ART HK 11 top topics media round-up: Ai Weiwei, Gao Weigang, ASIA ONE and gallery sales


The Hong Kong International Art Fair 2011 was one of the most anticipated events in the city’s art calendar. Not only was it expected to be bigger than its previous editions, but it was also expected to make a big impact on the international art scene. Following on from our rolling collection of media coverage of the event we round up what journalists, critics, bloggers and Tweeters had to say on the top trends of ART HK 11.

A solo exhibition of work by O Zhang, Ooi Botos Gallery, ART FUTURES section, ART HK 11. Image by Art Radar Asia (CBKM).

A solo exhibition of work by O Zhang, Ooi Botos Gallery, ART FUTURES section, ART HK 11. Image by Art Radar Asia (CBKM).

What was said on… Ai Weiwei?

The Chinese government has received heavy criticism from nations the world over for its April 2011 detention of activist artist Ai Weiwei on the grounds of alleged tax evasion. The art community, too, have shown their support for the artist through petitions, rallies and exhibitions held in cities across the globe, from London to Paris to New York.

Closer to home, artists in Hong Kong have joined the cause. The city was granted autonomy from the Chinese government since its handover from British rule in 1997 and this Special Administrative Region enjoys a freedom of speech not available to citizens living on the mainland. As a response to the artist’s detention, columnists like Charlie Finch called for a boycott of the Chinese art market several months before ART HK 11.

On the day of the event, however, a sole work by Ai Weiwei entitled Marble Arm had been put on display by the Swiss gallery Galerie Urs Meile as a show of support, not only from the gallery itself, but also from the slice of the international art world that was participating in the fair.

The media reported,

Hong Kong’s growing international ART HK 11 fair has opened with a nod to Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei, currently in detention in China.

– the BBC

Despite criticism of [the] Chinese government over Ai Weiwei’s arrest, galleries [were] still happy to show in Hong Kong.

The Art Newspaper

At this stage we feel that we can do more for Ai Weiwei by being present at the fair. By continuing to show his work we build new audiences for it and draw attention to his plight. We also wish to show our support for those people in Hong Kong who have come out on to the streets to protest in greater numbers than in any city in the West. To withdraw from ART HK and not show work by the artist would make us complicit in the authorities’ attempt to silence him and his supporters.

– Galerie Urs Meile (as quote in The Art Newspaper)


By presenting his work, we believe his situation will be discussed.

– Rene Meile, Galerie Urs Meile (as quoted in The Independent)

It’s important that we still have this discussion (on Ai) … but I’m not sure whether this will help in the higher levels of the government.

– Karin Seiz, Galerie Urs Meile (as quoted in Reuters)

Ai is an artist whose work we greatly admire…. We are very pleased that his work will be on show alongside the work of over a thousand other artists at the fair. I think it’s right that it should be shown in Hong Kong—it’s a great platform for freedom of expression.

– Magnus Renfrew, Director, ART HK (as quoted in Art Forum)


The booth of South Africa’s Goodman Gallery is showcasing the art of the internationally acclaimed William Kentridge — known for his animations and drawings and work in theater. The artist, who came to prominence in the anti-apartheid struggle, created one panel after the arrest of Mr. Ai as a tribute. The artwork doesn’t refer to the Chinese artist by name, but in the piece, a banner in Chinese translates into a slogan that Mr. Kentridge has used often in a previous series of works he did on freedom and destiny.

– Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia

Some students were spotted wearing this t-shirt at Art HK 11. They weren’t the only ones. Ai Weiwei’s presence was felt today. There’s only one gallery that showed the still-missing Chinese activist artist’s work, the raised middle-finger Marble Arm, but t-shirts and buttons were being given away.

– blogger Mayo Martin, For Art’s Sake!

The much-discussed Ai Weiwei's 'Marble Arm' (2007) on display at ART HK 11. Image from

The much-discussed Ai Weiwei's 'Marble Arm' (2007) on display at ART HK 11. Image from

What was said on… the 2011 ART FUTURES award?

ART HK 11’s ART FUTURES gallery section, sponsored this year by Lane Crawford, is aimed at encouraging the production of fresh, new and innovative works by promising emerging artists. A total of 45 galleries participated in this year’s edition and among the artists represented was the Chinese-born Gao Weigang, brought to the fair by gallery Magician Space. Gao’s project Intuition landed him the year’s ART FUTURES award, for which he received, among other things, a USD25,000 cash prize.

The media reported,

Commenting on winning the prize, Qu Kejie, Founder and Director of Magician Space, Beijing said: ‘This has truly been a memorable first appearance for Magician Space at ART HK, which has given us a great opportunity to showcase our space and artist Gao Weigang to an international audience. To have been awarded the ART FUTURES prize this year by its panel of critics and curators of the highest esteem is fantastic. I hope that we can continue on this trajectory into the future and through the exhibitions and projects we are planning, both in our Beijing space and for further events abroad. Gao Weigang is an artist representative of Magician Space’s focus on experimental emerging art, and interest in his work has piqued during the Fair.’

