The city of Hong Kong is New York on steroids. Even the Black Rain (highest level of rain) did not stop the 245 Galleries from around the world converging on the Convention Center and bringing their world-class artists. Collectors from everywhere descended on the fair, all in all, 60,000 visitors came and there were a lot more younger people than in Basel with young Hong Kong families bringing their young children with them. Half the galleries were Western bringing over major works by big-name artists – the rest of the galleries were from the Asian Pacific region. Mainland Chinese artists were well represented, such as Zhang Xiaogang’s new sculptures of small heads. Quite beautiful! Sales were very strong. The first five galleries I asked about artists were sold out and many galleries re-hung their booths more than once. The local British TV interviewed me on my thoughts, and I told them they had no idea what will happen next year. They will have many more satellite fairs, which will tag on maybe Scope or Volta. I could be wrong but the electricity was in the air.
For more edgy work one had to travel a bit to Chai Wan. I saw a group exhibition of Singapore and Hong Kong Artists curated by Yong Kah Kin. Eight artists were shown at the Gallery 10. Chancery Lane, a group of contemporary artists from Thailand were showing a show called ‘Subjective Truth’ they tried to show the complexity of a nation changing into a democracy. Another knock out show called, Parallel Lives, by Yang Zhichao and Douglas Young was also shown in the Chai Wan area of converted warehouse spaces. This show was very moving. Yang Zhichao has collected thousands of the little red diaries that the Chinese used to write their very personal diaries, and then have thrown out. In the midst of their difficult times the beautiful perfect writings and sketches about their friends and nature could break any ones heart.
Hong Kong artists of course where featured strongly at the fair and were shown all over, Halley Cheng, Hung Keung, Lam Tung-pang, Tang Kwok-hin, Stanley Wong Pingpui, Chow Chun-fai, Ho Sin-tung, Linda Lai Chiu-han and Adrian Wong to mention a few. One must remember the fair picks the best galleries to participate. It does not choose the individual artists. It is an honour to be chosen, and the best galleries are passionate about their artists and promote them very enthusiastically. Do not be shy ask them about the artist that you like.
Even the local restaurants got into the swing of things, offering special Art Basel menus. The Kee Club had a wonderful Swiss four-course meal with yes even Rosti and Veal. Parties, lectures, special VIP events and great sales, all and all, a great success. Next I write about the Christies sales but now it’s on to one of the fabulous restaurants that seem to be on every corner in magnificent settings.