Art Basel in Hong Kong: Galleries’ ambitious presentations rewarded with strong collector turnout and vigorous sales across all sectors of the market
The sixth edition of Art Basel’s show in Hong Kong, which closed on Saturday, March 31, 2018, brought together a uniquely global mix of galleries spanning six continents, outstanding artworks by established and new artists from across the world and a singular gathering of international collectors and institutions, many of whom were first-time visitors to the show. This exceptional setting allowed for many new discoveries, in-depth conversations with existing and new patrons and enthusiasm about the interconnected art scenes across the world, resulting in galleries reporting strong sales at all levels of the market and throughout the duration of the fair. The show’s success is a true testament to the efforts exhibitors put into their presentations and their trust in an ever-more diversifying and strengthening Asian market. The fair, whose Lead Partner is UBS, took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), where it attracted an overall attendance of 80,000.
During the five show days, private collectors as well as representatives from over 100 leading international museums and institutions attended the show, including: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dia Art Foundation, New York; Kunsthalle Basel; National Gallery Singapore; Serpentine Galleries, London; Sharjah Art Foundation; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, New York; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. With numerous gallery openings and a greatly expanded program of well-attended parallel events taking place throughout the city, the Art Basel week once more directed an international spotlight onto Hong Kong’s vibrant art scene.
The 2018 edition featured 248 premier galleries from 32 countries and territories, with 28 galleries participating in the show for the first time, including: 47 Canal, Miguel Abreu Gallery, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, The Modern Institute, Barbara Wien, Dastan’s Basement, Don Gallery and Tarq. Reflecting Art Basel’s commitment to Asia-Pacific, nearly half of the participating galleries have exhibition spaces in the region, with an increased representation of galleries from India and the next generation of Chinese gallerists entering the fair.
Galleries who participated in the show spoke highly of their experiences and participation.
‘This was our first Art Basel fair in Hong Kong. There are only a few art fairs where we meet new collectors and Art Basel in Hong Kong is one of them. We have had serious interest and buying not only from our established US collectors but most significantly from new collectors from Mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as strong institutional interest and buying. It is a rare opportunity to present the work of our artists to a completely new audience.’ Miguel Abreu, Founder and Owner, Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York
‘It has been a successful fair for us – we were very pleased to place multiple pieces with international institutions as well as with private collections in Europe, India, Hong Kong and the United States.’ Priyanka Raja, Co-Founder, Experimenter, Kolkata
‘This year’s edition of the fair has been our best art fair since the founding of our gallery five years ago. We were thrilled to receive visits by more than 20 museum representatives, many of whom acquired works. Art Basel in Hong Kong helps cement Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s epicenter of contemporary art.’ Chris Reynolds, Co-Founder, Ink Studio, Beijing
‘Art Basel drives the cultural agenda and art scene in Asia with its annual show in Hong Kong and attracts major collectors, influential curators and art lovers from across the globe.’ Pearl Lam, Founder and Owner, Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore
‘This was a fantastic week at the fair for the Lévy Gorvy team. We were already optimistic about Hong Kong, but once the week began, we were amazed by the level of passion and participation among collectors and foundations – and the public here, too. The growth of the collecting community in the region is astonishing and very encouraging.’ Brett Gorvy, Co-Founder, Lévy Gorvy, London, New York
‘This has been our most successful year at Art Basel in Hong Kong to date. We had strong engagements with collectors from around the world and placed many important artworks in prominent private collections and museums in Asia.’ Alex Logsdail, International Director, Lisson Gallery, London, New York
‘We were excited to meet new collectors from Hong Kong, Asia and Europe and received a very positive and strong response to works we brought to the fair, selling over ten paintings and a sculpture in the first two days. It was a very successful debut for Juri Markkula in the Asian art scene, with several collectors competing for his largest piece.’ Henrietta Tsui-Leung, Co-Founder, Galerie Ora-Ora, Hong Kong
‘This year has truly felt like an inflection point for the city and for the fair. It’s clear that the changes that have happened over the last six years have taken this fair to a new level – drawing incredibly sophisticated collectors, curators, writers and artists.’ Marc Glimcher, President, Pace Gallery, New York, Beijing, London, Hong Kong, Palo Alto, Seoul
‘We had a fantastic experience at this year’s edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong. This fair is a vital opportunity for us to share our artists’ work with the ever-increasing audience of Asian art lovers and collectors, as well as the international crowds that are always drawn to Art Basel, and we achieved strong sales this week.’ Daniel Roesler, Partner and Senior Director, Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, New York
‘This year is the continuation of a great success; the fair grows and grows with a reach that goes far beyond China. We have had encounters with collectors from exciting regions including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Korea but also as far as Australia. This is the yearly event they cannot miss; it is the regional power fair for the Asia-Pacific region and the one destination where you are sure to meet all the key people.’ Thaddaeus Ropac, Founder and Director, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, Paris, Salzburg
‘There was a great energy at the fair this year. It brought many of the top international and Asian collectors who made important and considered purchases from the gallery. We placed significant works by our American artists including John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Sterling Ruby and Kaari Upson in major private Asian collections and museums.’ Monika Sprüth, Co-Owner, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, London, Los Angeles
‘This has been our best edition yet. The response to the work has been overwhelming and sales have been strong – not just on the first two days but continuing throughout the week.’ Joanna Strumpf, Owner and Director, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney, Singapore
