Hong Kong Art Basel 2016 Art Diary
The Art Partners would like to share with readers our personal reflection of Hong Kong Art Basel and the main highlights which we have been impressed by and are keen to memorise. We don’t want to be narrative and describe the storyline of our schedule: the whirlwind of meetings, openings, cocktails and only limited time to see all the art spots. We want to share our best memories of the fair as and for the art lovers. As well as being our profession, this is definitely our main passion.
No cocktails, no Asian market analysis, no social agenda. Just a pure diary of art addicts as a reflection of our taste and vision.
The 21st of March
The international arrival day for Art Basel visitors. Unpacked and ready for the evening, the crowd separated between the openings at the Pedder building, White Cube and Perrotin at 50 Connaught Road and the celebration of the K11 Art Foundation, together Serpentine Gallery’s exhibition ''Hack Space'' curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Lehmann Maupin and White Cube represented a joint exhibition I Cried Because I Love You, by Tracey Emin. Provocative as usual, but deeply emotional artworks that have been shown for the first time in Greater China.
The historic Pedder building highlights included Dan Colen's exhibition at Gagosian, first solo show of London-based artist Dexter Dalwood at Simon Lee and Massimo de Carlo's new space. Pearl Lam Galleries represented a group show by six contemporary international artists. With a reference to Marcel Proust, beautifully curated exhibition Structures of Recollection by Paul Moorhouse examines the perception of material as 'a trigger for memory forms'.
The 22nd of March
Before Art Basel opened its fourth edition for preview, we got a chance to visit M+ Sigg Collection exhibition, dedicated to the development of Chinese contemporary art over four decades. This comprehensive history created a dialogue between the artworks executed in different time, media and context. From Ai Weiwei to Yangjiang Group, the show became a perfect first step as a preparation and introduction to contemporary Chinese art which has been represented at the Convention Centre. The retrospective became a bridge between old and new and gave a historical base and context for the perception of the younger generation of artists.
The first preview day was spent at the first level of The Convention Center, where all the art world high-powered galleries such as Gagosian, David Zwirner and Simon Lee were showing.
Our personal choice and great excitement were to see the new series of artworks (or just simply masterpieces) by Frank Stella at Marienne Boesky booth. The Wooden Star I had arrived from a recent retrospective at Whitney Museum of American Art. Intensive modelling process, unique technique, 3D shaping created a highly aesthetic legacy to Frank Stella’s Stars.
It was great to visit Selma Feriani’s booth at HK Art Basel. For their first time at the fair, they decided to show Tunisian artists Lina Ben Rejeb and Nidhal Chamekh. Most notable to me was the artwork Comme Il Vous Plaira (As you like it), which was constituted by 100 notebooks. Lina Ben Rejeb experimented with different patterns and styles on each paper of a notebook. The notebook meant as an archive of our memories, thoughts, choices and decisions. The same art piece can always look differently by opening a new page.
As was mentioned by Art Basel Hong Kong director, Adeline Ooi, at the press conference “Asia isn’t just China”, this was an amazing opportunity to meet Asian artists and galleries. The Tatsuo Miyajima’s artworks at SCAI gallery from Tokyo reflected his three main statements which are nothing can be stable, everything is linked with each other and everything lasts forever. His vibrant, always changing flashing art pieces caught lots of attention.
The other most popular works both at the fair and on Instagram became Olafur Eliasson's installation at Neugerriemschneider and Thomas Saraceno at Esther Scipper.
The 23rd of March
Conrad Shawcross sculptures, Paradigm Studies, at London-based gallery Victoria Miro took the attention of the visitors as soon as they entered the third level of the fair. Paradigm is a new public artwork recently installed in King’s Cross at the Francis Crick Institute. Other impressive and monumental sculptures were represented at Galerie Lelong by Jaume Plensa.
Many art professionals and collectors agreed that the third floor had relatively more young and fresh selection of the works than elsewhere. One good example can be abstract artist Coen Young at Jensen Gallery from Sydney.
Meanwhile the Art Central Hong Kong highlighted the next generation of talent alongside galleries from across Asia and the rest of the world.
The 24th of March
Besides commerciality and an essentially business approach, art fairs are also becoming a great opportunity for cultural exchange and education purposes. One of the talks at the HK Art Programme was dedicated to Teaching Art in the 21 Century, and the main talk highlights were Tracey Emin’s presentation and debates on ‘Art today has sold out to the market’ moderated by Tim Marlow.
The artist talk with Angel Vergara at Axel Vervoordt Gallery hosted by The Cultivist was a great pleasure to attend and find out more about the research and inspiration of the artist. Unfortunately, time management is everything and it’s hard sometimes to comprise everything into the schedule.
Contrast is always a good idea; for example combining an art educational morning and the ‘rock and roll opening’ evening program, with attending the first solo show in Asia by the artist from LA Blakhat. The most impactful artwork in this show was ‘Mao’ with a strong sense of opposition, and in a perfectly chosen city for the first showing (Hong Kong) by Artizians.
Next year there will be even more exciting openings and new inspiring art shows and we are looking forward to coming back.