All That You Missed At Art Basel Hong Kong, The World’s Largest Art Fair

This year marked the 11th edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, and it was clear Asia’s art scene is thriving. With a whopping 242 galleries participating, the event brought together artistic talent from all over the world, including Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. It was a reunion for many, with 69 galleries returning after a break, and a chance for 23 newcomers to shine on the big stage.

The fair attracted over 75,000 visitors across VIP and public days, offering a glimpse into the rich art landscape of the Asia-Pacific region. Held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from March 28 to 30, 2024, Art Basel Hong Kong cemented its position as a must-visit event for art enthusiasts worldwide.

Speaking about the renaissance edition, Angelle Siyang-Le, Director, Art Basel Hong Kong, said, “Art Basel Hong Kong returned to its full scale and spirit this edition, with the city opening its doors to visitors from all around the world once again.” Helming the show for the second consecutive year, Siyang-Le further added, “This edition reflected the city itself to the world: utterly alive and teeming with energy, a meeting place of tradition and the avant-garde, a port of cultures and an essential bridge in the evolving art landscape across regions. Art Basel Hong Kong continues to be a vital anchor in Asia’s ever-growing local art scenes and a key moment in the global art trade calendar.”

The New Additions

The who’s who of the art world descended upon Art Basel Hong Kong. Leading art patrons and private collectors from over 70 countries mingled with representatives from more than 100 prestigious museums and foundations. Some of the participating local institutions included Asia Art Archive, K11 Art Foundation, M+, Para Site, and Tai Kwun. From the domestic art scene, names such as Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou; He Art Museum, Foshan; Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Beijing found a spot.

The artistic prowess on display transcended domestic borders to invite international names as well. This included Leeum Museum of Art, Seoul; Museum MACAN, Jakarta; Singapore Art Museum (SAM), Singapore; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate, London; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, to name a few.

This year, the fair expanded its Encounters and Kabinett sections, showcasing even more exciting artistic discoveries. Plus, they even had a calendar earmarked by a lineup of events, both at the main venue and around the city.

Encounters

The Encounters section brought 16 large-scale projects, including 11 brand new creations made just for the fair. A special off-site installation by renowned Australian artist Daniel Boyd, thanks to the support of Swire Properties, shined bright under the spotlight with many art lovers thronging to the Pacific Place for a closer look.

Curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, Director of Artspace Sydney, the section showcased a whopping 16 large-scale projects by artists from all over the globe. The theme — I am a part of all that I have met — explored the connections and influences artists gather throughout their lives.

Take the Contingent Spheres (2020, 2022) by South Korean artist Haegue Yang, for instance. This captivating work featuring two anthropomorphic rattan sculptures bridged cultures and eras. Hong Kong-based Mak2’s playful Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy (2024) explored themes of duplication, evolution, and simulation. Australian artist Naminapu Maymuru-White unveiled a special installation called Larrakitj Forest (2024) for the show. Composed of several oblong vessels, it referenced the funerary rites, cosmology, and artistic traditions of the Yolŋu people of Northern Australia. Friendship First (2024) by Singaporean artist Ming Wong, explored the use of table tennis as a diplomatic tool between the USA and China since the 1970s, reflecting Wong’s interest in the relationship between these two countries. What’s more–Indian artist Jitish Kallat premiered at the Encounters section with Wind Study (Hilbert Curve) (2022-2023). This suite of intricate, large-scale drawings used fire, wind, smoke, and ink to depict the continuous fractal curves formulated by mathematician David Hilbert.

Kabinett

Those who wished to dive deeper into Asian art could head over to the Kabinett section. Featuring a record-breaking 33 presentations, this revamped section was bigger than ever before. Picture a fascinating mix of historical and contemporary solo works by Asian artists, all showcased within individual galleries’ booths.

One such intriguing showcase was Thousand Plateaus Art Space by Chinese artist Bi Rongrong. This work explored the fascinating interplay between patterns from different cities and cultures, the digital world, personal memories, and the artist’s environment. The Johyun Gallery from Busan paid homage to the late South Korean master Park Seo-Bo through a series of his paintings, showcasing the remarkable physicality, rhythm, and technique that have become his signature style. Hong Kong-born, London-based artist Cary Kwok offered a cinematic exploration of queer interaction, domesticity, and art history; while Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak continued her ongoing exploration of organic structures and materials, highlighting the duality between the sacred and the profane.

Harbouring Collaborations and Conversations

Art Basel Hong Kong wasn’t just about buying and viewing art; it was also a breeding ground for groundbreaking collaborations. Further establishing Hong Kong as a global cultural hub, the city’s first-ever International Cultural Summit also took place on the eve of Art Basel Hong Kong. Held in the vibrant West Kowloon Cultural District, the event brought together leading figures from international arts and cultural institutions. Witnessing inspiring dialogues and fostering long-term partnerships, the summit solidified Hong Kong’s commitment to artistic exchange and innovation.

What’s more — Chinese artist and filmmaker Yang Fudong unveiled a new site-specific film specifically designed for M+ museum’s iconic facade. Co-commissioned by Art Basel and M+, with support from UBS, this captivating work was a testament to the long-standing partnership between these cultural powerhouses.

Visitors could also delve into the minds of artistic visionaries through the fair’s Conversations program. Curated by writer Stephanie Bailey, these sessions brought together renowned artists like Haegue Yang, Shinro Ohtake, and Takashi Murakami for thought-provoking discussions.

But the intellectual journey didn’t end there! Guests could explore cutting edge cinema with the Film program, curated by multi-media artist Li Zhenhua; witness captivating works by Qiu Jiongjiong, Anne Imhof, and Kimsooja, among others; or even immerse in an intimate art experience with the Exchange Circle. This open platform, co-organised with Art Basel Hong Kong’s esteemed media and cultural partners, offered artist talks, discussions, and workshops. Art Basel Hong Kong also organised book signings, lectures, and presentations led by leading figures in the art world.

On the first night, Tai Kwun’s Artists’ Night, a Hong Kong tradition, came alive with the energy of Art Basel. This special event transformed the historic compound into a stage for local and regional experimental artists. One could watch captivating live music and dance performances, explore thought-provoking installations, and enjoy extended hours to view exhibitions housed within the iconic Herzog & de Meuron designed buildings. The night also showcased the city’s flourishing art scene and offered a glimpse into the creative soul of Hong Kong.

Art Basel Hong Kong to get Bigger

Noting the success of this year’s edition, Art Basel Hong Kong has announced a new development for next year. Starting in 2025, MGM will present the MGM Discoveries Art Prize. It will recognize and celebrate the rising stars of the art world. It will shine a spotlight on the innovative and captivating work showcased in the Discoveries section, a platform for solo exhibitions by emerging artists. While details surrounding the prize will be revealed later this year, the MGM Discoveries Art Prize promises to further elevate the experience for discerning art lovers at Art Basel Hong Kong.

All photographs courtesy Art Basel Hong Kong

Related: A Literature Museum Will Open In Hong Kong This June

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