Cover The Chosen Ones (2021) by Oscar Chan Yik Long (Image: Gallery Exit and the artist)

Hong Kong’s largest art fair returns this year with a strong line-up of local artists who explore hot topics—from boyband Mirror to the pandemic

Don’t miss the chance to get your hands on some of the most beautiful paintings and stunning installations at Art Basel, which takes place until May 29. We’ve rounded up nine local galleries and museums whose artists push the boundaries with their work, which includes projecting artworks onto moving trams and M+’s big screen.

1. Empty Gallery

Taiwanese American filmmaker and artist James T Hong is known for philosophical and speculative works that explore controversial race and class issues, instead of proposing an indictment of historical atrocities. For his video piece, Three Arguments about the Opium War, which is shown at Art Basel, Hong takes the meditative approach to understanding the devasting effects of opium addiction. The film juxtaposes images of the historical sites of the Opium Wars with contemporary footage of the South China sea and Hong Kong’s skyline, while the narration criticises both the British and Chinese sides of the conflict, leaving viewers in a state of moral ambiguity.

2. Hanart TZ Gallery

Presenting ten contemporary artists in a group exhibition, Hanart TZ Gallery traces the developments of the modern academy and contemporary art history. As well as established names, such as Liu Guosong, who is considered to be the father of Chinese modern ink, and his Fifth Moon Group paintings, two multimedia artists, GayBird and Howie Tsui, will have their debut. GayBird, who is also a music director, composer and producer and was  commissioned by M+ to create a programme to celebrate the space’s November opening, will present the public installation EN5, which combines technology, visuals and installation art.

3. Gallery Exit

This Hong Kong subject- or artist-focused gallery will present 21 artists across artistic disciplines. Oscar Chan Yik-long, whose work deals with horror, myths and eerie subjects using ink murals and drawings, has created several new pieces including The Chosen Ones, which portrays Hong Kong boy band Mirror standing among ghosts and beasts. Chow Chun-fai’s Rice with Three Choices of Sides at Hamilton captures nightlife in poorer neighbourhoods. Daphné Mandel’s Cabinet of Memories features cabinets from abandoned villages and houses full of personal objects left behind by the former inhabitants. Stephen Wong Chun-hei captures the scenic Plover Cove Reservoir through acrylic landscapes.

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4. Blindspot Gallery

This gallery presents 13 artists at Art Basel, including Trevor Yeung who is known for working with plants in his art, and Angela Su, whose installation Arise is featured at this year’s Venice Biennale. Su, known for her hair embroidery work, will showcase her 2019 work Juliette, in which the skin and internal organs of the female body are metamorphosised into a network of mechanical hardware and alien growth. Yeung will present his newest edition of his Night Mushroom Colon series, which combines electrical converters and night lights to form a cluster of luminescent mushrooms.

Read more: 10 Asian Artists to Spot at the Venice Biennale 2022

5. Galerie du Monde

This gallery, which mainly focuses on modern and contemporary works by internationally established Chinese artists, has a list of nine artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, US and Europe this year. This includes US artist Adia Millett, who works with abstract compositions; Chinese Canadian artist Crystal Liu, who constructs landscapes as metaphors for the intangible forces that drive human beings; and Tsang Kin-wah, whose profane writings in floral patterns create wallpaper that covers the ceilings, floors and walls of exhibition spaces and provides a commentary on identity politics and cultural conflicts.

6. Para Site

Local ceramic artist Benny To Kai-on is deeply influenced by anime and manga. Many of his works from his Dimensional Civilisation Archeology Project 2.0 take reference from the characters and action figures from anime, video games, ancient mythology and religions, which are reimagined as archaeological artefacts. For instance, a newly commissioned work for the project, which is an eight-bit video game, invites visitors to carry out virtual archaeological excavations and find physical counterparts in the exhibition.

7. Ellen Pau x M+

The Shape of Light is the first major co-commission project by Art Basel and M+. Presented in conjunction with the fair on the M+ façade, this moving image is created by Ellen Pau, co-founder of Videotage and founding artistic director of the Microwave International New Media Arts Festival. Pau blends live-action performance and sci-fi sequences in the animation in order to explore the possibilities of the immaterial and the material. It also features The Heart Sutra, which is a popular scripture in Buddhism; Pau expands this into the idea of connecting the sutra and the energies of Hong Kong.

8. a.m. space

Hong Kong artist Jacky Tao Hoi-chuen presents his latest works in his solo exhibition Fade, which is concerned with the present and the detachment of modern life. By using windows, doors, televisions and draperies as materials for constructing complex spaces with a surreal touch, he explores the states of the suspended and alienated life since the start of the pandemic. Tao specialises in Gongbi painting, a realist technique within the discipline of Chinese painting. Tao depicts the paradoxical state of idleness and the pleasure of creating during isolation, and his meticulous lining and colouring plays explores the grey area between restraint and retreat.

9. The Artist Tram Project

Commissioned by Art Basel and co-presented by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Artist Tram Project is co-created by artists Cherie Cheuk Ka-wai, Stephen Wong Chun-hei and Shum Kwan-yi, who project their works, which draw from the the city’s landscape and everyday scenes, on the exteriors of trams, which become “moving” canvasses.

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