After a long time we spent a day completely immersed in art and what a lovely day it turned out to be.
We started the day with an interesting talk organized by Swire – Art & Technology with extremely interesting panelists. Peter Boris (Pace Gallery) who is an art veteran and runs one of the oldest galleries, Takashi Kudo from TeamLab– who made a very interesting point about how art has always been about how an individual experiences art while what they are trying to do is to show how art can be experienced as a collective and how as a group that experience can change the art itself. The visuals from their exhibits left us stunned and wishing they would soon get this to Hong Kong. Freya from the Google Arts and Culture center (Yes, that exists and if you don’t have their mobile app you must download it NOW as an art lover!) showed some amazing examples of how Technology is giving a platform to preserve our culture. A great way to get the brain jolted to think about the relationship between art and technology and kickstart the day.
A first look at the first floor of Art Basel left us completely underwhelmed to say the least. A few shocking installations like the one of all the communist leaders and the army of handbags called ‘Not a shield but a Weapon’ by Pio Abad just made us stop and take notice for maybe a few seconds but nothing really stood out as such.
A couple of Roy Licetenstiens were visually interesting – with our love for Indian folk art, these almost seemed to be a Madhubani – meets Andy Warhol cross :)
Frank Stellas ‘Lettre sur les sounds et muets’ with its symmetry reminded of an Indian great Raza
Anthony Micallef’s Self Potrait (Flayed Construct)
These 3D paintings by Julien Opie brought back some childhood memories of the 3D postcards we used to find fascinating as children.
A short break for food left us a bit energized and we were ready to hit the second floor – and we wish that this is where we had spent our entire time!
Keith Harings ‘Retrospect’ made in 1989 seems almost tailor made for the emoji generation of 2017 – would definitely make for a fun emoji guessing game!
Riyas Komu’s work was of course stunning in its realism and fine detailing.
Feng Mengbo’s Veejet- Tempera and Veejet on canvas – a deeper look at his work made you almost feel like you’re standing at the mountains , staring at the sea.
Japanse artist Toshio Yoshida’s work was a sublime blend of colours , textures and fluid movement – I am falling in love with Japanese artists more and more. This painting using the hexagon as the basic shape is almost representative of the basic unit of life and matter – the atom and also has a deeper meaning for the artist as his family’s coffins were hexagonal – life and death are thus both represented here.
Mirror and Reverse Glass painting on plaster and wood by Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian –classic use of Iranian glass work which is so so similar to 'Lippan Kaam/Chittar Kaam' work from Gujarat (traditional mural craft of Kutch) in India.
Visually appealing but not quite sure if it deserved the price tag of USD 80,000 (probably also because the artist is now 90 years old and most of these are now collectors items).
Gold leaf and Ink ‘Wind Riding’ (Ink and Antique gold foil screen)
We stopped in our tracks when we saw Yoshio Kitayama’s ‘Death & Destruction’ – it almost felt that going through all the other artists and discovering his work at the end was almost a rite of passage. This is what art truly should be like – drawing you in like a vortex. Had a fangirl moment when I realized that the artist was right there at the exhibit – he didn’t speak English but hopefully our gushing words and falling all over ourselves to talk to him would have indicated to him how much we loved his work. Some of his sculptures were there too – at a time where all sculptors only wanted to use bronze, he challenged the norms and used wood, bamboo and mulberry paper- more than anything , the titles of the sculptures evoked such strong emotions too ‘This, more than anything else …’ . His painting ‘The Dead make History’ (ink on Torinoko Japanese Paper) was completed over 10 years, in the hundreds of faces in this painting , you can also see his own face at various places as the ‘observer’. You can also see some of the ‘in-progress’ sketches to realise the effort behind this masterpiece.
A couple of galleries had gotten some of the masters and its always a pleasure to see that interspersed in an a contemporary exhibition to see the evolution of art over time.
On a final note, in the VIP section, Google Arts and Culture had created a virtual reality experience using the ‘Tilt Brush’ by some artists like Sun Xun –VR headsets on we plunged into the Chinese Ink world of Sun Xun – what an amazing immersive 360 degree experience , almost felt that if we take a step we would fall – a peek into where the world of art is headed with Virtual Reality – Is art what is made with paint and brush, with physical materials ? Have you ever considered beautiful graphic design as art and can this experience in the virtual world, the only kind of art which will exist in the future….?