Starting the Art Summer 2017 with Art Basel Hong Kong
Author: Andrea Seehusen
Theaster Gates: "Tarry Skies and Psalms for now", White Cube Gallery
This year will mark another Grand Tour in the art world - Documenta in Athens, Venice Biennale, Art Basel, Documenta in Kassel and Münster Sculpture Park. Art Basel Hong Kong is the first in this long line of prominent art events. I arrived on Monday morning and the first thing I did, is stop by my favorite breakfast place in Lan Kwai Fong - BEETWO is the best barista in town. Then I continued to some Artist meetings. Art Fairs are always great opportunities to get things done face to face, which saves long emails.
The premier satellite fair to Art Basel is Art Central, which opens on Monday afternoon. It places a strong emphasis on emerging art and galleries from the Asia-Pacific region. The tent was buzzing and there were some cool installations including the auction of pieces of a large wall mural. A comment on the art world.
It didn’t rain, as is so often the case during ABHK, so it was a beautiful walk over to the White Cube Gallery on Connaught Road presenting new work by Theaster Gates, "Tarry Skies and Psalms for Now" which includes a new series of sculptures and paintings that incorporate the processes and materials of roofing. In these works, Gates explores the condition of labour through a physical engagement with materials, interrogating in turn notions of society, class and race. I have always admired his work in Chicago of renovating old buildings and turning his neighborhood into a cultural area.
Tatiana Trouvé, "From 2002 to 2016", Galerie Perrotin
Above White Cube is Galerie Perrotin exhibiting Tatiana Trouvé at which I fell in love with one of her sculptures: "from 2002 to 2016“.
Tatiana selects one soap to wash her hands during the time of the conception, creation and installation of an exhibition. After the show, she casts this one soap in bronze as the remains of the work done for a particular show. These soaps were casted after her last eleven exhibitions.
Next stop, Pedder Building. The long lines for the elevator made it hard to enter, so I hiked up to each floor looking at the newest exhibitions of MDC Massimo de Carlo, Lehmann Maupin, Gagosian, Pearl Lam and Ben Brown. Again bumping into friends and colleagues - even a former girlfriend of my son. The Mel Bochner's exhibition at Simon Lee below sums up the evening.
Mel Bochner: "Blah Blah Blah"
Art Basel Hong Kong is overwhelming as ever with over 241 galleries showing their finest works. I was among 70.000 visitors which explains why it was so full the first two VIP preview days - it is actually quieter after the so-called „private view“. There is a focus on what will sell, which is legitimate because after all, it is an art fair and galleries invest quite a bit of money to participate. Thus, paintings are dominant. Beautiful portraits by Marlene Dumas and Alice Neel at David Zwirner and Contemporary Fine Arts showed a stunning new Dana Schutz „Ban de Soleil“. Roslyn Oxley Gallery from Sydney showed amazing works by Daniel Boyd, Tracey Moffatt and Fiona Hall, including a light work „THENATIVESARERESTLESS“ by Newell Harry.
The "Encounters" section for the large-format installations is not placed in a separate hall like in Basel, but is in the wide corridors between the gallery booths. The artist Pio Abad presents an impressively arranged army (180) of low-cost copies of the handbag carried by Margret Thatcher, produced in the Philippines under the title "Not a Shield, but a Weapon".
A real surprise, presented in the epicenter of capitalism, is the work „Summit“ (2009-2010) by Shen Shaomin. Conceived as a summit of communist leaders, ultra-realistic, life-sized wax figures of Lenin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro are reimagined by placing the figures in glass sarcophagi, silencing the controversial heads of state. Castro, still alive when the installation was created, is depicted on a bed and still breathing. The work asks questions of the relevance of their ideas in a contemporary context. “The whole world seems to be out of control, so it’s very timely,” explains the galerist at the installation with the artist.
Shen Shaomin: "Summit", 2009-2010
Another highlight was the booth presenting Cai Guo Qiang. Using gunpowder to create little explosions to make marks on canvas, the artist used his unique technique to replicate a landscape in Taiwan. Set across 18 screens, the work combines typical Southeast Asian imagery with Cai Guo Qiang’s inimitable contemporary style.
The shortlist for the third BMW Art Journey was announced at the Art Basel Hongkong on Wednesday. On the shortlist are the artists Astha Butail, Julian Charrière and Lin Ke.
Astha Butail was born in 1977 in Amritsar, India, and lives in Gurgaon, India. She works mainly with different geometric forms and deals with the theme complexes of memory and time. At this year's Art Basel in Hong Kong she presents the work "Turing to pure white" (2017).
Julian Charrière, born in Switzerland in 1987, currently lives in Berlin. He works with performances, sculptures and photography. At the Art Basel Hong Kong, he shows the work "Coconut Lead Fondue" (2016), consisting of a series of large-format photographs, two sculptures and one installation.
Lin Ke is from China and lives in Beijing. At the Art Basel in Hong Kong, the video work "Like Me" (2016) was shown. Art Basel and BMW have been collaborating with the scholarship "BMW Art Journey" since 2015.
The winner receives a "mobile studio" that brings the artists to almost any place in the world - to research, make contacts, and create new works. The prize is awarded twice a year to an artist from the "Discoveries" section of Art Basel in Hong Kong and from the "Positions" sector of Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Every night after being out at the fair or events I went to „Ten Feet Tall" for Foot massage before falling into bed. It is so convenient that they are open till 1 am.
As part of the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Art Program the film „Moving Mountains“ by Yang Fudong was shown at a cinema at Pacific Place with pop corn and soft drinks. I had the honor of working with Yang Fudong on this collaboration with Rolls-Royce and it was an especially beautiful presentation on a large cinema screen.
Yang Fudong, "Moving Mountains", 2016
On the last evening, before leaving Hong Kong, ShangArt Gallery hosted a charming get-together on a historical Hong Kong tram. The journey entitled „Burning“ was created by the artists Guo Xi and André Chan. The burning refers to two ways to burn calories: through sports and social movement. A social movement often suggests physical actions and in this case refers to a variety of marches and movements which take place in Hong Kong regarded as a special political forum. The route of the Tram Journey happens to be along the same main line of these marches in Hong Kong and the tram is accompanied by runners burning calories along side the tram. Social movements were broadcasted during the journey, but after a while we lost track of content and runners and just had a really good time.