The Growth of Asia’s Art Market Came to Life in Hong Kong International Art Fair

Elizabeth Prendiville shares some news about Asia’s evolving art market 

Hong Kong International Art Fair

Hong Kong International Art Fair. Image Credit:

New York: This year Hong Kong’s International Art Fair was presented under the king of art fair names, Art Basel. Art Basel sees a solid future in the recent developments of Asia’s art market, which is changing rapidly and in a very positive way. Basel notes the early stages of a thriving art market opportunity with a solid base of dealers and collectors ready for a fair similar to the wildly successful one developed in Miami. These murmurings of anticipation in the international art market have data behind them.

In 2012 it was discovered that there are more millionaires in Asia than the United States. This makes for an ample opportunity for the Art Basel group to tap into this market of potential long-term collectors. These possible buyers in combination with excess regional cash make it the perfect scenario for a successful contemporary art scene that can be observed on an international platform.

The stylistic developments of Asia’s contemporary art community are multifaceted. In addition to displaying a juxtaposition of Eastern and Western artistic identities, these individual artist statements are shown on a more local level. Through these different art sources in Asia, the Asia-Pacific region has developed a completely unique style, taste and creative identity independent of the western art market. This affluent market base has completely honored and fostered the growth and stability of it’s own local talent. This is in contrast with past evidence of buyers continuing to bolster European and American blockbuster artists such as Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst.

Although many of these Asia-based contemporary artists are relatively unknown outside of their immediate region, their work is supported with sky rocketing market prices in auctions. Although they are not well known, those that do know are keeping an eye out for an opportunity to invest. Currently, an even newer trend is developing amongst buyers, collectors and dealers. Individuals are not just focused on their regional artistic community and additionally the western art scene. Rather they are focused on Asia as an entity developing an identity as a global art power.Continuing this would make major Asia-based galleries and museums a comparable platform with New York and London for artists to show their work.

However, for this to truly become a reality they must maintain all of the elements of a functioning and competitive art environment. This includes strong collectors, dealers, museums, auctions, galleries and other aspects of the artistic business community.  Without all of these essential pieces, the market will never reach it’s full potential. Because Asia varies so intensely between bustling rich economies and rural community this evolution may take some time. However, there is a strong interest in fostering art across the board, and even the most unexpected community are looking to open museums and push these ideas forward.

In India specifically this evolvement is subtle, but consistent. At present New Delhi’s National Museum of Modern Art has a lower visitor rate, especially compared to other established international museums. However, strong museums are popping up all throughout Asia and are intensely focused on devoting their budget and space to their developing Asian art collection.

These major shifts in favor of Contemporary Art, specifically in Asia-Pacific bode well for artists, collectors, art fair attendees, and dealers alike.

For more information read here.

Shilpa Gupta’s successful start to 2013

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart discusses Shilpa Gupta’s works and her eventful start to 2013

New York: A contemporary Indian new media artist, Shilpa Gupta’s body of work presents a consistent progression in theory and practice that has rightfully earned her a firm spot in the arena of contemporary Indian art. Alumni of the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts in Mumbai, the main crux of her artistic practice is to explore the role and purpose of art- this enquiry taking many forms.

The artists has had a packed start to the year, currently exhibiting at Galerie im Taxispalais in Innsbruck, Austria in a show titled Will we ever be able to mark enough?, curated by Renee Baert and which will subsequently travel to Montreal and Bruges.

Gupta is also showing at Art Basel. Her works at the art fair include Stars on flags of the world with the Mumbai based gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Untitled shown by the Parisian gallery Yvon Lambert and 2651-1 by Dvir Gallery from Tel Aviv, Israel.

In the first half of 2013 alone, she has been featured in various group shows at places including the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in England, the Singapore Art Museum, the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, the Guggenheim in New York, the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates and a group show at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen.

Gupta is careful in her rhetoric not to delegate categories to identify her work or practice. She prefers to call it ‘everyday art’ given her preoccupation with daily observations and current events. To relegate her works to set categories would be limiting the scope of their discourse and its reception by the viewer. In “Stars on flags of the world” a glass vitrine holds hundreds of steel stars, like those found on national flags from around the world. The piles of stars are reflective of the appropriation of this particular insignia in constructing a national identity and narrative- much like alphabets that are put together to form words. Although seemingly political, her works hold a wider conversation with a willing ear and keen eye.

