Cover Untitled (detail) (2020) by Eddie Martinez was one of the pieces sold at Hong Kong Spotlight By Art Basel (Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin)

Gallerists are reporting strong sales from the event—Art Basel's only in-person fair of 2020

From November 26 to 30, Art Basel pulled off an event many doubted was possible in 2020: a physical, in-person art fair. And, by almost all accounts, it was a success. 

"Old and new friends came together to support the local art community," said Yvonne Fong, director of Simon Lee Gallery, one of 22 galleries that took part. "A positive spirit was in the air." 

Roughly 8,000 people attended the event, which took place in collaboration with and alongside Fine Art Asia, a local fair featuring modern and contemporary art, jewellery and antiques. Adeline Ooi, director Asia of Art Basel, described the collaboration between the two fairs as "a wonderful opportunity come together and celebrate the creative spirit of the city". 

Many of the galleries that took part reported strong sales from the fair—some highlights below. 

See also: 10 Must-See Art Exhibitions In Hong Kong In December 2020

"Untitled" (2020) by Eddie Martinez

Price: US$1 million (HK$7.75 million) 

At 8 metres long this sprawling painting by Eddie Martinez is so large that it prompted some fair-goers to joke that no one in Hong Kong has the space for such a work. And maybe they had a point: Perrotin found a buyer, but one who lives outside the city. 

The work sold to a collector in Taiwan, who the gallery described as a long-time follower of Brooklyn-based Martinez, who is famous for his scrawling, graffiti-like style and for mixing on his canvases spray paint, oil paint, enamel and detritus from his studio, such as chewing gum and baby wipes. 

"Perdu" works by Lehmann Maupin

Price: Five paintings sold for a total of over US$700,000 (HK$5.4 million)

Lehmann Maupin sold the majority of pieces in its booth, which it dedicated to new mixed-media paintings by South Korean artist Lee Bul. 

At least one of the works went to a Hong Kong-based collector, while others sold to buyers elsewhere in Asia and in the US. 

Lee makes these colourful, shimmering works by layering mother-of-pearl, velvet and acrylic paint on wooden boards. Many of the pieces feature abstract, biomorphic forms, continuing Lee's ongoing exploration into the place of the human body in the digital age. 

"Jat’s Incline" (2020) by Stephen Wong Chun-hei

Price: Around US$50,000 (HK$390,000) 

The highlight of Gallery Exit's booth was this six-metre-long triptych by local landscape artist Stephen Wong Chun-hei. It sold on the first day. 

Hong Kong's towering mountains and lush forests are the subjects of Wong's colourful paintings, into which he often squeezes local landmarks. The city's famous Lion Rock is the centrepiece of Jat's Incline; other recent pieces feature Stanley Military Cemetery and the Peak Tram. 

Gallery Exit sold another large painting by Wong—this one measuring 1.5 metres by 1.2 metres—at the fair for US$20,000 (HK$155,000).   

Sculptures by Laurent Martin 'Lo'

Prices: From €5,500 to €28,000 (HK$51,500-260,000)

Katie de Tilly's 10 Chancery Lane Gallery has recently started representing bamboo sculptor Laurent Martin 'Lo', whose work is inspired by Hong Kong's traditional junk boats, and he proved a hit at the fair. 

De Tilly sold at least four of the Spanish artist's gravity-defying works, some of which are made to hang from the ceiling. 

Works by Yuko Nasaka

Prices: From €18,000 to €45,000 (HK$170,000-425,000)

Axel Vervoordt Gallery sold seven pieces by Japanese artist Yuko Nasaka, one of the few female members of the famous Gutai Art Association. 

Nasaka makes mixed-media paintings using a mixture of car lacquer, glue, plaster and clay, which she then places on a potter's wheel and carves into with a palette knife. At Hong Kong Spotlight, Axel Vervoordt Gallery exhibited works between the 1960s and the 1980s alongside more recent works made from 2015 to 2017. 

The majority of collectors were from Hong Kong.