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State of the Artwork: Trade Specialists Forecast What’s in Retailer for Hong Kong

State of the Artwork: Trade Specialists Forecast What’s in Retailer for Hong Kong

With Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze Seoul and ART SG in full swing once more, the region is back on the world stage. But how is it rebounding? Prestige quizzes the industry’s leading experts.

How has Asia’s art landscape changed now the region is restriction-free? How should you start a collection? And can Asia regain its status as a vibrant international art hub? To answer these and other questions ahead of Art Basel Hong Kong 2024, we turn to the experts: Alexie Glass-Kantor, curator for Encounters, Art Basel in Hong Kong; Li Zhenhua, curator for film, Art Basel Hong Kong; Xue Tan, senior curator at Tai Kwun; Shasha Tittmann, director of Lehmann Maupin; Elaine Kwok, Hauser & Wirth’s managing partner in Asia; Patrick Sun, the founder and executive director of the Sunpride Foundation for Hong Kong, Taipei and Bangkok; Leo Xu, senior director of David Zwirner in Hong Kong; and Wendy Xu, White Cube’s general manager for Asia.

Xue Tan

What do you think are some of the big market trends for 2024?

WENDY XU: 2024 will be the year for Asia to have its moment after being separated from the world during the Covid restrictions. The South Korean market will continue to flourish, given the number of international galleries now open there, including our own space, which opened in September 2023. M+ hosted a big event last year during Frieze Seoul and K11 Art Foundation is also opening a space in Seoul. Asian diaspora artists will have their moment this year in major international institutions outside of Asia, and likewise international artists will have some major shows at Asian institutions. There’ll also be more innovative public art programmes in the region.

PATRICK SUN: Equal representation and diversity will remain at the centre of discussion in the art world. Exposure for the minority – gender, sex, race and geographically under-represented regions – will keep growing. I look forward to seeing more art from or about these communities featured at art fairs and major exhibitions around the world.

ZHENHUA LI: The trend is decentralised, divided by geopolitical fact. However, technology-related trends will lead the way for younger art participants. For example, the new crypto market policy in Hong Kong will bring people involved in the NFTs, the metaverse and other related industries via Hong Kong to the world. Apple Vision Pro will help with its interface for VR, AR and a newer computational fact in art, culture and life.

SHASHA TITTMANN: We can expect sustained interest in female and Asian artists, encompassing both emerging younger talents and the rediscovery of older artists. These fascinating times are marked by an increased urgency in activism spanning social and environmental causes, which is likely to influence artistic expression. The internet and social media will also continue to serve as powerful platforms, amplifying voices and fostering greater artistic discovery.

LEO XU: I expect Asian artists will continue having a lot of attention this year, particularly Asian-diaspora artists living overseas, as well as older overlooked artists. Collectors overall will be looking towards quality works by more established artists.

ALEXIE GLASS-KANTOR: Artists are increasingly working with materials and forms of embodied work, whether it’s painting, sculpture, installations – works that really have a strong sense of being made. During the pandemic, people were on their screens all the time. But now into our second year of the world coming back together, I feel there’s a drive in the market towards beautifully executed material works.

Which rising artists should we look out for this year?

WX: Manchester-based artist Louise Giovanelli is one to watch, as she opens her first show in Asia at our gallery space in Hong Kong to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong. She also has a show at He Art Museum in Foshan at the same time as the Hong Kong exhibition. She’s definitely on the radar of Asian collectors.

PS: I can think of several young artists who’ve attracted international attention recently. Besides recognition through major exhibitions, arts institutions or publications, a crucial factor is that their work raises awareness of important issues we should all be more mindful of. These artists include Isaac Chong Wai, Jes Fan, Kang Seung Lee, Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho.

ST: Dominic Chambers, a highly skilled painter, is definitely someone to watch. We recently opened his inaugural major exhibition in New York at Lehmann Maupin, following his first solo museum exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis. This year holds significant promise for him, as his work takes centre stage in various curatorial contexts, including the group show Translations: Afro-Asian Poetics, curated by Zoe Whitley at The Institutum in Singapore.

XUE TAN: Chinese artist Pan Dajing is having a big year, opening her largest institution solo exhibition in Haus der Kunst Munich this March and installing a new commission at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. An interdisciplinary visual artist, Pan was the youngest Chinese artist with a solo presentation at Tate Modern in 2019, yet she’s still little known at home.

AGK: I’m very excited about Mak2, a great emerging artist in Hong Kong. It’s very sly and provocative with a humorous turn.

Wendy Xu

Which single artist are you most excited about showcasing this year?

WX: That would be Louise Giovanelli as she opens her Asian debut show at our gallery space in Hong Kong. Collectors in this region are already actively acquiring her work. Excitingly, another artist we represent, Sarah Morris, is revealing her cinematic portrait of Hong Kong, commissioned by M+ and Tai Kwun Contemporary, which premiered on the M+ Facade in late January. She also has a solo exhibition at Tai Kwun Contemporary on March 15-April 7.

