South African artist Robin Rhode's Balthazar was among
the works that caught my eye at this year's Art Basel - Hong Kong
East and west mix at this mega art fair of works by over 3,000 artists
whose exhibitors comprise 233 galleries from 37 countries and territories
At least one artist (Shintaro Miyake) was creating art
at the art fair rather than just have his work on display there!
David Klamen's untitled blue meta-painting installation
was, like Rhode's Balthazar, a work consisting of multiple
images and components that I found interesting and impressive
I wish it was still called Art HK, as was the case when I attended in 2011 and 2012 -- or even the less catchy Hong Kong International Art Fair, like when I first attended in 2009. Also, I wish it would have stuck to its original May slot rather than also wedge itself into Hong Kong's already super crowded March events calendar. (March, for those who don't realize, being when the Hong Kong International Film Festival traditionally begins, the Hong Kong Arts Festival extends into, the Hong Kong Flower Show takes place and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens too!)
Still, there's little doubt that as Art Basel - Hong Kong -- as it has been known since 2013 -- Hong Kong's premier international art fair has become a major fixture in Hong Kong culture vultures' calendars. And while there's no question that its major reason to exist is commercial (i.e., to find buyers for the works of art on display at the fair), it's also true enough that this art fair also represents the best chance each year to view a super large as well as diverse selection of art works under one roof in Hong Kong.
Earlier today, I spent three hours at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre that once more is where Art Basel - Hong Kong takes place. With so much there to see, I once again, as with previous years, adopted a strategy of walking through as much of the exhibit space as I could and only stopping when something that I considered really extra-ordinary caught my eye -- and in a pleasurable, not just attention-demanding or plain shocking way. (It used to be assumed that art was beautiful, or at least meaningful, but I often think that more and more, artists just aim to "weird" one into noticing their products, or do so by producing "loud" -- as in super bright or large -- works!)
Walking by hundreds, if not thousands, of works fairly quickly, I found it notable that certain artists really do have such a distinct style that their works -- whether one loves them or not -- are pretty much instantly recognizable as theirs. (I think here of the contemporary likes of Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama, Julian Opie and Takashi Murakami as well as now deceased iconic artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Fernand Leger, Marc Chagall and Zao Wou-ki -- all of whom have works on display (and sale) at this year's art fair.)
But while I'm sure the galleries representing them would beg to differ, I felt that a lot of the works that I saw -- or at least glanced at -- at the art fair really weren't that striking, or even all that special. Still, of course, there were exceptions -- as in works of art that I did think were exceptional. Thanks to the relaxed photography rules at the art fair, I was able to snap shots of several of these -- and share a few of the images at the top of this blog post.
Because of my finding enough works of art on show that I consider admirable, I consider the time I spent at this year's Art Basel - Hong Kong to be time well spent; and I have to say that it's made me rue my having missed last year's edition (due to my being away from Hong Kong when it took place).
One final note (at least for now!): Perhaps because I skipped a year, I feel like I've noticed more this time around the lack of noteworthy works from Hong Kong artists at this art fair which may have internationalised at Hong Kong's expense -- or is it because I saw so many more interesting -- and heartfelt and meaningful -- local works on the streets of Hong Kong during that period of time when certain sections of Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok were Occupied?