A spring of Art in Hong Kong

ART & DE­SIGN

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Wheels - Rome by Lv Shanchuan. Fac­ing page: Ge­netic Map A by Juana Gomez.

Spring her­alds the sea­son of art in Hong Kong. Like flower buds, art shows pro­lif­er­ate all over the is­land, cul­mi­nat­ing in Art Basel Hong Kong ( www. art­basel. com) and Art Cen­tral ( art­cen­tral­hongkong.com). En­ter­ing their fifth and third edi­tions re­spec­tively, both are a state­ment of how im­por­tant the Hong Kong art mar­ket is. And how far it’s come.

Of the two, Art Basel Hong Kong has more clout. This is where all the big names, from The Gagosian to South Africa’s Good­man Gallery are, il­lus­trat­ing its global reach. Room is also given to ris­ing stars in the in­ti­mate Kabi­net spa­ces. While Art Basel is housed in the cav­ernous Hong Kong Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Art Cen­tral sets up shop in two giant tents in a field. Billed as more ac­ces­si­ble, it fo­cuses on newer ta­lent across Greater China and Asia. “The main difference be­tween the two is age – Art Cen­tral skews to­wards younger artists – and price – usu­ally ‘ friend­lier’ to first­time buy­ers,” says An­gela Li, of Con­tem­po­rary by An­gela Li, whose pieces, in­clud­ing LV Shanchuan’s dra­matic tex­tu­ral paint de­pic­tions of Seoul and Li Hongbo’s Slinky­like For­tune pa­per vases, which start at US$5,000 (RM22,000).

The gal­leries come from all over world be­cause of the im­por­tance of Hong Kong as Asia’s cen­tral node of art. “This is where the big gal­leries and auc­tion houses are. The money might come from else­where, but this is where they meet,” says Won­joon Lee of Gallery Hyundai. Is­abel Crox­atto, who brought artists Miss Van, Ce­cilia Aven­dano and the del­i­cate frac­tal

Room is also given to ris­ing stars in the in­ti­mate Kabi­net spa­ces.

One of the 17 large-scale in­stal­la­tions form­ing the fair’s En­coun­ters se­ries, a maze of bam­boo scaf­fold­ing turns into a med­i­ta­tion of birth, life and death through five 3D- printed bon­sai trees scat­tered through­out the path that bud, grow then fi­nally shed their polyester leaves. The sheets are made out of hand­made pa­per beaten into shape with 20 spices and herbs. Each sheet in­di­cates the weight of the spices used and their ori­gin, as a mus­ing on how vast and global this un­ap­pre­ci­ated trade is.

Over at the tents of Art Cen­tral, trade was equally ac­tive. The ‘eas­ier’ prices con­trib­ute to that, start­ing at US$1,500. With the artists gen­er­ally on the as­cent, that frees them up more. “I’m happy just be­ing here. It’s lovely,” says Bri­tish artist Sinta Tantra, whose vi­brant, geo­met­ric paint­ings were at the Kristin Hjel­leg­jerde Gallery. “But yes, I have sold a few pieces,” she adds with a wink.

Money, how­ever, is not al­ways the mo­tive. Thomas Bram­billa from Berg­amo, Italy brought a sin­gle piece to Art Basel Hong Kong – a recre­ation of a church clois­ter by Edoardo Pier­matti. An oa­sis of calm rev­er­ence, the three-me­tre tall struc­ture is cer­tainly not com­mer­cial. And that’s the point.

“I don’t ex­pect to sell this,” says Bram­billa. “It is my first time in Asia. For me, this ex­pe­ri­ence is not about money. It is about ed­u­cat­ing and in­spir­ing. So in­stead of a paint­ing I could sell, I brought a lit­tle piece of Italy here with me.” ≠

in­stal­la­tion – part of the Projects col­lec­tion cu­rated by Jims Lam Chi Hang – sees sus­pended peb­bles ar­ranged in spi­rals de­scend­ing me­chan­i­cally on a mas­sive drum be­low in se­quence, cre­at­ing an au­ral and vis­ual ef­fec­tive that is supremely ar­rest­ing. Con­fronting gen­der, re­li­gious and po­lit­i­cal stereo­types, artist Anida Yoeu Ali roams around the fair floor in her vi­brant red chador, a tra­di­tional Mus­lim head­cloth, car­ry­ing signs shout­ing out Ban Me!, Nasty Woman, I Am A Mus­lim and Je Suis Hong Kong, an in-your-face force of pub­lic demon­stra­tion.

Duct was made us­ing neon lights, ply­wood, glass, a nor­mal mir­ror and a one-way mir­ror.

Share­vari, by Yuri Suzuki, utilises the power of our phys­i­cal ges­tures to cre­ate sound, al­low­ing the vis­i­tor to be their own ‘con­duc­tor’.

From left: Loke Hong Seng’s pho­to­graphs are nos­tal­gic re­minders of Sin­ga­pore’s past; The Red Chador ex­plores Anida Yoeu Ali’s the­matic in­ter­est in us­ing re­li­gious aes­thet­ics to pro­voke ideas of oth­er­ness.

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