Fantastic Four

Left: Dealers Tina Kim and Hyunsook Lee. Right: Venus Lau and artist Heman Chong. (Photos: Du Keke)

“LAST TIME I CAME TO HONG KONG I was sixteen, and that was in 1961,” recalled the Indian artist Nalini Malani last Sunday. “I had just finished high school, so my mother wanted to reward me with a trip, but nowhere too far. She said: Here is a ticket, I have friends there you can stay with.” It took fifty-five years for another auspicious occasion to return. But what an occasion it was. Three hundred of us were about to be seated in the Grand Ballroom of the Conrad Hotel for Asia Society’s gala honoring Malani as well as Cai Guo-Qiang and Yoshitomo Nara—also celebrating the august and essential institution’s sixtieth year. The dinner was a mellow warmup to the Art Basel Hong Kong jamboree, now in its fourth iteration.

The next night just about every gallery in town opened their doors to stragglers who made their way through a tropical downpour. Tracey Emin gave a talk at the Four Seasons for her double show at Lehmann Maupin and White Cube: “Art should make people stand still and be quiet,” she said. Tough luck in this town, though I was, quite incredibly, able to enact Emin’s words while taking in Laurent Grasso’s powerful new film Élysée at Edouard Malingue.

Left: Artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Right: Dealers Ernie Wolfe and Johnson Chang. (Except where noted, all photos: Cristina Sanchez-Kozyreva)

“You may get your clothes ink-painted, be adventurous,” joked Sylvie de Sarthe, standing in her gallery in front of Zhou Wendou’s ADHD, a large spheric ink fountain festooned with frenetic windshield wipers. I escaped the ink but still got wet in the rain. Those who made it to the launch of the satellite fair Art Central, including Delfina Foundation’s Aaron Cezar and SAPAR Contemporary’s Raushan Sapar, roamed the aisles bedewed. At the Pedder Building, Hanart TZ Gallery created a convivial atmosphere with Togolese pop band Gregmel & Africana, there to accompany the ecstatic, eclectic “Kung Fu in Africa: Golden Age Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana (1985–1999).” Joining the Pedder roster this year was Massimo De Carlo, opening a show of paintings by Yan Pei-Ming, after which we set off for the Ping Pong Ginoteria, where Gagosian was hosting a neon pink dinner party for Dan Colen. The night ended (finally) at Kee Club, where Johnnie Walker showed me his two-week-old tattoo by Jake & Dinos Chapman, which he claimed the artists initially designed for his buttocks, “except I was flying back to Japan and couldn’t sit on it.”

The big fair opened to VIPs on Tuesday afternoon, and the general consensus was that organizers had finally nailed the integration of Asian and non-Asian galleries—the team and their new Asia director, Adeline Ooi, delivered. The Encounters section, curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, included works by Tromarama, Richard Maloy, Brooke Andrews, Roberto Chabet, and Pae White, who Glass-Kantor told me purchased some of the medicine hanging from her tapestries in Kowloon. I ran into curator Thomas J. Berghuis talking to collector and museum owner Dr. Oei Hong Djien. Berghuis is working toward opening Museum Macan—Indonesia’s first international museum of modern and contemporary art—backed by the Indonesian businessman and collector Haryanto Adikoesoemo, in early 2017 in Jakarta. They discussed museum ecology and how important it is to recognize Indonesia’s rich cultural scene internationally.

Left: Intelligence Squared CEO Yana Peel with NTU CCA Singapore's Nor Jumaiyah. Right: Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown, Asia Art Archive founder Claire Hsu, and dealer Pearl Lam.

The parties abounded that evening, with a Craig David concert at the Davidoff fiesta poolside at the Grand Hyatt, followed by a Net-A-Porter/Mr Porter fete at the Pawn featuring local jazz band the Carpio Brothers and then Le Baron at Lily & Bloom. By the time we made it to Tolga’s pop-up at the Kee Club, we wondered whether it might not be time to make our escape, until artist Wawi Navarroza and Magnus Renfrew joined us on the dance floor, trailed by the inexhaustible Art Basel director Marc Spiegler.

On Wednesday, MAP Office followed their residency at Asia Art Archives with “An Ocean Archive,” a panel drawing from their pursuit of mapping every island in the world, and at the Art Basel Salon artist Simon Denny and the Serpentine’s Amira Gad and Hans Ulrich Obrist tackled the buzzwords hacking and open source—a tie-in to the concomitant K11 Art Foundation/Serpentine exhibition “Hack Space” at the Cosco Tower, for which Chinese artists were invited to collaborate with Denny. Later we attended a dinner hosted by Royal Salute whiskey in the soon-to-be-renovated Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, where chef Uwe Opocensky prepared food according to Ray Kurzweil’s “immortality diet,” set on specially made white-and-gold porcelain flatware inspired by John Dee, occult philosopher and adviser to Queen Elizabeth. After discussing hidden symbols, stevia, and behind-the-scenes power, I followed Michael Lin to Leo Xu’s dinner at Mak Mak, arriving just in time to witness Xu blow out the candles on his birthday cake and take a selfie with Cui Jie. We then moved on to the Emergency Party at the House of Siren, packed with many of the same artists we’d seen around Hong Kong the past few days, including Cao Fei, Adrian Wong, Shane Aspegren, Lee Kit, Poklong Anading, and featuring performances by boychild, Ming Wong, Alexander Geist, and Bendik Giske.

Left: Art Basel Asia director Adeline Ooi. Right: Art Basel director Marc Spiegler, architect David Adjaye, and Sook founder Mina Park.

