Tue, Apr 03, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Art Basel Hong Kong: expanding globally

The annual art extravaganza continues to grow with rising international interest

By Sheryl Cheung  /  Contributing reporter

Chi-Wen Gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong.

Photo Courtesy of Art Basel

This year’s Art Basel Hong Kong saw a record-breaking deal just two hours into its VIP preview night last Tuesday.

New York-based Levy Gorvy Gallery announced that it sold a William De Kooning painting from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s collection at a price of US$35 million, a new high for the six-year-old fair.

“The growth of the collecting community in the [Asia] region is astonishing and very encouraging,” said gallery director Brett Gorvy.

Attracting 70,000 visitors on average, the fair has established itself as the premier platform for doing art business in Asia. Each March, leading galleries and collectors from Asia and beyond descend onto Hong Kong for a five-day art extravaganza. While the fair has mantained a focus on galleries based in Asia, its gallery roster is becoming increasingly international due to growing global interest in the Asian market.

EXCESSIVE FOOT TRAFFIC

The two days of extended private preview this year allowed collectors to view the art relatively undisturbed. On days open to the public, however, the fair was plagued with overcrowded aisles that compromised its overall experience.

Virtual reality work especially had difficulty being accessible in the art fair setting, due to its technical setup that requires only one viewer at a time. To experience Timur Si-Qin’s Mirrorscape, for example, visitors waited in line for almost an hour for a 12-minute viewing session.

In the midst of the packed aisles, 12 large, site-specific installations located between each gallery block provided a visual breather away from the sales-driven galleries.

Featured prominently on the first floor was Taiwanese artist Chou Yu-cheng’s (周育正) performance installation featuring a female performer and a robot vacuum machine cleaning a pile of larger-than-life tableware propped against a blank wall. On the other side of the wall, a male performer standing next to a set of Dyson air purifiers recites what appears to be a reinterpreted product description of the nouveau-looking devices. The work, entitled Refresh, Sacrifice, New Hygiene, Infection, Clean, Robot, Air, Housekeeping, agentbong.com, Cigarette, Dyson, Modern People attracted groups of onlookers with its curious showcase of mundane labor and collaboration between machine and man.

TAIWANESE PRESENCE

The presence of Taiwanese artists, galleries, and collectors were well noted this year. Collector Rudy Tseng (曾文泉) had reportedly made multiple purchases at the fair, while R.C. Chen (陳榮泉) and Patrick Sun (孫啟越) were also spotted. A total of seven Taipei-based galleries were represented in the fair, including Eslite Gallery (誠品畫廊), Tina Keng Gallery (耿畫廊), TKG+, Chi-Wen Gallery (其玟畫廊), Liang Gallery (尊彩藝術中心), Project Fulfill Artspace (就在藝術空間) and Soka Art (索卡藝術中心).

Chi-Wen Gallery’s booth struck a particularly nuanced balance between commerce and curatorial vision. Featuring a range of video and photography works by Chang Chien-chi (張墘奇), Chang Chao-tang (張照堂), Chen Yin-ju (陳瀅如), Peng Hung-chi (彭弘智) and Yu Cheng-ta (余政達), the gallery offered a variety of quality works that shared an interest in social and political concerns.

Eslite Gallery’s booth also delivered an engaging presentation that focused on Malaysian artist Wong Hoy-cheong (黃海昌). A series of wittily staged photographs depict Malaysian maids posing as Hollywood superheroes, while a pair of hand-made alphabet books were displayed in acrylic cases on wooden pedestals. The two books are reconstructed from torn excerpts and blended pulp of four publications that deal with the concept of the other.

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