Asia Society’s Art Gala Draws Everybody Who’s Anybody

Guests confirm that Hong Kong is now a mandatory art world destination.

Bharti Kher, Liu Guosong, Takashi Murakami, Zhang Xiaogang. Photo: Elvis Ho.

Bharti Kher, Liu Guosong, Takashi Murakami, Zhang Xiaogang.
Photo: Elvis Ho.

The Asia Society’s second annual Art Gala was a mandatory stop for much of the art tribe descending on Hong Kong this week. The event’s guest list read like an international Who’s Who of art world personalities.

Festivities began with a cocktail party in the organization’s vast building surrounded by a lush jungle. Guests were also treated to a private viewing of the first major solo exhibition in Hong Kong of Xu Bing‘s work (currently on display at the Asia Society through August 31). They later headed to a dinner and silent auction in the nearby Conrad hotel.

At the center of the event were the artists being honored: Bharti Kher, Liu Guosong, Takashi Murakami, and Zhang Xiaogang. A longtime fan of Hong Kong, Murakami said, “[The city] is very open and generous. It’s a mix of cultures. It’s a very flat feeling, which is nice.”

Mrs Deddy Kusama, Melissa Chiu, Deddy Kusama-asia-society-HK-may2014RESIZED-CROPPEDTWICE

From left: Mrs. Deddy Kusama, Asia Society director Dr. Melissa Chiu, Deddy Kusama.
Photo: Elvis Ho.

Co-host Dr. Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum in New York and senior vice president for global arts and cultural programs at the Asia Society, described the gala as the first major event in the run-up to Art Basel in Hong Kong, which begins on Thursday. “It really does draw in artists, collectors, and museum professionals to appreciate the contributions of the honorees,” she said. “It’s a great mix of local and international visitors.”

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler (left).
Photo: Elvis Ho.

Guests included Art Basel director Marc Spiegler, Christie’s Asia managing director Rebecca Wei, and UBS Art Collection curator Stephen McCoubrey. Other guests: Saudi collector and virtual museum creator Basma Al Sulaiman, Indonesian collector Deddy Kusama, and New York collectors Bharat and Swati Bhise, and artists Mariko Mori, Michael Joo, Li Songsong, Song Dong, and Jean-Michel Othoniel.

Maggie Tsai, Alexandra Prasetio, Gina Chu, Mitch and Joleen Julis (in from Los Angeles), and Naim June Paik’s nephew, Ken Hakutawere also in the crowd. The gallerists contingent included Jane Lombard, Lisa Carlson, Marcia Levine, and Pace founder Arne Glimcher.

All of them were treated to neon-colored cocktails inspired by traffic lights, and some clustered around a special auction lot featuring a woman in flowing white garb perched on a pedestal. Dressed in a futuristic outfit designed by artist Zhang Huan, the woman’s attire was a part of the ART CAPSUL project curated by Stacey Engman.

Later, 400 people were seated for dinner, among them gallerists Emmanuel Perrotin, Rachel Lehmann, Jeffrey Poe, and Pascal de Sarthe.

Takashi Murakami (center).

Honoree Takashi Murakami (center).
Photo: Elvis Ho.

The general consensus among the crowd was that the city is coming into its own as an art hub. “Hong Kong’s very different now,” said Glimcher, who is opening a space here in response to growing interest. “There’s a greater awareness of contemporary art. The energy here is extraordinary.”

New York dealer Sundaram Tagore, who also has a local gallery, was also in the mix. He added, “It’s a bit like the Venice Biennale. Everyone comes here from all over the world. People that you met in Copenhagen, New York, and New Delhi, you now end up meeting them all in Hong Kong.”

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