Circadian Rhythm by Cheng Ran (Audemars Piguet, Collector’s Lounge)
A commission by Audemars Piguet presented at the VIP- only Collector’s Lounge, Cheng Ran’s short film presents the lush forest of Vallee de Joux in the Jura Mountains as an example of hypnotic multimedia art, scored with a soundtrack that is both ethereal and pulsating. One of the most popular installations, this work creates a mausoleum of five significant Communist leaders – Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung and Castro – lying deceased. Castro’s body has not been updated to reflect his death but that didn’t stop the thousands of selfies with the leaders. Navarro’s signature technique of combining neon lights and a one-way mirror backing to create an infinite tunnel was a huge draw. Duct simulates a vertical tunnel descending into the unknown with the lights inviting use as a ladder, despite only being 30cm high.
photography of Juana Gomez all the way from Chile agrees. “Hong Kong is the gateway to Asia,” she says. “Asia is a new market so I have to start somewhere, and that place is Hong Kong.”
Just like the galleries, the art is fittingly diverse. “There was a time when Chinese art and Asian art was seen as derivative,” says Ethan Cohen, from Ethan Cohen Fine Arts in New York City. “We used to bring in art that was Asian in origin, but that’s changed. Now I bring great art – some by artists who just happen to be Chinese – and it sells.” He points to two large pieces he brought by Cote d’ivoire painter Aboudia. It bristles with Basquiat-like energy and, as Cohen points out, “always sells out”.
The diversity makes detecting trends challenging. This year, there were a lot of Jaume Plensa sculptures, while Yayoi Kusama and Damien Hirst appeared several times. That grabs headlines, but supporting that is a wealth of diversity. Tokyo’s Mizuma Art Gallery, for example, presented a technicolour side of Japanese art in an eye-popping doublepanelled Yoshitaka Amano piece and Ellie Okamoto’s colourful The Stone Bridge with its references to Japanese Edoera art. Lan Zhenghui’s powerful calligraphy strokes were seen at Ethan Cohen Fine Art, while Indra Dodi’s wonderfully naive La Grande Fete was a t Malaysia’s Artemis Art.
Sales were brisk. The highest reported price at Art Basel Hong Kong was US$1.5 million each for two Luc Tuymans paintings created for David Zwirner Gallery, paid within the first hour of the VIP preview. Chatter on the floor suggests that almost half of the exhibits sold within the first day. Interest came not just from individual collectors, but also the growing number of private museums in China.
And it isn’t just headlining pieces trading hands. Various Small Fires, a Los Angeles gallery, brought Joshua Nathanson and his graffiti-inspired pieces to Art Basel Hong Kong. “We sold out on the first preview day,” says Sara Hantman, director of the gallery.
Just like the galleries, the art is fittingly diverse.