ELAINE KWOK: I’m thrilled to be opening Hauser & Wirth’s new street-level space with a solo exhibition of Chinese artist Zhang Enli, who joined the gallery in 2006 as its first Asian artist and has exhibited in important institutions both internationally and regionally. We held solo exhibitions of Enli in New York, London, Somerset and Zurich, and this will be his first solo exhibition with Hauser & Wirth in Asia.

ST: Marilyn Minter, who’s having her first solo exhibition in Seoul at Lehmann Maupin, where she’s unveiling a new body of paintings. At the same time, at Art Basel Hong Kong we’ll have a new painting and interactive installation that will be highlighted at our booth. She’s an incredibly important female artist who continues to push the boundary of figuration, and image and video making.

LX: We’re thrilled to welcome the return of Wolfgang Tillmans for his second solo show at David Zwirner Hong Kong next month. This is a highly anticipated exhibition following his acclaimed retrospective at MoMA, which then travelled to the Art Gallery of Ontario and is now on view at SFMoMA.

AGK: Mak2 will be great to work with. It’s a high-stakes gamble and I’m really excited by the work. The Australian Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd is making a site-specific and expanded immersive installation in central Hong Kong that will be beautiful, too.

Shasha Tittmann

What in your opinion is unique about Hong Kong’s art scene?

WX: Hong Kong is truly an international art hub with major institutions showing world-class international artists. It’s also home to incredible local talent who are making a big name for themselves internationally, a buoyant auction market and a vast array of international and local art galleries. With a number of world-class public institutions – M+, the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Tai Kwun – local artists have institutional platforms to showcase their work, and the city can now collaborate to bring larger scale exhibitions from international artists.

PS: Hong Kong has been one of the most important connecting points between the East and the West. The cultural landscape is fundamentally oriental, while Western influence is omnipresent. It’s also a place where you see both the old and the new thriving together. We have antique shops lining up on Hollywood Road, while Tai Kwun Contemporary is just a stone’s throw away. This is also evident when you think about our West Kowloon Cultural District, where we have The Palace Museum and the M+ Museum standing side-by-side.

ZL: The city is always on the edge of the newest transition in art, the shifting of the new Asian art scene, technology-led art experiments, the new emerging art market and the bravery of accepting the newest combinations in art and culture. It’s always inventing a new art scene.

EK: The diversity of the city. The Hong Kong arts scene is flourishing and going from strength to strength, with the opening of new museums and galleries, and the expansion of auction houses in recent years. The diversity of the scene here results from the city’s unique advantages – its geographical location, the advantage of being trilingual, with English widely used, that makes it an international hub. You can see people from different backgrounds and brilliant artworks from the region and beyond, as well as public and private players in the art world regionally and internationally.

ST: Hong Kong is one of a kind because of its density, business-friendly environment, high service standards and geographic location. There’s a lot of intersection and diversity found between the various microcosms of artists, collectors, fairs, auctions and museums, which you don’t see in other places – especially in Asia, where many markets don’t have mature art industries.

LX: The city is home to a unique melting pot of languages and cultures, and has unparalleled economic advantages, including its tax-free status. It’s grown into a strong and vibrant cultural ecosystem in recent years, from world-class museums and international galleries to alternative art spaces and non-profit institutions.

AGK: I love the breadth and dynamism of the art scene in Hong Kong. For me, something Japanese gallery Nanzuka at Art Basel Hong Kong 2023 that’s so important is art’s Asian archives – in a sense, the region’s memory bank lives in Hong Kong. Those enduring archives and the documentation of generations of artists working across the breadth of the region are remarkable.

Patrick Sun

How can new collectors gain a better understanding of contemporary art?

WX: The best way to understand art is to see and experience it and speak with experts, whether within the context of an institution, museum, art gallery or art fair. Appreciation of art is a personal experience, so go with your instinct and follow what speaks to you. Your encounter with art will deepen your appreciation and intrigue to find out more about a particular artist or period in art history.

PS: Going to exhibitions is the best way for new collectors to learn about contemporary art. Personally, I’ve benefitted so much from guided tours. They help me understand better in an efficient way. Following these tours also means you don’t miss out on important works or concepts of an exhibition. Public institutions, such as M+ and Tai Kwun, always have good exhibitions and offer excellent guided tours. Commercial galleries, on the other hand, are very good at introducing young artists. And there’s no better way of learning about them and their art than from passionate gallerists.

Alexie Glass-Kantor

EK: See more and experience more. Museums are a good starting point, with a lot of resources available to the public. Most galleries are open to public for free. New collectors can attend exhibition openings and see shows year-round. Our team at Hauser & Wirth are more than happy to welcome new collectors and help them build their collections after understanding their vision. We also host a wide range of events throughout the year, such as artist talks and livestreams.

ST: Art Basel Hong Kong is the best place to start. While it can be overwhelming for a new collector, the fair brings the best galleries, artists, works and industry leaders to the city once a year. It’s the perfect place to train your eye and hone in on what interests you. Start slow, find a professional advisor who isn’t trend-driven to guide you, and visit as many museums and galleries as possible when you travel abroad.

