Featuring works of art from 248 participating galleries as well as international museums and institutions, Art Basel in Hong Kong is a celebration of art in Asia, from North to South, East to West, and offers a glimpse into the growing appreciation of art and unique talents found in this lesser-known (but exploding) art market. Hong Kong, a bustling and beautiful metropolis which is second only to London and New York as a leader in art commerce, is the perfect place to showcase some of the 3000 works of art.
Why Hong Kong?
The booming economy makes Hong Kong a perfect choice for an art fair, with demand from galleries worldwide. This recent—and therefore exciting—event is so attractive that organizers understood the need to maintain the Asian focus and atmosphere, therefore limiting the space available for those interested participants who market mainly in the West. Additionally, an understanding of Eastern culture and marketing was key to obtaining space, thereby giving a hint of partiality to smaller galleries and cautioning some of the largest galleries from simply swooping in and making a scene. It leads one to question: are Asian collectors choosing global art and are global collectors choosing Asian art?
International Flair in Works
Although the atmosphere was truly pro-Asian art, works exemplified all genres, localities, styles, and sizes. This is not just an Asian art fair. The international nature of the art world means that art from any area is welcome at Art Basel Hong Kong and will find an audience. Just as galleries came from all over the world, so are the works of art global in nature. Collectors who browsed pieces from representatives of over 32 countries and territories could find art from every end of the world. However, to tie works to the feeling of Art Basel, one could see a hint of Asian influence in many of the Western pieces displayed here, from similarities in color choice, subject matter, and even calligraphy-style brush strokes.
Art Basel Hong Kong visitors could not only contemplate the meaning behind works of art, determining their personal manifestation, but looking around, see others experiencing their own personal thoughtfulness…or even share it with others.
Art Basel Hong Kong, as a relative newcomer to the world of art fairs, strengthens the importance of Art Fairs to the global art economy. For some nearby locations, Hong Kong’s status as an art leader means that their markets finally receive international recognition, revealing a new world of collectors. Hong Kong is especially important to the Australian art market, which is far removed from Europe but only a short flight from mainland Asia.
Art Basel Events
Along with over 3000 works of art to be viewed, the Art Basel Hong Kong event offered other experiences to expand appreciation of modern and contemporary art. The film program, presented by galleries participating in the fair, featured almost 60 film and video works motivated by the current sociopolitical atmosphere. Panel and discussion events brought together world art leaders to the event to discuss industry topics which added value to the event, providing education and insight into the art industry, including gallery business advice, building awareness of technology, and creative development.
Notable Works and Galleries
Artspace in Sydney brought large-scale and installation works, which are challenging to set up. Left Wing Project, a large suspended wing with sickles at the base, provides a strong agrarian focus, reminding visitors that Asia retains its agricultural theme once one leaves the confines of the city, and draws attention to the issues found in Australia, which struggles with supporting its own indigenous culture.
Hari Ini Kemaren Esok (Seri Tak Berakar Tak Berpucuk) by Handiwirman Saputra, a Sumatran artist who is part of an organized group of artists who chose to organize a collective to support each other and improve the odds of their success. Already realizing some success, this sculptor (known for using common items and even trash in his works) has already hosted solo exhibitions in Tokyo and has works purchased by European collectors. This oil painting, featuring vivid colors and a mixture of natural elements, sold for $350,000.
Levy Gorvy, a non-Asian dealer and an active participate in the Chinese art market for many years, sold his showcase piece within a few hours of the opening of the VIP event. The de Kooning work was owned by Microsoft co-founder and elite collector Paul Allen and brought a whopping price of $35 million. This proved that the trend for top collectors to attend Asian art events to get a chance at masterpieces, fearless of the price tags. One factor in the impressive sale of this Dutch-American painter’s work could be its close resemblance to Asian-style calligraphy, attracting collectors in this area.
Art Basel Hong Kong—its own experience
The works featured at Art Basel in Hong Kong were quite successful at celebrating the past, present, and future of civilization and artistic creation. Works of varied styles, sizes, and historical eras were spread about the event, offering an awe-inspiring view at every angle. The event further strengthened the reality, often misunderstood, that Asia is not simply one market, and its vast geographical area contains an even wider variety of cultures, traditions, and methods to express creativity.