Art Basel 2015

Art Basel 2015

Hong Kong full of creativity as galleries channel Art Basel buzz

Central is awash with art, from giant installations to a glass-enclosed doormat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 March, 2015, 12:50pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 March, 2015, 10:56pm

Our tour of galleries staging shows to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong begins at Exchange Square in Central where, if you have 15 minutes to spare, you should go and see a boat - Chinese artist Zhu Jinshi’s Boat, that is. The 18-metre-long, seven-metre-high installation stands out like an elephant in the room amid the business centre’s hectic flow of office workers.

The Rotunda, Exchange Square, until March 31.

After crossing Connaught Road Central and walking a few blocks west, we arrive at Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes’ solo exhibit at White Cube’s spacious gallery. Apart from one acrylic-on-linen painting, all the works on view are medium-sized collages that look like splashes of vibrant – and sometimes sparkling – colour made to contrast with the sparse, white walls.

White Cube Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, until May 30.

Nothing tells a visitor he has left reality and entered the world of art more bluntly than a doormat encased in a glass box. But though this new piece by Gregor Hildebrandt – which welcomes the audience at Galerie Perrotin’s entrance – may look a gimmick, his other works made of vinyl records, VHS and cassette tapes are all fascinating in their evocation of the mechanism of recording and, by extension, remembering.

Galerie Perrotin, 50 Connaught Road Central, until April 25.

In a smaller room at Galerie Perrotin is a preview display of three pieces by French artist JR, whose current project “Ghosts of Ellis Island” serves as a kind of reconstructed, photographic record of New York’s long-abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. As if the images themselves were not spooky enough, the lights in the room are dimmed to give a further touch of dereliction.

Galerie Perrotin, 50 Connaught Road Central, until April 25.

Inside Edouard Malingue Gallery’s new space is Wang Wei’s exhibition "Two Rooms", which may well be regarded as one giant work. Taking inspiration from the Beijing Zoo, the Chinese artist’s immersive setting includes a cast iron radiator trapped in a metal cage, two floor-to-ceiling paintings that are respectively around 15 metres in length, as well as three bananas (one of which is eaten) on the floor.

Edouard Malingue Gallery, 6/F, 33 Des Voeux Road Central, until April 15.

On our way to the Pedder Building we stop by The Landmark to check out “Take Another View on Art”, an exhibition that requires you to look through telescopes at paintings (by Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, Zeng Fanzhi and others) hung from the mall's ceiling. On our visit, a couple of the eyepieces are missing, and many of the telescopes are not pointing at the paintings they’re meant to. Still, the celestial dome created by architect William Lim may well qualify as an artwork in its own right.

The Landmark, until March 31.

Across the road, our tour of Pedder Building begins from the top with Rudolf Stingel’s exhibition of his nickel- and gold-plated paintings. Here, the cynics would question what a painting should otherwise look like, while the New York-based artist’s defenders would take those questions as a compliment; a scattered few mainland Chinese collectors would be thrilled to discover a glossier purchase than gold Apple Watches.

Gagosian Gallery, 7/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, until May 9.

One floor down, and we’re in for a completely different perspective as we look at contemporary abstract art. Entitled “Perfection by Chance”, the Gao Minglu-curated group exhibition is the latest  in Pearl Lam Galleries’ “Yi Pai” series, and features by Chinese artists such as Qin Yufen, Su Xiaobai, Su Xinping and Yang Zhilin.

Pearl Lam Galleries, 6/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, until May 10.

On the fourth floor, we encounter a quite different type of Chinese painting in the solo exhibition of prominent artist Xu Longsen. While employing the traditional technique of ink and brush, the Shanghai-born shanshui master doesn’t shy away from splashing his vision on a monumental scale. Measuring 2.8 metres by 6.1 metres, his ink-on-paper Contemplating Purity is a worthy piece to anchor the show.

Hanart TZ Gallery, 401, 4/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, until March 28.

It’s a nice change of pace to walk into Los Angeles-based artist Alex Prager’s exhibition at the other end of the fourth floor. Featuring five large-scale photographs from her ongoing contemplation about crowds, as well as the short film Face in the Crowd (2013), starring Elizabeth Banks, the show provides a visually striking experience that will please those bored out of their minds by the last three shows we visited.

Lehmann Maupin, 407, 4/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, until May 16.

To continue the tour, go to