Preview: Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 – 9 booth highlights

The fourth edition of Art Basel Hong Kong will unveil a greater depth and range of art from Asia.

Take the less trodden path: steering away from blue chip galleries, Art Radar picks 9 exciting booths you shouldn’t miss at Art Basel Hong Kong 2016, which opens to the public from 24 to 26 March 2016. 

David Diao, 'Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui', 2014, acrylic and paper on canvas, 173 x 223.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

David Diao, ‘Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui’, 2014, acrylic and paper on canvas, 173 x 223.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

Adeline Ooi, Asia Director of Art Basel, says the fair’s fourth Hong Kong edition is “a deeper and broader reflection of artistic production in Asia”. According to Ooi, Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 will display an emphasis on curated and thematic presentations – material traditionally eschewed by the commercial art fair. Blouin Artinfo writes, quoting Ooi:

Despite Art Basel’s reputation for “what’s popular among the blue chip names,” the Hong Kong show is also “for other people who don’t know our art histories here in Asia, so that they can understand where we come from,” emphasises Ooi.

Ooi continues, quoted by Blouin Artinfo:

I think it’s great that important movements like Mono-ha, Gutai, and Dansaekhwa are represented, but the greater depth this year is important as well.

Art Radar picks through the slew of dazzling gallery offerings, bringing you nine booths that should not be missed.

Installation view of "Phantom Footsteps", solo exhibition of Kyungah Ham at Kukje Gallery, 2015. Photo: Keith Park. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Installation view of “Phantom Footsteps”, solo exhibition of Kyungah Ham at Kukje Gallery, 2015. Photo: Keith Park. Image courtesy Kukje Gallery.

Encounters

1. Kukje Gallery – Kyungah Ham

First off, Korean artist Kyungah Ham‘s presentation will be hard to miss. Selected as part of Alexie Glass-Kantor‘s acclaimed curated Encounters sector, which features large-scale sculptures and installation works, Ham’s recent series Chandeliers for Five Cities (2014-2015) is a visually and conceptually riveting affair. The vast embroidered tapestries feature glittering, grandiose chandeliers that hang perilously askew – an image that references the Korean war, a recurring motif in Ham’s works, the imminent collapse of colonial ideologies as well as the looming persistence of conflict, division and injustice.

Kyungah Ham, 'What you see is the unseen / Chandeliers for Five Cities', 2015, North Korean hand embroidery, silk threads on cotton, middle man, anxiety, censorship, wooden frame, approx. 2400 hrs / 4 persons, 250 x 370 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kukje Gallery.

Kyungah Ham, ‘What You See is the Unseen / Chandeliers for Five Cities’, 2015, North Korean hand embroidery, silk threads on cotton, middle man, anxiety, censorship, wooden frame, approx. 2400 hrs / 4 persons, 250 x 370 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Kukje Gallery.

Underscoring the unsettling message in Ham’s visual language is her critical methodology. Ham’s tapestries are the result of handwork by anonymous North Korean women: as Kukje Gallery‘s press release states, “Ham’s process of hiring these workers illustrates the relationship between these women, the tension between North and South Korea, and their history of conflict.” Each stitch thus captures the inverted reality of North Korea, paying testament to the marginalised voice of the individual labourer.

Wu Tsang, 'One life, not preserved', 2016, and 'Tears, Tears, Tears', 2016. Photo: MC. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Wu Tsang, ‘One Life, Not Preserved’, 2016, and ‘Tears, Tears, Tears’, 2016. Photo: MC. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Discoveries

2. Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi & Spring Workshop – Wu Tsang

In the Discoveries sector, Chinese-Swedish American-based artist Wu Tsang delves into her East Asian roots in a solo presentation by Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi from Berlin, a first-time participant at Art Basel Hong Kong. Wu Tsang will present fresh new works from “Duilian”, the result of her recent research as artist-in-residence at leading Hong Kong nonprofit art space Spring Workshop. Notably, Spring is also hosting a solo exhibition of Wu Tsang concurrent to the fair.

