HONG KONG – The Art Basel Fair in Hong Kong has reaffirmed its position as a leader in the contemporary art market in the Asian continent in the last few years.
Currently in its sixth year, it has become a major event in the art world, displaying artwork from 35 countries.
Of the total 80,000 visitors, around 7,000 are collectors, artists and curators, which makes the fair the world’s most important contact art event in Asia.
The exhibition – which this year is hosting 242 galleries from 35 countries – opened its doors on Wednesday to its first VIP guests.
A representative from the David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles sent a statement announcing some exciting sales updates, including a parabolic lens (used as a sculpture) of Fred Eversley for $250,000, one of Rashid Johnson for $210,000 and one of Jonas Wood for $175,000.
Later in the day, Art Basel reported other sales, including a significant work by Andy Warhol from the White Cube gallery for $2.85 million and a painting by George Condo from the Almine Rech gallery for a price ranging between $1.2 and $1.4 million.
Similarly, the David Zwirner gallery sold its entire collection on the first VIP day, including four new Carol Bove sculptures.
Although the global economic uncertainty due to the China-US trade war and a previous regional slowdown still looms over the city, this does not concern organizers or gallery owners, as they rely on the value of art as a source of investment.
Art Basel Hong Kong Director, Adeline Ooi, at a press conference described herself as “realistic but optimistic” regarding her concern over the Chinese economy and tense trade relations with the US.
Despite political and commercial tensions between the two world powers, this year six American galleries are participating for the first time: Paula Cooper gallery, Matthew Marks gallery, Luhring Augustine, Regen Projects, Andrew Kreps gallery and Chateau Shatto.
Another of the 19 new exhibitors is the London distributor Richard Nagy, who will present a retrospective of more than 40 works by Egon Schiele, the first time that the provocative works of the Austrian expressionist will be shown in Hong Kong.
The Fair also reserves a special place for virtual reality and this year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11, it will display “To the Moon (2018), a collaboration between American artist Laurie Anderson and Taiwanese Hsin-Chien Huang,” an artwork that will allow users to experience what it feels like to walk on the moon:
One of the most representative pieces on display these days and that has been brought by the Paris and Salzburg-based distributor Thaddaeus Ropac, is Warhol’s 30 colored Maos (Reversal Series), 1980.
The piece is priced at $8.75 million and was commissioned by the Swiss Warhol Distributor, Bruno Bischofberger, for an exhibition at his Zurich Gallery in 1980 but was stolen and finally recovered in the year 2007.
According to Veronica Castillo, Deputy Director of Collection & Exhibition at M+, Art Basel has helped the development of the art sector, including the proliferation of galleries among other things.
Castillo believes that the Swiss franchise is part of a new ecosystem that will help transform the former British colony into a culturally attractive city, which includes the openings of cultural complexes such as Tai Kwun and the recently opened The Mills.
Hong Kong has also trained its sights on the future opening of M+, the new Museum of Visual culture designed by Herzog & De Meuron, with a collection that includes architecture and design, film and visual art.
“Art Basel Hong Kong is for us an open door to the diverse and complex world of China and Southeast Asia. Each year rises into a new level and continues to maintain high regional content at the same time giving space to other global scenarios that coexist,” said Jose Kuri founder of Kurimanzutto, one of the pioneer galleries of contemporary art in Mexico, to EFE.