Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 Reviews + Images + Articles

Framed
March 16, 2015

Oriental Blossom

Text by Huzan Tata.
VERVE MAGAZINE
Photos courtesy: Art Basel

Head to the Art Basel Hong Kong to satiate your artistic cravings

Ever wanted to see art from all around the globe but didn’t know where to start from? The Art Basel is here to make your life easy. The Art Basel Hong Kong, now in its 45th edition, presents at one place stunning artworks from the world over – paintings, installations, works in mixed media, sculptures and photographs from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America all form a part of the show. That’s not all…to get a complete fix of the arts, one can also attend the salon conversations, talks and films that will be exhibited at the event. So, if you thought Hong Kong was just about Disneyland, the art fanatics will surely tell you otherwise.

Art Basel Hong Kong will take place at various locations in Hong Kong until March 17, 2015.

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AFP

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Art Basel opens its doors in Hong Kong with thousands to visit

March 14, 2015 2:43pm

A man checks his mobile phone next to an artwork by US conceptual artist John Anthony Baldessari during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors with thousands of visitors expected over the next five days. AFP PHOTO/Philippe Lopez

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors Friday with thousands of visitors expected over the next five days for a city-wide canvas of creativity and commerce.

The sprawling display of artworks took over the city’s waterfront convention centre, as artists, gallerists and celebrities gathered to talk, buy and sell art.

“The Hong Kong art scene is growing so rapidly and robustly… the galleries seem to grow stronger every year,” said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler just ahead of the launch of the show on Friday evening.

The first two days are invite-only, with the fair open to the general public from Sunday.

The whitewashed walls of the convention center display space were crammed with everything from traditional ink paintings to film installations and giant sculptures.

A taxidermy reindeer with sprawling tree branches for antlers greeted visitors to the first floor, with a giant ear and trumpet protruding from a wall nearby.

The Hong Kong edition’s new director, Adeline Ooi, told AFP that the strong showing of Asian artists would be taking a “more daring” approach this year.

“There will be a strong representation of local artists at the show,” she added.

Also central to the display are large-scale “Encounters” pieces, including a suspended forest of olive trees by Irish artist Siobhan Hapaska, a mausoleum made from styrofoam boxes by Hong Kong-based Portuguese artist Joao Vasco Paiva and a giant see-sawing log propped up by Indian Buddhist statues by Indian artist Tallur L.N.

Smaller shows pop up all around town to coincide with the show—many of them throwing the spotlight back on grassroots talent.

Art Basel Hong Kong kicked off three years ago and is the newest addition to the international art show, which started in Switzerland in 1970 and also has a Miami Beach edition.

The Hong Kong edition is attracting celebrities this year such as Victoria Beckham and Hollywood star Susan Sarandon.

Greater China, grouping the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, maintained its market leader status in 2014, accounting for $5.6 billion in global art sales—closely followed by the United States—according to data firm Artprice. — Agence France-Presse

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ART NEWSPAPER

Collectors China

Seeking out Southeast Asia

As curatorial interest grows, will collectors follow?

One of Jakarta-born Bagus Pandega’s “portraits” at the fair, with ROH Projects (1B34)

There is an extraordinary diversity of art by Southeast Asian artists at Art Basel Hong Kong this year, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). While artists and dealers proclaim their cultural individuality, they also feel a strong affinity to their regional identity.

The fair features 22 galleries from Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia or with outlets in Singapore, with artists of the region also available on other stands. A Salon event at the fair on Sunday, 15 March, seeks to deepen collectors’ understanding of art from the region.

Institutions in the West are looking eastwards towards the region. Richard Armstrong, the director of the New York-based Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, who was at the fair to announce the shortlist for the BMW Art Journey award, visited Bangkok last September. London’s Tate Museum launched its South Asian Acquisitions Committee in 2012, and the Istanbul-based Arter Foundation brought contemporary art from Southeast Asia to the Turkish city this January.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s M+ museum is planning to collect in this area, and the National Gallery Singapore, due to open in November, will display historical Southeast Asian art.

