Art Radar’s top 10 booths to visit at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015

As Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 kicks off, here are Art Radar’s top 10 highlights.

Art Basel Hong Kong has finally opened its doors, featuring a unique selection of the best Asian and international galleries and a plethora of mesmerising artworks to see and covet. Art Radar picks 10 of the top thematic booths to visit at this year’s edition.

Yao Jui -Chung, 'M​ t. Jade Floating', 2007, ​single channel video, 1​ min 1sec. Image courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery and TKG+.

Yao Jui-Chung, ‘M​t. Jade Floating’, 2007, ​single channel video, 1​ min 1sec. Image courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery and TKG+.

The spread and richness of Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 makes it difficult to choose among its countless impressive gallery booths. Nevertheless, Art Radar brings you some highlights from this year’s edition of the fair, veering away from the obvious choices and blue-chip participants by giving particular attention to thematic and solo presentations from the Galleries, Insights and Discoveries sectors.

Chang Chien-Chi, 'T​he Chain No.24, No.3, No.11,' ​1993-1998, silver gelatin print with Agfa MCC 111 glossy fibre paper, 157.4 x 106.6 cm each. Image courtesy the artist, Magnum Photos and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Chang Chien-Chi, ‘T​he Chain No.24, No.3, No.11,’ ​1993-1998, silver gelatin print with Agfa MCC 111 glossy fibre paper, 157.4 x 106.6 cm each. Image courtesy the artist, Magnum Photos and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Galleries

1. Chi-Wen Gallery

Chi-Wen Gallery from Taipei is showcasing a selection of Taiwanese contemporary artists working with installation, photography and video, including Chang Chien-Chi, Jawshing Arthur Liou, Yeh Wei-Li, Yuan Goang-Ming, Yu Cheng-Ta.

Yeh Wei-Li (b. 1971, Taipei) has created a special project for Art Basel, entitled Antiquity-Like Rubbish Research & Development Syndicate : Sofa Prototype. Yeh collected an abandoned sofa from a factory office in Miaoli in 2012 and started imagining and inventing a makeover plan for it, turning it into a mini museum with the original interiors captured on transparent acrylic panels.

Chang Chien-Chi (b. 1961, Taichung) provides a glimpse into a usually unseen community in his single-channel video Side Chain (1993-2014), a collection of 45 portraits of inmates in a mental asylum in Taiwan.

Arthur Jawshing Liou, 'Elements', 2006, two-channel video, 10 min 6 sec. Image co​urtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Jawshing Arthur Liou, ‘Elements’, 2006, two-channel video, 10 min 6 sec. Image co​urtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Jawshing Arthur Liou (b. 1968, Zhongli) has created the Blood Work series (2003-2006) – of which Elements (2006) is on show. Liou boldly confronts his daughter’s leukemia and the disease’s treatment, transforming real, scientific images into an abstract, otherworldly experience.

Yuan Goang -Ming,​'Dwelling', 2014, ​s​ingle channel video, 5 min. Image courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery and TKG+.

Yuan Goang-Ming,​ ‘Dwelling’, 2014, ​s​ingle channel video, 5 min. Image courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery and TKG+.

Dwelling (2014) by Yuan Goang–Ming (b.1965, Taipei) is a fun, surrealistic video, inspired by German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), in which the living room of a middle-class family explodes and then returns intact, highlighting “a lurking sense of anxiety in the mundane.”

Chi-Wen Gallery is also presenting Yu Cheng-Ta’s She is my Aunt (2008) and Yao Jui-Chung’s Mt. Jade Floating (2007) and Long Live (2011) in the Film sector.

Hung Fai, 'The Six Principles of Chinese Painting Correspondence to the Object Ⅰ (with Hung Hoi)', 180 x 97cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Hung Fai, ‘The Six Principles of Chinese Painting Correspondence to the Object Ⅰ (with Hung Hoi)’, 180 x 97 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

2. Grotto Fine Art

Hong Kong-based Grotto Fine Art, which specialises solely in contemporary art from Hong Kong, presents an exhibition entitled “Beyond Representation: Hong Kong’s New Ink Movement”, with five Hong Kong artists: Hung Fai, Wai Pongyu, Koon Wai-bong, Chui Pui-chee and Wong Yeeki. The focus of the presentation is on contemporary ink art.

