Art Month is four weeks of hedonistic pleasure, offering not only a chance to buy art — but also an opportunity to get a feel for what’s happening in the world today.
To avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer number of fairs, exhibitions, and parties, you need to plan, plan, plan.
We spoke with Catherine Asquith, art advisor and broker, and Alison Pickett, director of Alison Pickett Corporate Art and Sculpture Consultants, for expert advice.
Check the schedules and programmes in advance (that means now).
I always enjoy attending the opening reception at Duddell’s, which precedes the vernissages of the art fairs, and is a conclave of arts professionals, curators and collectors. This year’s will feature works by Li Shurui and Wang Guangle, on loan from the collection of John Dodelande,” Asquith says. The Encounters section at Art Basel, curated by Australian Alexie Glass-Kantor, is an experience.”
Asquith also recommends visiting the M+ Museum in Kowloon for a guided tour of the exhibition Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint,” and Liang Yi Museum in Sheung Wan to view Chrysanthemum and Dragon: The Art of Ornamentation in Japan and China in the 17th to 19th Century.”
Other opening receptions and artists of note, according to Asquith, includes HOCA Foundation’s showcase of new works by American artist KAWS. I’m also hoping to see some good-quality works by Günther Förg, whose market is rapidly expanding; Lucio Fontana, whose oeuvre is receiving considerable attention, with a survey show at the Met in New York and then the Guggenheim Bilbao; Callum Innes, whose art always stops me in my tracks; Sean Scully, for the surface quality of his paintings; and Neo Rauch for his luscious palette and figurative compositions,” she says.
Don’t just stick to the main events.
Hong Kong prides itself on the extensive series of programs, events, and lectures available to the public during Art Month. While galleries are open year-round, March is no doubt one of the most — if not the most — important months of the year for the Hong Kong art scene, and Pickett reminds us to make the most of it.
Absolutely visit the local galleries, investigate the local art scene, take guided tours.”
Explore the satellite exhibitions, and don’t limit yourself to the main show,” Pickett says. Absolutely visit the local galleries, investigate the local art scene, take guided tours, visit artist studios, and attend the Art Gallery Night hosted by the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association. Take advantage of the access to the diversity and wealth of expertise by attending as many of the events that are relevant to you. And then also attend those that may not be of interest, but could also inform and educate you, shape a future direction you hadn’t yet thought of exploring.”
And once you arrive: some advice on collecting
There will be plenty of excellent work to see, but try not to get carried away.
On collecting, Pickett says, Think about what inspires you. What motivates you? What do you want to say about yourself through your art collection? What is your disposable spending power? Are you looking to invest, or to express your personal taste? Are you prepared to fall in love? More than just once?”
On collecting art:
Think about what inspires you. What motivates you? What do you want to say about yourself through your art collection?”
Whatever your motivations behind purchasing a piece, educate yourself. Form your own opinions. Do extensive research, and don’t hesitate to ask questions from professionals such as the gallery owners, dealers, consultants, agents, other collectors, curators, auction houses, and, absolutely not least, the artists themselves,” Pickett says. Consider the piece you are interested in, and ask yourself why it speaks to you. Then look at the body of work by that artist. Is the piece you like consistent with the content, execution and quality of previous works? Is the price consistent with past sales?”
Allow three full days for the fairs.
You will need at least two days for Art Basel plus the vernissage. Aim to spend a minimum of five days in Hong Kong, to allow time to visit ‘off-site’ events and venues,” advises Asquith.
Plan your visit by checking the fair websites and the floor plans. Focus on what you most want to see, and download the fair apps. Do sign up for a guided tour, especially if you’ve not visited the show before, as it will provide an insightful overview. During the tour, take visual notes — thank goodness for iPhones! — if you want to return to those booths.”
These are huge spaces, and you don’t want to start complaining about your Jimmy Choos,” Asquith says. Wear comfortable clothing, as no one really dresses up — except maybe for the vernissage. Also, bring an extra layer of clothing for the changeable Hong Kong weather.”
Remember to have lunch; you need energy to enjoy these visually stimulating environs. There are good-quality cafes scattered throughout both fairs, and if you are part of a VIP program, you can utilise the lounges numerous times during the day to rest and refresh. To enhance the educational element to your visit, try to attend one of the Conversations sessions at Art Basel — these provide some fascinating perspectives on the artists and art on display.
Inspirational rest and recuperation
In between all the events, consider checking out Sevva, which unveils its newly refurbished space this month. The lounge features exuberant new textiles designed by tastemaker Gert Voorjans for heritage Thai silk house Jim Thompson. Sevva’s founder, the style icon, visionary, and avid art collector Bonnae Gokson, believes that art stimulates the senses and has the power to inspire, motivate, and educate. I enjoy seeing all the freedom of expression during Art Month, and I’m looking forward to being surprised by the art installations.”
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