One of the most unusual offerings at the fair is in the Discoveries section, where Jakarta’s ROH Projects (1B34) has four “portraits” by Bagus Pandega made up of mirrors, guitars or spinning LPs combined with found objects (US$6,000-$7,500 each).

Portraits of another kind feature at Manila’s 1335Mabini (1C26,) where Poklong Anading’s lightboxes feature people photographed in different settings holding up mirrors against their faces to reflect the sun (US$3,500-$35,000). “Initiatives such as the Guggenheim exhibition ‘No Country’ or regional biennales have had a huge share in terms of providing platforms to exhibit Southeast Asian artists in institutional contexts,” says Birgit Zimmermann of the gallery.

Indonesian artists are among the best known in the region. Singapore- and Berlin-based Arndt (3C30) sold Eko Nugroho’s embroidery Anarki Moral, 2014, (priced at US$38,000), as well as his large “Encounters” work, Lot Lost, 2015, bought by an Australian museum at the fair for US$330,000. At Gajah Gallery (1C38), three editions of sculptures by Yunizar sold for US$62,000 each. “We saw extraordinary growth in this market four to five years ago, then it slowed a bit, but prices are still very reasonable,” says Jasdeep Sandhu of the gallery.

The Jakarta-based Nadi Gallery’s stand (3C26) features detailed and delicate works by Handiwirman Saputra (US$150,000 and US$250,000) and a large abstract by Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo. The well-known collector Deddi Kusuma is a fan of both artists, and he is expected at the fair, along with other prominent VIPs from the region such as Petch Osathanugrah, Jean-Michel Beurdeley, Dr Oei and Rudy Akili.

Philippines-based Silverlens (1D43) features a “scarf” with shoes as a motif— a reference to the Marcos era—by Pio Abad (Every Tool is a Weapon if you hold it right, 2015, US$7,000) as well as Yee I-Lann’s installation, Tabled, 2013, US$29,000, consisting of plates, fired in Indonesia with photographs from across Asia. It was shown in the Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam and sold in a Manila and Singapore gallery—a fitting example of the diverse nature of the art on show

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GLOBAL TIMES

An eye on Asia

By Liao Danlin in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-17 20:23:01

Art Basel sweeps into Hong Kong showing off latest trends in art


An artwork by South Korean artist MyeongBeom Kim at Art Basel in Hongkong on March 16 Photo: Liao Danlin/GTWalking around I saw people walking and pushing baby carriages, children running around and tourists taking photos right next to businessmen in suits and well-dress ladies standing in front of a huge oil painting, examining its every detail and discussing if they should spend the million dollars needed to buy this masterpiece.

This was the scene at Hong Kong’s Art Basel, the city’s biggest international art show for modern and contemporary works of art.

Over 200 galleries from 37 countries contributed to make this year’s artistic feast the biggest ever in the past three years. From Sunday to Tuesday, Art Basel was opened to the public generating a huge number of visitors. Becoming as crowded as a supermarket, galleries were filled with professional curators, artists and collectors as well as travelers that just happened to be in Hong Kong.

Asian Focus

While the original Art Basel (1970) and Art Basel Miami Beach (2002) have been around longer, what makes the Art Basel Hong Kong special is its large number of Asian participants. Half of the galleries this year came from Asia-Pacific regions.

Insights, for instance, was a section developed specifically for galleries based in Asia. One of these galleries, the Michael Ku Gallery from Taiwan, brought Taiwanese artist Luo Jr-Shin’s solo exhibition to the event. His work An Afternoon, an installation made from ready-made items featuring a “yolk” on a pair of broken glasses hanging upon a carpet, caused quite a few visitors to stop and take notice.

The gallery told the Global Times that to better tailor An Afternoon, which was first created in 2013, for audiences in Hong Kong, Luo went to several stores in the city to replace the tissue boxes used in the art work with the most commonly used tissue brand in Hong Kong. “He wanted this work to be able to connect with everyone.”

Other galleries brought works from more than one artist to better represent the wide range of their collections. The Mizuma Art Gallery for example offered works from Japan, Indonesia and China.

