Malaysian curator and art advisor Adeline Ooi has been made the new director Asia to head the development of Art Basel in Hong Kong. The appointment was announced this afternoon – six months after previous Asia director Magnus Renfrew announced his departure from Art Basel to rejoin Bonhams as its Asia deputy chairman and director of fine arts, Asia. A fine arts graduate from Central Saint Martins, London, Ooi has been a VIP relations manager for Art Basel focusing on Southeast Asia for two years. She also runs a Malaysian-based cultural agency called RogueArt advising on artists and galleries as well as corporate and private collections. Ooi was previously a curator and programme director of Valentine Willie Fine Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. “With her wide background in curating and advising, Adeline brings experience and contacts across the diverse art scenes within Asia and the Asia-Pacific region,” Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel, said in a statement. “My focus for the initial months as Director Asia will be on supporting the team in delivering the upcoming show in Hong Kong,” Ooi said in a statement. She will take up the new job in January. However, the appointment came as a surprise to some in the art world in Hong Kong, who had expected the Swiss-owned fair to bring in a high calibre character from the outside. They also questioned the prospects of the modern and contemporary art fair after a long-time talent search. Following Renfrew’s departure, previous co-director Annette Schönholzer stepped down in August after spending 12 years with Art Basel. Spiegler has repeatedly assured the operation of Art Basel will be unaffected. Art Basel launched its first Asia show in Hong Kong in 2013. It previously held two other fairs in Basel in Switzerland and Miami in the US. The move was seen as a bid to strengthen Hong Kong’s status in the global art market. The fair will return to the city in mid-March as the show will be brought forward from May to March to fit in with the international art world calendar. A total of 233 galleries from 37 countries and territories have been selected for the upcoming fair between March 15 and 17. Meanwhile, the team that founded ART HK will launch a new contemporary art fair called Art Central from March 14 to 16. A large tent will be set up at the Central harbourfront to showcase contemporary ink art and edgy art works.