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The first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong closes with strong sales across all five days
People look at artworks at the Art Basel Hong Kong fair in Hong Kong on May 22, 2013. The first Art Basel fair to be hosted by Hong Kong, previewed by VIPs on May 22 and opening to the public on May 23, boasts a prestigious array of international art, highlighting the city's new role as a global arts hub amid an explosion of personal wealth in mainland China. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez.

HONG KONG.- Art Basel's first edition in Hong Kong, whose lead partner is Deutsche Bank, closed today with galleries reporting strong sales across all five days, and the show drawing high praise for its quality. Attended by over 60,000 people, the show was visited by directors, curators, trustees and patrons from museums and institutions including: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; Asia Society, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art; Fondation Beyeler, Riehen; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; MoCA Miami; M+, Hong Kong; OCAT, Shenzhen, Beijing; The Royal Academy, London; The Serpentine Gallery, London; Tate, London; Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; White Rabbit Collection, Sydney; and the Yellow River Arts Centre, Yinchuan. Both established and emerging private collectors from across the world were in strong attendance. For many it was their first visit to an art show in Hong Kong.

A premier roster of galleries launched Art Basel's first edition in Hong Kong, with 245 leading galleries from 35 countries and territories, bringing together the strongest ever combination of high-quality works from the East and the West. With over 50 percent of galleries having exhibition spaces in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, Art Basel underlined its deep commitment to the region. Sales were consistently solid across all sectors, and galleries reported meeting many new collectors from the region and the West. Over 3,000 artists were showcased, with a strong representation of Modern material, alongside presentations of emerging artists and a dynamic selection of younger galleries. Visitors explored 12 decades of art history across the four sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries and Encounters.

The show was accompanied by strong public programming, with the Asian launch of Art Basel's popular talks programs, Conversations and Salon. Additionally, collaborations with local and international partners ensured a diverse range of arts programming, with over 150 cultural events hosted across the city throughout the week.

The experience of galleries proved highly positive:

Neil Wenman, Director, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, London, New York said, "We have had great success at the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong. It drew a good crowd of collectors from across the region and Australia and a growing interest from local collectors supporting the fair and developing their collections. The fair continues to become more international and gain strength as the most important fair for Asia.”

Rachel Lehmann, Founding Partner, Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong said, "A truly International fair, and the experience was very curatorial with an good amount of Asian-based artists. Art Basel in Hong Kong presents an image of the global world – it is the first art venue of its kind and is very exciting."

Galleries, the main sector of Art Basel, presented 171 leading Modern and contemporary art galleries from Asia, Europe and the Americas. The sector presented the highest-quality paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, video and editioned works from both the 20th and 21st centuries, with a strong presence by Modern art galleries from Asia and the West. Exhibitors who came for the first time to Hong Kong from the West included 303 Gallery, New York; Ameringer McEnery Yohe, New York; Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm; Cecilia de Torres, New York; Dirimart, Istanbul; Dominique Lévy Gallery, New York; Galería OMR, Mexico City; Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon; Johnen Galerie, Berlin; Mayoral Galeria d'Art, Barcelona; Peter Blum Gallery, New York, Zurich; and Wentrup, Berlin.

The Insights sector presented 47 galleries from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region, showcasing contextual and thematic exhibitions by artists from across Asia, and provided a destination for visitors to find out more about the diverse histories, ideas and aesthetics of art from across Asia and the Asia-Pacific. The sector featured strong representation from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Mainland China, alongside galleries from India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai). Highlights included presentations by Galeri Canna, Jakarta (Entang Wiharso); Magician Space, Beijing (Guan Yong, Jiang Zhi, Liu Zhuoquan, Zhuang Hui and Dan'er); Neon Parc, Melbourne (Katherine Huang); Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (Martin Bell and Brendan Huntley); and Xin Dong Cheng Gallery, Beijing (Wang Gongxin and Li Yongbin). Hong Kong was represented by Blindspot Gallery (Stanley Wong), Feast Projects (T'ang Haywen), Galerie Ora-Ora (Halley Cheng) and Schoeni Art Gallery (Hung Keung). The sector introduced 10 galleries new to Hong Kong, including two each from Indonesia, Japan and Mainland China.

The Discoveries sector presented a strong showcase of solo and two-person exhibitions by emerging artists, with 14 galleries exhibiting for the first time in Hong Kong. The 27 participating galleries included Karma International (Thomas Sauter); Mendes Wood (Lucas Arruda), mother’s tankstation (Brendan Earley), Paradise Row, (Shezad Dawood), Take Ninagawa (Ryoko Aoki), Weingrüll (Benjamin Appel), Galerie du Monde (Lam Tung Pang), and 2P Contemporary Art Gallery (Tang Kwok Hin). The 25,000 USD Discoveries Prize was awarded to Navid Nuur and Adrian Ghenie, presented by Galeria Plan B.

17 major artworks were presented within the Encounters sector, dedicated to showing large-scale sculptural installations by leading artists from around the world. Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 11, curated the sector for the inaugural edition of the Hong Kong show. There was a strong representation of galleries from Hong Kong, exhibited alongside projects by galleries from India, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Highlights included: MadeIn Company’s latest sculptural installation 'Play 201301', 2013, presented by Long March Space (Beijing); 'Circa', 2011 by Indian artist Jitish Kallat presented by Arndt (Berlin); and Chen Zhen’s 'Le Rite Suspendue/Mouille', 1991, presented by de Sarthe Gallery (Hong Kong).

Conversations and Salon
Art Basel's daily program of talks, Conversations and Salon, offered show visitors and the public another platform to engage with art. More than 1,000 people attended a total of 14 talks over three days. To celebrate the first series of panels in Hong Kong, Art Basel, the Asia Society and the Absolut Art Bureau hosted a pre-show talk on Sunday, May 19, entitled ‘Homegrown Talent’, which featured artists from Hong Kong. On site at the show, the Premiere Artist Talk featured the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang in conversation with Leng Lin, Partner and President of Pace Beijing and Founder of Beijing Commune, inaugurating a new series of panels entitled‚ ‘The Artist and the Gallerist‘.This was followed on Friday, May 24, by a discussion on ‘Building Asia’s New Museums’, and on Saturday, May 25, by a ‘Collectors Focus' with collector Marcel Crespo, Manila; Alan Lau of Hong Kong; and Dick Quan of Australia.

The Salon program provided a platform for shorter presentations, such as artist talks, panel discussions, book launches and lectures. The series featured stimulating panels including: ‘Who needs Critics? Does The Media Help Good Quality Art’, chaired by Jan Dalley, Arts Editor of The Financial Times; followed by a talk on Indonesian contemporary art. Friday’s program included a panel dedicated to the younger ‘Diamond Generation’ of Chinese artists, while on Saturday a panel led by Hans Ulrich Obrist discussed the legacy of Hong Kong’s renowned artist Tsang Tsou Choi. The Salon program overall featured 11 discussions, artist talks and book launches with artists including Noritoshi Hirakawa, Li Liao, Kacey Wong, Wang Yuyang, Wang Xingwei, Wu Shanzhuan and Zhang Enli. Presenting Partner for the Conversations program is Absolut Art Bureau. Videos of all Conversations and Salon panels are available to watch online at Conversations can also be viewed online at

Art Basel’s official cultural partner in Hong Kong, Asia Art Archive (AAA) presented a parallel program of panel discussions entitled ‘Unpacking Global’ which took place onsite at the show. The talks explored the impact that notions of the ‘global’ have on artistic practice, featuring artists from around the world including Abbas Kiarostami, Byron Kim, Seher Shah, Shooshie Sulaiman, Vivan Sundaram and Wang Guangle. The AAA Burger Collection Keynote Lecture featured the Delhi-based critic, curator, and scholar, Geeta Kapur.

Intelligence Squared presented the debate ‘The Market Is the Best Judge of Art's Quality’ at the HKCEC on Friday, May 24. It featured Amy Cappellazzo, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Development at Christie's; Jeffrey Deitch, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; Matthew Collings, British art critic, broadcaster and artist; and Rirkrit Tiravanija, contemporary artist and professor of visual arts at Columbia University School of the Arts. The discussion addressed different means by which the quality of art might be determined.

Paper Rain – Artist Parade
The public opening of Art Basel in Hong Kong was marked by an artist-led parade on the Harbour Front. Entitled ‘Paper Rain’ and organized by Art Basel with artist and musician Arto Lindsay, the parade centred around the idea of cinema, featuring contributions from artists, musicians, actors, and filmmakers from across Asia including Nadim Abbas, Haegue Yang, Angela Su, João Vasco Paiva, Korakrit Arunanodchai, Alice Ma, Enoch Cheng and Otomo Yoshihide.

Hong Kong galleries and institutions
Across the city, Hong Kong‘s galleries and cultural organizations hosted over 150 cultural events to coincide with the show. M+, Hong Kong’s future museum for visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District organised a performance piece by Tomás Saraceno to accompany 'Mobile M+: INFLATION!', the first exhibition on the site at West Kowloon Cultural District featuring six giant inflatable sculptures.

Not-for-profit organisations opened exhibitions including: a solo show by Qiu Zhijie at Spring Workshop; Para/Site Art Space presented `A Journal of the Plague Year. ‘Fear, ghosts, rebels. SARS, Leslie and the Hong Kong story`; and Asia Society presented ‘Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974-1985‘. The Burger Collection launched 'I Think It Rains', a cross-disciplinary arts festival in collaboration with the artist-run organization 1a space at the Cattle Depot Artist Village in Kowloon. Hong Kong artists were well represented in galleries and organizations across the city including the ‘Hong Kong Eye’ exhibition at Artistree, Taikoo Place, and a solo exhibition of Hong Kong based artist João Vasco Paiva at the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong (Hong Kong Arts Center).

The Hong Kong Museum of Art opened ‘The Origin of Dao: New Dimensions in Chinese Contemporary Art’, curated by Professor Pi Daojian. Oi!, a new government-run art space in Hong Kong, opened to the public, dedicated as a multi-disciplinary project space and incubator for young artistic talent.

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