LX: Consider integrating art into your travel plans. There’s an increasing number of museums and art fairs around the world, so you can continue exposing yourself to different types of art and artists wherever you are.

XT: Join curator and artist guided tours, ask questions, and see as many exhibitions as possible. Travel to biennials where you can see the latest ambitious art projects. This year, the Venice Biennale opens from late April.

Li Zhenhua

Do you have any favourite art-fair moments?

WX: I love it that art fairs feel like festivals and present the opportunity to meet existing and new collectors. These encounters might open doors you might have never expected.

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PS: I have two favourite moments. One was at the 2019 Art Fair Philippines, where by chance I bumped into the great Filipino artist David Medalla and stepped forward to introduce myself. This encounter resulted in a wonderful collaboration at our 2019 exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. The other was last year, when Art Basel Hong Kong re-opened after three years, and I walked in and saw the fair coming back in full force. The feeling of relief, joy and pride was overwhelming. I said to myself, “Hong Kong is back.” It was a very emotional moment.

EK: The anticipation before the fair, waiting for guests to arrive and the start of exciting and inspiring conversations.

ST: Gallerists – and sometimes artists – from all over the world used to gather for a local seafood dinner after the last day of Art Basel Hong Kong at the old Tung Po location. It’s a restaurant in a traditional wet market that isn’t for the faint-of-heart. It used to be an annual reunion and I hope the tradition continues.

XT: Staring at a nice artwork, then realising the person who’s doing the same next to me is an old friend – it’s a nice reunion moment for like-minded people.

AGK: As a curator, I love the moment when you meet the show. You imagine an exhibition that you work on, or a project you’re curating. And sometimes in your mind you know what you’re going to see, but sometimes it’s something beyond what you imagined.

Leo Xu

What are you looking forward to this year at Art Basel?

WX: With all travel and local restrictions now lifted, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with existing international collectors and meeting new ones at this year’s Art Basel. More colleagues from Europe will also be joining us this year.

PS: Besides seeing the fair returning to its pre-pandemic scale with 243 galleries, what I most look forward to is the fair’s Encounters section. This spectacular curated section showcases large-scale installations that always attract international institutions’ special attention. I’m super curious to see what’s selected for this year’s Encounters, and which institutions they might be going to.

ZL: I’m really looking forward to seeing the newest wave of trends after the Covid era.

EK: Hauser & Wirth will bring together works by historical masters such as Louise Bourgeois, Philip Guston and Maria Lassnig, who’ve been with the gallery for decades, alongside a selection of artists who recently joined, including Sonia Boyce and Hélène Delprat. The presentation also includes new works by contemporary artist Rashid Johnson, Bharti Kher, Avery Singer and Anj Smith, among others.

LX: Many international galleries will be returning to the fair, so we expect the quality to be high and diverse. David Zwirner will also be bringing important and exciting works from artists across our programme.

XT: I look forward to welcoming and catching up with friends in art from around the world. At Tai Kwun, we’ll have extended opening hours and tours for the feature exhibition Green Snake: Women Centred Ecologies. We also have a special appearance by Lhola Amira that week, and on our top floor we’ll have a special exhibition of Sarah Morris’ film commission on Hong Kong, a project that took five years to complete.

AGK: 2023 was a challenging year for Art Basel, because we only had six months to produce and deliver the entire show. This year feels as if the stakes are even higher, because now everyone is moving around the world again. There are will be 200 galleries at Art Basel Hong Kong, with a lot of people returning to the city for it at last.

Elaine Kwok

Which exciting projects does your gallery have in store for 2024?

WX: 2023 was a busy year for White Cube, as we opened two new permanent gallery spaces in New York and Seoul, so we’re looking forward to expanding our programme to reach new audiences in these markets. Highlights of our Asian 2024 programme include Louise Giovanelli’s show in Hong Kong and, later in the year, we’ll present new works by Jessica Rankin in her first ever solo exhibition in Asia.

EK: We’re hosting many exciting museum projects in Asia for our artists. In Shanghai’s Pudong Museum of Art, the solo exhibition Zeng Fanzhi: Old and New (Paintings 1988-2023) is currently on view until early March. The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney is showing a major exhibition of Louise Bourgeois, the largest ever seen in Australia, until late April. In September, Nicolas Party will have a show at Hoam Museum of Art in Seoul, and Louise Bourgeois’ major museum show will open at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum.

ST: As well as a stellar line up of gallery shows between our Seoul, London and New York galleries, we have several international pop-up and public projects in the making. Our artists will also have big institutional moments worth travelling to see, such as Teresita Fernández’s forthcoming show with Robert Smithson at SITE Santa Fe, OSGEMEOS’ first major US survey at the Hirshhorn Museum and Nari Ward’s first solo European museum show at the HangarBicocca in Milan.

LX: David Zwirner Hong Kong gallery will be organising a number of exhibitions of modern and contemporary masters rarely shown before in Asia, which will be very special to experience in person.

Source: Prestige Online

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