Inside What’s Happening Now at Art Basel Hong Kong

Inside What’s Happening Now at Art Basel Hong Kong

Courtesy of Art Basel

Agus Suwage. ROH Projects, Courtesy of Art Basel

Art Basel Hong Kong welcomes guests in a massive fair showcasing 21st century art, and more.

With guests lining up well before it opened, Art Basel Hong Kong proved just how much anticipation there was for its 2023 show. 

With the exhibition running from March 23 to 25 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, it is expected that thousands of visitors will be in attendance to view hundreds of contemporary art on display. Collectors and VIPs were also given an even more intimate experience during private tours on vernissage days from March 21 to 22. 

Spotted were pieces by influential artist Yayoi Kusama, whose signature polka-dot pumpkins, dotted paintings, and style is also being exhibited at a current retrospective of her work at M+ Museum. 

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 2023. Photo by Feicien Feng of OF STUDIO

Paintings by the likes Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Takashi Murakami, were on display, while Robert Indiana’s Love sculpture at Ben Brown Fine Arts was hard to miss. 

A lot of the international blue-chip galleries came out in full force and in person, from Gagosian, to Hauser and Worth to Pace, many having only had satellite booths in the past. Asian galleries, a lot representing influential 21st century Asian artists, drew crowds. 

Large scale installations that were a part of the fair’s Encounters sector were a hit. This bestowed viewers a grounding sense of orientation and delight in the middle of the massive event, which took place on two floors of the convention center. Wu Shanzhuan and Inga Svala Thórsdóttir’s Constellation Forest (2018), allowed guests to walk through a grove of arched wooden forms, resembling a modernist woodland scene. Nabuqi’s Fountain: Night Garden (2020) interspersed the delighted chatter, in various languages, with the soothing sounds of bubbling water.

With the theme, “This present, moment,” the massive installations were for the section’s curator, Alexie Glass-Kantor, a meaningful way to honor the present. “In that moment of coming together in presence, and seeing one another again in real life. There’s a real opportunity for gathering, to individually and collectively hold space,” shares Glass-Kantor. 

After years of restrictions, the fair’s ebullient atmosphere was a welcome sight. Various galleries report bumper sales, which is perhaps unsurprising given that the Greater China region is now the second largest in the world according to a 2022 report by Art Basel and UBS. (The US is first while the UK is third.) 

Stories and motifs related to Asia were definitely given their due at Art Basel Hong Kong, creating connections and leading to a deeper level of understanding. “We are a tapestry. And there’s so much of the nuances and the resonances that really holds this whole region together,” says Adeline Ooi, who is in charge of growing Art Basel’s presence in Asia. 

Angelle Siyang-Le, Art Basel Hong Kong’s director, tells Vogue Philippines that this rousing reception and encouraging attendance is indicative not only of the robust state of the market, but also of the expanding appreciation of art. “They don’t just come to Hong Kong, they go to Korea, they also go to Singapore, they also go to Tokyo as well,” she shares, adding that the international crowd is “willing to make an effort and go deeper into our culture and our art scene.”

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