Art Basel Hong Kong promises big showing in May

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 3:45am

The first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong will feature 245 art galleries from 35 countries showcasing works from modern masters to rising stars.

The works of several Hong Kong artists will be presented alongside their regional counterparts' at the fair in May, which organisers hope will attract more international collectors and art leaders to the city.

Art Basel, which originates from Switzerland, is one of the world's most famous modern and contemporary art fair.

The Hong Kong edition comes after organiser MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) in 2011 acquired 60 per cent of Asian Art Fairs, organiser of the Hong Kong International Art Fair (ART HK).

The number of galleries featured in the Art Basel Hong Kong is slightly less than that in last year's ART HK, which hosted 266 galleries from 38 countries and drew more than 67,000 visitors.

But the selection for this year's fair was so rigorous that the selection committee of renowned gallery operators accepted just 40 per cent of their applicants.

"We are struck by the number of young international galleries applying," Art Basel co-director Marc Spiegler said. "They are not rich, and they are taking a lot of risks coming to Hong Kong. This indicates that young ambitious galleries see the value of Asia."

Art Basel Asia director, Magnus Renfrew, said cultural events and seminars would be held at the fair. Of the galleries, 48 - including New York's 303 Gallery and Mexico City's Galerie OMR - are making a Hong Kong debut.

As in last year's ART HK, 28 galleries are homegrown or international galleries with a branch in Hong Kong, Renfrew said.

The fair will feature four sections, with 171 galleries in the main section, Galleries. The Insights section will have 47 galleries from Asia and the Pacific on display; the Discoveries section will have 27 galleries featuring emerging contemporary artists, and the Encounters section will showcase large-scale sculptures and installation works.

Entrance to the fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 23 to 26 costs HK$250 with a free smartphone app to guide visitors.