Also key to remember in Asia is what’s at most a dotted line between its real economy and the globalized, diversified fortunes of those opening private museums—and buying artwork at Art Basel in Hong Kong.
Many of those at Art Basel in Hong Kong’s opening day began to buy art in the mere five years since the fair began, with major Hong Kong-based collector and patron Adrian Cheng explaining that a growing collector base was inevitable based on the country’s demographics. “When you build an ecosystem, new collectors will emerge,” he said.
“Thirty percent of the population in China are millennials and that probably accounts for 50% of retail sales, sales growth, and GDP.” Cheng said this young generation is more international and has had much greater exposure to art than its forebears.
On Monday, Cheng’s K11 Art Foundation debuted “.com/.cn,” an exhibition presented in collaboration with MoMA PS1
at a pop-up space in Hong Kong’s Cosco Tower. PS1’s director Klaus Biesenbach (a key adviser to a number of private museums here, including Linyao Kiki Liu’s Si Shang Art Museum in Beijing) and chief curator Peter Eleey co-curated the show, which includes work by Chinese artists such as
as well as artists from the West like
“.com/.cn” continues an effort by Cheng to increase dialogue between the art world in China and in the West, for which he has also established strategic partnerships with PS1 and New York’s New Museum
. Raising Chinese artists’ profiles internationally also helps establish a greater appreciation and audience for contemporary Chinese art in Mainland China, he said.
“Our main motive is to create contemporary Chinese culture, a sense of identity, and also to make the world understand what the new generation of Chinese culture is,” said Cheng.
No stranger to that new generation of Chinese culture and the collectors at its forefront is Brett Gorvy. This Art Basel in Hong Kong is, however, the first for the former president of Christie’s, as part of the newly created Lévy Gorvy
. Gorvy was central to the auction house’s success in developing the collectors in China and Asia at large who routinely bid well into the eight figures and sometimes into the nine figures for artworks. In his partnership with Dominique Lévy, Asia became a key area of focus for growth.
“What I saw at Christie’s was collectors coming in at one level and accelerating very quickly to buying pictures for $150 million or $180 million,” Gorvy said on Tuesday.