Art Month offers promising signs for the city’s artistic future

A Sultry World
Resonating Life which Continues to Stand
Untitled drawings
Ane rouge au dessus de la ville
Buste de Diego
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Hong Kong International Cultural Summit, Art Basel, and Art Central: Hosting an Art Month of international renown

It is nice to be in a world city where you can wait, and the world comes to us!

Art galleries, sellers, buyers, curators and connoisseurs remembered Hong Kong’s many attractive qualities. Hong Kong’s duty-free status, with no tariffs on imports and exports, is a massive incentive for art fairs. Art galleries benefit from the duty-free import of artworks for exhibitions. World-class air freight, logistics, and security mean no worries about transporting millions of dollars worth of artwork. And there is no sales tax. This is a monumental competitive advantage over other Asian cities where value-added tax creates bureaucratic and financial barriers.

Attendance was jam-packed on all days at both Art Basel and Art Central. teamLab’s: Resonating Life which Continues to Stand, 2024 drew visitors to the harbourfront with their timely, easter-worthy installation of huge eggs, which lit up the harbourfront and made great Instagram photos. Malls and hotels hosted art exhibitions. Peninsula Hotel developed their own program — Art in Resonance, with specially commissioned immersive works from four artists, which will be displayed around the property for several months.

Picasso, Giacometti, Harring, and Fan Hong Bin

At Art Basel, there were numerous works by Picasso on offer. Having any mounted on a home wall provides bragging rights. However, if it were up to me, and on my limited art budget, I would happily have Picasso’s delicately illustrated pencil and charcoal work, Buste de femme nue (Bust of a Nude Woman). The gaze on the woman is similar to one in Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, created in 1907 after this work on paper dated 1906. This sketch, with its detailed soft applications of graphite strokes, may well have served as a study for the master artist’s later works.  

Alberto Giacometti’s bronze Buste de Diego would be a showstopper for anyone with space for a sculpture.  Keith Harring’s signature black-on-white icons of cartoon-like characters would easily add fun to any wall.

The local gallery, Oi Ling, featured a gorgeous triptych of ink on paper by Fan Hong Bin. It was beautifully displayed in their exhibition space alongside the antique furniture also available for sale. The three panels made a striking presentation with rich blue and green landscapes, reminiscent of classic Chinese ink paintings – ideal for a huge living room, public space or office reception.

Performance Piece: A Sultry World by Sunayama Norica

Seemingly not for sale, yet no less dramatic, was the performance piece, A Sultry World by Sunayama Norica, which stopped all visitors who gaped and awed at the vast display of the artist hoisted above an enormous velvet red skirt. The artist invited visitors to participate in the performance by entering underneath her skirt to experience a quiet moment in its lavender-scented darkness. Norica has staged this since 1995, and for over thirty years, audiences have been enthralled by its surprising invitation to get close to the artist in such an intimate way. 

The success of Art Month is a testament to Hong Kong’s enduring appeal as a global art destination. With its commitment to free trade, world-class infrastructure, and growing international recognition, the city is well-positioned to solidify its place in the global art market. As Hong Kong continues to invest in and nurture its artistic ecosystem, we can expect even more exciting developments in the years to come.

Text and photos Cammy Yiu