Culture / Art Republik

Art Basel Hong Kong 2017 celebrates fifth year at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

The international art fair featuring 242 galleries began on Thursday, and ends Saturday

Mar 24, 2017 | By Angela Teo
Kimsooja, ‘Deductive Object’, 2016, painted welded steel, aluminum mirror panels, sculpture measures 2.45 x 1.5 (diameter) m, mirror measures 10 x 10 m. Image courtesy of Kimsooja and provided by MMCA Seoul.

Kimsooja, ‘Deductive Object’, 2016, painted welded steel, aluminum mirror panels, sculpture measures 2.45 x 1.5 (diameter) m, mirror measures 10 x 10 m. Image courtesy of Kimsooja and provided by MMCA Seoul.

Art Basel Hong Kong celebrates its fifth year from March 23 to 25, 2017 at its customary location, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, with 242 galleries, including 29 new participants, from 34 countries. Art Republik gives a rundown of the galleries and artists from Southeast Asia to look out for at the fair.

The main sector of the fair, Galleries, will feature 190 galleries, and the programme has expanded to include an all-new Kabinett Sector, which proved to be wildly successful at Art Basel in Miami Beach. Galleries at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017 will present curated exhibitions and projects by 19 art spaces from Asia, Europe and the United States. Artists will include Chinese artist Cao Yu from Galerie Urs Meile, NANZUKA’s Keiichi Tanaami from Japan, and Singaporean artist Ming Wong, presented by Vitamin Creative Space, just to name a few.

Among the noteworthy offerings from the Galleries sector are ‘The Treachery of the Moon’, a video by Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, as well as works by Yee I-Lann from Malaysia, both presented by Tyler Rollins Fine Art based in New York. “I have definitely noted a steadily increasing interest in contemporary art from Southeast Asia in recent years, both in the West and in other parts of Asia,” says Rollins. “Art Basel Hong Kong has certainly played a role in this as it presents the art in a truly global context while being strongly rooted in Asia.”

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, ‘The Treachery of the Moon’, 2012, c-type print, 69.25 x 105 cm. Image courtesy of artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, ‘The Treachery of the Moon’, 2012, c-type print, 69.25 x 105 cm. Image courtesy of artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Singapore-based Gajah Gallery will feature works from important Indonesian artists Agung Mangu Putra and Rudi Mantofani, as well as a unique sculpture made of crushed glass by Suzann Victor from Singapore. “Art Basel Hong Kong is unquestionably one of the biggest annual art events in this hemisphere, so it is vital for Southeast Asian artists to be represented,” says gallerist Jasdeep Sandhu. “This is an international platform where collectors, curators, and institutions come to see what the region has to offer, and with a history and culture as diverse as ours, the appreciation for Southeast Asian artists only grows every year.”

The Insights sector will feature 27 galleries, eight of which are wholly new to the fair. Showcasing curatorial projects from important artists across the Asia-Pacific region, these modern works of historical value will provide an assorted and comprehensive narration of art from across the region, incorporating the countries of Algeria, Australia, Mainland China, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Highlights in the Insights sector include Kuwaiti artist Hamra Abbas’ miniature portraits of food sellers in Singapore’s Little India from Dubai-based gallery Lawrie Shabibi, and Singaporean Wyn-Lyn Tan’s ‘(In)visible Horizons’ series, presented by Singapore’s FOST Gallery, comprising new curvilinear and panoramic painting installations that were partly inspired by life in the arctic town of Tromsø, Norway. “The hybridity of Tan’s work is quintessentially Southeast Asian but also very contemporary,” says Stephanie Fong, founder of FOST. “As we increasingly become composites because of proliferation and access to information as well increased global mobility, it is a great opportunity to be able to discuss these issues at Basel.”

Jane Lee, ‘Adrift’. Image courtesy of Jane Lee and Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Jane Lee, ‘Adrift’. Image courtesy of Jane Lee and Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Curated by Li Zhenhua, Director and Founder of Beijing Art Lab, Hong Kong Art Basel 2017’s Film sector will present short and feature length films about artists produced by artists. Pearl Lam Galleries will show the film ‘Mirror’ by important Singapore filmmaker, Boo Junfeng. A two-channel video projection, it was originally commissioned by the Singapore Art Museum for the President’s Young Talents 2013 exhibition. The movie was inspired by a visit to Bukit Brown cemetery, and narrate the dual realities of its central characters and how they are inextricably linked to the past and present.

The Encounters sector will present 17 large-scale projects, including four site-specific installations, curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace, Sydney. Featuring 12 brand new works which investigate how time and experience intersect during encounters, its representation in art, and the influences of history, politics and culture, visitors will be encouraged to interact with the works to make their own interpretations.

An artist to watch out for is Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso, presented by Pearl Lam Galleries, which endeavors to re-shape perceptions of the history of Tibet. “Gonkar’s work is always thought-provoking, eye-catching and surprising, which makes it perfect for Encounters. The work he’s presenting is called ‘Family Album’ and it examines how Tibet’s once remote culture is becoming part of a globalising world,” says Lam. “This feels like a particularly fitting idea to explore at Art Basel in Hong Kong, an international art fair that attracts visitors, artists, gallerists and curators from all corners of the world. Gonkar’s work always generates plenty of discussion and I cannot wait to see how visitors to the fair interpret and engage with this installation.”

Gonkar Gyatso, ‘Family Album’, 2016, installation. Photography by Zhadui and Image courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries.

Gonkar Gyatso, ‘Family Album’, 2016, installation. Photography by Zhadui and Image courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries.

Boasting the “strongest selection of solo and two-person exhibitions ever presented in the sector”, Discoveries will host 12 new galleries. One of the many exciting exhibitions will be presented by a.m. space, and feature ‘Protein Boy’ by Huang Po-Chih, a work of part novel and part video installation, which is a narration about Huang’s father and his preoccupation with food and sex.

Presented in the BMW Lounge and also as part of the Discoveries sector is ‘The Ruins of Time: Lost Libraries of the Silk Road’. 2016 BMW Art Journey winner Abigail Reynolds, represented by Rokeby Gallery in London, documents her journey on motorcycle as she visits the lost libraries of the Silk Road, as well as her participation in Yinchuan Biennale, the first biennale in Northwestern China. The artist used a Bolex camera and 16mm film to document her exploration of the libraries of sixteen sites which were destroyed during political conflicts and wars, by looters, and due to natural disasters. As she investigates the empty spaces, with the library embodying the complexity and difficulty of comprehending reality, she attempts to examine the intricate religious and secular histories of Europe and Asia.

UBS will debut the first major publication of their renowned art collection. Published by Hatje Cantz and titled ‘UBS Art Collection: To Art its Freedom’, it complements the vision for the financial institution’s VIP lounge at the fair, which will include a special exhibition of works from the book as well as new acquisitions from the UBS Art Collection with pieces by artists such as Andreas Gursky, Ed Ruscha and Samson Young.

Visitors can also look forward to the return of the Conversations programme and the Salon series, which include talks and panel discussions by well-known speakers and key opinion leaders from across the international art world.

This article is written by Tanya Amador and was originally published in Art Republik 14.

Correction: An earlier edition of the online version of the article, not the print edition, stated that Art Basel Hong Kong 2017 ends on Sunday. The art fair ends this Saturday, not Sunday.