Art dealers and art aficionados alike might have been disappointed by the fact that 2020 would be a year without the physical presence of Art Basel, but just hold that thought. The world’s most watched art fair will make a special appearance in November in Hong Kong—and it’s not a virtual one.
Art Basel will be hosting “Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel” at the local fair Fine Art Asia (27-30 November) at Hong Kong's Convention and Exhibition Centre, The Art Newspaper has learnt. The section will display Hong Kong-based galleries—including overseas galleries that have exhibition spaces in the city—which have exhibited at Art Basel in Hong Kong in the past.
“Hong Kong Spotlight is a collaboration between Art Basel and Fine Art Asia to support and bring together the city’s visual arts community during these challenging times, creating an opportunity to experience art and exchange ideas in person,” Art Basel says in a statement, adding that further details will be announced in the coming weeks.
Andy Hei, the founder and director of Fine Art Asia, says the art community has been more united under troubled times, constantly coming up with new initiatives to support galleries and artists, such as many online projects. “However, we believe that a physical fair is more important,” Hei tells the The Art Newspaper. Having “Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel” at this year’s Fine Art Asia, which has been moved from its usual October slot to November, will create new opportunities for engaging conversation, Hei adds.
Rumours about Art Basel’s special presentation at Fine Art Asia, a homegrown fair that exhibits a mix of Chinese and Western antiques, Modern and contemporary art as well as design, have been circulating in the local art scene over the past couple of weeks. Art Basel says that it has invited galleries to apply for participation in the initiative.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced Art Basel to cancel all three of its editions this year—in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami Beach—just as the fair was due to celebrate its 50th anniversary. It has since been hosting a number of online viewing rooms; the latest one OVR:2020 opened last week.
Art Basel in Hong Kong, originally scheduled for March 2020, was the first of the company's three fairs to be called off as coronavirus began to hit the city at the end of January. Since then Hong Kong has experienced a second and a third wave of the pandemic, and the city has been observing strict social distancing measures, banning gatherings of more than four people and making it mandatory to wear a mask. Recently the number of daily new infections has returned to single digits, with only four new cases recorded on Wednesday (30 September). The last two weeks of September saw a revival of art openings and activities across the city.
As of Wednesday, Hong Kong has recorded 5,088 cases of coronavirus with 105 deaths.