Art Basel Hong Kong returns in its 6th year, running from 29 to 31 March 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

A refreshing intermingling of cultural heritage and technological experimentation, the 2018 fair investigates social content in the age of digital distribution.

Art Basel in Hong Kong. © Art Basel.

Art Basel in Hong Kong. © Art Basel.

Much of Hong Kong’s art market has its origins in the Art HK art fair, set up in 2008 to spark investor interest in Hong Kong. A massive success, Art Basel took the plunge and bought out Art HK, propelling it to further international prominence. The annual show, this year running from 29 to 31 March, is the keystone of the city’s art calendar.

The 2018 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong will feature 248 leading galleries from 32 countries, presenting work ranging from modern masterpieces of the early 20th century to contemporary work by both established and emerging artists. 28 galleries will participate in the Hong Kong show for the first time, including important galleries from the United States and Europe as well as a younger generation of galleries from the East. The show will also feature strong presentations by galleries from Asia that have graduated into the main sector of the show, reflecting the further strengthening and broadening of the art scenes across Asia. The annual Encounters sector, curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, Executive Director of Artspace in Sydney is now in its fourth year and will include institutional-scale installations and site-specific projects by 12 artists, with nine special commissions (PDF download).

Art Radar reveals nine must-see attractions at the 2018 fair, breaking it down between galleries, films, recent discoveries and art market insights.

Andres Serrano, ‘Zhang Rong (Made in China)’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia.

Andres Serrano, ‘Zhang Rong (Made in China)’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia.

2018 Galleries

The Galleries sector presents art from the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries, displaying paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, film, video and digital artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries. As the fair’s most prominent section, Galleries is poised to exhibit work by 195 leading international galleries.

1. Blindspot Gallery

Established in 2010, Hong Kong’s Blindspot Gallery is a contemporary art space with a focus on photography and image-based media. The gallery represents both emerging and established artists from Hong Kong and beyond, highlighting its commitment to the propagation of regional aesthetics and cross-cultural dialogues.

Blindspot Gallery attends this year’s fair with multimedia installationist Trevor Yeung in tow. As much a botanist as he is an artist, the Hong Kong-based practitioner has made a name for himself by building large-scale installations incorporating living plants, molluscs, fish tanks and other live specimen. Yeung’s installation The First Take will be on display, immersing audiences in the tranquil sounds of bubbling water and the serene stillness of growing filaments. The piece, Yeung claims, is a respite from daily life, a sanctuary for those looking to escape an anxiety-inducing world.

Trevor Yeung, 'The First Take', 2016. Image courtesy artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘The First Take’, 2016. Image courtesy artist and Blindspot Gallery.

2. Aye Gallery

Aye Gallery opened in 2005 in the central area of Beijing city. Surrounded by historical and cultural relics like the Lama Temple, Guo Zi Jian and the Temple of Earth, Aye Gallery supports contemporary artwork that is deeply rooted in and affected by its ancestral aura. The focus of the gallery is to exhibit and promote various Chinese artists who play significant roles in the history of contemporary art, and also devotes itself to the development of young and emerging artists. Represented by Aye Gallery at Art Basel Hong Kong is Chinese-Swiss artist Luo Mingjun.

Luo Mingjun’s works in oil, acrylic and ink quietly and delicately explore alienation, memory and the passage of time. The autobiographical subtext to each of her works are, she states, “abstracted on a cultural level, but [are] quite concrete in life”. Her work on display at Art Basel show a gestural and fervent processes of canvas staining, dripping and freeform brushstrokes that imbue her representational works – typically those of fleeting images of people and places – with a blurred and hazy quality, and, consequently, both a visual and metaphorical indeterminacy.

Luo Mingjun, ‘Here and Now’, 2016, 180 x 280 cm, oil on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Aye Gallery.

Luo Mingjun, ‘Here and Now’, 2016, 180 x 280 cm, oil on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Aye Gallery.

3. Nanzuka

The contemporary art space Nanzuka was founded by Shinji Nanzuka in 2005 in Tokyo, with the previous name Nanzuka Underground (2005-2011). In 2013, the gallery opened a Hong Kong branch named AISHONANZUKA as the joint gallery with Aisho Miura Arts. Like many of its gallery associates present at the fair, Nanzuka readily collaborates with other industries, including fashion, music and design in order to break though the hierarchical parameters of ‘fine art’.

Nanzuka attends Art Basel with Japanese artist Harumi Yamaguchi. Born in Matsue in the Shimane prefecture, Yamaguchi graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts with a degree in oil painting. Since 1972 Yamaguchi has been at work depicting female figures using flawless airbrush techniques, toying with notions of pin-up art and the male gaze. Her work, however, shies away from the eroticism of these catagories and, on the contrary, joyously celebrates female sexuality and existence through power, strength, sport and métier.

Harumi Yamaguchi, 'Apache', 1976. Image courtesy of the artist and NANZUKA Gallery.

Harumi Yamaguchi, ‘Apache’, 1976. Image courtesy of the artist and NANZUKA Gallery.

4. The Third Line

The Third Line is a Dubai-based art gallery that represents contemporary Middle Eastern artists locally, regionally and internationally. The Third Line also hosts non-profit, alternative programmes to increase interest and dialogue in the region. Amongst a busy season with Art Dubai, running earlier this March, The Third Line’s participation at Art Basel Hong Kong is underlined by the work of artist, writer and filmmaker Sophia Al Maria.

