Art Basel Hong Kong Finishes With Reports Of Buoyant Sales

Art Basel Hong Kong report

The second edition of Art Basel Hong Kong has closed with dealers reporting buoyant sales over the five day period. The line-up of 245 galleries representing 39 countries and territories across the world participated in Art Basel Hong Kong’s event. With over 50 percent of galleries having exhibition spaces in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, Art Basel underlined its deep commitment to the region. The show was attended by over 65,000 visitors.

The events popularity proves that the art scenes across Asia are dynamic enough to sustain and support a truly global and world-class art fair, despite a dates conflict that prevented some major Western collectors and galleries from attending this year. The quality of artworks brought to the show and the high level of presentation excited new and returning collectors from across Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, including: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mainland China, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates. Asia’s strong collectors turnout was complemented by collectors travelling from as far away as Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Directors, curators, trustees and patrons from leading museums and institutions came to the show, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Asia Society, New York; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Louvre, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; OCAT, Shenzhen, Beijing; The Royal Academy, London; Tate Modern, London; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing. Artists from across the world attended the show, including: Nadim Abbas, Miquel Barceló, Wim Delvoye, Gu Wenda, Lee Kit, Lee Wen, Liu Kuo-Sung, Ahmed Mater, Mariko Mori, Oscar Murillo, Takashi Murakami, Carsten Nicolai, The Propeller Group, Tobias Rehberger, Fabienne Verdier, Zhang Wei, Su Xiaobai, Sun Xun and Zeng Fanzhi.

“We are thrilled with the results of the second edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong. There were many more collectors from the region in attendance this year, reflecting nearly every country across Asia, and the quality of the fairgoing experience continues to improve.” —Nick Simunovic, Director, Gagosian Gallery (New York, Hong Kong, Paris, London, Rome, Geneva, Beverly Hills)

The ‘first day’ opening of the show was marked with a special audio-visual installation ‘α (alpha) pulse’ by the internationally renowned German artist Carsten Nicolai. Commissioned by Art Basel, the artwork generated light patterns pulsating across the entire façade of Hong Kong’s iconic 490-meter high International Commerce Centre (ICC), the 7th-highest building in the world. Like a lighthouse, the tower sent its pulses into the city, visible to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents and visitors, while an accompanying mobile phone application allowed audiences across the city to participate in one of the largest artworks to be presented in Hong Kong. Throughout the city, Hong Kong‘s galleries and cultural organizations hosted over 150 cultural events to coincide with Art Basel, including the openings of two new internationally prominent galleries in the Entertainment Building – Pace Gallery and Axel Vervoordt.

The reports from galleries proved highly positive: “It is always exciting to be in Hong Kong and the energy at this year’s fair was remarkable. We greatly enjoyed meeting with collectors and museum curators from the region, and had a very positive response to the gallery’s program, with particular interest in painters Yayoi Kusama, Oscar Murillo, Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans, Neo Rauch, and Michaël Borremans, and of course the work of Jeff Koons and Donald Judd. Notable connections included collectors from Taipei, Australia, Beijing, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and New Zealand.” —David Zwirner, Owner, David Zwirner Gallery (New York, London)

The fair was accompanied by a strong public program, including the Asian debut of Art Basel’s popular Film sector – a three-day program of 49 films by 41 artists, represented by 31 galleries participating in the fair. Screened at the agnès b. CINEMA at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the program was curated by Li Zhenhua, the Beijing and Zurich-based curator, multi-media artist and producer. Highlights included works by international artists such as Sookoon Ang, Takashi Ishida, John Latham, Dinh Q. Lê, Roman Signer, Nina Yuen and Hong Kong artists, Kwan Sheung Chi and Christopher Doyle.

Dealers in the main sector of the show, presented 171 of the world’s most established Modern and contemporary art galleries, selected on the strength of their overall gallery program. Returning galleries were joined by 20 new exhibitors including: Anna Schwartz Gallery, Applicat-Prazan, Brame & Lorenceau, Galleria Franco Noero, Galerie Hubert Winter, Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, gdm, Gerhardsen Gerner, Grieder Contemporary, Hammer Galleries, Mazzoleni Galleria D’Arte, Meessen De Clercq, Meyer Riegger, Michael Hoppen Gallery, Michael Lett, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, and Zach Feuer Gallery.

The innovative Discoveries sector presented a particularly strong showcase of younger artists from across the world with solo- and two-person exhibitions. This year, the sector featured 27 galleries. The 25,000 USD Discoveries Prize was awarded to Nadia Kaabi-Linke, presented by Experimenter from Kolkata, and whose work was praised by the jury for its ‘strength in aesthetics and content and confidence of artistic language’. The artist was chosen by an expert panel of judges: Cosmin Costinas, Outset Curator of Contemporary Art and Executive Director of Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong; Juliana Engberg, Artistic Director of the 2014 Biennale of Sydney and Artistic Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Elaine Ng, Editor and Publisher of ArtAsiaPacific Magazine.

Over 17 artworks were presented in Encounters, curated by Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and dedicated to showing large-scale sculptural installations and performances by artists including Miyanaga Aiko, Rebecca Baumann, Marta Chilindron, Gu Wenda, Lee Wen, Michael Lin, Tobias Rehberger, Shen Shaomin, Kishio Suga, Sun Xun, Atelier Van Lieshout, Wang Jianwei, Morgan Wong, Xu Qu, Yang Xinguang, Yeesookyung and Yu Cheng-Ta.

Conversations and Salon, Art Basel’s talks program, attracted more than 1,800 visitors and presented renowned cultural figures from Asia and across the international art world. This year the Premiere Artist Talk featured legendary Chinese artist Liu Kuo-Sung in conversation with Lesley Ma, Curator of Ink Art, M+, Hong Kong. The program also included a talk on ‘Cross Cultural Collecting’ featuring Shareen Khatter, Takeo Obayashi, Gene Sherman and Lu Xun, exploring whether an Eastern and Western way of collecting exists in today’s world. The debate examined where collectors’ responsibilities lie when it comes to promoting cross-cultural exchange and arts education. The afternoon Salon program featured artist talks, panel discussions and lectures with artists, curators, museum directors and researchers and included ‘Made in Hong Kong: On Collecting Milk Pudding and Table Cloths’ with Nadim Abbas, Lee Kit, William Lim and Christoph Noe.

“Art Basel in Hong Kong has consolidated its position as the leading fair in Asia and a key fixture in the international art calendar, strengthening our relationships with collectors from Mainland China and wider Asia. We placed major works in expanding collections and ambitious private museums.” –Neil Wenman, Senior Director, Hauser & Wirth (Zurich, London, New York)  Now onto the main event which takes place next month in the Swiss city of Basel.