Wu Tsang, 'Duilian', 2016. Photo: MC. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Wu Tsang, ‘Duilian’, 2016. Photo: MC. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Encompassing film, sculpture and installation, Duilian is a multimedia exploration of the intimate relationship between two legendary women in Chinese history: the revolutionary Chinese poet Qiu Jin and calligrapher Wu Zhiying. Layered and lyrical, subtly nuanced yet potently evocative, Wu Tsang’s new works powerfully investigate identity, history, gender and language, ultimately posing the question of what it means to be a hero.

Wan Lee, 'Landscape', 2016, LED, 37 2/5 x 123 1/5 x 1 1/5 inches. Image courtesy the artist, 313 Art Project and Artsy.

Wan Lee, ‘Landscape’, 2016, LED, 37 2/5 x 123 1/5 x 1 1/5 inches. Image courtesy the artist, 313 Art Project and Artsy.

3. 313 Art Project – Wan Lee

Also in the Discoveries sector, Seoul-based gallery 313 Art Project presents recent works by Korean artist Wan Lee. The arresting multimedia series Made in Korea calls attention to the country’s “pain- and loss-riddled modern history”, tracing processes of industrialisation and global production and their points of intersection with ordinary daily life. The presentation constitutes a complex and evocative exploration of the problematics of Asian modernisation, inviting closer scrutinisation of local and global issues via thought-provoking perspectives.

Wan Lee, 'Product', 2015. Image courtesy the artist and 313 Art Project.

Wan Lee, ‘Product’, 2015. Image courtesy the artist and 313 Art Project.

Through his works, Wan Lee highlights the structural problems of our excessively materialistic society and unveils the hidden entangled interests within the phenomenon of globalisation. According to the gallery’s page on Artsy, Wan hopes to “begin a new discourse on Korea’s present situation and hopes his problem-posing will ultimately develop his mother country into a healthy and balanced society”.

Michael Cook, 'Mother - Pram', 2016, Inkjet print on Hahnemuhle cotton rag, 120 x 180 cm. Edition of 4 + 1 AP. Image courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery.

Michael Cook, ‘Mother – Pram’, 2016, Inkjet print on Hahnemuhle cotton rag, 120 x 180 cm. Edition of 4 + 1 AP. Image courtesy the artist and This is No Fantasy + dianne tanzer gallery.

Insights

4. This Is No Fantasy + dianne tanzer gallery – Michael Cook

In the Insights sector, Melbourne’s This Is No Fantasy + dianne tanzer gallery introduce Australian photomedia artist Michael Cook to Hong Kong. Cook’s photographs possess a distinctive uncanny atmosphere where racial and social roles are reversed and muddled. By re-staging colonial-focused histories and re-imaging the contemporary reality of indigenous populations, Cook’s photographs confront the entrenched discriminatory realities of today’s world.

Michael Cook, 'Mother - Dolls House', 2016, Inkjet print on Hahnemuhle cotton rag, 120 x 180 cm. Edition of 4 + 1 AP. Image courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery.

Michael Cook, ‘Mother – Dolls House’, 2016, Inkjet print on Hahnemuhle cotton rag, 120 x 180 cm. Edition of 4 + 1 AP. Image courtesy the artist and THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery.

Cook’s photographic aesthetic is peaceful and dreamy, quietly challenging viewers’ ingrained belief systems while refraining from offering judgment. His spare, minimal landscapes are visually and emotionally engaging, proffering pristine beauty that hints at darker, sorrowful undercurrents. The present series, entitled Mother (2016), explores the universal themes of love and motherhood, whose presence or absence affects the future of each child, regardless of colour and race.

Tayeba Begum Lipi, 'The Nighty' (detail), 2013, brass made safety pins covered with electroless nickel immersion gold and mirror polished stainless steel sheet, 31 x 71 x 36 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Pi Artworks.

Tayeba Begum Lipi, ‘The Nighty’ (detail), 2013, brass made safety pins covered with electroless nickel immersion gold and mirror polished stainless steel sheet, 31 x 71 x 36 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Pi Artworks.

