VIP Impressions of Art Basel in Hong Kong

VIP Impressions of Art Basel in Hong Kong
Indonesian collector Deddy Kusuma at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013.
(Photo by Adeline Chia)

HONG KONG — On VIP opening day of Art Basel in Hong Kong, May 22, initial reactions seem to be generally positive, with much higher expectations than those at last year's Hong Kong International Art Fair (Art HK). BLOUIN ARTINFO took some time to walk around during the VIP viewing to collect first impressions from exhibitors and collectors, before the fair opens to the public on May 23. Here is what we heard:

— Japanese art collector Kosuke Mori: “I think the fair has tried to adjust its taste to Asia, with works that have color, that are more fun.” 


— Lorenz Helbling, owner of ShanghArt: “I think there is a better mix and integration of Asian and Western work. No one is shouting in their corner, ‘We're Western! We're Chinese!’”

— Pearl Lam, founder of Pearl Lam Galleries: “I have high expectations for the show because I paid a lot more for the booth so I expect much better sales figures.”

— Johnson Chang, founder of Hanart: “I feel there is an upgrade in the way galleries display their works. I think they make an effort to create an exhibition, rather than just a display of goods.” 

— Rachel Lehmann, co-founder of Lehmann Maupin Gallery: “There is a more international crowd of collectors and more international galleries. I saw works by Shahzia Sikander at Pilar Corrias Gallery that were very interesting.”

— Martin Clist, director of Rossi & Rossi: "We haven't noticed any new collectors, and honestly haven't observed a great difference between this year and the last. This year's fair is better organized, but it doesn't feel as 'family.' We are still relating and connecting with the same Art HK people, but this year, with Basel on board, there seems to be a more rigid Swiss shell." 

Cesar Villalon Jr, owner of The Drawing Room: “It feels the same [as] the years before, there are just a lot of bigwigs from Art Basel walking around.”

— Indonesian art collector Deddy Kusuma: “I see a lot of Western art here. I've already told Marc (Speigler) we should promote Asian art because we are in Asia. Western art has other platforms around the world, but it should be up to places like Hong Kong and Singapore to promote Asian art.”  

— Wei-ling Lim from Wei-ling Gallery: “There are more U.S. and European collectors who seem to be attracted to Hong Kong for first time by the quality that the Basel name represents.”