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Inter-cultural dialogue, sustainability, digital art. Art Basel Hong Kong returns to pre-pandemic scale

“Contemporary art is a universal language in today’s world that allows us to express, communicate and exchange ideas equally”, – says the director of Art Basel Hong Kong Angelle Siyang-Le, speaking of the return of Asia’s premium art fair in March. This year, Art Basel Hong Kong will take place between the 28th and 30th of March, showcasing contemporary artworks from over 200 galleries across the region and the world. 

In her interview, Angelle commented on the development trajectory of contemporary art since the pandemic, discussed the role of public spaces in artistic exhibitions, and, most importantly, shared the key highlights of this year’s most grandiose art show in Asia.

Angelle Siyang-Le, the director of Art Basel Hong Kong
Angelle Siyang-Le, the director of Art Basel Hong Kong

With the 2024 Hong Kong Art Basel approaching, could you share some highlights that attendees can look forward to this year?

We feel that the year 2024 is all about Asia reconnecting with the rest of the world since the onset of the pandemic. It’s the first year Asia has entirely reopened and, consequently, it is the first year Art Basel returned to a full-scale show. We have 243 galleries, which means we’re back to the pre-pandemic scale, but now we actually have even more to offer.

This year, we are having one of the biggest Encounters sectors, which is the large-scale installation sector. We have 16 works on-site at the fair, 11 of them are premier works, specifically created for Art Basel Hong Kong.

We also have one of the biggest Kabinett sectors in years, with 33 projects for the first time in Art Basel Hong Kong. Kabinett is a sector that with a strong emphasis on historical and contemporary solo presentations from Asia​. It represents a unique booth system, galleries that apply for the Kabinett sector build a booth within their booth to highlight a project that the gallery is promoting this year.

We are also very excited to have 26 Japanese galleries taking part this year, which make up 10 percent of the show. Two of them are brand-new to the Art Basel Hong Kong show. The first one is the √K Contemporary which is bringing famous Japanese calligraphy artists, like Nankoku Hidai, and another one is a young gallery called WAITING ROOM which we feel is one of the up-and-coming rising stars from Japan.

What would be some of the important themes of this year’s show?

This time, we are having a lot of new opportunities to really re-engage with questions that arose in the aftermath of the pandemic, which was when people’s mindsets truly shifted. Now, we treat the new normal with a new mindset, and we can really see it from this year’s presentations, from all these galleries coming back together.

Another new thing is that we are also trying to bring art into the city, not just the conventional art centres, and really engage with the citizens. So, we’re once again collaborating with M+ which is co-commissioning the works of Yang Fudong, an internationally acclaimed Chinese artist. The exciting thing we’re doing with them is shooting a film for the M+ façade in the traditional black-and-white Hong Kong style of the 1970s and 1990s. The film will be playing during the fair on a loop, and people from across the harbour, and even from Victoria Peak, will be able to see the artworks featured in it. This way, we’re trying to bring this public art element into the cityscape, so that people can really embark on the art journey during the week of the fair.

Digital art plays a very important role in today's art scene. How does it take part in Hong Kong Art Basel as well?

In 2024, the meaning of digital is expanding. Through Covid-19, we’ve been learning a lot about the domain of digital art, about NFTs, about all sorts of AI-generated artworks. I think digital art is definitely becoming one of the very important media in the art world. It will not go away.

But we feel that the in-person engagement and the connection even with this digital age is not going to go away because people still like to view digital art in person. They like to be physically present in an exhibition to see digital works to really experience the impact of art first-hand.

Sustainability in the art world is a pressing concern. Are there any initiatives or practices Art Basel Hong Kong is implementing to address this issue?

At Art Basel, we encourage our own teams, our suppliers, our vendors and our participants to be more eco-friendly. At the same time, as a global brand, Art Basel is also investing and engaging in long-term sustainability projects. For instance, this year, the fair runs a collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, unveiled last year at Art Basel Miami Beach. Fostering collaboration within and beyond the art world, Parley works with artists and galleries to raise awareness for the beauty and fragility of the oceans and help end their destruction. 

The Asian art market has seen significant growth, with new art fairs emerging across the region. How does Hong Kong Art Basel distinguish itself within this competitive landscape?

We see a growing number of good-quality fairs in Asia, which is a good sign for the region, especially if you look at Europe or America where one can find multiple international art fairs. We feel that more international fairs in Asia will signify that Asia’s contemporary art scene continues growing. So, for us, it is a healthy encouragement to keep raising awareness of modern and contemporary art.

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2024_Encounters Haegue Yang, The Randing Intermediates – Earth Alienage Rising Sporing, 2020 Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery, Seoul; kurimanzutto, Mexico City / New York Photo by At Maculangan/Pioneer Studios

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2024_Encounters Atsushi Kaga, Ukiyo-e, 2024 Acrylic and imitation gold leaf on linen in 5 panels, timber, tatami mat, electrified paper lanterns , 400 x 570 x 186 cm Courtesy the artist and mother’s tankstation Dublin | London Credit: Masaomi Morizono, Eugene Langan


More Information about Art Basel Hong Kong 2024


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