It’s that time of year again where the famous Art Basel touches down in Hong Kong. 239 galleries from 35 countries are set to attract over 60,000 visitors over three days. Art Basel is one of the leading art shows in the world and attracts thousands of art enthusiasts and spenders. Since its establishment in 1970, Art Basel has connected galleries, artists and collectors from all over the globe. Not to mention, it has attracted a couple of other big names – maybe you saw Leonardo DiCaprio wandering around opening night.
That’s a lot of figures for you to consider and a lot of art for you to ponder. To make it easier, we’ve put together five of the things we think you should see.
Kukje Gallery (Booth IC13 – more info)
Photo: Kukje Gallery
An artist to look for this year is Kyungah Ham, from South Korea and represented by Kukje Gallery. Ham’s “Chandeliers in Five Cities” is an embroidered piece that was started in 2008 and required over 1,800 hours to create. Ham herself is responsible for the vision of this art, but not its execution. Rather, the piece was embroidered by North Korean women and illegally transported back and forth by a middleman. The chandeliers symbolise political power and are depicted askew to apparently evoke colonial collapse after the war and the turbulent climate of a divided Korea. That’s thought-provoking stuff to say the least, and an insight into the difficulties of those subject to living in the isolated North Korea – this is a rare opportunity for those women to reach people outside of the country.
Osage Gallery (Booth 3E14 – more info)
Photo: Art Basel
Indonesian artist Tintin Wulia spent two years on “Five Tonnes of Homes and other Understories”, including conducting research throughout Hong Kong. Wulia uses the cardboard, formed in bales with sketches of the cardboard weighing machines on the side, to underline the fact that cardboard scavenging is still a source of income for a lot of elderly people throughout Hong Kong. Tintin’s work is designed to draw attention to the lower classes in Hong Kong society and underline the stark contrast between them and the top art spenders gazing at her work.
Workplace Gallery (Booth IC48 – more info)
Joel Kyack’s “Replace Your Dreams With Routines” (2016, Collage, ballpoint pen and acrylic on paper, 50cm x 46cm). Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery, UK
The Workplace Gallery, based in the UK, is no stranger to Art Basel, having exhibited at its fairs for ten years. This year in Hong Kong, it will display the work of LA-based contemporary artist Joel Kyack, representing the very first time any of his work is displayed in Asia. Kyack has created a sculptural installation called “Circle of Hell/Ringer of Bell”, depicting the coming together of consumerism, culture and history in Hong Kong. In this piece, the artist seeks to juxtapose the extreme wealth and poverty that exist side by side in Hong Kong society. Having never visited Hong Kong before, Kyack has created his art in only a few weeks, using items he has found on the street here in the city. His work then, is an outsider’s perspective of the city, exploring the clashing views of tourists and the cultural realities of living in Hong Kong today.
Edouard Malingue Gallery (Booth 3C09 – more info)
Computer rendering. Image: Edouard Malingue Gallery
For a look at a local joint, pop over to the Edouard Malingue Gallery’s booth. This gallery, located on Des Voeux Road Central, focuses heavily on art in public spaces. This year they are showcasing artists Sintung Ko, Wei Wang and most notably Tromarama, an Indonesian trio of artists specialising in video and interactive installations. The trio’s “Private Riots” will be on display, a large-scale video installation that demonstrates their perception of an evolving urban Asia. The installation extracts key images from protest banners and, alongside, encourages spectators to write down their own frustrations with society on a smaller interactive post board. If you’ve got beef with the government, you can now go and anonymously post it on a huge video installation at a world-renowned art fair.
Lisson Gallery (ICC, West Kowloon or Booth 1C20 – more info)
Last but not least, you might have take a step outside. The London-based Lisson gallery, one of the longest-running galleries in the world, is bringing Japanese artist Tatsuo Miyajima for a special installation named “Time Waterfall”. This installation will be projected on to the ICC on the West Kowloon harbourfront every night between March 21 to 26. That’s 490 metres of art for you to crane your neck at! “Time Waterfall” will display the numbers one to nine whilst never reaching zero in an attempt to display her ethos “Keep Changing, Connect with Everything and Continue Forever”. The numbers therefore remind spectators to always live in the present. The best place to see this spectacle is either from the Exhibition Centre itself or from IFC mall. For other works displayed by the Lisson Gallery, you can pop over to booth 1C20.
Words: Ella Watson