ART HK opened strongly Wednesday night with solid sales and a general consensus that the fair had taken a significant step up in quality this year.
At previous editions there had been a justifiable suspicion that some international galleries were underestimating the sophistication of the local market and, although even this year a few still wondered whether exhibitors were bringing their best game to Hong Kong just weeks out from Art Basel, the high quality of works on offer was evident everywhere.
The normally overblown description “museum quality” could even be fairly applied to some of the galleries’ presentations — particularly notable in this category was Aquavella with Joan Mitchell and Galleria d'Arte Maggiore with Georgio Morandi. Meanwhile Michael Werner featured a superb selection of key works by German artists from the early 1920s through the end of the last century. Curated by Dr. Dimitri Ozerkov, the director of the contemporary art department at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the booth contained gems by artists such as Ernst Wilhelm Nay and Georg Baselitz, who has been exhibiting with Werner since his first show in 1963.
As is common with ART HK, sales proceeded generally at a leisurely pace, with modest opening success at the majority of galleries, a lot of conversation, and confidence of more to come. At Cheim & Reid, partner Adam Sheffer remarked that ART HK has its own relaxed rhythm. “It’s not like Art Basel where there is an explosion of sales in the first 20 minutes,” he said. A couple of hours into the vernissage the gallery had sold a Louise Bourgeois drawing for $100,000 and a collage by Donald Baechler for $50,000.
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