The gallery highlights the regional particularities of the city’s artists in their re-interpretation of ancient and traditional forms of art, through a looking glass that juxtaposes influences from Chinese heritage and colonialism in Hong Kong.

Lam Yau-sum, 'Yuan', 2015, mixed media, 110 x 50 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Lam Yau-sum, ‘Yuan’, 2015, mixed media, 110 x 50 x 50 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Contemporary manifestations of ink art transcend the two-dimensional medium of painting to incorporate other techniques and media, such as in the work of Lam Yau-SumYuan (2015) is a mixed media sculpture made with silver and copper wire, water pipes, melted chrome and other metals that creates a virtual landscape of the city’s inhabitants.

Caroline Cheng, 'Butterfly Robe', ceramics, 180 x 70 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Caroline Cheng, ‘Butterfly Robe’, ceramics, 180 x 70 cm. Image courtesy Grotto Fine Art.

Caroline Cheng’s (b. 1963) Butterfly Robe uniquely reinterprets another traditional element of Chinese ancient culture, investing the precious silk dress with yet more historical and cultural significance, using ceramics as a medium.

Hrair Sarkissian, 'istory (No.8)', 2011, archival inkjet print, 190 x 150 cm. Image courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki.

Hrair Sarkissian, ‘istory (No.8)’, 2011, archival inkjet print, 190 x 150 cm. Image courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

3. Kalfayan Galleries

The booth of Greece-based Kalfayan Galleries includes the work of Mediterranean artists Rania Bellou, Maria Loizidou, Adrian Paci, Nina Papaconstantinou and Tassos Pavlopoulos, as well as Hrair Sarkissian and Raed Yassin from the Middle East. The gallery emphasises the historical interconnectedness between the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Hrair Sarkissian (b. 1973, Damascus), winner of the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013, presents a selection from his photographic series titled “Istory” (2011) and “Stand Still”. The artist photographed various semi‐private and public libraries and archives in Istanbul, in which history is simultaneously a recording and an erasure. In “Stand Still”, Sarkissian depicts the shells of buildings that stand eerily in Damascus, Amman and other cities, abandoned after they have been constructed in vast, barren landscapes.

Raed Yassin, 'Yassin Dynasty', 2013, hand-painted porcelain vase, 44 x 21.5 cm. Image courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens - Thessaloniki.

Raed Yassin, ‘Yassin Dynasty’, 2013, hand-painted porcelain vase, 44 x 21.5 cm. Image courtesy Kalfayan Galleries, Athens – Thessaloniki.

Raed Yassin’s (b 1979, Beirut) “Yassin Dynasty” consists of a series of porcelain works depicting several battles from the Lebanese civil war (1975‐1990) and produced in Jingdezhen, China’s capital of porcelain production since dynastic times. The project derives from “China” (2012), a series that was made possible by the Abraaj Group Art Prize. Yassin references the ancient tradition of recording victories and historical events on vases and ceramics for posterity.

Sopheap Pich, 'Far from the Sun', 2014, bamboo, rattan, metal wire, used burlap, plastics, 200 x 200 x 10 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Sopheap Pich, ‘Far from the Sun’, 2014, bamboo, rattan, metal wire, used burlap, plastics, 200 x 200 x 10 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

4. Tyler Rollins Fine Art

New York’s Tyler Rollins Fine Art has dedicated its space to a solo presentation of work by Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich (b. 1971, Battambang), who has been working with local materials from his country since 2002. The artist uses bamboo, rattan, burlap from rice bags, beeswax and earth pigments gathered from around Cambodia to make sculptures inspired by bodily organs, vegetal forms and abstract geometric structures. The experience of the genocide in the 1970s informs Pich’s subtle yet powerful oeuvre, which explores themes of time, memory and the body.

More recently, Pich has started to address an increasing interest in abstraction and conceptualisation. Moving away from the free-flowing forms of his work, he began a series of grid-based compositions that utilise the same locally sourced materials. Consisting of bamboo grids, covered with strips of burlap patched with old fabrics and colourful plastic twine strips, they also have layers of encaustic, often coloured with mineral pigments and charcoal.