Discussions on Asian art went further with salons and other relevant events inviting artists and scholars to discuss certain phenomena or trends happening in Asia at the moment.

During a salon titled Social Engagement Artists/South Asia and Beyond, artist Shooshie Sulaiman from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and artist Mohamad Yusuf from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, discussed how artists have actively become involved in social change or expressing political views through art in their countries.

Venice Biennale/ Focus Pakistan and India was a conversation between independent curator Natasha Ginwala and Indian artist Jitish Kallat about the 56th Venice Biennale Gujral Foundation project “My East is Your West,” and the art scenes in the two countries.

A window to the world

While you could see works by famous names such as Chen Yifei, Zhao Wuji and popular artists like Nara Yoshitomo at Art Basel Hong Kong, emerging young artists also had their chance to shine.

Born in 1988, Lu Chao was the chosen artist for the Hadrien de Montferrand gallery this year. Lu’s works, mostly sketch-like portrayals of a massive number of different faces, quickly attracted a large number of visitors.

The owner of the gallery, Hadrien de Montferrand has lived in China for more than seven years and has worked at various art institutions and auction houses. He described Lu’s works as sensitive, powerful and beautiful, while visitors’ opinions ranged from scary, interesting and eye-catching.

Montferrand told the Global Times that the rapid economic and environmental changes and social pressures that Chinese artists have experienced over the past few decades have made their art work particularly interesting, as they often use their work to express what it’s like to live in this changing environment.

“Older artists are very different from younger ones,” he added, explaining that since the market in China is still young it is mainly dominated by a few well-known artists and as such there is little space for young artists.

However, in the wider market, young artists can take advantage of Western museums, curators, galleries and so on to be seen by international audiences as well as the Chinese crowd.

For Montferrand, whose galleries have held exhibitions for established artists like Liu Xiaodong and young artists like Lu, while the younger generation is more influenced by Western art in terms of creativity and more ideas and concepts are emerging, artists have also managed to keep a Chinese feeling in their works.

“You have very traditional trends going on, but at the same time you have a lot of people going into very different ways, people looking deeply into themselves,” said Montferrand.

Although Lu thinks of himself more as a young man who loves painting rather than a qualified artist, he feels that young artists in Asia seem to have more opportunities than in the West.

“If Chinese go to the West we like to buy famous artworks, whereas most Western collectors coming to Asia seem to be more interested in buying works from talented young artists,” said Lu.

A market with growing potential

Since the artists and works coming to Art Basel change every year, Li Zhenhua, curator for the Film section of Art Basel Hong Kong, finds the art fair a great way to get a feel for mainstream trends. And he feels it is able to fill people in on which artists or galleries they need to know about much faster than museums and or other sources.

As Li sees things, if someone studies the art fair and does solid research, they would be able to gain a deeper understanding of why some galleries make the choices they do and why artists decide to present certain works over others. Art Basel can also help insiders discover trade market trends and see how collectors have changed.

For example, the prominence of Southeast Asian artists seen at the art fair this year is a reflection of international trends. The Tate Museum in London created a South Asia Acquisitions Committee three years ago and the Art Paris held in February also showed a growing trend towards art from these regions.

In the past, Asian artists received most of their attention at biennials. However, usually only artists that have already established themselves are able to make it into these biennials. However, today, with art fairs such as the Art Basel Hong Kong, talented young artists that have yet to make a name for themselves have a way to take part in the international art scene and market.

WALLPAPER

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THE STRAITS TIMES

 

Art Basel Hong Kong strikes the right notes, Singapore galleries report strong sales

Published on Mar 19, 2015 6:38 PM
 0  0  0  0 PRINT EMAIL
Visitors standing next to an artwork by Korean artist Hyung Koo Kang (left) during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. — PHOTO: AFP

In the surest sign of the evolution of Singapore’s gallery scene, the island’s largest contingent of galleries participated in Asia’s premier contemporary art fair in Hong Kong and netted handsome sales.

More than 10 Singapore galleries participated in the packed third edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, up from three in the inaugural fair two years ago.

