The Hong Kong Spotlight By Art Basel fair is running from November 26 to 30––here we list 10 galleries not to miss

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced Art Basel to cancel its three annual events in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami Beach, but the fair's organisers are ending the year with a bang: this week Art Basel is launching its only in-person fair of 2020. 

Titled Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel, the event is taking place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and bringing together 22 galleries that have exhibition spaces in the city, many of whom have had their businesses rocked by the ongoing pandemic. The event is open to VIPs on November 26, then runs from November 27 to 30. 

Here's what not to miss. 

See also: Art Basel Shifts Hong Kong Fair From March To May 2021


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Above Untitled (2020) by Eddie Martinez. (Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin)

An eight-metre-long canvas dominates Eddie Martinez's solo show at Perrotin's booth. 

Martinez, a self-taught painter based in Brooklyn, is famous for his scrawling, graffiti-like style and for mixing spray paint, oil paint, enamel and detritus from his studio, such as chewing gum and baby wipes. 

Alongside the monumental canvas, Perrotin is also presenting works from Martinez's flower series and a selection of paintings on cardboard. 


Lehmann Maupin

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Above Perdu XLV (2020) by Lee Bul. (Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin)

South Korean artist Lee Bul is in the spotlight at Lehmann Maupin, which is hosting a solo show of her recent mixed-media paintings in its booth. 

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. 

Lee rose to fame in the late 1990s with her ambitious, futuristic-looking installations from her Cyborg and Anagram series, which explored themes such as genetic engineering, cosmetic surgery and cloning. 

Ben Brown Fine Arts

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Above Imprint of Body Movements (2020) by José Parlá. (Courtesy of the artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts)

Ben Brown Fine Arts is showcasing two very different approaches to abstraction in its booth, hanging some of Gerhard Richter's famous squeegee paintings alongside calligraphy-inspired pieces by José Parlá. 

Gerhard Richter is widely considered one of the most influential artists alive. He was born in Germany in 1932, survived WWII and then lived in East Germany under Soviet rule, when he found work painting Socialist Realist murals. Richter and his wife escaped to West Germany shortly before the Berlin Wall was erected. Now he is famous worldwide both for his early photorealist canvases and his bold, abstract squeegee paintings. 

American artist José Parlá makes paintings, videos, photographs and sculptures, many of them inspired by graffiti and text found in cities, such as on street signs or posters. 

De Sarthe Gallery

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Above Horizon Scan No. 16 (2019) by Andrew Luk. (Courtesy of the artist and De Sarthe Gallery)

De Sarthe's booth features pieces by two young artists whose work examines the relationship between humanity and technology. 

Hongkonger Andrew Luk is showing pieces from his Horizon Scan series, which he produces by burning homemade napalm over a canvas, creating layers of melted resin and paint. The works are then lit from behind with colour-changing bulbs. Luk describes the pieces as representations of the landscapes that surround us, all of which have been shaped by by either natural phenomena or human activity. 

Mainland Chinese artist Zhong Wei's vibrant, colourful paintings reference the chaotic experience of using the internet. Wei's works often feature unexpected combinations of characters and images, echoing the experience of scrolling through social media or falling into an internet rabbit hole, where one discovery can lead you in unexpected directions. 

Lévy Gorvy

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Above 21.11.03 (2003) by Zao Wou-ki. (Photo: Naomi Wenger. Courtesy of Lévy Gorvy)

A nearly two-metre-tall oil painting by Zao Wou-ki is the star of Lévy Gorvy's booth, which will also feature two monumental India ink-on-paper works that Zao made in 2006. 

Titled 21.11.03, the oil painting features Zao's signature billowing clouds of colour, which he used to represent, in his own words, "that which cannot be seen, the breath of life, the wind, movement, the life of forms.”

Paintings by Zao are some of the most sought-after artworks in the world: in 2018, his work Juin-Octobre 1985 sold for HK$510 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, setting new records for the most expensive oil painting by an Asian artist and the most expensive artwork ever sold in the city. 

Gallery Exit

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Above The Autumn Walk (2020) by Stephen Wong Chun-hei. (Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Exit)

Hong Kong's towering mountains and lush, tropical forests are the subjects of new oil paintings by local artist Stephen Wong Chun-hei, whose work is being shown by Gallery Exit. 

Wong often bases his paintings on real places but embellishes them with bright colours or slightly more dramatic features, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. But sharp-eyed viewers (and those who read his painting's titles) will spot some familiar places in these new pieces: Stanley Military Cemetery appears in one, while another looks like a take on the Peak Tram. 


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Above Wave (2020) by Alex Israel. (Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian)

Anyone looking for works by buzzy, celebrity artists should make a beeline for Gagosian.

The gallery is exhibiting one of American artist Alex Israel's slick, neon waves, which can be read as a celebration of his hometown of Los Angeles or a cynical look at the city's shallow culture, and one of Takashi Murakami's colourful skull paintings, among other pieces. 

Both Israel and Murakami have been celebrated and criticised for the way they mix art and commerce; they both use imagery from their multi-million-dollar paintings on T-shirts and other merchandise. 

See also: Alex Israel Declares "I'm A Brand"


Kwai Fung Hin

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Above Somewhere (1977) by Lalan. (Courtesy of Kwai Fung Hin)

Kwai Fung Hin is exhibiting works by three abstract artists whose art was shaped by France: Zao Wou-ki, Georges Mathieu and Lalan. 

Mathieu, who is considered one of the fathers of the lyrical abstraction movement, lived and worked all his life in France, while Chinese painters Zao and his first wife, Lalan, moved there in 1948.

Zao's sky-high auction prices have earned him international attention in recent years and Lalan's work is increasingly popular with collectors. In October, a painting by Lalan sold for HK$11,065,000 million at Sotheby's, a record for the artist. 

Simon Lee Gallery

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Above Blender Man (2020) by Jim Shaw. (Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery)

New paintings by acclaimed American artist Jim Shaw are on show at Simon Lee Gallery's booth. 

These acrylic-on-muslin pieces are the latest addition to Shaw's longterm Man Machines series, for which he merges 19th-century portraits of hirsute men with images of mid-20th-century appliances and machines, such as vacuum cleaners and food blenders. 

"The Man Machine paintings more-or-less began with my interest in hair as a source of power," Shaw has previously said. "The wig denoted power in the French and English past, and still does in England—it is the sign of a judge, for instance. Eventually I started doing these paintings of pompous men from the 1890s with their facial hair and replaced their faces with things like machines—the Man Machine."  

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