The art marathon on Thursday included David Elliott’s excellent show at Mill6 of artists Mariana Hahn and Kwan Sheung Chi, a contemplative video by Angel Vergara at Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Rauschenberg’s Hong Kong debut at Pace, and above all an extraordinary walkthrough of M+’s show dedicated to the collector Uli Sigg. (“That’s not even 5 percent of the collection!” exclaimed M+ curator Pi Li.) “I have seen the works individually, but together they give a history of Chinese contemporary art,” said Silvie Seidlitz. “Go to Para Site!” exclaimed Art Fair Philippines’s Trickie Lopa, who had attended a talk by the domestic worker turned street photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani that morning. “It was so moving.”

That night, Jaipur pink and Jodhpur blue were the dress code at the ICA London’s seventieth-anniversary jubilee at the lavish Harilela Mansion in Kowloon Tong. “You have to mention Nisha Parmanand organized everything,” Alia Al Senussi instructed. “I didn’t want to wait in line, so I figured I would do it myself,” said advisor John Wolf, looking puzzled at the piece of fabric he had picked up at the congested Turban Station, where partiers were encouraged to dress in turbans. (Hamza Serafi fixed it for him.) For the sake of this column I eventually crossed the Victoria Harbour for Emmanuel Perrotin’s Welcome to Saint-Tropez soirée in Repulse Bay at The Ocean, where I was greeted by young boys and girls in shorts mimicking volleyball, a cheerful Perrotin, and a crowd that was enjoying themselves a little too much, including Tobias Berger, Izumi Kato, and Petch Osathanugrah. I tried to enjoy myself just enough so that I could still be fresh for the next day’s Artforum panel: “Museums: Public, Private and the Space in Between,” which, thankfully, was worth my restraint the night prior. The enviable lineup included artist Heman Chong, Hanart TZ’s Johnson Chang, M+’s Pi Li, UCCA director Philip Tinari, and Spring Workshop founder Mimi Brown, moderated by the magazine’s Charles Guarino, as they navigated the intrigue of censorship, money, and real estate. Hong Kong has solidly consolidated fairs and private dealings. Now it’s time for the art centers and museums—Tai Kwun and M+, no pressure!

Left: Dealers Ashley Rawlings and Mary Sabbatino with artist Nalini Malani. Right: Dealer Leo Xu.

Left: K11 founder Adrian Cheng and dealer Meg Maggio. Right: Johnnie Walker's Jake & Dinos Chapman tattoo.

Left: Collectors Uli Sigg and Rita Sigg, M+ curator Pi Li, and Yang Yang. Right: Lorena Vergani and dealer Emmanuel Perrotin.

Left: Artists Wu Tsang and boychild. Right: Artist Simon Denny with the Serpentine's Amira Gad and Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Left: Spring Workshop curator Christina Li and artist Lee Kit. Right: Artist Tracy Emin.

Left: Collector Dr. Oei Hong Djien and Museum Macan director Thomas J. Berghuis. Right: MAXXI artistic director Hou Hanru and curator David Elliott.

Left: ICA London director Gregor Muir, collector Alia Al Senussi, and Delfina Foundation director Aaron Cezar. Right: Tate adjunct curator Inti Guerrero and Para Site director Cosmin Costinas.

Left: Dealer Edouard Malingue, curator Alexie Glass-Kantor, and artist Laurent Grasso. Right: Artist Zhou Wendou at De Sarthe Gallery.

Left: M+ curator Yung Ma and dealer Billy Tang. Right: Financial Times's Jan Dalley and Royal Academy of Arts's Tim Marlow.

Left: UCCA director Philip Tinari (left). Right: Rebecca Taylor and Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak. (Photos: Du Keke)

Left: Dealers Ben Brown and Simon Lee. Right: Artist Yan Pei-Ming.

Left: Restaurateurs and art patrons Alan Lo and Yenn Wong. Right: Collector Michael Xufu Huang with artists Cao Fei and Ming Wong and advisor Amelia Abdullahsani.

Left: Royal Salute Vadim Grigorian, artist Michael Lin, and Liang Yi director museum Lynn Fung. Right: Dealers David Maupin and Rachel Lehmann.

Left: Craig David. Right: Collector Petch Osathanugrah and consultant Pablo Espinel Rudolf.

Left: Artist Dan Colen and dealer Nick Simunovic. Right: MAP Office.

Left: Curator Catherine David and critic Lu Mingjun. Right: Asia Art Archives chair Jane DeBevoise and artist Zhou Tao. (Photos: Du Keke)

Left: Artist Izumi Kato with Tobias Berger, head of the arts at Tai Kwun, and curator Hitomi Hasegawa. Right: Aaron Harilela and art consultant Sandra Walters.

Left: Artists Joel Morrison and Delia Pérez-Salinas Tijerina. Right: Chef Farah Quinn and Pangaea creative director Sabrina Van Cleef Ault.

Left: Artists Shane Aspegren and Adrian Wong. Right: CCA Singapore's Ute Meta Bauer and Marc Gloede with dealer Gerd Harry Lybke.

Left: Dealer Hamza Serafi and advisor John Wolf. Right: William Zhao and Ping Pong's Hugh Zimmern.

Left: Collector Marcel Crespo and dealer George Armaos. Right: Artist Chia-En Jao and Tsang Kin Wah with Hou Hanru. (Photo: Du Keke)

Left: Aaron Cezar with dealers Raushan Sapar and Aurelio Aguilo. Right: Artist Wong Ping.

Left: Artist Yan Xing. Right: Artist Peng Yu and curator Thomas J. Berghuis. (Photos: Du Keke)

Left: Curator Alexie Glass-Kantor and artist Candida Höfer. Right: Erica Min and Zoe Chun of Kukje Gallery. (Photos: Du Keke)