Hubert Burda Media

FAIR FEVER

Five influential figures on the burgeoning local art scene tell us about what Art Basel in Hong Kong next month means to them

FAIR FEVER

JOHNSON CHANG
Curator and director of Hanart TZ Gallery

“I try to take part in all the major Hong Kong events, since I have a local gallery. Art Basel certainly has brought an international buzz with its programme that parallels what it does in Europe and America. It’s brought more Western clients and major international art to Hong Kong, which is very important for the audiences and also for opening up the market.

“It’s a new experience to be given so much art that you can’t even see the whole show. This sense of overspilling of culture is good shock therapy for Hong Kong. It gets the adrenaline moving.”

What to expect this year: “We’re doing Gu Wenda. We’ve been talking about doing something for a long time. His first major Asian show was in Hanart at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1990 so we’re going to have a gallery show, the art fair exhibition and a special project space in the Encounters section of the fair.”

YANA PEEL
CEO of Intelligence Squared Group

“I’ve been involved in buying art for museums and bringing art to public spaces for over a decade since I left Goldman Sachs, so for me Art Basel was always part of my cultural road map.

“Of course, being involved with the art fair before its Art Basel days, we very much looked at the fair as an important platform for discussion and debate in a community that has so few opportunities to bring people together like this. It’s been a great pleasure to work with Magnus Renfrew [Art Basel director Asia] and Marc Spiegler [Art Basel director] to see how, around Intelligence Squared, Art Basel is bringing much more discussion and conversation salon dialogue into the programme, so that it’s not just about selling art. It’s also about educating the public and debating the most important issues of the day in a non-commercial context.”

What to expect this year: “Our annual after-party is a celebration of Intelligence Squared and Asia Art Archive speakers. It’s been amazing to see that grow from 300 people in our home to 1,000 people on a floating Chinese restaurant. This year, my husband Stephen and I will be commissioning a new work by Ryan McNamara (winner of Performa this year, performance art’s most coveted prize), for a premiere at the Chai Wan Mei party on Friday, May 16.

WILLIAM LIM
Collector

“Art Basel has really activated the Hong Kong art scene. The calibre of the work that’s being displayed at the fair really influences local collectors so that they start to look at art in an international context and they probably go beyond thinking what looks pretty on the wall. The fair also brings a lot of international collectors to the city and I think they’re definitely very inspiring for the local collecting base.

“Of course, the part I like most is looking at the art and having an opportunity to see all these galleries bringing in their best work. A lot of the international galleries, after being in Hong Kong, are keen to explore working with local artists. And because galleries are starting to explore Hong Kong artists, then collectors begin to look at their work, so I think it’s really a snowball effect. All of a sudden there’s a lot of attention placed on Hong Kong artists, which I think is the best thing any artist can expect.

What to expect this year: “I’m planning a book launch during the fair for a book on my collection featuring about 40 Hong Kong artists, published by Hatje Cantz from Germany. It’ll probably be a very special book as it features a lot of the Hong Kong artists and conversations with key people in the art scene including Yung Ma and Tobias Berger from M+, Magnus from the fair and Alice Mong from the Asia Society.”

MIMI BROWN
Founder of Spring Workshop nonprofit art space

“When I travel and speak about Hong Kong, I find people are always intrigued. It’s a place of increasing promise for artists. News of our burgeoning cultural scene is getting around, and I do think our arts landscape will continue to grow and unfold in exciting, unforeseen ways. The presence of the fair has been a boon to the local scene, providing both a benchmark event for our arts year and also a platform for our Hong Kong artists to gain a wider audience.

“Art Basel creates a nexus where artists and art lovers from around the world cross paths with our local artists and art lovers. This means the audience that comes to Spring is rich and diverse and makes all sorts of useful and interesting connections both among themselves and for Spring. We thrive on this sort of engaged international exchange – and so does Hong Kong.”

What to expect this year: “Spring has invited Christodoulos Panayiotou for a two-month residency. He’ll conduct research on the concentration of artificial flower factories in the Pearl River Delta region. Panayiotou has also invited his fellow artist Philip Wiegard, who will engage in the production of handmade wallpaper with Hong Kong children aged 13-15 using an old artisanal technique. The new work produced by Panayiotou and the handmade wallpaper created by Wiegard and local children will be exhibited at Spring during the fair this year.”

NADIM ABBAS
Artist

“During Art Basel there are a lot of people from overseas coming into town, and these people are bound to be curious about what’s happening in the local art scene.

“I’ve been engaged in projects at the fair for a number of years now, starting in 2011 with the site-specific work, Marine Lover, an 18-metrelong artificial coral reef sandwiched between booths.

“The most fun part of last year’s fair was working with Arto Lindsay on his Paper Rain parade. He was inspiring, a living legend. My contribution to the parade consisted of an assortment of red and white high-density foam costumes resembling the barricades that line the borders of construction sites or protest rallies. Performers wearing the barricades started by participating in the movement of the parade from Central Piers to the waterfront promenade, and then at certain key points disrupted the flow.”

What to expect this year: "My plan for the Absolut art bar this year is to construct a post-apocalyptic bunker-like environment informed by my love of science fiction. This is the first time that I’ve worked on something of such scope and magnitude. I’ve had the honour of putting together a group of enormously talented individuals to work on various aspects of the project. This includes spatial design with the team at Laab, an ambient soundscape by Steve Hui, animations by Wong Ping, performances by Atomic Bubbles, Eric Wong, Wilson Tsang, Shane Aspegren and more.”