Art & Lifestyle

What Not to Miss at Art Basel Hong Kong 2019

Get the lowdown on the highlights of the 7th Hong Kong edition

by Veronica Chow

25 Mar 2019

The 7th edition of Art Basel Hong Kong is set to take place between March 27–31 in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. As always, the event serves as a gathering place for curators, artists and collectors from all over the world.

Outside of the inherent commercial dealings, the fair’s massive potential for cultural exchange and education is evident in a number of special exhibits that touch upon the most important art movements, as well as large-scale artistic installations to be found throughout the event space.

Attendees should also look for special screenings by up-and-coming artists which highlight the richness of expression to be found in new media, and the endless possibilities in the world of contemporary art.

Jose Dávila's Homage to The Square

Jose Dávila's Homage to The Square

Encounters

Encounters is one of Art Basel’s foremost highlights, exhibiting a range of large-scale installations in the “foyers” of each exhibition hall that act as centrepieces to the fair. This year’s theme is ‘Still We Rise,’ which references Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise, and challenges attendees to rethink today’s issues through the medium of spatial manipulation. Curated by Artspace director Alexie Glass-Kantor, 8 of the 12 museum-grade artworks are being exhibited in Hong Kong for the first time.

Among these is Jose Dávila’s Homage to The Square, which pays tribute to the ongoing influence of artistic great Josef Albers, while simultaneously drawing attention to the spatial relationship between the artist and viewer. Other participating artists include Simon Starling, Tony Albert, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Latifa Echakhch, Elmgreen & Dragset, Gerasimos Floratos, MitJaiInn, Pinaree Sanpitak, Chiharu Shiota and Zhao Zhao.

Egon Schiele's Woman Disrobing (Edith Schiele)

Egon Schiele's Woman Disrobing (Edith Schiele)

Gallery highlights

Galleries are the bread and butter of Art Basel, and this edition sees 242 of the world’s finest galleries gathering in Hong Kong, bringing a panoply of artistic styles and artworks with them.

Of note is Galerie du Monde’s effort to bring the post-war contemporary ink paintings of Liu Kuo-sung and Kwok Hon-Sum to the fair, both of whom were key figures of the Fifth Moon Group and One Art Group movements that sought to revitalise classical Chinese ink painting along modernist influences. Brussels-based Galerie Greta Meert is set to exhibit the works of minimalist artists Fred Sandback and Sol LeWitt, while also tackling the theme of materiality through the work of young artist Edith Dekynd. At the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum is California artist John Baldessari, whose works are infused with tongue-in-cheek humour that have stood the test of time.

Lastly, don’t miss London gallery Richard Nagy’s showing of famed Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s 1917 masterpiece, Woman Disrobing (Edith Schiele). While last year was the 100th anniversary of Schiele’s death, the art world is still very much under the influence of the pioneering sketches and oil paintings he created during the First World War.

Candice Lin, La Charada China, 2018

Candice Lin, La Charada China, 2018

Discoveries

This year’s Discoveries exhibition area will see the presence of young artist Candice Lin, whose all-new art installations shine a light on the black mark of slavery and the Chinese coolie trade on American history. Inscribed onto her works are words taken from American philosopher John Searle’s controversial 1980 essay, “Minds, Brains and Programs,” which Lin deliberately made difficult to read – much as if it had been passed through Google Translate, in a lexical mirroring of her background as a second-generation Chinese growing up in America and now living in Los Angeles. While she does not have any direct ties with the historical coolie trade, her father is from an area from which they were exported – her art, therefore, is a visceral reaction to this complicated racial history.

Special screenings

Out of the many films being screened this year at Art Basel, the most noteworthy is Hometown Boy, which follows artist Liu Xiaodong as he travels back to his hometown of Jincheng in Liaoning province after 30 years away. While confronting a nostalgia for his childhood, he’s also reckoning with the social and environmental degradation that has taken place since. Liu proposed the project to Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien, who sought out Yao Hongyi to direct the film. First debuted in 2010, it won Best Documentary at the 28th Golden Horse Awards in 2011.

Liu’s other films will also be shown at the fair, including 2007’s Dong and the world premiere of On the Other Riverbanks of Berlin, which was directed by Yang Bo. Apart from this, Cheng Ran’s live cinema event Miraculous Trajectories will also be screened as part of the M+ Live Art programme.

Header image: Latifa Echakhch, All Around Fades To A Heavy Sound

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