Yang Yongliang, 'From the new world', 2014, Ultra Giclee print, 200 x 400 cm, Ed. 3/4. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Gallery of Art.

Yang Yongliang, ‘From the New World’, 2014, Ultra Giclee print, 200 x 400 cm, Ed. 3/4. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Gallery of Art.

5. Shanghai Gallery of Art

The Shanghai Gallery of Art booth features a group of Chinese, Hong Kong and Japanese artists that revisit the medium of Chinese ink and landscape painting through a variety of media.

Yang Yongliang’s (b. 1980, Shanghai) monumental works from the new series “From the New World” (2014) are characterised by the artist’s unique digital re-interpretation of classical Chinese landscape painting. The series, titled after Dvorak’s Symphony No.9, feature minute details in an artificially created composition that for the first time includes images of natural mountain formations taken from Iceland and Norway.

Gao Weigang’s (b 1976, Heilongjiang) Superstition 2 (2012-2013) references the classics’ ‘superstition’ that the real world can be represented by using fundamental geometric elements that constitute its form. In an ironical move to satirise painters, the artist transforms the geometric shapes used in painting training courses into fake antiques with a sense of history.

Zheng Lu, 'Water in Dropping – Dance', 2014, stainless steel, 290 x 190 x 110 cm, Ed. 1/4. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Gallery of Art.

Zheng Lu, ‘Water in Dropping – Dance’, 2014, stainless steel, 290 x 190 x 110 cm, Ed. 1/4. Image courtesy the artist and Shanghai Gallery of Art.

In Water in Dropping – Dance (2014), Zheng Lu (b. 1978, Inner Mongolia) represents water and its significance as an essential element of human existence. The work features Lu’s recurrent theme of static and dynamic existence and emptiness within the use, meaning and emotional value of text and visual.

Xu Longshen, 'Lotus Peak'., 2011, ink on paper, 150 x 281 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Xu Longsen, ‘Lotus Peak’, 2011, ink on paper, 150 x 281 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

6. Hanart TZ Gallery

Hanart TZ Gallery has also presented a group exhibition of artists working with and around ink art, entitled “Magic Mountains” and including Cao Xiaoyang, Gu Wenda, Hsu Yu-Jen, Leung Kui-Ting, Lin Haizhong,
 Liu Guosong, Qiu Shihua, Shen Aiqi, 
Wang Dongling, Wucius Wong and Xu Longsen.

Xu Longsen’s (b. 1956, Shanghai) landscapes challenge modern architecture with their imposing presence, as seen in his “Pure Spirit” series, Lotus Peak or in his monumental ten-metre-long scroll Beholding the Mountain With Awe No.1 (2008-2009), part of the Encounters sector.

Leung Kui Ting, 'Vision: Change No. 1', 2005, ink on silk and wood installation, 500 x 300 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Leung Kui-Ting, ‘Vision: Change No. 1’, 2005, ink on silk and wood installation, 500 x 300 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Vision: Change No. 1 (2005) by Leung Kui-Ting (b. 1945, Guangzhou) is an installation of ink, silk and wood that employs the artist’s revisitation of Cunfa, the brushstroke that is the technical foundation of traditional landscape.

Shen Aiqi, 'The Mystery beyond the Universe', 2013, ink and colour on fabric, 312 x 766 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Shen Aiqi, ‘The Mystery Beyond the Universe’, 2013, ink and colour on fabric, 312 x 766 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Hanart TZ Gallery.

Shen Aiqi’s (b. 1941, Hubei) The Mystery Beyond the Universe (2013) sets him apart from traditional shanshui painting practices by including a strong performative element in his works. Shen’s works reflect his emotional and spiritual state at the moment of creation. Using ink and colour on fabric, he brings the traditional two-dimensionality to tangible life in a monumental installation reminiscent of mountains, streams and the subconscious.

