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Art Basel comes to Hong Kong

Jessica Niles DeHoff brings us the highlights of the premier fair of modern and contemporary art in Hong Kong.

Art Basel comes to Hong Kong


May 29th, 2013

Asian artists were embraced at the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong, held from 15 – 18 May.

A number of artists also exhibited pieces using traditional, local materials and techniques like hand-cut paper, painted porcelain, batik, and embroidery on silk.

Art Basel

Bovey Lee – Vase-Re{construction]

Hong Kong-born artist Bovey Lee stood out with her series of delicate papercuts contrasting Asian motifs (peonies, clouds, tigers) with elements of contemporary urban life (power lines and skyscrapers).

Art Basel

Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu hinted at a political statement with Hong Kong Intervention, a set of photographs made with the help of Filipino domestic helpers. The Filipino participants were given a camera and asked to photograph their workplace (the home of their employer) after first positioning a toy grenade within the frame. Each participant also provided a photo of him or herself taken from the back. The piece brings up interesting questions about authorship and anonymity, though the grenade feels gratuitous.

Gothic cathedral by artist collective MadeIn Company

Architectural themes appeared frequently in the show – including a Gothic cathedral made entirely of S&M gear – and the subject was tackled head-on in a panel discussion on “Building Asia’s New Museums”.

Art Basel

Zak Prekop – Untitled, 2013

Judging from this fair’s collection of works, many contemporary artists appear to be investigating a return to the arts of the 1950s and 60s, playing with the canvas’ surface in the manner of Jackson Pollock and his circle. While some of these pieces came across as shallow or, worse, derivative, there were a few artists on show who promised to carry the legacy forward.

ARt  Basel

Ebru Uygun, Untitled, 2012

Zak Prekop’s powerful orange-on-white works recalled Franz Kline, and the Turkish artist Ebru Uygun collaged and pasted her canvases like a subdued Jasper Johns.

Art Basel

Kazuo Shiraga – Saigou

Kazuo Shiraga and Zhu Jinshi’s works were so layered and three-dimensional that they almost verged on sculpture.

Art Basel

Zhu Jinshi – Hard Roads in Shu No.1, 2012

In all, Art Basel Hong Kong showed modern and contemporary work from 245 galleries and 35 countries, with over 60,000 people attending. The focus was on new and emerging personalities, with a smattering of late greats like Picasso and Robert Motherwell. That same weekend Hong Kong also hosted the smaller fair ART HK, and together with ancillary exhibitions and special events it made for a busy week for Asia’s art elite.

Photos courtesy of Art Basel

Art Basel Hong Kong

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