Artists, Gallerists, And Other Attendees Weigh In On The Fair
For the second part of our Art Basel Hong Kong recap, Jing Daily asked a range of attendees to share their thoughts on this year’s fair, and how it stacked up in comparison to ARTHKs of years past.
Nadim Abbas, Artist, Hong Kong
They were stricter with ticketing, and the fair seemed less crowded this year, making it generally more pleasant to look at the artworks. There seemed to be a more concerted effort to make the parties and auxiliary events more culturally relevant.
ABHK might give HK artists another chance to survey some things that are happening outside the city, and to rub shoulders with art world people who have been drawn to the fair, thus set up new opportunities. Whether this is just a superficial connection, only time will tell.
Samantha Culp, Founder, New Territories Studio, Shanghai
It felt more luxe all around: the fashions were flashier, the champagne flowed freer, the parties were “edgier” and more playful (i.e. Adrian Wong’s Wun Dun bar, Yana Peel’s insane Jumbo Seafood bacchanalia, HK performance artists self-flagellating during Arto Lindsay ‘s Paper Rain parade). And yet there was an admirable strong presence of lots of HK and emerging Asian artists, which was the one thing I was worried about this fair neglecting. (Don’t know how they sold, however).
Alessandra Henderson, Content Partner Manager, Artsy, New York
In comparison to last year which felt heavily geared towards the mainland Chinese collector—for example American and European galleries hanging a secondary market Chinese painting in their booth—this year it seemed that galleries were willing to stay true to their program. I take that as a sign of maturity that international galleries see this fair as a way to present their artists to a new audience rather than attempting to cater to the mainland Chinese collector’s aesthetic.
Although it is now part of the Art Basel fair group, this year’s fair in Hong Kong still had some of the intimacy of years’ past. Unlike Miami or Basel with their multitude of satellite fairs and invite-only events, Hong Kong still feels like a manageable art world event where gallerists and collectors alike can arrive at an after party without rsvp’ing and run into over half the people they saw milling about the fair that day.
Adeline Ooi, Co-Founder, RogueArt, Kuala Lumpur
There are two schools of thought: those who welcome Art Basel, as it brings tons of PR, and those who are resistant to the Beast due to its “sterilizing” effects.
The obvious difference would be the Asian galleries that “qualified” by Art Basel’s high standards from the ARTHK stables. There was a strong Asian presence—and by that I mean quality Indonesian, Filipino, Korean, and Japanese galleries as well as other galleries carrying Southeast Asian names. (I’d like to shout out to 10 Chancery Lane, with a strong representation of Thai and Vietnamese names.) It was also refreshing to see more of a diverse mix instead of the usual Chinese monopoly in the form of smiling faces and ash paintings.
There is also something meaningful in being reacquainted with emerging artists brought out by the “younger” galleries—case in point, Gallery EM and a few others.
Robin Peckham, Founder, Saamlung, Hong Kong
Everything that could have been improved has been improved. Structurally, the fair is now much better balanced, and the layout is comfortable enough for days of walking back and forth, even at the busier times. The lounge is massive and well appointed. The media and nonprofit booths are appropriately placed and programmed.
The best thing about Art Basel Hong Kong is that, whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find one or two stellar examples. From rock-star Indonesian painting to vintage Zero to young European conceptual practices, it’s all there. There are good works that are being purchased by good collectors. It seems that the taste is really filling in.