HONG KONG — If you believe art fairs are elevating, then you are likely to find the first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong an eye-popping experience — in a pleasing way, for the most part. Still, the sight of over 240 galleries from 35 nations in one place is bewildering, even for seasoned art fair goers. The organizers estimate that art by more than 3,000 artists is on display at the functional if barn-like Hong Kong Exhibition Centre, now through Sunday.
In its first real year at the helm, the Art Basel team has brought a new and very welcome level of professionalism to the organization of this fair. Everything works, booths are nicely laid out, and the quality and diversity of work is spot on, with Asian, European, and American galleries well integrated as equals. For the first time it is possible to imagine that this once regional fair could evolve into a major international art event — that is, if it isn’t there already. That is happy news for all.
It goes without saying that dozens of booths offer outstanding presentations, albeit with a strong regional bias — more than 50 percent of the galleries here are from Asia and the Asia Pacific region. Picking favorites is subjective, but having walked the two floors it is pretty clear that several booths demand consistent, repeated attention for reasons that are not entirely arbitrary, including the scale and quality of works on view and their overall elegance of presentation.
Take a video tour of some of the best booths: