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Art Basel Hong Kong 2022 takes the hybrid route for the second consecutive year; Ellen Pau’s Shape of Light video installation sends out a message of healing

Artist Ellen Pau’s Shape of Light video installation, projected onto Hong Kong’s M+ Museum, sends out a message of healing during the pandemic

Artist Ellen Pau’s Shape of Light video installation, projected onto Hong Kong’s M+ Museum, sends out a message of healing during the pandemic

The 2022 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, which has taken a hybrid route for the second year in a row, seeks to engage art enthusiasts through both online and onsite showcases. 

During a guided digital tour prior to the event opening to the public at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), Adeline Ooi, director Asia, Art Basel, states that “the aisles and walking areas have gotten more spacious and we are all masked, in line with COVID-19 protocols.” 

This year’s edition features 130 galleries from 28 countries, an uptick from 104 in 2021. There are 15 first-time exhibitors and 75 galleries are participating with satellite booths. The concept of a satellite booth was introduced in 2021 to help galleries that are unable to participate onsite. Measuring 25 square metres, it displays artworks sent by the participating galleries. 

The Art Basel showcase is divided into three sections — Galleries, Insights and Discoveries. Galleries constitute the main section and have a line-up of 96 art galleries exhibiting paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photography, video and digital works.

Ooi takes our attention to Blind Spot Gallery’s display of Hong Kong artist Angela Su’s largescale artwork, Juliette. Hand embroidering human hair, Su reconstructs the female body, to draw attention to the female body as a politicised and gendered vessel. Ooi notes, “To stand in person and view this work is an experience.”

For those who are unable to view in person, the Art Basel website (artbasel.com/hong-kong) offers digital viewing rooms. The Art Basel Live section facilitates virtual walkthroughs, social media broadcasts, conversations with artists and lectures. 

Staff talk to overseas visitors by phone at Art Basel in Hong Kong
| Photo Credit: Tyrone Siu/REUTERS

The Discoveries section shines the spotlight on solo shows by emerging artists. This year, Discoveries will feature 18 galleries. Ooi mentions that several artists and galleries have grown in the last 10 years since the Discovery section was introduced and have gone on to participate in the main Galleries showcase.

The Insights section features 16 galleries and curated presentations of works by artists from Asia and the Asia-Pacific regions. 

On display at the HKCEC are also large installations that are drawing the attention of visitors who have trickled in during the onsite previews. Among them is Chinese artist Ming Fai’s Garden of Life installation that has gigantic cherries, peaches, seashells and foliage representing wealth, prosperity, longevity and happiness. 

Alongside contemporary art, Art Basel makes room for historical artworks. Ooi points out American artist Jackson Pollock’s drip technique paintings that are on view. Pollock is considered one of the forces behind the abstract expressionist movement.

In Hong Kong City, artist Ellan Pau’s video work The Shape of Light, projected on the M+ museum facade, highlights the message of healing in the context of the pandemic. The Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism is expressed through sign language. The work will be presented on the M+ Facade till June 19, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Ellen Pau will perform live on May 27, and conduct a talk and screening on May 28. 

(Art Basel Hong Kong takes place from May 27 to 29; virtual tours and online viewing rooms available on artbasel.com/hong-kong and Art Basel app)

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