Asian artists’ insights and discoveries to be unveiled at HK fair

Art Basel, the famous art fair that attracts art lovers from all over the world is set to launch its first Asian event in Hong Kong in the coming week (May 23 and May 26). The art fair will present 245 galleries from around the world with half of the exhibitors coming from the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand. Art Basel Hong Kong 2013, offers four distinct sections to showcase four different moods. Titled Insights, Encounters, Discoveries and Galleries, the first three offer visitors a sense of anticipation and expectation, whereas the section on Galleries is a viewing of artworks of artists represented by various Asian galleries along with others across the globe offering works of Asian artist.

Among the well-known Indian galleries participating from Delhi are the Vadehras, Nature Morte and Delhi Art Gallery. From Mumbai, there are Sakshi Gallery, Chemould Prescott and The Guild. We can expect today’s better-known painters such as Anju and Atul Dodiya, Jagannath Panda and Zakkir Hussain to be seen in this circuit. What caught my eye was Delhi Gallery Exhibit 320’s presentation of some very interesting work by Nandan Ghiya, a Rajasthan-based self-taught artist.

The Encounters section curated by Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, and Curator of the Sharjah Biennial 13 and promises to be exciting, with 17 ‘large-scale sculptural installations’ by leading artists from Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, China, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK. A variety of materials are used in these installations — traditional materials such as marble and bronze as well as wood and natural substances to highlight the need for conservation. Chinese artist Chen Zhen is one of these and will explore the earth's physical forces in his natural media installation, Le Rit e Suspendue/Mouille, with disparate material including metal, plexiglass, water, earth, sand, found objects and pigment. There are other installations that might be very popular as the cry out for ‘audience participation’. Some of these major artworks are more than five metres in height and others may even stretch across more than 70 sq metres, on the two floors where they will be located.

Interesting installations include Japanese artist Takuma Uematesu’s agate set in shards of mirror to create chandeliers of reflections. Chinese artist Qin Chong’s 18 six-metre-high paper scrolls with paintings in soot is a giant installation. Perhaps the most unique one is Chinese artist Guan Huaibin’s somewhat eerie artwork, in which he creates a three-metre-high inflatable sculpture of a garden rock that expands and contracts to recreate the act of breathing.

What may be of particular interest to our Indian readers is that Berlin’s Arndt Gallery will present Circa 2011 by Indian artist Jitish Kallat (1974). The 120-part sculpture, which has been an on-going activity for the artist involves the painstaking recreation of ‘real bamboo scaffolding’, thus evoking what he calls ‘the transitory image of Mumbai as one sees it today: caught in a state of perennial (re)development’.

Peter Nagy of Gallery Nature Morte, was the very first from India to be invited to participate at the prestigious Art Basel in 2006. It was there that Nature Morte made one of the biggest sales at the fair, when Nagy sold Subodh Gupta’s acrylic on canvas for Rs 1.2 crore. This time, however, Gupta is being presented by Hauser and Wirth. As usual, we can expect that his tall creation of utensils moulded into an enormous vase-like structure with a long neck, will again attract plenty of attention.

(The writer is a winner of many advertising design awards and a painter of repute)

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