The fair, which saw 233 galleries from both the East and the West taking up two floors of the cavernous Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, ended on Tuesday with happy faces among gallerists and collectors from around the world, and the Singapore contingent was no exception.

German gallerist Matthias Arndt, who also has a base in Gillman Barracks, had to do a second hanging when all the works he presented in the first hanging sold out by Sunday, just two days after the fair opened with a three-hour private view for invited collectors.

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/visual-arts/story/art-basel-hong-kong-strikes-the-right-notes-singapore-galleries-report-s#sthash.hL1DJzqz.dpuf

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Visitors take photos of the hyper-realist sculpture 'Untitled (Kneeling Woman)' created by Australian artist Sam Jinks during the VIP preview of the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on Friday, March 13, 2015. Art Basel stages modern and contemporary art shows and is held annually in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.
Visitors take photos of the hyper-realist sculpture ‘Untitled (Kneeling Woman)’ created by Australian artist Sam Jinks during the VIP preview of the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on Friday, March 13, 2015. Art Basel stages modern and contemporary art shows and is held annually in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Kin Cheung
Art Central 2015, Hong Kong. This was its first year as a satellite fair to Art Basel on the island city.
Art Central 2015, Hong Kong. This was its first year as a satellite fair to Art Basel on the island city. supplied
Hiromi Tango, 'Now', 2014, neon and mixed media, 93.5 x 98.5 x 27 cm, Detail_2 From Art Central: Hong Kong 's first international standard satellite art fair, held alongside the island city's much-larger Art Basel.
Hiromi Tango, ‘Now’, 2014, neon and mixed media, 93.5 x 98.5 x 27 cm, Detail_2 From Art Central: Hong Kong ‘s first international standard satellite art fair, held alongside the island city’s much-larger Art Basel. Greg Piper
German performance artist of Turkish origin, Nezaket Ekici creates an artwork during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong's biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors to an expected  thousands of visitors over five days.
German performance artist of Turkish origin, Nezaket Ekici creates an artwork during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors to an expected thousands of visitors over five days. Philippe Lopez
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ArtMar 21 2015 at 12:15 AM
Updated Mar 19 2015 at 12:50 PM

Hong Kong’s Art Basel: tussle between money and culture

International art fairs are multiplying like billionaires – and the gallery owners showing at Hong Kong’s Art Basel were hoping for rich buyers, writes Katrina Strickland.
Visitors take photos of the hyper-realist sculpture ‘Untitled (Kneeling Woman)’ created by Australian artist Sam Jinks during the VIP preview of the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on Friday, March 13, 2015. Art Basel stages modern and contemporary art shows and is held annually in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Visitors take photos of the hyper-realist sculpture ‘Untitled (Kneeling Woman)’ created by Australian artist Sam Jinks during the VIP preview of the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on Friday, March 13, 2015. Art Basel stages modern and contemporary art shows and is held annually in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Kin Cheung
by Katrina Strickland

At every art fair there’s the party to be at, and at Art Basel Hong Kong this year, that party was staged by the Swiss cigar company Davidoff.

Held at the pool house and grill on the roof of the Grand Hyatt, the party celebrated excess in, well, excess. Hundreds of guests sipped on free-flowing French, grazed on food ranging from paella to sashimi and prawn cocktails, and watched Dita Von Teese strut her glamorous, risque stuff.

But what made it really feel like a scene from The Wolf of Wall Street were the cigars; most of the male guests were smoking them, along with a good swag of the female guests – all with a look of “I can’t believe we are able to do this” glee on their faces. The cigar bar on the way into the party was a heady place, manned by staff who were cutting and lighting the fat brown imports as quickly as guests were stepping up to take them off their hands. It was surprising not to see Leonardo diCaprio standing by the pool, surrounded by a bevy of topless women.

