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Art Basel Hong Kong Director says fair outperformed other years in caliber, diversity, and integration with city

March 31, 2024 - 19:04 By Park Ga-young
Art Basel Hong Kong Director Angelle Siyang-Le (Art Basel Hong Kong)

HONG KONG - Angelle Siyang-Le, the Director of Art Basel Hong Kong, marking her second year in the position, witnessed a remarkable return to full-scale operations post-pandemic this year.

Art Basel Hong Kong, which ran from Thursday to Saturday, said it welcomed over 75,000 visitors from around the world across its VIP and public days, with participating galleries reaching 242, up from last year's 177.

Although this falls short of the 2023 attendance of 86,000, the director of Art Basel Hong Kong remarked that the caliber, diversity and integration with the city surpassed that of any previous edition.

“What everybody is telling me is the quality of the presentations throughout the fair is consistently high, which is something that we are so grateful for because our galleries actually work very hard. And it also is a testament to how much you know the galleries and how much the artists see Hong Kong as a cultural hub,” Siyang-Le told The Korea Herald on Wednesday.

“At the same time, the audience is also getting more and more sophisticated year on year. So this is what we see the most kind of vivid and obvious from the fair here,” she added.

Another significant difference is Art Basel Hong Kong has expanded its activities city-wide in collaboration with other cultural organizations.

Art Basel Hong Kong coincided with the city’s Art Week and collaborated with cultural landmarks like M+, a museum of contemporary visual culture that opened in November 2021, offering Yang Fudong's new film "Sparrow on the Sea" (2024) from 22 March until 9 June 9, 2024 on the M+ museum's facade.

Art Basel Hong Kong collaborated with Tai Kwun, a historic site with buildings dating back to the late 19th century, for Tai Kwun’s annual event Artists' Night.

These initiatives are part of Art Basel Hong Kong’s efforts to engage with the general public, which the director said will “absolutely continue” in the future.

Works by the late Park Seo-bo are on display at Johyun Gallery's booth at Art Basel Hong Kong at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. (Park Ga-young/The Korea Herald)

The M+ museum attracted more than 2 million visitors in the first full year in 2022 despite the stringent zero-Covid policy.

“This shows the general public is very much aware of art and culture, especially modern and contemporary art,” she noted.

In a similar vein, the launch of Frieze Seoul in September 2022 also shows heightened interest from not only South Korea but also the world and presents an opportunity for Korean artists, she said.

“Asia is still the fastest growing art market in the world. There is a lot of potential in Asia and there's still a lot to learn about Asia, especially by people outside of Asia. (Launch of Frieze Seoul) actually a positive signal that the rest of the world is now willing to learn about the different parts of Asia and aware of the diversity of Asia," she added.

“I am glad to see that Korean artists are being highlighted more because I do believe that the pioneer Korean artists are the leading figures for Asia's contemporary art history. So I am very happy to see that the whole scene in Seoul is so vibrant, attracting more attention from the rest of the world to Asia," she commented on Frieze Seoul.

Meanwhile, Art Basel Hong Kong 2024 said it concluded Saturday with significant sales across various galleries. According to data compiled by Art Basel Hong Kong with sales reported voluntarily by galleries, Yang Hae-gue's "Sonic Cosmic Rope - Gold Dodecagon Straight Weave (2022)" represented by Seoul-based Kukje Gallery was sold for a price in the range of 70,000 euros to 84,000 euros (($75,000-$91,000) . Yang's work was presented as part of the Encounters section, which showcased large-scale installations.

Kukje Gallery also reported the list of 29 more transactions including the late Park Seo-Bo's Ecriture No. 040424, 2004, which was sold with a price tag between $540,000 and $648,000.