BLOG: Basel Kong
They came, they saw, they acquired. In 2012, after a successful run of five annual editions, the homegrown Art HK fair was finally swallowed up by Art Basel’s parent company, and transformed into an East Asian outpost of the Swiss art-fair giant. Amid thunderstorms and an early-morning “black rain” severe weather warning, the inaugural edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong (ABHK) opened midday on Wednesday, May 22 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on Victoria Harbor. While the Swiss organization brought its reputation for clockwork management, the selection of 245 international galleries was marginally more Asian in focus than European or American. Yet the change in ownership was evident, for better and worse—depending on one’s orientation—from a more commodious floorplan and spacious booth sizes, to improved dining and VIP-collector services. International buzz accompanies the Art Basel brand wherever it touches down, but here in Hong Kong, there was also a sense of wariness about the future direction of the fair since, in its lifetime as Art HK, the event had solidified its position as the premier art fair in Asia while retaining a regional character. For now, however, Art Basel in Hong Kong retains many of its predecessor’s charms, as this selection of sights from around the opening days reveals.