Published: 18:20, January 27, 2022 | Updated: 13:47, February 3, 2022
Art Basel Hong Kong returns in May
By Chitralekha Basu

Aestheticizing objects for everyday use is the hallmark of Hong Kong artist Tap Chan. Kicking off on May 25, 2022, Art Basel Hong Kong features Chan’s works in the Discoveries section, presented by Mine Project. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Art Basel Hong Kong (ABHK) announced the dates and gallery list for 2022 on recently. Hong Kong’s flagship international art fair, which catalyzed the city’s growth into a major art hub soon after launching its pilot edition in 2013, promises to be back at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from May 25 to 29 this year. 

The rise in the number of participating galleries — 137 compared to last year’s 104 — probably indicates the art world’s confidence in the Hong Kong audience, despite the city’s stringent COVID-control measures more or less ruling out visits by non-residents. Satellite booths (where the artworks are displayed in the exhibition booth while gallery representatives are available to chat online) are back.

“The feedback we received from galleries (in 2021) was extremely positive,” says Adeline Ooi, director Asia, Art Basel. The number of satellite booths was raised to 82 from last year’s 56 as a result. “This is a huge measure of success for us,” Ooi adds.     

Travel restrictions have not deterred galleries around the world from sending artworks to Hong Kong. Sixteen new galleries have joined the show this year. The list features new entrants from Bucharest (Catinca Tabacaru), Helsinki (Galerie Forsblom), Ho Chi Minh City (Vin Gallery) and Takasaki (Rin Art Association), among others. Mexico City is well represented by newcomer Maia Contemporary and Proyectos Monclova from ABHK’s 2021 edition. The former represents Cisco Jiménez, known for his intricately detailed mixed media work referencing history and folklore, and making his Hong Kong debut. The latter is showcasing works by Eduardo Terrazas and Edgar Orlaineta, also for the first time in the city. Presented together with works by Gabriel de la Mora, Terrazas and Orlaineta represent three generations of Mexican artists who seem to share a common ethos. Yoshio Shirakawa’s installations, often dominated by giant discs and geometric cutouts, are brought to Hong Kong for the first time, courtesy of Rin Art Association.

Lucie Chang Fine Arts presents street calligrapher Tsang Tsou-choi in a new light at Art Basel Hong Kong 2022. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong galleries in the fair, says Ooi, are expected to “reflect Hong Kong’s diverse art ecosystem”. Hence the list includes heavyweights with bases in all major centers of art trade, such as Gagosian and Hauser & Wirth, as well as fledgling galleries like Mine Project, which opened only in 2019.

Mine Project is showcasing Hong Kong artist Tap Chan in the Discoveries sector, which features solo shows by emerging artists.  Aestheticizing objects for everyday use, like bedposts and mirrors, is the hallmark of the artist.

“We simply believe in her language and works, and want to share her perspectives,” says the gallery’s co-founder and director Emerald Mou. “She observes the world quietly, ponders upon problems and presents her answers with her distinctive languages. Underneath the poetic and graceful presentation there are in-depth questions and solid statements about the liminality that is embedded in daily life, the doubt on accelerating technology and its sustainability,” she adds, explaining the galley’s decision to back the artist.

Lucie Chang Fine Arts — the other Hong Kong debutant — “will participate in the Insights sector, presenting (the calligrapher) Tsang Tsou-choi’s works in a new light,” Ooi informs.

Between the 1981-born Chan and Tsang (1921–2007), whose street calligraphy marks a unique and significant chapter in the canon of Hong Kong’s public art, there will be a whole range of other local artists to check out at ABHK. It’s a chance for the mostly local visitors to reconnect with this homegrown fare, while discovering new works by artists from Hong Kong and further afield.