Art Basel Hong Kong’s 2021 Fair Will Be Less Than Half the Size of Its Previous In-Person Edition, and Filled With ‘Ghost Booths’

Only around 30 dealers from outside the region will participate in this year's event.

Art Basel Hong Kong organizers are looking forward to having the fair look more like this in 2021. But there are other changes as well. Photo by Theodore Kaye/Getty Images.
Art Basel Hong Kong organizers are looking forward to having the fair look more like this in 2021. But there are other changes as well. Photo by Theodore Kaye/Getty Images.

For the first time in more than two years, Art Basel will stage an in-person Hong Kong art fair this May, hosting just over 100 galleries from 23 countries, including international stalwarts such as Gagosian, Pace, and Hauser & Wirth.

But this year’s event will be a much more regional affair, taking place in a dramatically changed world since Art Basel’s previous live edition, held in the city in 2019.

More than 70 of the 2021 attendees already have spaces in Asia, including more than 30 that run galleries in Hong Kong. By comparison, only 32 dealers will come from outside East Asia, and only two of those—David Kordansky in Los Angeles and the High Art gallery in Paris—will send their own staff to the event. The rest will present satellite “ghost booths” to be staffed by Art Basel trainees. (Gallery staff will be accessible remotely for the duration of the fair’s opening hours.)

Interestingly, more than 30 other galleries from nearby cities, such as Take Ninagawa in Tokyo, TKG in Taipei, and CLC Gallery Venture in Beijing, will also skip the trip in favor of ghost booths.

The total number of galleries in this year’s event has also been radically reduced. In 2019, Art Basel Hong Kong presented 242 dealers from 36 countries. This year, 104 will partake—a 57 percent drop in the total number of exhibitors.

Like the participating galleries, collectors attending the event are likely to be far less international than in years’ past. The Hong Kong government currently requires travelers from almost every country to quarantine in a hotel (on their own dime) for a full 21 days upon arrival.

This is also the first edition of the fair to be held under Hong Kong’s national security law, which bans activities related to secession, terrorism, subversion of the state, and collusion with foreign influences. The law has already thrown a wrench into the gears of the M+ museum, which recently stated it would not show a political photograph by Ai Weiwei in its inaugural exhibition.

Among the big-name international galleries that exhibited in 2019 but will skip this year’s edition are Thomas Dane in London; Marian Goodman in New York; Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and Cape Town; and Kerlin Gallery in Dublin.

Even Simon Lee, who has a space in Hong Kong in addition to his London location and who partook in the 2019 edition, is not participating this year.

Yet fair organizers seem to be leaning into their situation, highlighting booths that foreground artists from the region. Among the highlights are a series of paintings by Rirkrit Tiravanija inspired by Philip Guston at Gladstone Gallery’s booth, a Danh Vō presentation at Take Ninagawa, and works by Lee Bul at PKM Gallery. Meanwhile, the Insights section of the fair will present 10 galleries, all from East Asia, that will show works by artists from the region.

Another bright spot is a handful of new participants this year, including Anat Ebgi from Los Angeles and Karma from New York.

Organizers will also host “Art Basel Live: Hong Kong,” which will include an online viewing room, events, live broadcasts, and virtual walkthroughs.

“It has been truly inspiring to witness the ways in which the art world has been adapting to the current circumstances,” Adeline Ooi, the Asia director of Art Basel, said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to our participating galleries for their commitment to our show here in Hong Kong this year.”

See a full list of the exhibitors below.

Main section

10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
47 Canal, New York
Alisan Fine Arts, Hong Kong
Antenna Space, Shanghai
Arario Gallery, Shanghai, Cheonan, Seoul
Alfonso Artiaco, Naples
Balice Hertling, Paris
Beijing Commune, Beijing
Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong
Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong, London
Cardi Gallery Milan, London
Carlos/Ishikawa, London
Ceysson & Bénétière, Paris, Saint-Etienne, Koerich, New York
Yumiko Chiba Associates, Tokyo
Clearing, Brussels, New York
Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles
Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins, Havana
Pilar Corrias, London
Massimo De Carlo, Hong Kong, Milan, Paris, London
de Sarthe, Hong Kong
Dirimart, Istanbul
Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong
Empty Gallery, Hong Kong
Gallery Exit, Hong Kong
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
Gagosian, Hong Kong, Paris, New York, etc.
Gajah Gallery, Yogyakarta, Singapore
François Ghebaly, Los Angeles
Gladstone Gallery, New York, Brussels
Gray, Chicago, New York
Grotto Fine, Art Hong Kong
Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong, Gstaad, Saint Moritz, etc.
Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, Shenzhen
Ink Studio, Beijing, Seattle
Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, Hong Kong
Kaikai Kiki Gallery, Tokyo
Karma, New York
Tina Keng Gallery, Taipei, Beijing
David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Kukje Gallery, Busan, Seoul
Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Hong Kong
Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, New York
Lévy Gorvy, Paris, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, New York
Liang Gallery, Taipei
Lin & Lin Gallery, Taipei, Beijing
Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, Shanghai
Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M., Bologna, Milan
Mayoral, Paris, Barcelona
Mazzoleni, Turin, London
Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing, Lucerne
Kamel Mennour, Paris, London
Meyer Riegger, Berlin, Karlsruhe
Mind Set Art Center, Taipei
Nanzuka, Tokyo
Taro Nasu, Tokyo
neugerriemschneider, Berlin
Anna Ning Fine Art, Hong Kong
Galleria Franco Noero, Turin
One and J. Gallery, Seoul
Ora-Ora, Hong Kong
Ota Fine Arts, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo
P.P.O.W., New York
Pace Gallery Hong Kong, Seoul, Geneva, London, etc.
Perrotin Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo, etc.
Pi Artworks, Istanbul, London
PKM Gallery, Seoul
Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City
Almine Rech, Brussels, Shanghai, Paris, London, New York
ROH Projects, Jakarta
Rossi & Rossi, Hong Kong, London
Esther Schipper, Berlin
Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf
Silverlens, Manila
Soka Art, Beijing, Tainan, Taipei
STPI, Singapore
Take Ninagawa, Tokyo
Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok
TKG, Taipei
Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, Beijing, Tokyo
Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing, Guangzhou
White Cube, Hong Kong, London
Yavuz Gallery, Singapore, Sydney
David Zwirner, Paris, Hong Kong, London, New York

Insights section

Asia Art Center, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei
Gallery Baton, Seoul
Flowers Gallery, London, Hong Kong
Johyun Gallery, Busan, Seoul
Gallery Kogure, Tokyo
Leo Gallery, Shanghai
Nukaga Gallery, Tokyo, Osaka, London
Shibunkaku, Kyoto
Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Antwerp, Hong Kong
Wooson, Daegu

Discoveries section

Bangkok City City Gallery, Bangkok
Capsule Shanghai, Shanghai
CLC Gallery Venture, Beijing
Don Gallery, Shanghai
Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles
High Art, Paris
P21, Seoul
Vanguard Gallery, Shanghai


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