5. Pi Artworks – Tayeba Begum Lipi 

Also in Insights, Pi Artworks presents an alluring solo exhibition of Dhaka-based Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi. Lipi recreates everyday objects, such as bikinis, nighties, high heels and handbags, with an exquisite glittering aesthetic constituted by gold-plated safety pins. As the press release writes, the gold safety pins “transform [the] quotidian subjects into items imbued with luminosity and an atypical beauty”.

Tayeba Begum Lipi, 'The Nighty', 2013, brass made safety pins covered with electroless nickel immersion gold and mirror polished stainless steel sheet, 31 x 71 x 36 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Pi Artworks.

Tayeba Begum Lipi, ‘The Nighty’, 2013, brass made safety pins covered with electroless nickel immersion gold and mirror polished stainless steel sheet, 31 x 71 x 36 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Pi Artworks.

In Bangladesh, many women use safety pins to warn off potential abusers. Lurking beneath the shiny facade is thus am embedded sense of violence, situating Lipi’s work within the universal theme of aggression towards women. The accompanying audio installation Lullaby (2015), which features a looped conversation between Lipi and transgender woman Anonnya, constitutes a poignant resonance between the individual and the interpersonal, the personal and the political. The press release writes that Lullaby “emphasises the self-reflexive tension within much of Lipi’s work in which she is documenting herself, while dealing with more universal issues”.

David Diao, 'Three Points a Line', 2015, acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 139.5 x 112 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

David Diao, ‘Three Points a Line’, 2015, acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 139.5 x 112 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

Galleries

6. Eslite Gallery – David Diao

In the main Galleries sector, Eslite Gallery will present a solo exhibition by David Diao, highlighting the artist’s latest pieces about his six-year life in Hong Kong as a child. The Chinese-born artist moved to New York early in his career, quickly gaining acclaim and public attention with conceptually and symbolically engaging paintings that borrowed motifs from the works of Ad Reinhardt, Jackson Pollock, Kazimir Malevich and Barnett Newman. These distinctive works are “both tributes to and wry interrogations of the subject-artists’ careers”, earning Diao a name as one of the foremost conceptual abstract painters in America.

David Diao, 'Elvy's Private English School with Blackboard', 2015, acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 112 x 140 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

David Diao, ‘Elvy’s Private English School with Blackboard’, 2015, acrylic and vinyl on canvas, 112 x 140 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Eslite Gallery.

Beginning in the mid-2000s Diao began to include autobiographical elements in his work, incorporating themes of his Chinese heritage, emigration and displacement. These recent works deal with his childhood in Asia, employing his minimal aesthetic and stylised typography to recreate the vague memories of his six-year life in Hong Kong. These paintings investigate the impossibility of objective truth, particularly where memory is concerned, and also situate his fascinating practice to the artistic ecology of Asia.

Wang Fujui, 'Sound Dots', 2010, sound Installation, 300 LED, mini speakers, customized electronic devices, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Wang Fujui, ‘Sound Dots’, 2010, sound Installation, 300 LED, mini speakers, customized electronic devices, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

7. Project Fulfill Art Space – Wang Fujui & Chen Sung-Chih

Hailing from Taiwan and participating for the first time in Art Basel Hong Kong’s main Galleries sector, Project Fulfill Art Space is presenting a strong two-person exhibition featuring renowned pioneering Taiwanese sound artist Wang Fujui and emerging mixed media installation artist Chen Sung-Chih. Wang will exhibit one of his most important and visually mesmerising installations, Sound Dots, which is composed of hundreds of speakers emitting different frequencies, while Seeing Sound is a visual installation that produces images with inaudible sound.

Chen Sung-Chih, 'Untitled', 2016, printing paper, plastic, water site specific installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Chen Sung-Chih, ‘Untitled’, 2016, printing paper, plastic, water site specific installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Project Fulfill Art Space.

