Art Basel Hong Kong 2013
It’s been a hectic and amazing last week in Hong Kong connecting with old friends and making new ones at Art Basel. Wrote an article on art, sponsorship and brand position at this year’s imprimatur, with interesting changes shaking up the scene. Wonderful to see old friends this week and big thank you to old friend Liyu Yeo who gave me a private art tour with plenty of cultural nuances and commentaries.
One of the pieces by Chinese artist Yan Bing that made me smile. This series entitled Tools. I would love a whole party of them in my home!
MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd acquired 60% of the Hong Kong fair in July 2011, but the fair’s official rebranding took place this year. This week, Art Basel’s first edition in Hong Kong saw more serious buyers – evident on the official first day of the fair, galleries were wrapping up art pieces sold at the preview, many galleries bring out new pieces for display. Several galleries, some participating in Hong Kong for the first time also noted the difference that Chinese and Asian collectors don’t make their purchases instantly unlike collectors in the West at Art Basel and Art Basel Miami – they take time to reflect and mull over the pieces they like, including all the practicality of logistics when they return to make their purchases.
Swiss gallery owner Mark Muller whose eponymous gallery has participated at Art Basel for the last 20 years shares “Last year, when we participated at ARTHK for the first time, we had many more Chinese buyers. This year, the first two days into the fair, we’ve had an interesting mix, particularly more collectors from Australia and New Zealand who have told us that they are so pleased that they don’t have to travel halfway round the world to Basel now with Art Basel Hong Kong.”
The thoughtfully curated floor plan layout were divided into categories of Galleries – Art Basel’s main sector of modern and contemporary art galleries featuring a range of works form paintings to installations and sculptures; Insights – at the heart of both floors featuring 47 galleries from Asia and the Asia Pacific region, with strong representation from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Mainland China, alongside galleries from India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai); Discoveries – presenting a strong showcase of solo and two-person exhibitions by emerging artists from across the world, including 14 galleries exhibiting for the first time in Hong Kong; and lastly Encounters – Large-scale sculptures and installation pieces by leading artists from around the world, are featured prominently throughout two exhibition halls.
Paris-based Art Entrepreneur Liyu Yeo, a patron at the annual Art Basel and ARTHK commented on the difference at this year’s Art Basel Imprimatur “The presentation and layout of Art Basel has been extremely well-done; the booths are bigger as a result of fewer galleries and the alleys are wider which make the complete art fair experience more pleasant and enjoyable for visitors. The selection of artworks is different with an Asian focus. Interestingly, I think even the international galleries are offering works slightly different in nature to cater to the Asian market.”
This year, the fair was clearly more social than years before, with bigger booths and strategically located cafés and VIP lounges for art aficionados to mix and mingle. Throughout, there’s subtle branding woven artfully over the exhibition hall, VIP lounges on site as well as satellite lounges and Absolut’s art bar. Ruin art champagne trolleys were a welcome sight throughout the exhibition halls.
On being the associate partner of Art Basel Hong Kong, Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, President and CEO Oettinger Davidoff Group “It is evident that the quality hallmarks of Art Basel show’s in Basel and Miami Beach have taken Art Hong Kong to the next level… We are particularly pleased with the outdoor Davidoff cigar lounge at the pool area of the Grand Hyatt providing the opportunity to connect with the art patrons as they take a break to fill time beautifully.”
Following the precedent of Basel and Miami Beach had Absolut-sponsored art bars in 2012, Absolut ArtBureau commissioned Chinese American artist Adrian Wong for Art Basel Hong Kong ‘s Wun Dun bar, The result is a heady mix of colonial kitsch, a 1970s lounge singer, backed by life size furry monsters on musical instruments complete with cha chaan teng (local diners) seating, Chinese dim sum for canapés and beautiful fish tanks with frogs, sharks and colourful fishes. The whole experience is very much like being on a Brecht theatre set, complete with the stereotypical Hong Kong lovelorn waiter, grumpy old uncle and enthusiastic bespectacled earnest waiter.
Wong on the commissioned piece and Art Basel imprimatur “The amount of freedom I was given on the project was insane. Sincerely, it’s one of the most amazing corporate collaborations I’ve had; I designed everything from the drinks to costumes, set and music. I think Art Basel coming to Hong Kong is a great first step in internationalizing the art scene. I’m super excited about the light it has cast on the Hong Kong artists. International galleries have shifted steadily to Hong Kong in the last couple of years and that’s no small part due to Art Basel and really transforming Hong Kong into an international art city.”
During the week, sponsors played a significant role in creating the nurturing environment for panel discussions, exchange and conversations with Asia Art Archive staging independent parallel program of talks taking place on site daily at the fair. An annual sponsor and lounge host at ARTHK, this year Swire Properties hosted several talks, including Le Salon Design Talk at their specially commissioned VIP lounge featuring more than 170 architectural miniatures suspended in mid-air, a reflection of the abundant building facades lining the streets of Hong Kong.
Swire Properties has for many years played an instrumental role in the Hong Kong art scene connecting communities in public spaces. “By sponsoring important arts events such as Art Basel, we also hope to facilitate artistic exchange and stir public interest in Hong Kong’s arts scene.” Said Martin Cubbon, Chief Executive of Swire Properties.art basel hong kong 2013