Assuming you did not attend Art Basel Hong Kong’s third annual staging last year, watching the 2015 ‘highlight reel’ will leave you with some serious retroactive FOMO. Crowds swarmed, monumental ink paintings and taxidermied animals made for marvelous installations, and generally, Asia’s art scene proved itself to have been flourishing like never before. (Let’s not forget, too, the transformation of a skyscraper into a massive Atari.) There are now seven days left until the fair’s 2016 opens to the public, and that means you have approximately one week to snap into shape and shuffle off to Hong Kong; judging by the work on display this year and the fair’s plans for structural and conceptual expansion, you certainly won’t regret footing that plane fare.
Note: ArtBinder will be at the fair! Say hi! Let us know if you have any problems with the app, friends, as we will be on site to fix and chit chat! Contact us, per usual, here.
Before we start with Art Basel Hong Kong, though, a primer: Much like the recently featured Art Dubai, Art Basel Hong Kong may foremost be seen as an endeavor towards cultural breadth, striving to provide artists from Asia and the Asia-Pacific with the means to reach the eye of the global public. This year, Asian artists comprise more than half of all those on display, and to be sure, this tremendous presence should forward director Asia Adeline Ooi’s ambition to reach “[…]other people who don’t know our art histories here in Asia, so that they can understand where we come from.” This desire will be felt most acutely in the fair’s “Insights” sector, which will draw from artists in Asia and far beyond to present themed exhibitions and the sort of richly historical work that might otherwise slip through the cracks of the fair circuit. Art Basel Hong Kong’s “Encounters” and “Discoveries” sectors will greet visitors with grand installations and emerging stars, respectively, and Tatsuo Miyajima’s 490-meter-high light projection may even dwarf last year’s sky-high Pac-Man game.
There is, in short (excuse the pun), a great deal to be excited for. If you do make it, give ArtBinder a holler, as we’ll be on the floor taking in the visuals and trying to get our hands on some of that fine Chinese cuisine. In the meantime, sate some of that anticipation with a few of our exhibitor picks, listed below.
Taka Ishii Gallery | Ushio Shinohara
OK, Pollock may have splattered his paintings, dancing about their perimeters while taking care to care to cling to his cigarette, but he never had the nerve to address the canvas in a manner so violent and visceral as Ushio Shinohara. Since the 1960s, during which time he participated in the Neo-Dada movement, Shinohara has been roughing up his knuckles with his performative “boxing paintings,” works created through the impact of—you guessed it—gloved and paint-dipped punches. Often created before a crowd, these works retain the spirit and sweat of their physical making, offering a visual thrill to boot. Swing by the booth of Tokyo’s Taka Ishii Gallery to catch a glimpse of Shinohara’s beautiful aftermath.
Kukje Gallery + Tina Kim Gallery | Kyungah Ham
Featured as part of this year’s “Encounters” sector, South Korean artist Kyungah Ham’s Chandeliers for Five Cities is not, in fact, a massive, psychedelic chandelier set swinging in the round (or a glossy photographic print), but something far more unusual. A work of meticulous embroidery by proxy, Chandeliers represents 1,800 hours of weaving work on the part of North Korean women with whom Ham corresponded via a middleman. Ham’s conceptual seed, relayed indirectly to these anonymous textile workers along with bits of visual and textual inspiration, was thus brought to bloom via a complex process of cross-cultural exchange that prods directly at political wounds left by WWII. Both conceptually and visually, Chandeliers presents us with a kaleidoscopic feast; kudos to trans-national affiliates Tina Kim Gallery and Kukje Gallery, from New York and Seoul, respectively, for underscoring such powerful practice.
Thomas Erben Gallery | Newsha Tavakolian
Veterans of the Chelsea gallery circuit will likely be familiar with the local Thomas Erben Gallery, but they may not be acquainted with the work of featured artist Newsha Tavakolian, who has the distinction of appearing in this year’s “Discoveries” sector. A photographer who first honed her craft as a self-taught journalist, Tavakolian has delved deep in conflicts political and personal, capturing wartime conflict, natural disasters, and lone subjects in glassy high-rise interiors. The above photo is plucked from one of her most recent portfolios, in which the lives of middle-class Iranians are given visibility and presence.
de Sarthe Gallery | Zao Wou-Ki
The long-standing de Sarthe Gallery may have begun its life in Paris, but it ultimately settled in the heart of the Asian art scene, establishing its locations in Hong Kong and Beijing, respectively. This eastward move stands as a testament to de Sarthe’s dedication to Chinese art, and while the gallery has hardly restricted itself to such work (it in fact organized a Robert Indiana retrospective at the Shanghai Art Museum), the thriving innovation of China’s new avant-garde has surely come to define it. This year, de Sarthe will be offering a glimpse at the late Zao Wou-Ki, a Chinese-French painter who practiced fierce and luminous abstraction.