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.
Local galleries set to shine at Art Basel Hong Kong
Fair lives up to reputation of backing local artists
Bonnie E. Engel
Art Basel is known for attracting international galleries that boast long track records and have earned worldwide respect and faithful buyers. These galleries bring in the works of world-renowned artists and often let collectors have the first look at new works.
The fair also affords newcomers to the art market a chance to become acquainted with some of the best work on the market today, a sort of strolling primer of modern and contemporary art, paintings, prints, sculpture, performances, film, video, installations and mixed-media that are important and influential.
Perhaps just as important is that the Art Basel fair in all three of its incarnations (Basel, Switzerland; Miami, Florida; and Hong Kong) brings in home-grown art by selecting galleries from the local geographies.
Hong Kong has emerged as an important art hub in Asia for several reasons: there are a number of substantial auctions and art fairs held in the city; there is greater interest from mainlanders who are starting to become serious about fine art; and the city offers multiple attractions with its low taxes, substantial infrastructure, rule of law, lack of censorship and the relatively large number of local billionaires. All these factors allow for a thriving Hong Kong gallery scene.
The local galleries that survived the rigorous selection process for Art Basel HK are: Grotto Fine Arts, presenting "Flow: Hong Kong Experimental Ink Art" by artists including Hung Fai, Wong Yee-ki and Eunice Cheung; Anna Ning Fine Art, which brings works from famous older Chinese artists such as Zao Wou-ki, Chu The-chun, Wu Guanzhong, Zhang Xiaogang, and Liu Wei; the sculpture specialist Koru Contemporary Art and Gallery EXIT; and the Pakistani art specialist Gandhara Art, which specialises in Pakistan's old masters such as Imran Qureshi, Syed Sadequain and Ismail Gulgee, plus some contemporary artists.
Other well-respected Hong Kong fine art galleries participating in the fair's Galleries sector are 10 Chancery Lane, Hanart TZ, Osage, and Alisan Fine Arts, the latter famous for supporting traditional and modern ink and brush paintings and the Hong Kong Ink Society.
Among the local galleries included in the Insights section are Galerie Ora-Ora, Blindspot, Edouard Malingue and Galerie du Monde.
The international galleries exhibiting at the fair that also have a presence in Hong Kong are Pearl Lam Galleries, Ben Brown, de Sarthe, White Cube, Lehmann Maupin, Gagosian, Simon Lee, Galerie Perrotin and Rossi & Rossi. Many of these dealers have several locations around the world and bring Asian and Western art to Hong Kong year round.
Simon Lee is showing British artist Toby Ziegler at the gallery, Galerie Perrotin has artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, and Edouard Malingue Gallery is showing Sun Xun's new animation, sculptures and paintings at the gallery and works by Yuan Yuan at the fair.
Meanwhile, de Sarthe Gallery exhibits "Pioneers of Modern Chinese Painting in Paris", featuring older Chinese artists of the highest calibre. Those who left China between 1880 and 1950 were overwhelmed by the art in Europe, particularly Paris.
These first- and second-generation Chinese expatriate artists include Lin Fengmian, Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-chun, Kazuo Shiraga and T'ang Haywen. This important group of reform-minded artists established significant conventions of the early 20th century, reconciling the visual languages of China and Europe. New pioneers of contemporary art from China such as Lin Jingjing, Wang Guofeng, Zhou Wendou and Zhao Jinhe are also highlighted at the art fair, continuing the narrative of modernisation in Chinese art. Diverging from historical precedents, these leading artists practice in the international forum of contemporary art, making an impact on the global scene with an Asian voice.
Pearl Lam Galleries, Gallery EXIT and Hanart TZ are also participating in the Encounters section, presenting profoundly different artworks on the two 16-metre "boulevards" in the two halls that host large-scale installations and performances.
Pearl Lam Galleries is bringing The Remnant of My Volition (Force Majeure), by Hong Kong artist Morgan Wong; Hanart TZ shows United Nations: Man & Space, 1999-2000, by Chinese artist Gu Wenda; and Gallery EXIT is presenting Blue, 2013, a series of 13 sculptures created by Chinese artist Yang Xinguang.
Local galleries not participating in Art Basel HK are putting up special exhibitions, including at new art sub-hubs around town such as Chai Wan, Sheung Wan and Aberdeen. There are also a few special events at the Hong Kong artists' enclave in Fo Tan.
A collaboration between Nadim Abbas, one of Hong Kong's most exciting young artists, and Absolut Vodka on an ambitious site-specific art bar will be open daily at Art Basel. Abbas' art explores technologies of perception, drawing thematic inspiration from literature, psychology and science to create immersive and multisensory environments. Abbas will present a changing nightly programme of live music, DJ sets, screenings and theatrical performances, all curated by the artist.
Art Basel is also working closely with key cultural organisations across the city, including Asia Art Archive, the Asia Society, Para/Site Art Space, Spring Workshop and M+, Hong Kong's future museum for visual culture, offering an associated programme of events on-site and throughout the city that will take place concurrently with the show.