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4 Indian galleries at Hong Kong's Art Basel Fair

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Hong Kong: Art Basel Hong Kong, one of the youngest art fairs set to open for the public here tomorrow has a "steady representation" from India with its current fourth edition featuring four art galleries from the country.

The three-day long extravaganza, which kicked off amid rainy weather with a preview yesterday that was attended among others by Oscar winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, features 239 galleries drawn from 35 countries.

Four galleries Experimenter (Kolkata), Nature Morte and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi) and Chemould Prescott Road, (Mumbai) are participating in this editon of modern and contemporary fair, which has 50 per cent representation from Asian and Asia-Pacific regions. 

"We have a steady representation of galleries from India. On an average we have had between 5 to 7 regularly over the past three years. Apart from that we have had solo artists also participating," Adeline Ooi, Director of Art Basel Asia said.

There is also strong representation of galleries with exhibition spaces in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, in addition to those in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Marc Spiegler, Global Director of fair said the event has seen a "remarkable" increase in the participation of art galleries from Asia. 

"When I came there were some countries in Asia that were not present and the galleries from Asia that were present were not in a way that fit their status. After the first edition we realized that even though the balance of East and West was good, when it came to the square metre size, the Asian galleries were not present, they were not showing their power."

"However, over time, we have had a remarkable transition in trajectory for the Asian galleries, with both major and younger galleries joining in," Spiegler said.

The fair, which will showcase premier works from across the globe  will not only see older galleries returning to the fair but will also have a slew of fresh entrants from the western as well as the Asian and Asia-Pacific regions. "Galleries who were able to join us last year are returning again. I am delighted to welcome 21 western galleries who are participating in our Hong Kong show for the first time like Metro Pictures and Xavier Hufkens and 9 galleries from Asia and Asia Pacific region such as Antenna Space, Ink Studio and MEM and Lawrie Shabibi," Ooi said.

Stating that the fair was growing more competitive with every edition, she said, "We had around 600 applications for about 239 spaces. The show is becoming extremely competitive." Art Basel Hong Kong in its latest feat, is divided into three major sections, - 'Galleries', 'Insights' and 'Discoveries', besides a range of parallel events like 'Encounters', 'Film sector', 'Conversations and Salon'.

While 'Galleries', which is the main sector of this year’s show presents 187 modern and contemporary art galleries, 'Insights' will showcase curatorial projects by 28 galleries with spaces in Asia and Asia-Pacific region, besides featuring "solo shows, exceptional historical material and strong thematic group exhibitions." 

"15 galleries which participated in 'Discovery' earlier have graduated to the 'Gallery' sector this year," Ooi said.

'Discoveries' that brings to the fore the works of emerging artists like Waqas Khan (Pakistan), Ayesha Sultana (Bangladesh) and Rathin Barman (India) will have participation by 24 galleries in the form of solo and two-person exhibitions.

This edition also features a Film sector curated by Beijing and Zurich based curator Li Zhenhua. The program of over 70 short films by and about artists will be presented alongside five feature-length films.

According to Ooi, the fair is expected to witness a massive footfall, surpassing the previous years. "As Art Basel show continues to grow, we look forward to an even more engaging week this year, expecting visitors from over 70 countries in addition to directors, curators, trustees and patrons from over 100 leading museums and institutions.

This so far has been the largest number ever that we have had in Hong Kong," she said.


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