Chen Sung-Chih, on the other hand, is presenting his newest on-site installation work. Constructed on a seven-metre wide wall, Untitled (2016) amasses materials rich in collective memories, such as artificial plastic, liquid, fabric and printing papers, using them as humble yet evocative metaphors of life. Taken out of their normal contexts and manipulated with an abstract style, the materials trigger feelings of destruction, displacement and entanglement while invoking the interconnections between material and perception.

Tiffany Chung, 'HKSAR statistics on yearly arrivals and departures of V-refugees from 1975-1997', 2016, acrylic, ink, and oil on vellum and paper, 79 x 100 cm (31 x 39 ½ in.). Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Tiffany Chung, ‘HKSAR statistics on yearly arrivals and departures of V-refugees from 1975-1997’, 2016, acrylic, ink, and oil on vellum and paper, 79 x 100 cm (31 x 39 ½ in.). Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

8. Tyler Rollins Fine Art – Tiffany Chung

New York-based Tyler Rollins Fine Art features a solo presentation by Vietnamese-American artist Tiffany Chung, whose cartographic drawings, sculptures, videos, photographs and theatre performances examine conflict, migration, displacement, urban progress and transformation in relation to history and cultural memory. Recently, Chung’s series of 40 drawings on the Syrian refugee crisis was on shown at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

Tiffany Chung, 'permanent transitory homes: HK correctional institutions, detention centers and refugee camps from archival records and Google mapping', 2015, ink and oil on vellum and paper, 75 x 92 cm (75 ½ x 36 ¼ in.). Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Tiffany Chung, ‘permanent transitory homes: HK correctional institutions, detention centers and refugee camps from archival records and Google mapping’, 2015, ink and oil on vellum and paper, 75 x 92 cm (75 ½ x 36 ¼ in.). Image courtesy the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

Chung is interested in changing geographies and the traumatic impact of imposed political borders that result in forced migration. At Art Basel, Chung focuses on the post-1975 mass exodus of Vietnamese refugees and presents the international debut of The Vietnam Exodus project. The installation at the booth focuses on the experiences of the Vietnamese refugee community in Hong Kong. An installation comprising watercolour drawings by Vietnamese artists, written inscriptions, electronic texts and videos gives insights into the refugees personal experiences as well as into the asylum policies applied to them in the past. A series of cartographic drawings shows the international flow of refugees, demographic statistics, and the network of detention centres and refugee camps in Hong Kong.

Chang Chien-Chi, 'Empty Orchestra', 2007, single-channel video, black and white, sound, 0:3:7. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Chang Chien-Chi, ‘Empty Orchestra’, 2007, single-channel video, black and white, sound, 03:07 mins. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

9. Chi-Wen Gallery – Taiwanese new media artists

Last but not least, also hailing from Taiwan, Chi-Wen Gallery‘s booth will be a treat for the lover of video and new media art. The gallery is presenting a thematic booth featuring the early video works of eight important mid-career Taiwanese new media artists, including Chen Chieh-Jen, Chien-Chi Chang, Jawshing Arthur Liou, Peng Hung-Chih, Tsui Kuang-Yu, Yuan Goang-Ming, Yin-Ju Chen & James T. Hong. The rare selection aims to present a historical as well as educational offering, providing insight into the careers and artistic development of important new media artists that have become known on the international stage.

Yuan Goang-Ming, 'Out of Position', 1987, single-channel video, color, mute, CRT monitor, sculpture, 0:5:25. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Yuan Goang-Ming, ‘Out of Position’, 1987, single-channel video, color, mute, CRT monitor, sculpture, 0:5:25. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

As Chi-Wen Gallery’s press release reveals, several of the works will be presented with the equipment used at the time of production, allowing a thoroughly authentic viewing experience. In addition, the gallery has invited young emerging video and performance artist Yu Cheng-Ta to create a special video project Booth Untitled (2016). The work is centred around a ready-made object – an exercise apparatus – which Yu uses to tease out intriguing relationships between actor, process, artist and presentation. The press release states that the resulting video work “us[es] the language of advertising [to] recast illusions of intent to sale”.

Michele Chan with C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Asian artists, art fairs, market watch, news, events in Hong Kong

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