Art Basel HK Verdict – Encouraging Sales Across The Board For 2017




Art Basel’s fifth edition in Hong Kong has closed with encouraging sales recorded across all levels of the market. This demonstrates a continued demand for high-quality works by the world’s leading international collectors and institutions. Attendance at this year’s show, whose Lead Partner is UBS, rose to nearly 80,000 – due to the introduction of evening ticket sales and improved crowd control measures – and attracted leading members of the international art world. Many observers felt that this edition had built on the show’s strong history to attain new levels – Art Basel in Hong Kong now not only stands as the premier fair in Asia but also as one of the leading fairs worldwide.

‘Art Basel in Hong Kong keeps getting better and better’ – Pearl Lam Founder Pearl Lam Galleries

Over the five day period, private collectors, as well as directors, curators, trustees and patrons from more than 78 leading international museums and institutions across 18 countries, attended the show, including Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney); Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (Auckland); Centre Pompidou (Paris); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.); Long Museum (Shanghai); MoMA PS1 (New York); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo); Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney); National Gallery Singapore (Singapore); National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul); New Museum (New York); Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco); Serpentine Galleries (London); Tate (London) and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York). With numerous gallery openings and an expanded program of parallel events, the Art Basel week continued to spotlight Hong Kong’s vibrant arts and cultural scene.

This latest edition featured 242 premier galleries from 34 countries, presenting contemporary and Modern art from around the world. Highlighting Art Basel’s commitment to the region, about half of the participating galleries have exhibition spaces in the Asia-Pacific region. Alongside many long-term exhibitors, 29 galleries took part for the first time including 10 new galleries from Asia: A+ Contemporary, Bank, C-Space and Hive Center for Contemporary Art from Mainland China; imura art gallery and The Third Gallery Aya from Japan; Jhaveri Contemporary from India; Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery from Hong Kong, Mind Set Art Center from Taiwan and The Third Line from Dubai; 10 new galleries from Europe including: Alfonso Artiaco and Thomas Brambilla from Italy; Galerie Buchholz, Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Kadel Willborn and König Galerie from Germany; High Art and mor Charpentier from France, Project Native Informant and Waddington Custot from the United Kingdom; nine new galleries from the Americas including: Aicon Gallery, Clearing, Luxembourg & Dayan, Sundaram Tagore Gallery and Various Small Fires from the United States; Bergamin & Gomide, Athena Contemporânea, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel from Brazil and kurimanzutto from Mexico.

What the Galleries said:

‘This has been another important year at Art Basel in Hong Kong. We had significant sales with a strong response from Asian collectors, including those from Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan. The fair and Hong Kong’s art scene are certainly gaining momentum, and we look forward to the opening of our Hong Kong gallery in early 2018 in the H Queen’s building.’ David Zwirner, Founder, –  David Zwirner, New York, London

‘We are delighted with the level of sales at this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong. A major piece by Theaster Gates sold to a private museum in China and will be on public view. Other notable sales include works by Georg Baselitz, Imi Knoebel, Josiah McElheny, Larry Bell, Jannis Kounellis, Gabriel Orozco, Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin. Mona Hatoum’s work ‘Kapan Iki’ has been sold to an important museum in the region.’ – Daniela Gareh, Director, White Cube, London, Hong Kong

‘Art Basel in Hong Kong was a great success this year, with spectacular crowds and enthusiastic new collectors from all over Southeast Asia – our booth nearly sold out by the end of the second day. We were especially impressed by the private museums and foundations whose directors were out in force at the fair.’  Marc Glimcher, President, Pace, New York, London, Menlo Park, Beijing, Hong Kong, Paris, Palo Alto, Seoul

‘It has been a remarkable fair for us. We are thrilled that our artists’ work across all sectors – Galleries, Encounters and the newly launched Kabinett – have been very well received. Art Basel is the perfect international platform to promote the long history of Korean art to an international audience.’  Hyun-Sook Lee, Founder and Chairwoman, Kukje Gallery / Tina Kim Gallery, Seoul, New York

‘Art Basel in Hong Kong keeps getting better and better. The fair always brings people together. We have been reconnecting with collectors, curators and museum directors from around the world, and we have also met many new faces from Asia and beyond.’ Pearl Lam, Founder, Pearl Lam Galleries, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore

‘The fair continues to build on the success of previous editions. Art Basel in Hong Kong is one of the few fairs where we expect to do business throughout the week, not just on an opening day, and this year was no different, with a dozen sales across our roster on day one and good sales on subsequent days.’  Glenn Scott Wright, Director, Victoria Miro, London

‘The 2017 edition was our strongest year yet on many levels. I am particularly pleased that we have placed work in museum collections abroad, met many new collectors and curators, and made new friends from around the world.’ Qu Kejie, Founder, Magician Space, Beijing

‘This is the first time we’ve participated in Art Basel in Hong Kong and the fair experience is totally different from any other shows – it’s the best fair we’ve ever taken part in.’

Yuzo Imura, Executive Director, imura art gallery, Kyoto, Tokyo

‘Our first time participating in Art Basel has exceeded our expectations. Li Huayi’s work in the Insights sector all sold within the first few hours. We have built a new network of serious collectors, museum directors and curators from around the world and have started conversations about hosting museum exhibitions for Li.’ Catherine Kwai, Founder, Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Hong Kong

‘We were delighted to sell our Encounters work by Sanné Mestrom for just under USD 200,000. We feel this was a particularly strong edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong and we were delighted to participate. It just gets better and better.’ Joanna Sullivan, Co-director, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney, Singapore

This year, the Galleries sector featured 190 exhibitors, who presented the highest quality of painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video and editioned works. Seven galleries graduated to the sector having previously participated in Insights or Discoveries: Antenna Space, Experimenter, Liang Gallery and Mujin-to Production from Asia, as well as Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler and Pi Artworks from Europe. There were many highlights in the sector that visitors commented on, including: galerie nichido’s display of works by the Japanese and French master Léonard Foujita (1886 – 1968); neugerriemschneider’s group show featuring works by Ai Weiwei (b. 1957), Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) and Pae White (b. 1963), among others; Lévy Gorvy’s exhibition of pioneering Modern and Post-War works, including Frank Stella’s (b. 1936) painting ‘Lettre sur les sourds et muets I’ (1974); Eslite’s solo booth of work by Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957), which featured an 18‐meter‐long gunpowder drawing on folding screens; Galleria Continua’s presentation of an installation by Chen Zhen (b. 1955-2000), made late in his career; a selection of significant works by George Condo (b. 1957) at Skarstedt; two large paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) at Acquavella; The Third Line’s exhibition of work by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. 1924); and Fergus McCaffrey’s solo show of Toshio Yoshida (1928-1997). For the full list of galleries, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/galleries.

This edition received particular praise for its creative and well-curated booth presentations and the quality of Modern art on display, particularly in the Kabinett sector, which was a new addition to the show this year. Kabinett featured 19 precisely curated exhibitions, ranging from thematic group presentations to solo shows. Among these were Galerie Gmurzynska’s presentation of early works by Christo (b. 1935); Tina Keng Gallery’s presentation of works on paper by Chinese-French artist Sanyu (b. 1901, d. 1966); a selection of new paintings by artist and writer Etel Adnan (b. 1925), presented by Galerie Lelong; Project Fulfill Art Space’s showcase of ‘Urban Mining’ (2016) and ‘From A’ (2016), two important works by young Japanese artist Yuko Mohri (b. 1980); a series of photographs by Iranian artist and film director Abbas Kiarostami (b. 1940, d. 2016) presented by Rossi & Rossi; Nanzuka’s exhibition of early animation works by Japanese pop artist Keiichi Tanaami (b. 1936); an exhibition of paintings by Chinese artist Qiu Xiaofei (b. 1977), shown by Pace; and Vitamin Creative Space’s presentation of Ming Wong’s (b. 1971) long-term research project, which traces the impact of early cinema on traditional Chinese Opera. For the full list of galleries and artists, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/kabinett.