‘This year we have solidified our commitment to the Asian art scene with the opening of our Hong Kong gallery. We have enjoyed a dynamic week at our gallery space and at the fair with great sales generated at both. We have found that the quality and number of collectors attracted to Art Basel, and all it offers, strengthens year on year.’ David Zwirner, Founder, David Zwirner, New York, London, Hong Kong
‘The fair has been a great opportunity for us to meet art world colleagues, great collectors and art professionals. The level of professionalism from Art Basel and that which it requires from the galleries that partake in the show has – without doubt – played a major role in the development of our gallery. I am positive it will assist us in raising international awareness of our program, and more generally, in bringing more international interest to the contemporary art coming from Iran.’ Hormoz Hematian, Director, Dastan’s Basement, Tehran
‘It has been a truly exciting experience for us to be here in Hong Kong for the first time. We have met many new collectors from Asia, Europe and America. Overall, we were very pleased with the interest and curiosity to discover new artists and galleries at the show.’ Emanuel Layr, Founder, Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna, Rome
The Galleries sector featured 195 exhibitors, who presented the highest quality of painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video and editioned works. Balice Hertling and OMR returned after a brief hiatus, while nine galleries that had previously participated in the show’s proposal-based sectors, Insights and Discoveries, presented their programs in the show’s main sector for the first time, including: 1335Mabini, Sabrina Amrani, Artinformal, Carlos/Ishikawa, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Ink Studio, Leeahn Gallery, Gallery Side 2 and This Is No Fantasy + dianne tanzer gallery. For the full list of Galleries exhibitors, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/galleries
Following its debut in Asia last year, Kabinett featured 30 concisely curated solo presentations hosted within the galleries’ booths by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Chant Avedissian, Teresita Fernández, Katsura Funakoshi, Apostolos Georgiou, Federico Herrero, Hon Chi Fun, Kim Kulim, Kim Yong-Ik, Jeff Koons, Frog King (Kwok Mangho), Wifredo Lam, Liang Shuo, Fausto Melotti, Mihai Olos, Yoko Ono, Gabriel Orozco, Peng Wei, Mark Ryden, Andres Serrano, Song Dong, Rebekka Steiger, Mircea Suciu, Kishio Suga, Frank Walter, Tom Wesselmann, Harumi Yamaguchi, Yang Jiechang, Yu Cheng-Ta and Yu Hong. For the full exhibitor list for Kabinett, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/kabinett.
Dedicated to curatorial projects by artists from across the Asia-Pacific region, Insights showcased presentations by 28 galleries, including an exhibition by Asia Art Center of works by Chu Weibor and Fong Chung Ray, pioneers of Taiwanese Modern art from the Cold War era; Bank’s showcase of works by Xu Bing; a presentation at Gow Langsford Gallery of significant post-war work by Colin McCahon; and feminist photography by Yurie Nagashima at Maho Kubota Gallery. For the full exhibitor list for Insights, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/insights.
Discoveries, which focuses on solo shows by emerging artists, featured 25 galleries, 10 of which joined the show for the first time. Three artists in the sector, Ali Kazim at Jhaveri Contemporary, Zac Langdon-Pole at Michael Lett and Gala Porras-Kim at Commonwealth and Council, were shortlisted during the fair for the next BMW Art Journey, with the winner being announced in early summer 2018. For the full exhibitor list for Discoveries, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/discoveries.
Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney, once again curated Encounters, the sector dedicated to presenting large-scale sculpture and installation works. This year, Encounters featured 12 large-scale installations by Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Chou Yu-Cheng, Toshikatsu Endo, Ryan Gander, Subodh Gupta, Iván Navarro, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Shinji Ohmaki, Jorge Pardo, Erwin Wurm, Ulla von Brandenburg and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, with nine works having been created specifically for the sector. For the full list of artists and supporting galleries, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/encounters.
For this year’s Film program, multimedia artist and film producer Li Zhenhua brought together a premier selection of nearly 60 film and video works inspired by the current sociopolitical climate and presented by galleries participating in the fair. As part of the program, Art Basel collaborated with Videotage, a Hong Kong-based nonprofit organization specializing in video and new media, to present video works by Nam June Paik and by artists from Hong Kong and Mainland China influenced by Paik’s work. Marking the fifth anniversary of the Film program in Hong Kong, works were shown at the Hong Kong Arts Centre as well as at Theatre 2 at the HKCEC. The Film program was free and open to the public. For the full program, please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/film.
Conversations, Art Basel’s talks series running alongside the fair, brought together a strong lineup of leading art world figures to Hong Kong to participate in a wide range of panels and discussions. Free to the public, the program consisted of 26 talks, addressing highly relevant art industry topics such as the future of public and private collecting, alternative business models for galleries, current developments within the art market in Asia, as well as gender politics in the arts. The program featured prominent artists from across the world such as Sophia Al-Maria, Rasheed Araeen, Astha Butail, Samuel Fosso, Guerrilla Girls, Antony Gormley, He Xiangyu, Kim Yong-Ik, Yurie Nagashima, Gabriel Orozco, Lisa Reihana, Nilima Sheikh, Timur Si-Qin, Melati Suryodarmo, Charwei Tsai, Anton Vidokle and Yu Hong. All Conversations panels will be available on Art Basel’s YouTube channel and on the show’s website. Please visit artbasel.com/hongkong/conversations.
The quantity and quality of programming that took place throughout the city in parallel to the fair reached another level this year and included exhibition openings at H Queen’s, the first building in Hong Kong built specifically for art exhibitions, and at other galleries across the city; Para Site’s presentation ‘A Beast, a God, and a Line’, which included artworks from over 40 South and Southeast Asian artists; Hong Kong artist – and the first BMW Art Journey winner – Samson Young’s exhibition at M+ Pavilion as well as the premiere of his new live performance with the Kwan Sing Choir; and tours of the South Island District, Tai Kwun and the newly opened Center for Heritage, Art and Textiles (CHAT). Asia Art Archive hosted ‘Women Make Art History’, which brought the Guerrilla Girls to Asia for the first time, encouraging timely discussions about gender bias in the art world.