CULTURE
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Art Basel 2015

Hong Kong artists gather honours, attention at Art Basel and Art Central

Two locals are shortlisted for the BMW Art Journey, another wins the Rise Award

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 5:02am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 10:32am

It wasn't just overseas artists who took centre stage at Art Basel and Art Central. Hong Kong artists also shone, collecting honours and interest from local and overseas collectors, as well as museum directors and the general public.

While they appreciated the exposure, the artists expressed the hope that the public would also pay attention to their works outside the fair period as the art market did not necessarily present their artworks in the right context.

Hong Kong artists Samson Young and Trevor Yeung were honoured at Art Basel. Both were on a three-strong shortlist in the BMW Art Journey award for emerging artists, alongside New York-based artist Mika Tajima. All three will now submit proposals and compete for the final award by the end of April. Another Hong Kong artist, Vivian Poon, was awarded the Rise Award at Art Central.

Young caught attention with his Pastoral Music, at the am space gallery booth. Described as a "sound art performance", it examined Hong Kong's involvement in the second world war and the role of artists during conflicts. Young said displaying his works at the fair made them more accessible to an international audience and the general public, but he felt sad that the public focused on artists only around the time Art Basel was on.

"It's sad," he said. "We work and hold exhibitions at other times, but we have to rely on this occasion to be seen. Our art scene is inadequate."

Young said he hoped there would be a greater turnout for galleries and museum displays.

"This is a dilemma. We can't just have fairs," Young said.

Hong Kong artist Lui Chun-kwong, who had a solo exhibition at Gallery Exit, said it was difficult to stage solo exhibitions at museums here. "But Hong Kong artists are getting more exposure despite the commercial nature of these international events. It has had an impact on local institutions," he said.

The five-day Art Basel closed yesterday with nearly 60,000 visitors - slightly down on last year's figure as the fair extended its VIP showings to two days, while cutting the public section to three.

Galleries exhibiting at the fair said they had seen a more sophisticated crowd this year, and more collectors from the West.

"It works better for us this way as we can focus on the business side first before presenting our artworks to the public," said Mimi Chun of Hong Kong's Blindspot Gallery, which presented Trevor Yeung's photography-based artworks.

Other Hong Kong artists such as Leung Mee-ping and Wilson Shieh were also showcased at the fair. Tokyo's ShugoArts sold a work by Lee Kit for US$35,000.

"Hong Kong artists are beginning to enjoy a harvest this year with more international recognition, which they deserve," Chun said.