Art Basel Hong Kong has just wrapped up, and for those not in the know, here’s an explanation and review of the whole shebang.
Art Basel Hong Kong was formerly known as Hong Kong Art Fair until acquired by Art Basel three years ago. Originally not as popular as its older, sister fairs Miami and Basel, the Hong Kong offering is now a dynamic amalgamation of Eastern and Western cultures and creations. With the shift of the fair from May to March, the clash with other international art fairs was resolved and this year saw an increase in the number of buyers, sellers, collectors and visitors.
Art Basel Hong Kong is now an important platform for both Eastern and Western art and a vital part of the international circuit. With 37 countries in participation, there were a staggering 233 exhibitors that descended on the thriving port that is Hong Kong. The Art Basel website describes the city as 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.”
Galleries of note included the obvious, such as the Gagosian Gallery (owned by Larry Gagosian – yes, the same one mentioned in Jay Z’s ‘Picasso Baby’) that featured Nam June Paik’s ‘Golden Buddha’ 2005 – a golden Buddha sitting in quiet contemplation, watching its own reflection on a television placed opposite.
Western galleries are also making more of an impact as they move into the Eastern space, just as they are also doing in the UAE with the Guggenheim and The Louvre opening in Abu Dhabi, with the Gagosian, Pace, White Cube, Emmanuel Perrotin and Lehmann Maupin galleries now opening in Hong Kong. Despite this, Art Basel Hong Kong is still primarily an important stage for Eastern art, and artists such as Yoshitomo Nara (Pace Gallery), Nam June Paik (Gagosian), Sun Xun and new comers like Cambodian Leang Seckon (Rossi and Rossi) all making their mark on this festival.
Eight Australian galleries were shown this year, with ArtsHub listing “Jensen, Roslyn Oxley9, Anna Schwartz, Sullivan + Strumpf, Dianne Tanzer, Tolano, Murray White and Darren Knight for their first visit in the Discoveries section – while Art Central was the choice for Chalk Horse, Conny Dietzhold, M Contemporary, Martin Brown and Metro Gallery.” Apparently Art Central Hong Kong (a short taxi ride from Art Basel) was worth a visit, showing smaller, niche-artists, like my absolute favourite – Dale Frank.
The always impressive collection of Sullivan + Strumpf showed the boundary pushing nude sculptures by Sam Jinks, which received ample Instagram air-time. A nude woman, made form silicone, resin and human hair brought out the voyeur in all visitors. ArtsHub mentions that Sullivan + Strumpf was “presenting two editions of five, one sold out and the second almost also by the start of the weekend, and several days still to go” even though they were priced at $AUD200,000 – just one indication of thriving fair sales.
Sullivan + Strumpf
The political undercurrent in Hong Kong’s art scene, for me personally, remains a point of contention that serves to work in favour of creation for most artists. However as we all know, art is subjective, so here are a couple of amazing art world personalities who have shared their picks: Jeffrey Deitch’s and Alan Lau’s picks from the fair