The debut of Art Basel Hong Kong debut not only brings upon an art overdose but also a party overdose which has seen too many events and parties clashing with each other over the past week.
Nevertheless, the fatigue did not stop the city’s most glammed up faces flocking to what could be the biggest art parties in the region.
Insiders said they have observed a “Tatlerisation” going on in Hong Kong’s art scene. With less gala dinners and charity balls held today compared to the colonial times, there has been a lack of platforms for the high society to socialise.
The collector said he has received more than 10 invitations to gallery dinners, which are overlapping with each other. He said he will skip most of them. “They are irrelevant to seeing art,” the collector said.
But like it or not, it has been a great week for parties. On Wednesday after the VIPs have done their shopping quietly in the afternoon at the fair, the Convention and Exhibition Centre opened to the vernissage where party goers in five inch killer heels (who might also like art) arrived to mingle, and the real VIPs were off for private gallery dinners. One of them was said to be David Tang’s private dinner for super model Kate Moss.
The crowd switched to the post-vernissage party thrown by K11’s Adrian Cheng and Modern Media’s Thomas Shao. The party at the Grand Hyatt had to move indoors from the Plateau to Tiffin due to the black rainstorm on Wednesday morning. Nearly a thousand movers and shakers lined up to enter – even Canto-pop singer Gigi Leung Wing-kei had to find a way to jump the queue with her Spaniard husband. Some VIPs such as Swiss collector Uli Sigg turned up late after dinner time.
Luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet also threw a party at exactly the same time at the latest “it” place Duddell’s, a private club bringing fine art and fine dining together opened by Alan Lo, Paulo Pong and Yenn Wong. Actor Louis Ku Tin-lok and actress Sandra Ng Kwan-yu attended the watch party after posing in front of paintings at the art fair.
But the party week peaked on Thursdau night with the return of Bazaar Art Night. Jointly presented by Bazaar Art China magazine and the Royal Academy of Arts, the gala took place at the Four Seasons Hotel.
The event was perceived as THE party of the Art Basel period as top artists, dealers and celebrities from local and abroad were brought together to dine at the long tables beneath the massive light sculpture installation Golden Connection by Peruvian artist Grimanesa Amoros. Many tried to score an invitation frantically to the event weeks before it took place.
It was understandable why it was the most sought after party. Some of the art world’s biggest names - German photographer Andreas Gursky, American dealer Larry Gagosian, and curator and writer Hans Ulrich Obrist - were honoured at an award presentation ceremony hosted by Chinese top TV show host Chen Luyu.
Some of the most famous Chinese artists – Zeng Fangzhi and Zhang Huan – were spotted mingling at the gala. Representing Hong Kong were celebrities including actress Carina Lau Ka-ling, Gigi Leung Wing-kei and fellow Canto-pop singer Kenny Bee. Socialites Fanny Sit and Yvette Yuen were among the guests. Pansy Ho Chiu-king, managing director of Shun Tak Holdings and an avid collector, was seen socializing in an eye-catching sequined dress. Pictures of Moss and British fashion designer Stella McCartney posing at the hotel have been circulated online.
Funnily enough, only a handful from the Hong Kong art scene were present at such an “art dinner” taking place in Hong Kong.
Following the dinner, the crowd – having each been given a suitcase of Bazaar Art magazines as a party gift – dragged their suitcases to Fly for the after party thrown by international collector Richard Chang and Hong Kong fashion royalty Dee Poon. The Ice House Street club was so crowded that many had trouble getting in, even one of the hosts.
On Monday there were at least five gallery receptions, the preview of Est-Ouest Spring Auctions, and the Asia Society Hong Kong host an inaugural art gala dinner honouring Asian contemporary artists including Lee Ufan from South Korea, Nyoman Masriadi and Zeng Fanzhi from mainland.
Tuesday was crowded with nearly 10 cultural events. Japanese artist Takashi Murakami opened the solo exhibition of his new works at Galerie Perrotin in Central. In the same building, White Cube had the opening of the Jake and Dinos Chapman’s epic yet grotesque installation The Sum of all Evil. A number of gallery openings also took place at Pedder Building in Central on that night.
The private sector is seizing the chance but the public sector is also joining the game.
Embark! Beyond the Horizon, the inaugural exhibition of government contemporary art site Oi! in Oil Street, North Point opened on Thursday.
The Hong Kong Arts Centre unveiled its collectors exhibition on the same day and West Kowloon’s M+ also held a VIP tour for its current exhibition Mobile M+: Inflation!
Four satellite fairs are held in addition to Art Basel Hong Kong.
“There are so many more events compared to the last year. I guess it’s because Art Basel is a big international name,” said arts and culture spokesman Heiman Ng.