We often tend to assume by default that artists are male, unless otherwise mentioned. Looking back in history, we also find that the art world was long dominated by males, though in the modern day female artists are also grouped together with them and all artists are addressed collectively.
However, when it comes to the city’s most exciting art event, Art Basel Hong Kong, we want to single out women – given their rising prominence in tackling gender and social issues with their unique perspectives.
Phoebe Hui’s Audemars Piguet art commission on show at Tai Kwun – featured on page four of this paper – is one of them.
Another local artist Movana Chen, whose works are rooted in exploring communication across cultures, will display her work at the Flower Gallery booth.
One of her highlight pieces, a large-scale hanging tapestry named Untitled #6, reflects divisions in today’s society. The exhibit is a continuous work that was started in early 2020, knitted from shredded dictionaries and maps collected from different countries to create a patchwork composition.
Apart from the tapestry, Chen is also showing a new series of works using ink on glass panels as well as putting on a daily performance influenced by traditional tea ceremonies to create an environment for visitors to share their stories.
At Capsule Shanghai, Leelee Chan’s works have a humble quality about them. Titled Pallet in Repose (Resurfacer), the centerpiece of the large-scale sculpture is made out of stacked, pre-used plastic pallets and scavenged tennis court asphalt pieces sourced in Hong Kong.
The works have been arranged as a site-specific installation, on top of perforated metal sheets, resin puddles and steel sand. Initially discarded scraps, these elements resurface in an unexpected form and the installation evokes the uncanny feeling of a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Represented by one of the non-Hong Kong galleries featured in the Discoveries section of the show that displays exclusive new works by emerging artists, Chan’s works can be seen via ABHK’s online viewing room. Also the 2020 winner of the BMW Art Journey prize, Chan’s sculpture Token from Time – which questions historical and cultural developments and was inspired by found objects she worked with on her BMW Art Journey – will be on display at the BMW showroom in Wan Chai.
The Covid-19 pandemic is obviously a frequent theme in the new works. One of them is mainland artist Zhang Yanzi’s Mask Series, presented by Galerie Ora-Ora.
In contrast with the strictures of her lockdown experience in New York, Zhang’s works give voice to the mind and emotions that ran free, unfettered and uncontained.
Drawing on diary entries and personal experiences over months of isolation, her masks draw links between contemporary events, personal and shared emotions, and the human condition.
As part of the gallery’s history, the Lehmann Maupin booth will host works championing female artists such as Helen Pashgian and Mary Corse, who work across various geographies, generations and mediums.
Celebrated South Korean artist Lee Bul, whose work is included in the Gwangju Biennale and was recently acquired by the M+ Museum collection, will be the center of the gallery’s presentation.
For the first time, she will show Study for Light Tower, a stainless-steel sculpture from her Aubade series that weaves historical narrative with utopian ideals and surreal, futuristic forms, offering a getaway moment within the busy art fair.
“We are very excited about the diversity of this presentation which represents the complexity of systems that makes up contemporary art today,” said Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong director Shasha Tittmann.
After a year-long hiatus, ABHK’s return will take place from May 19 to 23 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Parallel to its physical show and online viewing room, Art Basel Live will also make its debut and present highlights from the fair.
(This article was published at The Standard on May 14 2021: Weekend Glitz: The future is female )