It’s difficult to ignore that Art Basel is here. Even if you are not in the art world, chances are that you’ve seen their banners: they’re everywhere from the airport to every street around Central and Wan Chai.
But how to manage a week with almost 200 events, a fair with more than 200 galleries, another fair (Art Central), with another 100 galleries, and so many other happenings? The quick answer is: pick what suits you best – there’s no point to try to see everything, because, quite simply, you won’t be able to (if you think you can, please contact me – I need to know how). Here are the must do’s in my view:
1. Spend a Good Amount of Time at Art Basel. The great thing about this fair versus any other major fair around the world is that it has a great representation of the region: 50% of the galleries have a base in Asia. That’s a lot more than any other edition of Basel, or Frieze, FIAC and the Armory. It gives you the opportunity to compare the best from the West, and from the East.
2. Do Go to Art Central. It is their second edition, and expectations are high this year, as it was off to a good start last year. They have a good mix of galleries, and not just those who weren’t able to get in Basel. Their programming is strong, with a talk series in partnership with Asia Society. In many other cities, satellite fairs are often the most interesting ones, showing edgier art. Let’s see if this is also the case in Hong Kong.
3. Enjoy the Shows. Apart from the galleries opening their new exhibitions (March 21 is the night), there are some great pop ups during the Basel period in Hong Kong. First and foremost, the M+ preview of the Uli Sigg Collection is an absolute must. This is the first-ever chronological exhibition about the emergence of Chinese contemporary art. Second, don’t miss the K11 exhibition, Hack Space, in partnership with the Serpentine Galleries, and its world-renowned curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist. It will be Obrist’s first show in Hong Kong, and will feature Simon Denny and 11 Chinese artists. Lastly, do stop at the Mandarin Oriental for the exhibition Surroundings & Influences featuring some of the best Chinese artists of the new generation.
Art Week is the place to see and be seen, but quite frankly, the only way to enjoy it is to focus on the events that you really want to go to, spend some time there, have a conversation, and enjoy. It is a much better than stopping 10 minutes at about fifteen events in one night!