Art Basel Hong Kong Still Draws Fashion Crowd Amid Uncertainty

HONG KONGRiding on the high of ComplexCon, the city concluded March’s Arts Month with the latest editions of fairs including the 11th edition of Art Basel Hong Kong and the return of Art Central.

Serving as the kick-off to Art Basel was a soirée at Harbour House, Rosewood Hong Kong’s new 3,100-square-foot penthouse with a breathtaking sweep of the Hong Kong and Kowloon skyline.

The luxury property had teamed with London’s Serpentine Gallery for an evening capped by a performance by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, marking the launch of Rosewood’s RWD Front Row cultural series, in conjunction with the hotel’s fifth anniversary.

Earlier that day, the program had hosted panel discussions with Minsuk Cho, the Seoul-based architect who designed this year’s Serpentine Pavillion, and Sumayya Vally, who became the youngest architect commissioned for the program when she imagined the 2021 edition.

Speaking on the opening day, Angelle Siyang-Lee, director of Art Basel Hong Kong, was anticipating the first full-on post-pandemic edition.

“This week alone we have at least two major financial summits, attracting family offices to Hong Kong, the international cultural summit hosted by West Kowloon attracting the major museums and the One Earth Summit hosted by the World Economic Forum, as well as other major kind of like industry events going on around the same time,” she said.

The fair itself welcomed 65 additional galleries, amounting to a nearly 40 percent increase over 2023, bringing its total to 242. Exhibitors hailed from 40 countries and territories, with Ghana, Iran, Tunisia, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Denmark, and Canada newly represented this year.

The program also extended outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, with public installations, including a film co-commissioned by Art Basel and M+, presented by UBS, for the Kowloon-based museum’s facade.

The fair executive said this was proof of Hong Kong’s resilience as the best place for art business due to its geographical position with a four hour flight from most territories in Asia, tax-free transactions, experienced infrastructure as well as a longstanding art ecosystem that includes international blue chip galleries and headquarters of the major auction houses.

“We definitely know that the attendance will be more diverse in terms of their backgrounds and a lot more will be coming from outside of Asia,” she said, pointing out that the 2023 fair opened only a month after the last of China’s COVID-19 restrictions had lifted.

“We are seeing great collectors and institutions returning this year for the fair and Art Basel Hong Kong remains an important meeting place for us to connect with people from across the region,” said Dawn Zhu, director of Asia at Thaddaeus Ropac at the end of the first day.

By the end of the two-day preview, the gallery had sales of over 1.5 million euros, including a stainless-steel work by British sculptor Tony Cragg that went for 725,000 euros.

Touring the fair, Stefano Rosso, chairman of Maison Margiela and board member of OTB Group, said Hong Kong…

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