It was galling, nerve-racking and thrilling. Galling, because it felt so starkly at odds with the breadline life of so many artists, and such a counterpoint to last year’s Occupy Central protest movement.
Art Central 2015, Hong Kong. This was its first year as a satellite fair to Art Basel on the island city. Art Central 2015, Hong Kong. This was its first year as a satellite fair to Art Basel on the island city. supplied

Nerve-racking, because with so many cigars, so many people and so much excitement in the air, the very act of pushing through the crowd came with the risk – thankfully avoided – of having a lit cigar accidentally shoved in one’s face.

And thrilling, because who doesn’t get a voyeuristic charge from stepping into that kind of hedonistic world every now and again? It doesn’t happen too often in Sydney.

Davidoff was one of a host of international brands massaging the thousands of collectors, gallerists, journalists and – yes, artists – who flew in to the Chinese outpost just over a week ago for Art Basel Hong Kong. The fair opened on Friday the 13th with a VIP preview and wrapped up on Tuesday night, when the weary staff who had manned stalls for 233 galleries from 37 countries and territories got to pack up and have a quiet champagne of their own.
Mood-only works
Hiromi Tango, ‘Now’, 2014, neon and mixed media, 93.5 x 98.5 x 27 cm, Detail_2 From Art Central: Hong Kong ‘s first international standard satellite art fair, held alongside the island city’s much-larger Art Basel. Hiromi Tango, ‘Now’, 2014, neon and mixed media, 93.5 x 98.5 x 27 cm, Detail_2 From Art Central: Hong Kong ‘s first international standard satellite art fair, held alongside the island city’s much-larger Art Basel. Greg Piper

Among the highlights were some of the works designed not to be sold but to create a mood. These included 20 large-scale installations scattered through the fair by Australian curator Alexie Glass-Kantor, and a 10-minute light work projected nightly onto West Kowloon’s International Commerce Centre by the Chinese artist Cao Fei. Standing on a balcony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where the fair is held, looking across the water to the ICC building and glittering lights of Kowloon, viewers were instantly taken back to the Pac-Man games played in greasy fish and chip shops and arcades through the 1980s. Those who were old enough to remember greasy fish and chip shops, anyway.

The iPhone was ubiquitous. Sydney gallery Sullivan + Strumpf almost needed security guards, such was the crowd gathered each day at its stand, most taking pictures of its hyper-realist sculptures by Melbourne-based artist Sam Jinks. Another Sydney-based art dealer, Andrew Jensen, was bowled over by the way many people look at art in 2015. In his case, sculptures by artist Sam Harrison attracted the most iPhone clicks.

“If we took a levy on photographs we could have retired,” he says with a wry laugh. “It is extraordinary how mediated through a lens experiences have become.”

Most of those taking photos were what those in the trade derisively refer to as “tyre kickers”; that is, lookers not buyers. Art fairs are curious beasts in that they need the hordes to create an atmosphere and to appear successful, but the sales that make or break the participating galleries come from only a tiny percentage of visitors.
German performance artist of Turkish origin, Nezaket Ekici creates an artwork during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors to an expected thousands of visitors over five days. German performance artist of Turkish origin, Nezaket Ekici creates an artwork during the opening of the Art Basel art fair for a VIP preview in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors to an expected thousands of visitors over five days. Philippe Lopez

Thus while gallery staff watch nervously to ensure the iPhone brigade don’t knock any artworks off their plinths or walls, they are also eagle-eyed for visitors there not to take pictures but to spend thousands of dollars. And desperately hoping they stop by their stand.

This was the third iteration of the Hong Kong fair since it was sold to one of the globe’s most successful art brands, Art Basel, which has run fairs in the Swiss city of its name since 1970 and in Miami in the US since 2002. Art Basel now has a firm foot in Asia, one of the growth regions for a global trade in art and antiques that, according to the TEFAF Art Market Report 2015, topped €51 billion ($70.7 billion) in 2014. China equalled the United Kingdom in accounting for the second-biggest slice of this record turnover, at 22 per cent, behind only the US at 39 per cent.
May better place on fair calendar

