Get set for Art Basel Hong Kong, the fair turning Asia's commerce-savvy metropolis into an influential Culture Club
BY ALEXI ROBINSON
Expect a swarm of eager artists, collectors and dealers to descend on Hong Kong this week as one of the world’s most dynamic art fairs hits town. The city’s burgeoning cultural scene continues to grow with the second edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, younger sibling to Art Basel Switzerland and Miami Beach, running from 15 to 18 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Once off the radar of the global art establishment, Hong Kong is currently the third largest art auction market after London and New York, benefitting from wealthy Chinese collectors and a freedom of expression unfamiliar to the mainland. At the show’s helm is Director Magnus Renfrew, who has jetted tirelessly across borders to forge relationships with gallerists and collectors. His ambition is to change western perceptions of what constitutes Chinese contemporary art, insisting there is fascinating work that engages with the reality of what it is like to live in China today.
ABOVE: 'Untitled', 2013, Wu Jian'an. Insights sector. Courtesy of Wu Jian'an and Chambers Fine Art
Tap or click on the row of images above to enlarge
Courtesy of Doug Aitken and 303 Gallery
ABOVE FROM LEFT:
'Untitled', Kishio Suga
Courtesy of Kishio Suga and Tomio Koyama Gallery
'Chongqing VI (Sunday Afternoon), Chongqing Municipality', 2006 Nadav Kander
Courtesy Nadav Kander and Blindspot Gallery
'Cube 48 Orange', 2014, Marta Chilindron
Courtesy of Marta Chilindron and Cecilia de Torres New York
Courtesy of Miyanaga Aiko and Mizuma Art Gallery
Art Basel Hong Kong, 2013
Courtesy of Art Basel
Embracing both established names and emerging talents, this year’s fair will feature around 245 leading galleries from 39 countries, including Asian powerhouse Pearl Lam Galleries. A-List artists are represented by the 170 esteemed contemporary players in the fair’s main Galleries sector. Among the 19 new exhibitors joining this edition are Michael Hoppen Gallery, Mazzoleni Galleria d’Arte and Tokyo Gallery. Already 50 per cent of galleries presented have exhibition spaces in the Asia-Pacific, and with more artists from the region being showcased we're certainly in for an education.
Visitors will navigate through six sectors: Galleries, Insights (Basel-specific Asia-Pacific work), Discoveries (next-gen talent), Encounters, Magazines and inaugural offering Film. Curated by Beijing Art Lab director Li Zhenhua, the exciting three-day programme will feature films by and about artists, hosted in collaboration with the Hong Kong Arts Centre, with free screenings at its agnès b. CINEMA. Encounters, a series of large-scale sculptures and installations dotted throughout the exhibition halls, will be overseen by Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.
For artist talks, book launches and discussions, the Salon series offers an informal setting, while Conversations presents talks and panel debates by prominent art world figureheads. Given Hong Kong’s pivotal position between East and West, the notion of crossing cultures should prove a common theme. Also look out for fringe events and parties around town, including Art Gallery Night on 13 May, promising free, public after-hours openings at 37 galleries, and Berlin artist Carsten Nicolai's app-interactive light installation, illuminating the city's skyline.