the Hong Kong Museum of Art, which will be featuring an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art. Meanwhile, for an off the beaten track look at the Hong Kong creative community, check out Chai Wan Mei: Art and Design Weekend, which will take place in the industrial suburb of Chai Wan on 24-25 May. The weekend will consist of exhibitions, performances, pop-up installations, video screenings, design, fashion, and more. It will be an exciting year not only for many galleries exhibiting at a Hong Kong fair for the first time, but also for Hong Kong which has been itching for greater international cultural visibility. The Art Basel brand’s global reach and reputation will no doubt provide greater exposure for local artists and institutions. Many hope it will also kick-start this city’s cultural evolution, stepping in where Hong Kong’s politicians and wanna-be Medicis have failed to step up. “Art is becoming an international language and at this particular time we’re developing an artistic and cultural scene in Hong Kong,” says HK artist and architect, William Lim. “It’s a great opportunity and a great time.” [O] Ocula affiliate galleries participating at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013: 10 Chancery Lane Gallery 2P Contemporary Arario Gallery Arataniurano Ark Galerie ARNDT Beijing Commune Blindspot Gallery Boers-Li Gallery Chambers Fine Art Chemould Prescott Road Galleria Continua Hardrien de Montferrand Gallery de Sarthe Gallery The Drawing Room Eslite Gallery Exhibit320 Gallery Exit Gagosian Gallery Gajah Gallery Galerist Hakgojae Gallery Hanart TZ Gallery Taka Ishii Gallery Tomio Koyama Gallery Long March Space Magician Space Galerie Urs Meile Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke Mizuma Art Gallery Nanzuka Nature Morte Neon Parc Galeria OMR One and J. Gallery Ota Fine Arts Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery Pékin Fine Arts Pi Artworks Platform China Project 88 Ryan Renshaw Gallery Galeria Nara Roesler SCAI The Bathhouse Schoeni Art Gallery Shanghai Gallery of Art ShanghART Misa Shin Gallery ShugoArts Gallery Side 2 Sprüth Magers Berlin London Starkwhite Gallery Take Ninagawa Tang Contemporary Art Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects Timothy Taylor Gallery The Guild Tolarno Galleries Volte Gallery White Cube Murray White Room White Space Beijing Gallery x-ist Leo Xu Projects Yamamoto Gendai

OMR Gallery, Mexico City OMR, Mexico City Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong 10 Chancery Lane Gallery Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong Gallery Exit, Hong Kong Gallery Exit, Hong Kong Platform China, Hong Kong Platform China, Hong Kong Spring Workshop, Hong Kong Spring Workshop, Hong Kong
ARNDT, Berlin ARNDT, Berlin Long March Space, Beijing Long March Space, Beijing Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong Asia Society, Hong Kong Asia Society, Hong Kong Para/Site, Hong Kong Para/Site, Hong Kong Hong Kong Museum of Art Hong Kong Museum of Art
Comprehensive access to leading contemporary art galleries from the Asia Pacific and emerging markets.

Ocula attracts, builds and connects new audiences and collectors to member galleries. Ocula’s interactive features and exclusive digital marketing campaigns deliver enquiries and leads directly to member galleries. Increasingly collectors and prospective buyers worldwide use Ocula to discover and buy contemporary art.

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