European ownership has brought with it a decision to move the fair from May, when it has been held every year since its founding in 2008, to March, when it was held for the first time this year. A welcome upshot for visitors was a cooler climate; for organisers and participants it was a better place on an annual calendar crammed with 180 big art fairs.
At Art Central, Hong Kong, the fair held alongside this year’s Art Basel, watchers and buyers crowded around Sam Jinks and Hiromi sculptures. At Art Central, Hong Kong, the fair held alongside this year’s Art Basel, watchers and buyers crowded around Sam Jinks and Hiromi sculptures. Sullivan+Strumpf

In May, Hong Kong butted up against the Frieze Art Fair in New York, the Venice Biennale this year and Gallery Weekend in Berlin, plus the main, mega Art Basel fair, which rolls around each June. In March, Art Basel Hong Kong competes only with the relatively new Art Dubai and the very old Maastricht fair, the latter not such a problem because it focuses on historical artworks in contrast to Art Basel, which is all about the contemporary. The shift in dates resulted in 29 more galleries participating, of which 20 came from Europe and the US, with more collectors coming from the northern hemisphere too.

That the fair is helping to transform Hong Kong from a city obsessed with money into one with a cultural as well as financial scene is not in doubt, although some query how deep the change is outside of what has now been dubbed Art Week, and whether it isn’t still all about money – namely, the sale rather than the appreciation of art.

Michael Lynch, the Australian who is outgoing chief executive of the giant West Kowloon Cultural District, hopes that when the multiple arts venues in that $HK22 billion ($3.7 billion) complex start opening over the coming years, it will change the balance.

“Progress has been pretty extraordinary over the last four years, [but] the thing that concerns me is too much of it is fundamentally market driven,” he says. “The importance of building new cultural institutions, as we are doing, is that you will get some restoring of the balance between the public and the private.”

Swiss art dealer Dominique Perregaux, who first opened a gallery in Hong Kong a decade ago, also strikes a word of caution about extrapolating too much from fairs. “The city’s cultural scene has not changed much; Hong Kong has just become an art trading hub,” he says. “Once a year, Art Basel brings in the names you would never otherwise get to see. It’s very important to see those works in Hong Kong, but in terms of intrinsic culture, nothing much has changed.”
Permanent spaces in Hong Kong

That said, a lot of big international galleries have opened permanent spaces in Hong Kong in recent years, including White Cube, Gagosian, Pace, Galerie Perrotin and Simon Lee. There are new developments every year – last year’s included PMQ, a joint venture between the government and some philanthropists in which the old “police married quarters” building has been transformed into a hub for local designers, who pay subsidised rent for studios and small shops.

A satellite fair, Art Central, made its debut this year, a 10-minute walk from Art Basel Hong Kong. If anything speaks of the pace of change in Hong Kong it is the walk between the two fairs, alongside a giant construction site full of cranes.

The founders of Art Central started Art Hong Kong back in 2008 before selling it to the Swiss, among them Tim Etchells, who also founded the one-year-old Sydney Contemporary and has the contract to manage the Melbourne Art Fair. Etchells sees the establishment of Art Central, which sits above an affordable art fair but below the Art Basel stratosphere, as another step in Hong Kong’s cultural evolution.

Rebecca Hossack, a London-based, Australian-born art dealer who showed this year in Art Central, is all for it. “These mega fairs are monstrosities, half way through the first floor you’re thinking ‘get me to the VIP lounge and champagne, I can’t go on’,” she says with a flourish. “At Art Central it’s a much more human experience and you can look at art in a non-commodified way.”

The establishment of a satellite fair is good news for Australian galleries, not all of which are accepted by Art Basel. Those hosting stands at Art Central this year included M Contemporary, Metro Gallery and Connie Dietzschold.

As someone who spent 18 years living in Asia before moving to Australia and opening her Sydney gallery in 2013, M Contemporary owner Michelle Paterson sees attending such fairs as mandatory. “We need to make our artists internationally known, Australia is too small a market,” she says.

