Behind the scenes: Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 - Art Collector

Installation view of Juan Ford at the Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects stand at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013

5 June 2013 | Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 appears to have been a success across the board for the participating Australian and New Zealand galleries. Under the new ownership of Switzerland-based Art Basel the art fair has been a major focus of the art world calendar in the Asia-Pacific region. Showcasing 245 galleries from 35 countries, Art Basel Hong Kong 2013 definitely drew in the crowds with its re-branding and international lineup.

The Australasian contingent was made up by Neon Parc, Roslyn Oxley9, Ryan Renshaw, Starkwhite, Sullivan + Strumpf, Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects, Tolarno, Utopian Slumps, Murray White Room and Jensen Gallery.

This was the fourth year of participation at Hong Kong art fair for Sydney-based RoslynOxley9 Gallery (stand pictured below). The gallery director Roslyn Oxley noted that there were positive changes under the new ownership, “I believe Art Basel has graciously taken over the Art Hong Kong and successfully continued the overall atmosphere of the fair. The main difference is that the layout and design of the fair have been improved.”

Oxley’s gallery has participated in international art fairs for over two decades and as a seasoned participant on the art fair circuit she is confident Hong Kong is making its mark: “Up until four or five years ago we felt that our main international platforms were Europe (Basel) and America (New York). This has shifted towards Asia more recently and particularly Hong Kong has become very relevant for Australia and the rest of the world as a major art centre.”

Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects drew in the punters with an eye-catching stand (pictured above). Juan Ford had covered the walls of the booth with a view of an Australian national park and his paintings floated in the virtual landscape. Ford’s works were quick to sell with gallery assistant Stephanie Sacco reporting that: “the total sales was about AU $150,000, which was great! The eight works each went to a different collector, from Australia, NZ, Hong Kong, mainland China, Europe and the US. A great mix, with about 50% of the clients being first-time buyers of Juan's work!”

Installation view of the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery stand at Art Basel Hong Kong 2013

Sacco went on to state that Art Basel Hong Kong had been a great opportunity for the gallery and Ford, “we had a fantastic time at the fair - we were very pleased with the attendance levels and the seriousness of the clients, we generated a huge wait list for Juan after his works all sold, which we're really pleased about. We definitely intend on exhibiting again in 2014.”

Whilst the success of participating at an art fair can be measured by the sales figures, it is also worth considering the promotional component that fairs offer for a gallery and its represented artists. Roslyn Oxley is confident that participating at art fairs provides great opportunities, “through the exposure gained at art fairs a number of our artists have been picked up by international galleries, institutions and selected for biennales. Our artists have been able to gain a momentum overseas that they wouldn’t necessarily have had if they were just showing and selling their work within Australia.”

Andrew Jensen and Emma Fox from Jensen Gallery also reported a positive first experience of Art Basel Hong Kong and like Oxley were able to confirm sales and ongoing opportunities for their artists. Jensen and Fox noted “it was in fact the work of Australasian artists, painters Jude Rae and Tomislav Nikolic and young sculptor Sam Harrison that garnered the broadest response. Tomislav Nikolic sold work to Chinese, American and Korean collectors and he has returned with the knowledge that galleries in Hong Kong and Korea would be thrilled to make exhibitions with him. Similarly Jude Rae's works were much admired by European and Asian collectors - her mix of facility and intelligence setting itself quietly aside.”

Like many of the other Australian galleries Fox and Jensen were quick to confirm their interest in returning to Hong Kong in the future, “the fair seemed well run - certainly the organisational experience of Art Basel has been useful in helping move the fair onto a even more professional footing. We would welcome the opportunity to further advance the case for our artists at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014.”

Hannah McKissock-Davis

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