Gao Weigang’s … provocative new work Intuition questions the conflicting symbolism of tiger skin while referencing the unmatched power of intuition, which draws a direct line to the human heart.


Gao Weigang’s work is visually unique and uses a clear and sensitive mode of expression. His creative energy drives a will to experiment, breaking through our natural and ideological perceptions of the material world. Each piece of work constitutes a task of self-reflection: Gao moves forward through a constant reexamination of himself.

Magician Space press release, published on RedBox Review

Click here to read our story on ART HK ‘s 2011 ART FUTURES award winner Gao Weigang.

ART FUTURES award winner Gao Weigang standing next to his work 'Intuition'. ART HK 11. Image from

ART FUTURES award winner Gao Weigang standing next to his work 'Intuition'. ART HK 11. Image from

What was said on … the new ASIA ONE gallery section?

The ASIA ONE section is an new addition to 2011’s ART HK and features Asian galleries presenting solo exhibitions of work by Asian artists. The section comprises both emerging and established artists and seeks be a platform for the promotion of contemporary Asian Artists.

The media reported,

[One of the worst decisions made by ART HK 11 organisers was] the decision to put ASIA ONE on a separate floor two escalator rides away from the main fair, meaning visiting international galleries have no incidental contact with their colleagues in the region and many visitors will miss seeing what makes this fair distinct from the many others around the world.


Despite the awesomness of the works at the main section, my favourite section was actually the one on the upper floor, where you had the ASIA ONE and ART FUTURES section — a.k.a. the smaller galleries and the emerging artists. Fresh stuff. And, particularly for the ASIA ONE section, because each gallery concentrated on a single artist, it felt more like an exhibition rather than a marketplace.

– Mayo Martin, Today Online

I am very impressed with the way ART HK has positioned the ASIA ONE and ART FUTURES sections, which have been integrated into the Fair. We have done very well with our solo show of work by Zadok Ben David and made a lot of connections with people in the region. This is the first time we have participated in the Fair and we will definitely come back next year.

– Bill Gregory, Director, Annandale Galleries (as quoted in

Click here to read our story on our first day impressions of the ASIA ONE and ART FUTURES sections of ART HK 11.

The ASIA ONE section at ART HK 11. Image courtesy ART HK.

The ASIA ONE section at ART HK 11. Image courtesy ART HK.

What was said on… artwork sales?

The media reported,

The fact that Basel has bought into the fair brings a big boost and gives an indication of the strength of the art market here.

– Simon de Pury, Chairman, Phillips de Pury (as quoted on ARTINFO)

While a number of dealers grumbled at the absence of action, clearly commerce was making waves.


We sold a bunch of stuff — what more do you want when you do an art fair? I would say mission accomplished.

– dealer David Zwirner (as quoted on ARTINFO)

The fair has been very successful for us.

– Arne Glimcher, Founder, Pace Gallery (as quoted on ARTINFO)

Asian collectors are building great collections of Asian art.

– Peter Boris, Director, Pace Gallery (as quoted on Artnet)

It’s a surprisingly good fair and they’re making a serious effort. Right now, it’s more about educating the public here as much as anything else. But it’s going to be quick in moving from collecting just Chinese contemporary to Western art.

– Brett Gorvy, Head of Postwar and Contemporary Art Department, Christie’s (as quoted on ARTINFO)

There’s a lot of interest percolating but the big Asian buyers are not from mainland China. I’ve been speaking with people from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

– David Leiber (as quoted on ARTINFO)

This is no longer an emerging market; it’s a market and poised to become the next great thing.

– Amy Gold, Senior Director, L & M Arts (as quoted in the Financial Times)

As for business, the picture was varied. Some dealers sold nothing, but many did very well, and on both floors. Very high-priced works were certainly not flying off the shelves, and Asian buyers were most interested in their own artists.

Financial Times

We are building a broad market here – we are definitely getting people interested in Western art.

– Arthur Solway, Head, James Cohan Shanghai (as quoted in ARTNET)

On the last day of the ART HK 11, Art Radar went around the fair asking galleries what they had sold. Click here to read our round-up of ART HK 11 gallery sales results from galleries in the ASIA ONE and ART FUTURES sections.

Galleries Section, ART HK 11. Image courtesy ART HK.

Galleries Section, ART HK 11. Image courtesy ART HK.

Want more media coverage of ART HK 11?

And when we arrived  home after a day of covering ART HK 11 we were straight online, finding the top stories published about the fair and collating them into one easy-to-read post. Click here to read our rolling media coverage of ART HK 11. This list contains links to the top stories published about the fair, from before the event began to now.


Related Topics: ART HK 11Hong Kong venues, art fairs

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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