Art Basel Hong Kong was attended by about 60,000 people this year, 5000 fewer than last year, partly accounted for by running for a day less this year and in a new month, while Art Central notched up about 30,000 attendees. Sales are never independently verifiable and are without fail promoted as fabulous.
Foot traffic brisk

With those riders in mind, foot traffic at both fairs was brisk, particularly at Art Basel, and the atmosphere upbeat in both places. Art Basel’s PR team put out a daily summary of who’d sold what, some of the highlights including an Andreas Gursky photograph at Spruth Magers for €400,000 ($560,000), a Sean Skully painting at ShanghART for $US850,000 ($1.1 million) and a Chen Cheng-po painting at Liang gallery for $US1.3 million.

The benefits of returning year in, year out are paying off for Australian galleries Sullivan + Strumpf and Anna Schwartz – the latter had her property developer/publisher husband Morry on hand to help sell works by the likes of Daniel Crooks, Rose Nolan and Shaun Gladwell.

“This year we noticed a lot more Europeans, a lot of French collectors – Swiss and German,” Sullivan + Strumpf co-director Ursula Sullivan says. “At the moment we price in Australian, US and Hong Kong dollars, but next year we’ll have to add euros.”

Davidoff is one of a handful of sponsors lured to Hong Kong by the Art Basel juggernaut, others include UBS and BMW, all of which leverage their art relationships in ways the Australian arts sector can only dream of. Aside from hosting parties par excellence, Davidoff has art programs ranging from residencies and grants for artists from the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, to putting artworks on limited edition cigar boxes.

UBS funds a Junior Art Hub offering children free art sessions (while mum and dad are presumably off spending thousands in the fair), an app that collates art news from global media and a menu at the Mandarin Oriental’s Pierre restaurant inspired by works from the UBS Collection.

This year BMW selected three artists from the emerging art section of Art Basel Hong Kong to lodge proposals for a BMW Art Journey. The winner will get to go on “the journey of their dreams” – presumably in a Beamer – which will be documented online, in print and on social media.

If this all sounds like a co-opting of art by commercial interests – well, it is. But it has arguably ever been thus, just to a much lesser extreme. The creation of art has always depended on the patronage of someone.

Katrina Strickland visited Hong Kong courtesy of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.

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 BLOOMBERG NEWS

Hong Kong’s Art Basel Lures Collectors Chasing Warhol

4:00 PM PDT
March 12, 2015

Polychromed Wood Sculpture
Polychromed wood sculpture by Jeff Koons of Buster Keaton. Source: Courtesy of David Zwirner Gallery via Bloomberg

 

Hong Kong’s Art Basel Lures Collectors Chasing Warhol

4:00 PM PDT
March 12, 2015
(Bloomberg) — Celebrities, billionaires and art moguls have descended on Hong Kong, lured by the chance to buy works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat at Asia’s biggest art fair.

Art Basel Hong Kong, an edition of the fair that started in Switzerland, is selling as much as $3 billion worth of art displayed by 233 galleries from 37 countries, according to insurer AXA Art.

The Hong Kong version has become a major stop on the global art fair circuit of one-stop shopping malls for the mega-wealthy seeking to diversify their stock portfolios with paintings and sculptures by brand names and hot young artists.

First night sales, in a truncated VIP preview that lasted only three hours because the fair format was revamped from previous years, indicated that the economic slowdown in China hasn’t dampened sales.

“We were in China before this for two weeks and it certainly wasn’t palpable to me,” said dealer Sean Kelly, who sold a work by Sun Xun for $145,000, as well as works by James White and by Hugo McCloud.
‘Very Happy’

White Cube dealer Jay Joplin echoed Kelly’s sentiments. “It’s been excellent, I’m very happy,” he said, adding that his gallery sold works by Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky and Theaster Gates.

Rachel Lehmann, of Lehmann Maupin was more cautious. “You cannot judge the success of an art fair in three hours,” she said. Still, by the end of the evening she had sold two Alex Prager photographs, a work by Tracey Emin, a Hernan Bas painting and several works by Korean artist Do Ho Suh.

It’s common for galleries to pre-sell works to preferred clients ahead of fairs, and dealers expected a flurry of purchases when the doors opened to select guests Friday at 6 p.m.

