Now a global art epicenter, China looks forward to a record-breaking iteration of its star fair: Art Basel Hong Kong.
Face time: Tokyo gallery Take Ninagawa, which has shown at ABHK since the fair’s inception, will this year exhibit photographs from Akira Sato, such as Untitled, c. 1960s.
In 2015, Art Basel Hong Kong drew nearly 60,000 visitors to experience works from 233 international galleries. Robust sales were bolstered by standout deals, which included David Zwirner Gallery garnering $2 million for Chris Ofili’s painting Dead Monkey— Sex, Money and Drugs and White Cube selling Damien Hirst’s Black Scalpel Cityscape for $1.2 million.
This year promises an even bigger, bolder fair (March 24–26) under the leadership of Adeline Ooi, who has spent her first full year as Art Basel’s director Asia putting some key initiatives in place. “My focus has been one of continuing and deepening [Art Basel’s mission],” says Ooi. “I’m excited by the strength of the lineup. Of the 28 galleries participating for the first time, 18 are from Europe and the United States, but there are also nine new galleries [from] Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. [And] Selma Feriani Gallery [from Tunisia] is the first African gallery based outside of South Africa to take part in any of the Art Basel shows.”
Furthermore, in only its fourth year, ABHK has found remarkable consistency under Ooi’s leadership. “Our reapplication rate was 93 percent, which speaks volumes to the show’s overall success,” she says. “For me it is about opening doors and keeping them open with the different sectors and stakeholders in the art world.”
One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s fair is the BMW Art of the Journey prize, which awards an artist from the Discovery sector the opportunity to create a year-long itinerary that can take them around the globe. “The BMW Art Journey provides emerging artists with a moving studio,” explains Ooi. “The opportunity to travel, discover, and learn meaningfully engages with the process of an artist’s development and growth.”
Other highlights of the show include the expanded Film sector and noted Japanese sculptor Tatsuo Miyajima’s large-scale light installation Time Waterfall that will grace the exterior of the International Commerce Center, which commissioned the grand work along with ABHK. Still, as every aspect of the fair complements every other, Ooi advises to take it all in. “Be open-minded and ready to make connections,” she says. With so much about to catch the eye, that should be easy advice to follow.