Hong Kong: Art Basel to Chungking Mansion – Virginie Puertolas-Syn




There is no doubt Hong Kong is becoming one of the leading destinations for art lovers, collectors, curators and art professionals in general. The contingent of Art Galleries is growing with Levy Gorvy’s new space. While waiting for the M+ Museum scheduled for 2020, new initiatives are starting, such as The Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts which opened last May or the K11 new space showing a pop-up exhibition “Glow Like That” curated by Venus Lau at Victoria Dockside.

“Art is a moment which interrupts us and projects us somewhere else” – Daniel Knorr

88,000 people visited Art Basel HK at the end of March. All the tickets to attend the fair were sold out prior to the opening, demonstrating that the general public is eager to see art, to learn and to engage with contemporary Art. VIP days were very equally well attended, with collectors coming from all over the region, about 80 collectors from Australia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and South East Asia. Many galleries reckoned 2019 was their best Art Basel HK ever in terms of sales.

I asked Neng Zhao, Sotheby’s Institute’s representative in China and an independent advisor, to share with me her selection of Chinese artists at Art Basel Hong Kong :

Magician space - Shi Guowei

Shi Guowei – Magician space

Shi Guowei at Magician Space presented very subtle works of painted photograph. Following her master in Dortmund in 2006, she started a gradual progress of hand-colouring photographs.
Space Overlapping Plants 2018

Wang Jiajia

Wang-Jiajia

Wang Jiajia’s works, at Boers-Li Gallery, are vivid digitally-sketched collages, using gestural abstraction paintings and silkscreen techniques with the motifs of 80’s video games and logos of the British television show “Top of the Pops”.

Yang Shu at Thousand Plateau gallery has an intense abstract composition. He is one of the youngest artists of the famous exhibition, Chinese Avant-Garde Art in 1989 at the National Art Museum of China. He is also the explorer of the Chinese Experimental Painting in the early days.

Li Shurui’s “Love for a Minority No.1-4, 2018” at White Space Beijing

Li Shurui’s “Love for a Minority No.1-4, 2018” at White Space Beijing

Li Shurui’s “Love for a Minority No.1-4, 2018” at White Space Beijing explores the dynamics and movement of light and colour. Li believes that the use of light and space in different cultures and times can effectively reflect the needs, desires and spiritual conditions of individuals.

Carol Bove

Carol Bove

I liked Carol Bove’s sculpture at David Zwirner. They are like an oxymoron: where steel is transformed into a playful and joyful modelling paste. Several of them sold in the 500,000 USD range.

Carsten Nicolai’s work and the presentation at Eigen and Art was one of my favourite pieces. The artist uses electronic sounds and visual art to experiment on the creative process. Carsten Nicolai will represent Mongolia at the Venice Biennale this year.

I was totally fascinated by Helio Oiticia’s pregnant yellow floating sculpture. Having such a Modernist master of Brazilian art exhibiting at Art Basel HK is proof that HK is a genuinely international Art hub.

Joël Andrianomearisoa (b. Antananarivo, 1977), for the Encounters sector of Art Basel in Hong Kong: “The Cartographies of Desire, the space between us

Joël Andrianomearisoa (b. Antananarivo, 1977), for the Encounters sector of Art Basel in Hong Kong: “The Cartographies of Desire, the space between us”

Sabrina Amrani from Madrid presented a solo presentation by Joël Andrianomearisoa (b. Antananarivo, 1977), for the Encounters sector of Art Basel in Hong Kong: “The Cartographies of Desire, the space between us”. Joël blurs the boundaries between painting, sculpture and architecture. His large scale abstract installation is an invitation to dream, to reflect, and for the viewer to create his own poetic space. Joël Andrianomearisoa will be representing Madagascar in its first-ever pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale.

Last but not least, one of my favourite art pieces during Art Basel HK was the installation at Chungking Mansion by the Venice Biennale and Documenta artist, Daniel Knorr. (See Top Photo) Daniel, who has his studio in Berlin, established a second studio in HK. He was looking for a space to exhibit and came across Chungking Mansion which served as one of the film locations for Wong Kar-Wai’s 1994 movie, Chungking Express. It is an iconic building in Hong Kong, a multicultural place where 90 nations live together. Knorr took over one of the shops and transformed it into an incredible installation that visitors and people from Chungking Mansion interact with. It has become a “rupture” in people’s everyday routine. For Knorr “Art is a moment which interrupts us and projects us somewhere else”. The idea started when the artist visited a company recycling plastic and came across the anomalies which happen when the machines break. “The concept of the work is the discovery of a new “language” that is set in one of the most-used materials of our time, “plastic”. Knorr gives another life to these “leftovers”, these weird forms and shape by having a car painting company to paint them using the common colour of different car type. By creating “Calligraphic Wig”, a colourful, playful yet conceptual installation, the artist questions the efficiency of the recycling process. He reflects on the limitations of our society to deal with major environmental issues we are all facing.

Words/Photos: Virginie Puertolas-Syn – Top Photo: Calligraphic Wig installation Daniel Knorr Chungking Mansions © Artlyst 2019

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