Is Art Basel eyeing up a new fair location?

Art Basel has lent expertise to Art Week Tokyo, but does this indicate further involvement?

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The inaugural Tokyo Art Week, in November, is being run “with support from Art Basel” Image: © Jaison Lin

The inaugural Tokyo Art Week, in November, is being run “with support from Art Basel” Image: © Jaison Lin

Japan has long been the sleeping beauty of the art world, but could it prove an alternative venue for a major international art fair?

The inaugural Tokyo Art Week, due to kick off on 4 November, sees 50 art galleries across the Japanese capital join forces “with support from Art Basel”.

Those four words were enough to set us speculating that the Swiss fair might be sniffing around Tokyo with a view to holding an art fair there. Frieze has already announced a new event in Seoul, South Korea, and it is no secret that the increasing stranglehold of mainland China on Hong Kong could impact on the art trade there. So what does Art Basel say about this?

Adeline Ooi, Art Basel’s Asia director, firmly squelched the idea, telling us: “Our team in Asia is advising the organisers of Art Week Tokyo on their inaugural 2021 edition by lending industry expertise and providing access to our regional and international network,” she says, continuing: “Hong Kong remains the home of our Art Basel show in Asia and we have no plans to launch Art Basel in Tokyo”.

So, sayonara that idea? Not so fast. Frieze kept schtum about Seoul as well… until they announced it. It may be only a matter of time before a new venue for an international art fair in Asia is found. Will it be Tokyo? The Japanese government would apparently welcome one, and its Agency for Cultural Affairs is supporting Tokyo Art Week—so perhaps watch this space?

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