After studying comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, Al Maria has been carrying out research around the concept of Gulf Futurism. Her primary interests are around the isolationist effects of technology and reactionary Islam, the corrosive elements of capitalism and the erasure of history. She explores these ideas with certain guidebooks and ideas including, but not limited to, Zizek’s The Desert of the Unreal, As-Sufi’s Islamic Book of the Dead, as well as imagery from Islamic eschatology, post-humanism and the curious mythos of speculative science and science fiction.

Sophia Al Maria, ‘Aesthetic Taser’, 2017, digital print, 24 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and The Third Line.

Sophia Al Maria, ‘Aesthetic Taser’, 2017, digital print, 24 x 42 cm. Image courtesy the artist and The Third Line.

5. SCAI The Bathhouse

SCAI The Bathhouse is a contemporary art gallery known for introducing Japan’s avant-garde artists to the world and for facilitating the immersion of international artists within the Japanese art scene. SCAI has a strong track-record of large-scale exhibitions presenting artists such as Lee Ufan and Tadanori Yokoo who have played significant roles in the genesis of Japanese contemporary art.

Represented by SCAI The Bathhouse at Art Basel is artist and filmmaker Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul. Working outside the strict confines of the Thai film studio system, Weerasethakul has directed several features and dozens of short films that toy with visual representations of dreams, nature, (homo)sexuality and Western perceptions of his native Thailand. His piece, Memoria Pijao (Eve Astudillo), presented at the 2018 fair, examines themes of ageing, world making and the veracity of time.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Memoria Pijao (Eve Astudillo), 2017. Image courtesy the artist and SCAI The Bathhouse.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, ‘Memoria Pijao (Eve Astudillo)’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and SCAI The Bathhouse.

Discoveries

The Discoveries segment of Art Basel HK is said to provide a powerful platform to emerging contemporary artists by showcasing work at an early stage in an artist’s career. The 2018 section, which has previously focused on solo shows by emerging artists, will reemerge this year with 25 featured galleries.

6. Kelly Akashi

Highlighted in this sphere will be Ghebaly Gallery and the featured work of Los Angeles native Kelly Akashi. Akashi’s exaggerated sculptures often appear to breathe with life, shimmering in their grandeur, yet eerily attached to an all-too-familiar reality. Through the manipulation of found objects, natural resources and even performative elements, the artist’s exhibition in the Discoveries segment is posed to examine cognitive philosophies, transformation and alchemic processes.

Kelly Akashi, Well(-)Hung, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Ghebaly Gallery.

Kelly Akashi, ‘Well(-)Hung’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Ghebaly Gallery.

7. Philipp Timischl

With Galerie Emanuel Layr comes Vienna-based multimedia artist Philipp Timischl. Balancing between documentation and fiction, private and public, Timischl’s intimate portraits examine the lasting influences of one’s roots, feelings of exclusion, queerness and uneven power dynamics. His work on view at Art Basel in Hong Kong slows down the speed of life and shows viewers that though existence may be a blooming, buzzing confusion, one can also view it as a fragmented series of stories and memories that allow for creative reinvention.

Philipp Timischl, ‘Phil Up’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist.

Philipp Timischl, ‘Phil Up’, 2016. Image courtesy the artist.

Film

This year’s Film sector includes seven special screenings, completing a programme of works by 67 artists represented by 38 galleries. Curated by Beijing and Zurich-based multimedia artist and producer Li Zhenhua, the segment will show work produced by the Audemars Piguet Art Commission, Video Art Collections of Videotage and Nam June Paik Art Centre.

8. Chi-Wen Gallery & Chien-Chi Chang

From self-portrait to family chronicle to eyewitness account of historical events, Taiwanese artist Chien-Chi Chang explores some of the ways in which history may be filtered through a photographer’s lens. Individual stories are set against the backdrop of larger geopolitical forces, both seen and unseen. In the virtual world, it is not always apparent where – or whether – the events depicted have actually occurred, yet images of people, objects and places bear a weighty significance. These representations may all belong to the past, but they still exert a ghost-like emotional impact on the shared present.

Chien-Chi Chang, ‘The War That Never Was’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Chien-Chi Chang, ‘The War That Never Was’, 2017, video still. Image courtesy the artist and Chi-Wen Gallery.

Kabinett & beyond

Art Basel’s Kabinett section at the Hong Kong fair will also be showcasing a diverse range of media this year, including painting, calligraphy, photography, performance, sculpture and virtual reality art. Through thoughtful presentations of ongoing projects, the 2018 fair will see a strong selection of presentations by artists from Asia and beyond.

Yu Hong, 'She's already gone', 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Long March Space.

Yu Hong, ‘She’s Already Gone’, 2017. Image courtesy the artist and Long March Space.

9. VR with Marina Abromović and Anish Kapoor

The Kabinett section will see the first public showing of two new short VR works by equally distinguished figures from the art world, Anish Kapoor and Marina Abramović. They will be presented by the fair’s virtual reality partner, the Taiwanese electronics company HTC, highlighting the links between breaking developments in technology and the art world. While much media skepticism and criticism has been published on the artists’ VR experiments, there is no doubt that the emergence of such work will open conversations about the role of technology and commercialisation in an art fair that already prompts a restructuring in tune with its progressive, globalised arena.

Click here to watch a trailer of the Acute Art Virtual Reality collaboration on YouTube

A catalyst for transnational conversation and artistic promotion, Art Basel Hong Kong is set to provide an in-depth overview of the region’s diversity through both historical material and cutting-edge works by established and emerging artists. The 2018 edition will hold true to this mission while expanding its reaches far beyond locational borders.

Megan Miller

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Art Basel Hong Kong 2018 is open to the public from 29 to 31 March 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, China.

Related topics: Asian artists, preview, art fairs, market watch, business of art, events in Hong Kong

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Brittney

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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