Art Basel anchors what is informally called art week in Hong Kong, a time when luxury goods companies, private banks and Michelin-starred restaurants are pulling out the stops in their pursuit of the vast amount of wealth pouring into the city as art and commerce converge in Hong Kong.

Tate Modern director Nicholas Serota, Swiss collector and auctioneer Simon de Pury and New World Development Co. scion Adrian Cheng are among the expected fair visitors. Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Robin Thicke have been invited to browse the booths since they’re in town for a charity benefit to raise money for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, on March 14. Actress Michelle Yeoh is being honored at the fundraiser.
Fair Rebranded

The fair, which began as Art HK in 2008, was rebranded Art Basel Hong Kong two years ago after the owners of Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach took over.

Mainland collectors are on the prowl for trophy works to adorn the walls of their homes in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Sydney, or to fill private museums in China.

Billionaire Liu Yiqian and his wife Wang Wei are in town for the handover of a 15th century Tibetan embroidered thangka they purchased at Christie’s Hong Kong for $45 million in November for their private museum in Shanghai.

Wang Zhongjun, chairman of Beijing-based film company Huayi Brothers International, keeps a Vincent van Gogh still life he bought for $62 million at Sotheby’s New York last fall in his Hong Kong pied-a-terre.
Depth, Experience

Asia has 492 billionaires, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2015, 53 of whom live in Hong Kong.

Still, dealers said the market lacks the depth and experience of the U.S. and Europe, where collectors have amassed works for decades. China accounted for 22.4 percent of global sales in the art and antiques market, ranking it second behind the U.S., according to an annual report published March 11 by the European Fine Art Foundation. Yet that’s a decline from 24 percent in 2013, according to the report.

“There is a vibe around Art Basel and lots of clients want to be part of it,” said Edie Hu, art advisory specialst at Citi private bank in Hong Kong. “Though a lot of the cutting edge art might not be to their taste, when they come across something like a Picasso or Warhol they have seen before it’s like comfort food, for them.”
Expanded Offerings

While dealers are expanding their offerings of abstract and conceptual works, blue chip contemporary artists such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons have a captive audience in the region.

“I show Picasso, Basquiat, Henry Moore; they are attracted to this kind of art,” said dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, who is bringing two of Warhol’s works, and a Gerhard Richter with an asking price of about $8.5 million.

London’s Victoria Miro gallery is offering $2 million pumpkin sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and $225,000 tapestry works by Britain’s Grayson Perry.

Gajah Gallery is returning to the fair with Bali, Indonesia-based American painter Ashley Bickerton’s works, which provide a contemporary take on the fascination that 20th century painters had with Southeast Asian exoticism. The most expensive, “Party Time” is priced at $270,000.

Fair partner UBS Group AG said it expects several hundred high-net-worth private banking clients to fly in from around the region, and the bank expects as many as 8,000 visitors at its fair VIP lounge that displays works from its permanent collection including David Hockney, Hong Kong ink painter Wilson Hsieh and Wayne Thiebaud.
Satellite Fair

Those with more modest budgets can head to a new satellite fair, Art Central, which opens to the public March 14 in a tent on Hong Kong island’s waterfront. With 75 galleries from 21 countries, most works will be priced from $1,000 to $100,000, said managing director Charles Ross, who describes the fair as a “fun, fresh and edgy complement to Art Basel.”

While Art Basel has become increasingly dominated by international dealers, 65 percent of the contemporary galleries are from greater Asia, with 18 from Hong Kong alone.

Each year at this time Hong Kong’s social life goes into overdrive with gallery openings, charity auctions and champagne parties on rooftops, at poolsides and in parking garages.

New World’s Cheng, who hosted a dinner for 90 people Thursday, said he had invitations to 14 other events the same evening.

“That doesn’t even include the private bank requests,” said Cheng, who will try to squeeze in time to look at a dozen works he’s thinking of buying.

Elsewhere on Thursday, guests removed their Christian Louboutin heels to get into the party hosted by Zurich-based Bank Vontobel AG aboard the 27-meter-long (87 feet) Ferretti yacht organized by My Yacht Group founder Nicholas Frankl, who enforced a no-shoes policy.

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