If Art Basel has established itself as the ne plus ultra of art fairs, a mecca for art professionals, collectors and socialites, it is no surprise that, in an era of global economic dominance shifting towards the East, the launch of its spin-off in the most cosmopolitan of Asian capitals was fated to be a big thing.
This year at its second edition, Art Basel Hong Kong is the not-to-be-missed event of the season, enriched by a dense calendar of events and exhibitions both inside and outside the spectacular Convention and Exhibition Center. Among the highlights, a new Film sector curated by Li Zhenhua at the agnès b. Cinema; a light installation by German artist Carsten Nicolai on the façade of the International Commerce Centre; and the Absolut art bar entitled “Apocalypse Postponed” created by Nadim Abbas.
In and around the city, back and forth across the harbor on the iconic ferry, the city’s commercial galleries offer a compelling string of solo shows, including Mark Bradford at White Cube, Ryan McGinley at Perrotin, Zhao Zhao at Platform China and Keiichi Tanaami at Aisho Nanzuka. But two noncommercial spaces stand out as the city’s most iconic venues, while also testifying on the its complex and contradictory nature: amidst the shiny skyscrapers of Central, on the upper floor of a fancy boutique, Duddell’s is a polifunctional space which prides itself on both a Michelin-starred restaurant and a Salon with an ambitious art programming, now hosting the exhibition “Post-Sense Sensibility, Fifteen Years On” curated by Beijing UCCA’s director Philip Tinari; while in the bohemian neighborhood of Sheung Wan, the city’s historic non profit space Para/Site presents “Ten Million Rooms of Yearning: Sex in Hong Kong,” curated by Cosmin Costinas and Chantal Wong, gathering Asian and international artists to look at the connections between sex, desire and social conditions.
Finally, a suggestive way of exploring the city is offered by NEONSIGNS.HK, an interactive online map of Hong Kong’s neon signs presented by Hong Kong’s upcoming museum for visual culture M+.