Ahmed Mater, 'Pre-Illumination 13', 2015, print on backlit film displayed on lightbox. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Ahmed Mater, ‘Pre-Illumination 13’, 2015, print on backlit film displayed on lightbox. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Insights

7. Athr Gallery

Athr Gallery from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, features a group presentation entitled “Why is the Power Button Always a Circle?”, including the work of Ahmed Mater, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Dana Awartani, Nasser Al Salem and Seçkin Pirim. The theme draws from the historical, social and cultural significance of the circle. The works in the booth address and use the circle to examine disparate subjects, whether terrestrial or celestial in nature: from notions of identity and home, to spirituality and the duality of religious practices, to astronomy and Euclidean geometry.

Ahmed Mater, 'Magnetism', 2015, installation; magnet and iron shavings, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Ahmed Mater, ‘Magnetism’, 2015, installation; magnet and iron shavings, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Ahmed Mater’s (b. 1979, Abha) installation Magnetism (2015) utilises a magnet and iron shavings to represent a core or centre – reminiscent of the Ka’bah or the ‘Cube’ in Mecca – that forcefully attracts a multitude of tiny satellites that symbolise the pilgrims. Mater’s work also reflects the dynamic and harmonious opposition of implicit in both magnetism and pilgrimage – attraction and repulsion.

Dana Awartani, 'Within A Sphere 20', 2015, from the "Platonic Solids" series, pencil, pen on paper. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Dana Awartani, ‘Within a Sphere 20’, 2015, from the “Platonic Solids” series, pencil, pen on paper. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Dana Awartani’s (b. 1987, Jeddah) series of paintings “Platonic Solids” borrows from an ancient study of shapes at the basis of Euclidean geometry. The Solids are considered the only five ‘perfect’ shapes in three-dimensional space that derive from a sphere. Awartani takes inspiration from these shapes and transforms their three-dimensionality into two-dimensional paintings, each based on the numerical value of the individual vertices of the platonic solids.

Nasser Al Salem, 'What If The Circle Was To Disappeared?', 2015, silkscreen on paper. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

Nasser Al Salem, ‘And What If The Circle Disappeared?’, 2015, silkscreen on paper. Image courtesy the artist and Athr Gallery.

In And What If The Circle Disappeared? (2015), Nasser Al Salem (b. 1984, Mecca) carries out a study of the history of the circle in calligraphic traditions. The circle or dot was only introduced in Arabic calligraphy around 45 AH (Hijri calendar), and appears in conjunction with the early spread of Islam and the slow merging of people and cultures whose language was not only Arabic. In the work, Al Salem uses Old Kuffi calligraphy, used prior to the introduction of the dot.

Pinaree Sanpitak, 'Breast Vessel', 2014-2015, collage on canvas, 185 x 185 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Pinaree Sanpitak, ‘Breast Vessel’, 2014-2015, collage on canvas, 185 x 185 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

8. Yavuz Gallery

Singapore’s Yavuz Gallery has mounted a thematic presentation entitled “Conversation in the Garden”, featuring new and recent works by renowned Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak (b. 1961, Bangkok), who explores the female body through abstracted motifs of vessels, stupas and clouds in a variety of media. This event also marks the first time the artist has exhibited in Hong Kong.

The Hammock (2014-2015) is a glass installation comprising over 600 hand-blown glass beads – each unique in size and shape – strung together on steel cables to form a life-sized hammock.

Pinaree Sanpitak, 'Quietly Solid - Blue 1', 2008-2010, blown Murano glass by Master Silvano Signoretto, 31.5 x 16.5 x 21.5cm / 15kg. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Pinaree Sanpitak, ‘Quietly Solid – Blue 1’, 2008-2010, blown Murano glass by Master Silvano Signoretto, 31.5 x 16.5 x 21.5 cm/15 kg. Image courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Sanpitak started using glass in 2007, after a visit to the studio of glass masters in Murano, Italy. Her Quietly Solid – Blue sculptures take the form of clouds or transparent floating orbs with a blue centre and were blown by glassmaker Master Silvano Signoretto.

Selected works from Sanpitak’s Breast Stupa Topiary series (2013) are also on show, with the largest reaching to three metres high and almost as wide. The stainless steel futuristic trellis-like structures reference the shape of a woman’s breast and that of a stupa – a Southeast Asian Buddhist funerary structure.

Tsubasa Kato, 'They do not understand each other', 2014, video, lambda print. Image courtesy of MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo.