The Insights sector, dedicated to curatorial projects by artists from across the Asia Pacific region, showcased 27 galleries, eight of which were new to the show. Notable presentations included: Galerie du Monde’s showcase of historical materials by Taiwan’s pioneering ‘The Fifth Moon’ group; Lawrie Shabibi’s show of Pakistan-based Hamra Abbas’ (b. 1976) and Shahpour Pouyan’s (b. 1979) miniature paintings; MEM’s exhibition of early work by Japanese photographer Yoshio Kitayama (1948-2016); a series of recent abstract ink works and a new video work by Zheng Chongbin (b. 1961) presented by Ink Studio; Singaporean artist Wyn-Lyn Tan’s (b. 1974) new painting installations and a video work shown by Fost Gallery; Zilberman Gallery’s presentation of paintings and sculptures by Walid Siti (b. 1954), one of the winners of the Sharjah Biennial 13 Prize; and a performance called ‘A 100 km Walk’ (2012-2017) by Taiwanese artist Shi Jin Hua (b. 1964) shown by Mind Set Art Center. For the full list of galleries and artists, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/insights.

There was a substantial increase in the number of applications to this year’s Discoveries sector, which resulted in the strongest selection of solo and two-person exhibitions presented in this sector. Out of the 25 galleries who participated, 12 were completely new to the show. Highlights included Huang Po Chih’s (b. 1980) ‘Protein Boy’ (2015), at a.m. space; Thomas Brambilla Gallery’s site-specific installation by Italian artist Edoardo Piermattei (b. 1992), who recreated the Porziuncola of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli of Assisi in the gallery’s booth; a series of new sculptures by Kathleen Ryan (b. 1984) at Ghebaly Gallery; mor chapentier’s presentation of works on paper, sculptures and an installation by Edgardo Aragón (b. 1985); an exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by Rana Begum (b. 1977), shown by Jhaveri Contemporary; and Project Native Informant’s show of works by the two artist collectives DIS and Shanzhai Biennial. For the full list of galleries and artist, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/discoveries.

Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney, returned for the third time to curate Encounters. This year, the sector featured 17 large-scale projects, including 12 new works by Pio Abad (b. 1983), Rasheed Araeen (b. 1935), Katharina Grosse (b. 1961), Gonkar Gyatso (b. 1961), Joyce Ho (b. 1983), Hu Qingyan (b. 1982), Bingyi (b. 1975), Waqas Khan (b. 1982), Kimsooja (b. 1957), Alicja Kwade (b. 1979), Dinh Q. Lê (b. 1968), Li Jinghu (b. 1972), Sanné Mestrom (b. 1979), Michael Parekowhai (b. 1968), Shen Shaomin (b. 1956), Rirkrit Tiravanija (b. 1961) and Wang Wei (b. 1972). For the full list of artists and supporting galleries, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/encounters.

More than 30 films by and about artists were showcased in this year’s Film sector. Following the successful screening of feature-length films at the fair in 2016, a new selection was presented at this year’s show. The Film program opened with the world premiere of Hsu Hao Hsuan’s (b.1984) documentary ‘My Dear Art’ (2017), which provides a glimpse into the life of the artworld in Asia by following Taiwanese art collector Yao Chien for over a year. Multimedia artist and producer Li Zhenhua returned for the fourth time to curate the short Film program, which showcased video works by Chen Shaoxiong (1962-2016), Shen Shaomin (b. 1956), aaajiao (b. 1984), Charwei Tsai (b. 1980), Heba Y. Amin (b. 1980), Yuri Ancarani (b. 1972), Boo Junfeng (b. 1983), Gabriel Lester (b. 1972) and Tsuyoshi Ozawa (b. 1965), among others. The Art Basel film program, which remained free to the public, was shown at the HKCEC and attended by nearly 1,000 visitors. For the full list of galleries and artists, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/film.

Art Basel’s Conversations and Salon program attracted around 2,800 visitors over four days and once again brought together many of the artworld’s most prominent figures. Highlights included: a panel talk about ‘Cities on the Move’, an iconic exhibition that opened twenty years ago and was the first major show to explore the impact of urbanization and globalization in Asia; a discussion between leading museum directors from the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region about the roles and responsibilities of public art institutions in the 21st century; and a conversation between Michael Craig-Martin (b. 1941), Su Mei-Tse (b. 1973) and Abigail Reynolds (b. 1975) about the ways in which art communicates with people. Videos of all Conversations and Salon panels will be available to watch online at artbasel.com/hongkong/talks.

Top Photo:  Kelvin Leung Via Twitter


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