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In Focus | Passion Palette

In Focus | Passion Palette

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IN FOCUS is a feature that brings you commentary from an art event in the wider art community. Each month Passion Palette takes a look at a different subject whether it be an international art fair, a focus on a particular genre of art, or artist led movement. IN FOCUS is your alternative measure of artist led material.

In this edition of Passion Palette's IN FOCUS feature we concentrate on the Art Basel establishment, which is having such a profound affect upon the art industry. The Art Basel brand encompasses three international art fair's with the primary focus of all three devoted to modern & contemporary art. The chain now extends from Basel to include international art fair's in both Miami & Hong Kong, a move which is now said to hold $1 Billion worth of art if you combine the stock of all three fair's together.


The newest edition to the movement is Art Basel Hong Kong. Originally titled 'ART HK' in 2008, the fair was rebranded last year (2013) following a 60% purchase by Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd. The rebranding of the Fair has attracted American, Swiss & German collectors to the show who were not so prevalent prior to the takeover. 2014 marks the second exhibition under the new guise & has seen a dramatic shift in behaviour for the galleries trading.


“It was important to retain the feeling of the original Fair, which had proved so successful locally & internationally” says Magnus Renfrew, Art Basel's Director Asia & it was he who was in an ideal position to judge. Magnus has directed the Fair since it's conception in 2008 & has seen it grow from 100 galleries attracting 20,000 visitors to 245 galleries attracting close to 90,000 visitors annually. He has also worked hard to ensure Art Basel HK kept its strong mixture of galleries further enriching the collectors experience with such diverse works on offer.


<< Takashi Murakami (1962-)







With the influx of western galleries attending the fair it provides a basis for East meets West as the distinctive techniques and styles originating from each part of the world are brought together in an exchange of culture and artistic expression. Introducing work from Europe, North America, Latin America & Africa, whilst putting the names of leading asian artists on the world stage.


In addition to attracting european & american visitors, local collectors are also growing as the booming asian economy looks at other forms of investment. An art market dominated by traditional art for so long is now beginning to trade in contemporary works. This year represented an increase in sales for many galleries on show. Of the leading UK galleries, the White Cube had an impressive response with several £Million of art being sold including works by Damien Hirst whose influence continues to grow in the asian market. This success surprised even the gallery itself & gives an insight into how the asian art market is becoming more accustomed to the work of European contemporary art as opposed to solely traditional asian art.



    Damien Hirst (1965-)                                          Leading Selling Chinese artist Yuan Yuan (1973-) sold each of his paintings


Other dealings of notable mention include the sale of a piece featuring a chinese dragon by Keith Haring (1958-1990) for £1.7Million. Installation artist James Turrell adapted his work to be 'collector friendly' with a sample of woodcut prints issued by the Pace Gallery. The artist usually associated with large installations confined to unusual spaces sold work for £12,000. British artist Yinka Shonibare was present through the James Cohen gallery with her Ballerina with Viola sculpture. New York based Oscar Murillo (1986-) is an artist of keen interest to collectors. His auction prices have seen an increase of 5600% over the past 2 years & he continued this trend at the asian strand of Art Basel with David Zwirner's gallery.



The fair will be brought forward two months next year due to it's current close proximity to the scheduling of Frieze New York. This is a good move, which will be certain to aid the continued evolvement of the annual fair by opening it up to an even larger audience as it will not be in direct competition with other leading global exhibitions.


With the lights on Art Basel Hong Kong dimming for another year we begin preparing for Art Basel – Basel where it all began....



Keith Haring's Untitled (Dragon) sold for £1.7Million at the fair.    British Sculptor Conrad Shawcross represented by Miro.



                                                                                           Yinka Shonibare, Ballerina with Viola.


            Hsi Shih-Pin, Symbolic Steed          

           Reviewed by Danny Cordiner, Art journalist for Passion Palette.


Passion Palette takes an 'IN FOCUS' look at the Singapore Art Week, which uncovers the best of asian contemporary art. 


