Ichwan Noor’s Beetlesphere at Art: 1 by Mondercor Gallery, now on view at Art Basel Hong Kong
Courtesy Hanart Square
“Forty-four Sunsets in a Day” by Jennifer Wen Ma
An inflatable sculpture called “Lethargic Aesthetics” 2012 by Guan Huaibin, represented by Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
Art – 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.
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.
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.
May 20, 2013 |
Here is a small sample of Vincent Johnson’s Strange Los Angeles Pictures photography program
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.
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
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. ■
The high-art event that started in Switerland in 1970 debuts in Asia
Art Basel, the modern art festival that began in Basel, Switzerland in 1907 and expanded to Miami in 2002 is debuting in Asia this year. Each year, Art Basel attracts many of the wealthiest modern art collectors in the
Above:’The Pilgrim and the Pirate’ by Samsul Arifin, represented by the Nadi Gallery, Jakarata, at Art Basel,
Photo By Jessica Hromas/Getty Images
“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
To Be Titled by Dan Colen, 2011.
“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.”
The Bernier/Eliades galleryat 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. mandarinoriental.com
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. upperhouse.com
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. amberhongkong.com
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. roninhk.com
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. keeclub.com
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. facebook.com/SalonNumber10
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
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
‘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.
FINANCIAL TIMES LONDON
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
Art Basel highlights Hong Kong’s new statusMay 24, 2013 12:52 AMBy Aaron Tam
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.”
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
By Jessica Hromas (GETTY) – 5/22/13
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)
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 Collection — Eko 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
FACING OFF AT ART BASEL IN HONG KONG: A CULTURAL COMMENTARY OF A VERNISSAGE
23 May 2013
Stephanie Bailey – Hong Kong
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 YangJournal of Mundane and Uncertain Days, 2013 Martin Bell Tolarno Galleries Sehar ShahMammoth – Aerial Landscape Proposals, 2012 Nature Morte Brendan Early Presented by Mother’s Tankstation as part of DiscoveriesMatthias Bltzer and Becky Beasley Presented by Francesca Minini as part of DiscoveriesHrair Sarkissian and Raed Yassin Presented by Kalfayan Galleries as part of InsightsTony CraggVersus, 2011 Marian Goodman Gallery Barbara Kruger at Sprüth Magers Berlin London, and Kohei Nawa at Arario Gallery Madein CompanyPlay (201B01), 2013 Part of Encounters
At Art Basel Hong Kong, International Dealers Bet Big on Asian Market
By Barbara Pollack7:51am
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. (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.
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. (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. (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
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 Performance1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece) One Year Performance 1981-1982 (Outdoor Piece) Art/Life One Year Performance1983-1984 (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).
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
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
An visitor at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery in Admiralty inspects 556,066,792,000, a work by Hong Hao, on display in the Boundless: Contemporary Art exhibition. Photo: Felix Wong
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.”
This article first appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition on May 22, 2013 as Drawing a line between art and money
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
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE./NEW YORK TIMES
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.
By XHINGYU CHEN
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.”
A version of this special report appeared in print on May 23, 2013, in The International Herald Tribune.
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