Art Basel 2015
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Art Basel 2015

Art Basel a spectacle that’s mesmerising and overwhelming

Arts editor Kevin Kwong seeks out the big installations that offer breathing space at the annual art fair

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 March, 2015, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 March, 2015, 6:50pm

It's big, it's flashy, it's overwhelming - it's exactly what an international contemporary art trade show should be. And, love it or hate it, there is no denying that Art Basel 2015 is a spectacle. 

Returning for the third year, the art fair has a new regional director, Adeline Ooi, and a new curator, Alexie Glass-Kantor, for the "Encounter" section, which features 20 (yes, 20) large-scale sculptures/installations by artists from 14 countries. (In the past only 10 projects were featured in this section).‎

Seeking out these big artworks has always been a highlight of my Art Basel experience because I think they bring some edge, if not breathing space, to an otherwise hardcore commercial event. This year, though, hunting down these pieces, which are scattered throughout the venue, can be exhausting - but still worthwhile.

Cao Fei's Nu River Project, a video screened inside a tent, takes a look at the rapid and chaotic changes in contemporary China.

Siobhan Hapaska's Intifada - three uprooted olive trees suspended tied to constantly vibrating motors - is strangely mesmerising. I'll need to come back at least a couple of times more to see all 20 works.

Elsewhere there is some eye-catching art on show, including an untitled piece by Myeongbeom Kim at Gallery IHN's booth, and wall drawings by Shintaro Miyake (who drew another one as we watched). 

The usual suspects were in attendance at Friday's private viewing, including collectors, socialites, models and politicians' wives, as well as Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and soccer star Hidetoshi Nakata, who were seen mingling in the crowd.