Former Director of Art Basel & Art Basel Miami, Lorenzo Rudolf, entered the asian market initially with SH Contemporary in Shanghai in 2007 before embarking on the Singapore Art Fair project in 2011. The fair has developed during it's short life with a growing reputation as one of the leading voices on asian art.


The Asian contemporary art scene cannot be classified as a single unified form. As with the region it represents it remains extremely multicultural, rich in diversity. This makes for a very challenging & enticing show as works from the prominent figures across the territory are brought together in celebration of opposing art forms. Featuring works from no less than 28 countries with a keen focus on Southeast Asia, India, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Australia & New Zealand.


Of particular interest this year is Chinese Ink drawing, which has gained popularity as a highly collectable medium. This was further supported by the recent Chinese Ink auction at Christies, which generated mass attention delivering record sales & proving there is a strong outlet for such work. Combining western abstract with traditional Chinese calligraphy art are artists such as Qin Feng. This international ink artist is a representative of China's avant-garde movements, a residency in Berlin was used to perfect the fusing of western modernism & Chinese ink tradition. His work is often large in size & raw in technique, layered in philosophy. Qin Feng's work is presented by Ode to Art. 



                 Work by contemporary Ink Artist, Qin Feng


Another artist's inclusion causing excitement is Philippine Contemporary Art icon, Kiko Escora (1970 - ). This figurative painter explores the contrast between paint & charcoal to reveal intricate shadows & tones in his work. Not satisfied with a simple portrayal of a static subject, as in traditional portraiture, Escora's interest lies in the iconography of body language & expression with each of his subjects exhibiting a casual disinterest, which comments on contemporary upbringing. Escora's work is well travelled around Asia & is beginning to gain exposure in the Western world with shows in New York & plans to visit Europe.



          Work by Philipino Artist, Kiko Escora


On the other end of the portraiture spectrum lies Ruben Pang (1990 - ) with his abstract portraits, which hint at the figurative form. Accompanied by a myriad of colours his striking paintings take on a ghostly existence, which is achieved by extensive layering as the painting is allowed the freedom to take on a life of its own. The artist works in collaboration with his materials, uncertain of what the final image will become. Ruben Pang is represented by Chan Hampe Gallery.



          Work by Singaporean artist, Ruben Pang


A notable highlight comes in the form of aboriginal artist Irene Namok who is showing her work outside of Australia for the very first time. An accomplished and highly collectable artist from the Australian  Lockhart River Art Centre displays a mixture of traditional aboriginal & abstract modernity in her work.





There is much more on offer during the Singapore Art Week as it takes over entire regions of the City basking in celebration of contemporary asian art. An Artist-in-Residency Exchange Programme (AiRx) is now in it's third year. This annual initiative by Singapore International Foundation & the British Council pairs a Singaporean artist with a UK artist to collaborate on a piece of art. Singapore stands as a former British colony & it is symbolic that this affiliation should exist. The two artist's participating in this years programme are architect, Randy Chan & Bristol based, Philipa Lawrence who present a collaboration titled Angles of Incidence, which can be located in the Singapore Botanic Gardens before moving to the UK to be showcased at Inner Temple Gardens in London later this year.


A new feature of the event is 'Art in Motion', a curated tour of the city's principal 13 galleries in various locations throughout Singapore. This is a fantastic opportunity to savour the local culture, whilst being sure to take in much of the event that may be missed without guidance.

The Asian art market is certainly one to keep your eyes on as it increasingly exchanges art as a valued commodity by generating sales at multiple annual events. With Hong Kong developing a multi-billion arts and cultural district in West Kowloon, the world's first Financial Centre for Art currently being built in Xiamen in Southern China & a growth of art-related activities in major cities including Singapore, Taipei, Beijing, and Seoul the future certainly looks prosperous.


The Singapore Art Fair plays a crucial role in the upsurge of interest achieved by providing a platform for the international audience to gain an overview of the contemporary asian art scene. It delivers this as if an established programme wise beyond it's years with the structure in place to enable emerging artist's to make appearance...  



Download the official Singapore Art Week 2014 Guide here


Request a free copy of leading international Ink artist, Qin Feng's book supplied by Ode to Art by email, facebook, or twitter












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