This March, 242 of the world’s top galleries will gather amidst Hong Kong’s skyscrapers and lush vegetation for Art Basel’s seventh edition in Asia. There will be many curated presentations in the show’s main Galleries sector, highlighting participants’ engagement with specific artistic practices and communities.
Two major movements of Postwar Asia will be the cornerstone of Galerie du Monde’s presentation.The Fifth Moon Group and the One Art Group both sought to re-contextualize the millennia-old tradition of Chinese ink painting at different times in different places -1950s Taiwan for the former, 1970s Hong Kong for the latter. By infusing the medium with Modernist influences, both groups gave it an innovative impulse that remains influential to this day. Powerful pieces by key protagonists, such as Liu Kuo-Sung and the late Kwok Hon-Sum, will be on view. Additionally, the Hong Kong gallery’s booth will include enigmatic blueprints and video works by the young Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung, expanding the gallery’s reflection into the contemporary realm.
At Galerie Greta Meert, a sensuous dive into minimalism will await visitors. The Brussels-based gallery is known for its longstanding commitment to such positions, and will bring some of its most storied representatives to Hong Kong. Fred Sandback, Enrico Castellani, Suzan Frecon, Robert Mangold, and Sol LeWitt will be paired with works by two younger Belgian artists: Edith Dekynd’s effervescent cogitations on materiality and Pieter Vermeersch’s abstracted investigations of chiaroscuro. On top of it, a series of works by John Baldessari, loaded with the Californian conceptualist’s signature blend of humor and absurdity, may convince even the most skeptical among us of his talent. Eclectic yet focused, this exciting selection ‘puts forth the coherent artistic identity that we pursue’, says Meert.
Recent years have seen female British sculptors gain momentum. In Hong Kong, Galerie Max Hetzler will show the works of Turner Prize nominee Rebecca Warren - joyfully iconoclastic ruminations on the medium itself. Looking at Warren’s pieces, one might feel reminded of Giacometti, Disney figures, Rococco erotica, or a pottery class gone wrong; these are only some of the references the artist dexterously plays with. Somehow, her pieces manage to occupy an irreverent conceptual territory, where crudeness and steadiness cohabitate peacefully. Hetzler will also bring several artists at the core of its program to the show, including Bridget Riley, Albert Oehlen, and Rineke Dijkstra.
The centennial of Egon Schiele’s death was celebrated only a few days ago; Richard Nagy Ltd. will honor the Austrian artist in Hong Kong, most probably dedicating its entire booth to him. One can look far and deep, but it is hard to find work that matches the introspective precision and restless energy his sketches and paintings exude. ‘Schiele had a prescient feeling for the anxiety that was palpable across Europe at his time and captured it perfectly in his depiction of youths living on the edge of society’, says Nagy. In fact, realizing the artist created all of his oeuvre in his twenties, while World War I was raging, might make it even more gripping. The London gallery will focus on Schiele’s works on paper, executed between 1910 - when he was barely 20 years old - and 1917, a year prior to his untimely death.
Jakarta gallery ROH Projects has been a go-to destination for those interested in the emerging Indonesian scene. True to this reputation, it will bring a selection of artists from the world’s largest island country to Hong Kong. Among them are Arin Sunaryo, whose poured resin panels pay homage to the intrinsic beauty of chance; Faisal Habibi’s sculptural compositions, which combine the stringency of hardware with the playfulness of riddles; Aditya Novali’s subtle variations on depth and transparency, which she achieves by combining paint, ink, and plexiglass; and Bagus Pandega’s exploration of light and space through intricate, kinetic installations.
Presentations like the ones of ROH Projects, Greta Meert, Galerie du Monde, and many other Art Basel Hong Kong exhibitors are necessary and welcome: They introduce a global audience to fascinating artistic positions from Asia - of which one might not have been aware - and vice versa, creating a fruitful cultural dialogue mirroring the show's host city, if not the region itself.
For the full list of participants to the 2019 edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, click here.
Top image: Bagus Pandega, Bough #2, 2018. Courtesy of ROH Projects, Jakarta.