Lately, it seems that there’s always a new art fair somewhere and few inspire more than commentary about the ubiquity and excesses of this phenomenon. What’s thrilling about the inaugural edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong, which took place from May 23-26, is that it lives up to its promise, with an extensive and excellent survey of art from galleries around the world. Here are some of the highlights.
During Seung Yul Oh’s “Periphery” (2013), visitors are engulfed in a forest of yellow balloon columns.
Zhuang Hui & Dan’er’s “11 Degree Incline” (2008) pitches lacquered Classical ruins slightly backwards, at an uneasy—and presumably 11-degree—angle.
Works by Asian artists using explicitly Western iconographies (and vice versa) draw attention at many booths, such as Hyung Koo Kang’s “Lincoln” (2013) at Seoul’s Arario Gallery.
At every fair, extravagant artworks inspire the kind of befuddlement that transgresses language. From the Berlin, Singapore and South Melbourne-based gallery Arndt’s booth, there comes “Feast Table: Undeclared Perceptions” (2012) by Indonesian artist Entang Wiharso.
Beijing’s Gallery Yang has mounted a solo presentation by Yan Bing . His “Tools” are approximately 10 foot tall plush sculptures wrapped in universally acceptable business attire.
Zhao Zhao’s compositions of cracked glass, on view at the New York and Beijing-based Chambers Fine Art and elsewhere around the fair, are an example of a kind of polished, imperfect minimalism that’s popular with collectors and schoolchildren alike.
At Mumbai’s Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Manish Nai has smashed organic materials like sponge and jute into gratifyingly textured cubes.
Collectors of all ages and nationalities appreciate Warhol.
At Lehmann Maupin’s new Hong Kong outpost in the Pedder Building, a group show called “Writings Without Borders,” curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, features work by He An (above) and Teresita Fernandez (below) among others.
At Jakarta’s Art:1 by Mon Decor Gallery, Ichwan Noor’s “Beetle Sphere”—a Volkswagen beetle contorted into an almost perfectly circular object—is a potentially kitschy idea saved by brilliant execution.
Singapore’s Gajah Gallery brought some fun faces by Nyoman Masriadi and Ashley Bickerton.
At White Space Beijing’s booth, Liu Xinyi’s “Automatic Arms” (2010)—featuring more than a hundred disembodied, golden, waving lucky cat arms—is a kinetic crowd-pleaser.
Local gallerist Pearl Lam’s purple tresses perfectly complement the most exciting hue of Jason Martin’s viscerally super-saturated canvasses.
Across the harbor in Kowloon, on the future site of the M+ museum, artists like Cao Fei, Thomas Saraceno, and Jeremy Deller blew-up massive balloon sculptures.
A suite of paintings by Firenze Lai introduces the group show at Para Site, one of the cities best non-profits.
Amy Cheung’s distended sculpture of a local taxi greets visitors to “Hong Kong Eye,” a touring exhibition of recent work from Hong Kong.
Megawatt Cantopop singer and actress Gigi Leung with Takashi Murakami at his gallery Kaikai Kiki’s booth, featuring paintings by Kenjiro Okazaki.