Tsubasa Kato, ‘They Do Not Understand Each Other’, 2014, video, lambda print. Image courtesy MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo.

Discoveries

9. Mujin-to Production

Mujin-to Production from Japan introduces Tsubasa Kato (b. 1984, Saitama), with a presentation of photography and video works. They Do Not Understand Each Other (2014) takes place on Tsushima Island, located near the border between Japan and South Korea. A Japanese man and South Korean man drive a signboard of a map into the ground. When reading the QR code on the signboard, one realises it displays a Google Map with a pin dropped onto that same desert island.

Tsubasa Kato, 'The Lighthouses - 11.3 PROJECT', 2011, video. Image courtesy MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo.

Tsubasa Kato, ‘The Lighthouses – 11.3 PROJECT’, 2011, video. Image courtesy MUJIN-TO Production, Tokyo.

The video The Lighthouses – 11.3 PROJECT 
(2011) documents the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the lighthouse in Fukushima Prefecture after the Great Tohoku Earthquake. The structure, which is being pulled up by the inhabitants, was made with parts of houses destroyed by the tsunami collected by Kato for nearly half a year. The victims had cancelled their annual festival, but decided to run it again alongside Kato’s project.

H.H.H.A. (The Home, Hotels, Hideyoshi, Away) (2011) is a performance series that took place in Osaka, where the unemployment rate is comparatively high in Japan. For the videos, Kato created structures that resembled the modeled rooms of project assistants who were temporarily employed by the Osaka government as part of social support for the unemployed. Some of the assistants were the so-called “NEETs,” abbreviation for the “Not in Education, Employment, or Training,” who could not leave their homes. The performance involved pulling down the structures with ropes, but it was changed to re-erecting it or pulling it up, soon after the Great Earthquake struck.

Samanta Batra Mehta, 'The wall of objects and other in-destructibles', 2015, vintage wooden objects, porcelain dolls, shoe moulds, paper decoupage, approx 80 x 20 in. Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

Samanta Batra Mehta, ‘The Wall of Objects and Other In-destructibles’, 2015, vintage wooden objects, porcelain dolls, shoe moulds, paper decoupage, approx 80 x 20 in. Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

10. Shrine Empire

Shrine Empire from New Delhi has mounted a solo presentation of work by New York-based Samanta Bastra Mehta (b. 1975, New Delhi), which includes four works that are an interplay between childhood imagination, fantasy, commodification and memory.

Mehta, a mother of two, seeks to understand how everyday life and childhood are connected with materialistic settings in which toys and childhood ‘icons’ are created, marketed, sold and presented through a variety of channels.

In the installation The wall of Objects and Other In-destructibles, Mehta uses a series of vintage toys and objects on which she pasted decoupage images from her printed drawings, constructing a re-telling of a modern day fairytale.

Samanta Batra Mehta, 'Deritrus', 2015, vintage photographs, gold leaf, cut paper, 80 x 80 in (approx). Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

Samanta Batra Mehta, ‘Deritrus’, 2015, vintage photographs, gold leaf, cut paper, 80 x 80 in (approx). Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

Deritrus, a collage of vintage photographs, gold leaf and cut paper, juxtaposes the photographs with images of her drawings as well as toys, such as action heroes, cartoons and images from pop culture. The work reflects on the ubiquitous and constant bombardment of childhood icons, heroes and retail merchandise in contemporary family homes and lives, cultivating a culture of consumption.

Samanta Batra Mehta, 'Home? Whom?', 2015, wooden cages, ink on mylar, paper decoupage, 21 x 39 in. Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

Samanta Batra Mehta, ‘Home? Whom?’, 2015, wooden cages, ink on mylar, paper decoupage, 21 x 39 in. Image courtesy the artist and Shrine Empire.

In Home? Whom?, like a matrioska doll, a large wooden cage/doll’s house contains within it another cage/doll’s house, which in turn is a receptacle for intimate ink drawings within two glass domes. The drawings and decoupage recount scenes from early childhood memories, when Mehta spent four years travelling the world on a ship.

For those unable to visit Art Basel Hong Kong 2015, the Fair’s catalogue can be found online here.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Asian artists, ink art, sculpture, installation, video, photography, performance, art fairsevents in Hong Kong

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