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Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 | The New and the Curious

My review for Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 is finally here!!! I realize it’s a little long after the event held over the Easter weekend from March 24th-26th. March was pretty much a crazy month for me going to the various art fairs, events, exhibitions with different starting and ending dates, while keeping up with schoolwork. It’s summer holidays now, so I finally got round to working on this!

This is the first part of my review of the fair, featuring contemporary artworks by many artists who seem to be new faces at Art Basel Hong Kong. I think a lot of the galleries who showed this year were first-timers at the fair as well, which would explain the fresh selection of artists.

The second part of my review features the works of old and famous modern masters (and a little contemporary), which you can read here!



Tromarama (Febie Babyrose, Ruddy Hatumena, and Herbert Hans), Private Riots, 2014-2016, video animation, LCD monitor, boards, metallic wire, metallic frame, Edouard Malingue

This giant installation is part of the Encounters sector, which is a selection of large installation works placed across the grounds of the fair and which I considered the anchor of the event. Private Riots was one of the better works, but I was honestly disappointed by this year’s choices. My expectation was that the Encounters would be the most eye-catching works, but I was mostly disinterested.

Private Riots is so named as it means to talk about the different components involved in protest, and each image on the boards represents one such component. I seemed to have missed the TVs and the animations they will playing altogether, oops! I’m not too sure about the protest idea, but it appeared as if the images represented different aspects of our daily lives, and that appealed to me.


Huang Yong Ping, L’Arc de Saint-Gilles, 2015, wood, iron, fiberglass, taxidermic deer, gold leaf, kamel mennour

Huang Yong Ping just had an exhibition at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai with one work featuring headless animals which honestly creeped me out, so I’m glad to see that this deer has its whole body intact, HAHAHA.



Lina Ben Rejeb, Mémoires, à Toucher, 2015, mixed media on paper, Selma Feriani Gallery


Charles Avery, Tree no. 5 (from the Jadindagadendar), 2015, mixed media, Ingleby; Pilar Corrias


Huang Rui, Monkey, 2015, steel and restored furniture, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery


Huang Rui, Quadruple Happiness, 2014, steel and restored furniture, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

This is a fun play on the “double happiness” character often seen on Chinese red decorative papers for weddings, but Quadruple Happiness is just more happiness to go around! (By the way, the “double happiness” character doesn’t make a real Chinese word, but a “single happiness” actually is a real word.)


舟 Fune, 1982, ink on Japanese paper; Wang Keping, Sitting Woman 1 WK14, 2012, plane, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery

Fune totally passes off an ink painting of a sitting woman, doesn’t it? I totally thought so until I realized it was purely a work of Japanese calligraphy.


Zhang Ding 張鼎, 18 Cubes 18個立方, 2016, man-made crystal, stainless steel plated in gold, ShangART; Krinzinger


Zhang Ding’s 18 Cubes is my favorite Encounters piece! It consists of 18 gold reflective cubes, which apparently you’re encouraged to “destroy” or “vandalize” or scratch off the gold or something. I wish there was a sign saying that; the kids could have gone crazy on this instead of reportedly touching and knocking artworks that they weren’t supposed to.

On that note, if you have noticed in the photos above, there were just SO MANY people when I went, definitely much more compared to last year. There were announcements repeated every few seconds asking visitors to please not touch/bang/knock into artworks, although there were really so many people it was quite easy to accidentally back into an artwork.


Ebru Uygun, LOVE, 2016, mixed media on canvas, Dirimart

There was quite a collection of mirrored/cracked mirrored works…


Lee Bul, Civitas Solis, 2016, acrylic mirrors, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac


Zhao Zhao 趙趙, Fragment 碎片, 2015, brass, Tang Contemporary Art


Tatsuo Miyajima, Moon in the ground no. 2, 2015, stainless steel, light emitting diode, IC, electric wire


Yang Fudong, Ms. Huang at M Last Night 5, 2006 (left), Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest, Part 5, 2007 (right), black and white inkjet print, Marian Goodman Gallery


Liu Ye 劉野, Snow White 白雪公主, 2006, Dominique Lévy

I was drawn by the light effect of Liu Ye’s painting! The contrast between light and dark got exaggerated on camera, but the painting essentially depicts Snow White in a circle of light on a blue background.


