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Art Basel

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The practice of wandering stylishly around art galleries is ubiquitous in most major cities, save Hong Kong. Despite living in such close proximity to so many galleries, I rarely find the time to step foot into those hushed halls and appreciate their works of art. The same can be said for many Hong Kongers, which is why, sadly, our shopping malls receive exponentially more attention than our art.

However, there is the occasional exception - Art Basel being one of them.  The renowned art fair brings contemporary work from all over the globe to a single, packed location, creating an  artistic microcosm within three floors of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Over the past weekend, Hongkongers flocked there to see the works of artists from Jenny Holzer to Takashi Murakami. Pieces ranged from thought-provoking to humorous and absurd, from Lee Wen's photography series depicting the artist covered in yellow paint, an exploration of ethnic identity, to the metallic sculpture of a woman rising from a Snickers bar. The star of the show was perhaps He Xiangyu's hyperrealistic sculpture resembling artist Ai Wei Wei lying on the floor. What may have been more intriguing was the reactions of the visitors that crowded around it quizzically, as if to determine whether the man was indeed a sculpture or a passed out remnant of Friday night out at the Lan Kwai Fong clubs.

Such works were characteristic of the extremities of artistic expression showcased, with the kitsch as well as the minimal (no surprises, my favorite). This creative diversity highlights the democratic nature of art - that there is truly something for everybody.

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