Just a 14 hour flight and 15 hour time difference away from sunny LA is the site of Art Basel’s newest location Art Basel Hong Kong. Despite the arduous trek, Art Basel has managed to bring together some of the world’s biggest galleries accompanied by emerging ones from China, the Middle East and beyond. While the travel may be extensive, the art certainly did not lack. And what’s a 15 hour flight to a world class art aficionado anyway?
- Asian Pop-Art Is Out, Ink Painting Is In – Perhaps the biggest takeaway from ABHK was the shift away from Asia-pop and the likes of Takashi Murakami and Yayoi Kusama to a more somber and serious blend of global and Western themes expressed through traditional Chinese ink painting.
- Nobody Understands The Chinese Art Market – It seemed like all the major galleries were at a loss for what the Chinese buyers were going to want. Booths contained a checklist of the latest and greatest on the galleries programs. From Colen to Chagall, Kusama to Brancusi the overall feeling from the major international galleries seemed to be, let’s throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.
- Everyone Wants Yoshitomo Nara – The biggest hit at the fair, and apparently 2014 in general, were works by Yoshitomo Nara. Everything from sculptures at Blum & Poe to paintings and a Pace Prints edition were on offer and the market seemed to want it all.
- Also, Tracy Emin – Also on the ABHK scavenger hunt, who can find all the Tracy Emin works at the fair? It’s less clear if her work was as popular as Nara’s but I suspect at least the neons were.
- Hair – Maybe it was just the overwhelming quantity of works by Chinese artist Gu Wenda but from paintings made with the pigments from human hair to the gigantic flag sculpture that greeted visitors on the third floor, hair was a popular topic.
- Chinese Galleries Are Serious – While this ABHK may have been an adventure in uncertainty for some Western galleries, the Chinese galleries took the opportunity to show collectors what they’ve got. An impressive array of cross-cultural and new-China aesthetics rippled out form the fair’s Discovery Section and throughout the convention center. While you could readily find a Zeng Fanzhi painting virtually anywhere, the more compelling trend merging traditional Chinese ink painting contemporary themes seemed to be the winner.