Stars on Flags of the World, 2012, Mild Steel stars in a vitrine and an etched brass plate, 64x64x97 cm Image Credit:

Stars on Flags of the World, 2012, Mild Steel stars in a vitrine and an etched brass plate, 64x64x97 cm
Image Credit:

Regardless of the content and narrative of her works, Gupta is clear that her works are not simply ‘political’- a badge often pinned to works of art that comment on political and social scenarios. Her preoccupation is rather centered on the meaning of language. The multi layered contexts of her works not only point at the different tangents that they traverse, but their reception by the viewer also highlight the gamut of popular perception that a work encounters on its completion- the afterlife of the work. The viewers’ response is an integral part of her practice- sometimes evident and at other times concealed.

Shilpa Gupta’s “Threat”, first created in 2009, depicts a stack of bricks simulating a wall. The bricks are cast soap embossed with the word THREAT. The smell is powerfully soapy; it builds as you near the work. The work is performative- the viewer is encouraged to pick and take back a brick, this action depleting the ‘threat’- physically and symbolically. The degenerative and fleeting tactility of a bar of soap makes the viewer think of the emotional response to threat- sudden and strong, yet impermanent and short-lived.


Threat, Bathing Soaps, 2008-09,5.9x2.5x1.6 in | 15x6.2x4 cm each soap, 28.5x90x42 in | 72x229x107 cm stack of 4500 soaps Image Credit:

Threat, Bathing Soaps, 2008-09,5.9×2.5×1.6 in | 15×6.2×4 cm each soap, 28.5x90x42 in | 72x229x107 cm stack of 4500 soaps
Image Credit:

“2652-1”, being shown by the Tel Aviv gallery Dvir at Art Basel, recounts the number of steps the artist took between Al Aksa Mosque, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Gupta assembled small photographs that she took while walking between the three sites, resulting in a thin 42-meter long canvas. The work highlights the physical proximity of these geographical locations juxtaposed with the political, religious and ideological schisms that creates separation between them. The process of globalization over the past decades is traced in varying doses in her works. Narratives of identity, nationhood, borders and boundaries and power relations are implicitly imbedded is the coded discourse of her multivalent works. It is this quality that makes her works relevant to a contemporary international audience of varying sensibilities.


2652-1, 2010, archival print on canvas, 42 meters x 4 cm Image Credit:

2652-1, 2010, archival print on canvas, 42 meters x 4 cm
Image Credit:

The artist has recently featured in a two-part film on contemporary Indian art entitled ‘Let the World in’.

Art Basel in Hong Kong: A Recap

Piya Shivdasani of Saffronart visits Art Basel Hong Kong and reports back on the first edition of this important Asian art fair

Pae White, Supertaster, 2013 two-sided mirror, paper and cable 101 x 211 cm; Image Credit

Pae White, Supertaster, 2013 two-sided mirror, paper and cable 101 x 211 cm; Image Credit

Singapore: By now, you would have read all the facts and figures available on Art Basel’s commercially successful debut in Hong Kong. It was a hit. The fair was so well-planned by its Swiss organisers that even the early ‘black rain’ warning and otherwise gloomy weather did not prevent the  A-list of the international art world, with their skyscraper heels and deep pockets, from attending the vernissage on May 22nd. Not only did they attend, but no sooner had they swiped their black cards at the turnstiles, than Yayoi Kusama’s Flame of Life – Dedicated to Tu-Fu (1988) sold for $2million at Victoria Miro / OTA Fine Arts, reportedly to an Asian collector. A very strong start for Art Basel in Asia.

Fabien Mérelle Pentateuque, 2013 Resin, Fiberglass, Hair, Steel  4.8 (h) x 3 (l) x 2.6 (w) m; Image Credit

Fabien Mérelle
Pentateuque, 2013
Resin, Fiberglass, Hair, Steel
4.8 (h) x 3 (l) x 2.6 (w) m; Image Credit

While the art fair was well attended by international collectors, including Roman Abromovich and Dasha Zukhova, Guy Ullens, Budi Tek, Uli Sigg and others, gallerists were aiming to entice the big Chinese spenders. Speaking to a mix of gallerists from Hong Kong, London and Mumbai, the general feeling was that while the Chinese were out in full-force, they didn’t engage in the quick and energetic buying one sees at Art Basel in Switzerland or in Miami. It is a gentler process in Hong Kong, one which requires patience but if the first edition serves as a crystal ball at all, this space is one to watch.

Seung Yul Oh 'Periphery' (2013) A "forest" of yellow balloon columns; Image Credit

Seung Yul Oh
‘Periphery’ (2013)
A “forest” of yellow balloon columns; Image Credit

For more information on Art Basel Hong Kong, see their official website. Also read the New York Times article on the fair, and another in the Miami Herald.

%d bloggers like this: