Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015 is in full swing and the feedback about the fair is positive, very positive. It doesn’t just look good (Tour Top 10 Booths at Art Basel in Hong Kong) but collectors are now buying and buying big.
Right from the get go, galleries reported splashy sales: David Zwirner Gallery sold “Dead Monkey – Sex, Money and Drugs” (2000) by Chris Ofili for US$2 million immediately after the fair kicked off at 6pm on Friday March 13. The large work on canvas, that incorporates elephant dung, is one of the artist’s largest to date. The gallery also sold two Neo Rauch paintings, “Marina” (2014), for $1 million to a collector from Shanghai during the last minutes of opening day, and “Die Fremde” (2015), for $1 million to a client from mainland China. Zwirner also sold two Yayoi Kusama infinity net paintings, each for above $300,000.
Hauser & Wirth sold eight paintings by Zhang Enli (prices ranged from US$250,000-350,000), four by Jakub Julian Ziolkowski ($30,000-165,000), and four by Rita Ackermann ($75,000 each) all within the first two hours of the fair.
Hong Kong and Beijing-based De Sarthe Gallery had a beautiful booth dedicated to modern Chinese masters who had lived in France, including Zao Wou-ki, Chu Teh-Chun, and T’ang Haywen. The first three hours of the fair saw five of the paintings snapped up for undisclosed amounts.
Deals made so efficiently suggest a lot of pre-sale efforts, but dealers say the fair itself, the space, the moment, remains the “real impetus” for sales.
“The collector of the Chris Ofili is relatively new to the gallery and the sale only really happened because they were was able to come to the fair to see the work,” said David Zwirner senior partner Angela Choon. “The new dates of the fair are a good thing as a lot more people are free to come.”
Art Basel in Hong Kong is in its third year and it is the first time that it is being held in March, previously it was held in May. Galleries reported a much wider diversity of clients attending the fair and attribute it to the new calendar. The fair has also expanded greatly its VIP outreach program to collectors in the region.
Other important sales include: ShanghART Gallery sold “Battered Earth” (1988) by Sean Scully for $850,000 and “Infinity Column” (2014) by Ouyang Chun for RMB 350,000; George Condo’s “Smiling Figure on Purple and Gold” (2014) sold for $550,000 to an Asian collector at Skarstedt Gallery’s booth; while Condo’s “Contemplation” (2014) sold for $550,000 at Sprüth Magers. Skarstedt also sold David Salle’s “Post Card” (2014) for $250,000 to a European collector and Sprüth Magers delivered a Sterling Ruby “BC (5287)” (2014) for $195,000 as well as a Barbara Kruger, “Untitled (It’s New, It’s You)” (2014), for $100,000. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with roots in Paris, Pantin and Salzburg, sold an important work by Anselm Kiefer for €750,000 ($792,297) and a Georg Baselitz for €520,000 ($549,395).
Sean Kelly Gallery reported the sale of two Sun Xun paintings, “The Time Vivarium – 23” (2014) for $145,000, and “The Time Vivarium 3” (2014) for $135,000; the gallery also sold three Hugo McCloud works, including “changeless” (2015) for $22,000, “slow run in our dreams (2015) for $22,000, and “dissolving time 1” (2015) for $18,000.
Lehmann Maupin followed suit on the day of strong sales, selling a Tracy Emin neon work (price ranging from $74,350-67,250), Tony Oursler‘s “Untitled” (2015) LCD screen ($70,000-90,000), and Alex Prager‘s “Hollywood & Vine” (2014) archival print ($35,000-45,000), while White Cube sold Damien Hirst‘s “Shanghai” for £800,000.
Additionally, Galerie Gmurzynska sold a horse sculpture by Fernando Botero for $850,000, works by Allan Jones and Joan Miró ranging from $200,000-$500,000 and a 1940’s Wilfredo Lam work for $2 million as well as a 1960’s Picasso work for $6 million remain on hold at the gallery.
There is a sense that international dealers are really starting to understand the region’s market. “Galleries are now taking the audience here very seriously. Galleries know that the market is something to be reckoned with,” says Adeline Ooi, the new Hong Kong director of Art Basel. “There is also something in the DNA of the region’s collectors that make them digest information very fast. They do their research diligently and are quick to get to know artists.”
David Zwirner Gallery’s Julia Joern said after visiting Hong Kong five years in a row, something finally “clicked” for their team and they now feel much more confident catering to the region’s tastes: “It was really about listening and learning from the community about what is influential here, about what works.”
In general works by contemporary Chinese artists sold fast. Beijing-based Long March Space sold Zhan Wang’s bronze sculpture “Silhouette” (2010) for RMB 2.5 million ($399,536) as well as Xu Zhen’s “Under Heaven – 1807NU0138” (2013) for RMB 1.1 Million ($175,796) in the first two days. “Cloud Layer” (2014), an acrylic painting by Yu Hong also sold for US$207,000 — the artist will have a solo show at the Suzhou Museum starting April 25.
Up and coming local artists made an impression this year. Their works are affordable with great potential for market growth. Hong Kong-based João Vasco Paiva participated in the Encounters section with his 341 x 341 x 559 cm sculpture “Mausoleum,” a mountain of stone resin casted styrofoam boxes with an HK$1 million ($141,633) price tag.
A small version of these cast styrofoam boxes by the same artist sold for HK$75,000 ($9,656) at Edouard Malingue Gallery’s booth where it was presented side-by-side works by Laurent Grasso, such as “Cabinet” which sold on the first day of the fair to a Hong Kong-based collector for €45,000 ($47,346).
Two of the three people on the shortlist for the BMW Art Journey (a new prize for emerging artists at the fair) are from Hong Kong: sound and new media artist Samson Young, as well as photo-based artist Trevor Yeung. Arguably the youngest and least established of the three, Trevor Yeung is presented in a single-artist show at the Blindspot Gallery booth where his works are priced at HK$38,000-80,000 ($4,892-10,300). He had nearly sold out by day three of the fair.
Art Basel in Hong Kong ends on March 17 and some galleries have chosen not to disclose their sales results yet while others say they are still in discussion with multiple clients for their most valuable pieces.
Dominique Lévy Gallery’s director Lock Kresler said the fair was a bit of a slow burner for them although they had already sold a few works by Kazuo Shiraga, Zao Wou-Ki, and Yayoi Kusama (prices undisclosed). But their standout work is Pierre Soulages’ “Peinture” (1957) for which they have had several serious enquiries by Asian and Australian collectors. (See also: The Big TEFAF 2015 Sales Report –We Have The Numbers On What Sold).
Other notable transactions included Grotto Fine Art’s sale of Kevin Fung Lik-yan’s “Under the mountain IV” (2015) for HK$120,000 ($15,454) and Leo Xu Projects’ sale of Li Qing’s “Image of Mutual Undoing and Unity–Confession” (2015) for RMB 250,000 ($39,896). Mizuma gallery, represented in Tokyo, Singapore and Beijing, also sold a Makota Aida entitled “Louis Vitton” (2007) for $150,000 and a Hisashi Tenmyouya, “Japanese Spirit #16” (2015) for $100,000. The Taka Ishii Gallery with berths in Tokyo and Paris, sold a Takashi Ishida “Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue)” (2001) for HK $542,000 ($69,801).
For more coverage of Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015 see Tour Top 10 Booths at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015.
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