Kader Attia, Sacrifice and Harmony, 2016, sanded steel and feathers


Zhang Xiaogang 張曉剛, Flashlight 手電筒, 2008-2015, oil on canvas, Pace


Claire Fontaine, Foreigners Everywhere (Chinese), 2008, suspended, wall or window mounted neon (ruby red) framework, electronic transformer, cables, Air de Paris


Paul Chan, Greene Naftali

This was really quite… questionable. It’s made of those long balloon things that are pumped from the bottom and the air moves upwards – I always saw them outside estate showflats. Here, three of them have been shaped into women’s puffer jackets, in black to match the Hong Kong taste, and they move from side to side in a mad fashion. I had to capture a bit of it on video, which will be coming up soon!


Stella Zhang, all part of 0-Viewpoint series, Galerie du Monde

This felt like a continuation of what was happening just above, with a smattering of black stuff covering the entire gallery booth. I’ve seen other works by Zhang, but this just doesn’t work for me.



Zhang Xiao, Since there is a dream, 2015, archival inkjet print, clocks, Blindspot Gallery

The images on the multiple clocks come together to form a big picture of Tiananmen (Gate)! The outside of the clocks have some prints about CCTV… I wonder if this work is making a jab about Chinese politics. Very interesting.


Chen Zhen 陳箴, Opening of a Closed Center 打開密封的中心, 1997, mixed media of wood, metal, found objects, furniture, de Sarthe Gallery

Big question: Are the security staff part of the artwork?

I mean, this could be a new form of half-installation, half-performance art (with live people performing an act as part of an artwork)! I thought the title could give me a better idea, but it just sounds as if the security staff could possibly be part of it. I couldn’t stand not knowing, so I decided to get over any potential embarrassment and ask them.

So, it turns out they weren’t part of the artwork. They were there to prevent people from possibly knocking everything down. Only in Hong Kong, people! I’m convinced there won’t ever be such a sight at Art Basel in Basel or Miami.


Antony Gormley, rooftop sculpture part of Event Horizon, Nov 2015 – May 2016


Antony Gormley, Transfuser IV, 2002, mild steel rings, Galerie Thomas

What happens when the standing man goes horizontal.


Keiji Uematsu, Invisible axis – distance and angle, 2016, stainless steel, granite, stainless steel wire, Yumiko Chiba



Tintin Wulia, Five Tonnes of Homes and Other Understories, 2016, mixed media of metal, paper, ink, Osage

This Encounter installation is made up of cardboard “waste,” and it stems from the artist’s involvement in the cardboard recycling network in Hong Kong’s Central district. I didn’t know there was so much cardboard recycling going on in Central, but that’s good to know. I appreciate artists putting a focus on ideas or issues that we might not easily encounter in our daily lives in their art, but aesthetically, piles of cardboard would understandably not look so great. I think it’s not the most well executed artwork, but that could be said for many other contemporary artworks too.


Gavin Turk, American Bag, 2015, painted bronze, Ben Brown Fine Arts

Another piece of trash Refuse – okay, it’s come back as an American Bag this year.


Vik Muniz, Golden Gate Bridge (Postcards from Nowhere), 2015, digital C-print, Ben Brown Fine Arts


Qiu Deshu 仇德樹, Fissure, ShangART Gallery


Qiu Deshu 仇德樹, A Lot of Snow Looks Very Clean and Cold 積血清寒, 2005, acrylic on rice paper on canvas, Alisan Fine Arts

I’d seen an exhibition of Qiu Deshu at ShangART in Singapore last summer, and I was really impressed by Qiu’s contemporary take on shanshui (literally mountain water) paintings pieced together by torn bits of tissue paper, if I don’t remember wrongly. It comes out really nicely, especially in his immense wall-length quad-typch piece.

It was nice to see Qiu’s works again at Art Basel, but here they’re smaller in size and made with different materials, and have some stylistic differences as well.


Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, A Thief Caught in the Act, 2015, wood, metal, canvas, modelling clay, acrylic paint, Lisson

It’s not one thief, it’s a bunch of birds stealing jewelry in the last Encounter installation of this post. There are lamps on each table that alternately go on and off, highlighting the whole caught in the act thing. I like that pink owl on the left because, pink! owl!

Overall, I thought that the fair this year was a step down from the fairs the last two years, and I found myself walking by too many artworks without being attracted to look at many in detail. The setup of an art fair itself, especially with so many visitors cramped into the space, doesn’t allow for long insightful studies of artworks. I just hope to discover new works and artists by how well artworks were able to attract my attention. I definitely prefer to go to orderly curated exhibitions, but going to an art fair is still fun – it’s not often you get to see so many artworks of different media, styles, sizes, and cultures all gathered under one roof.

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