Art Basel Hong Kong 2023: Tatler’s guide to the artists and works to look out for

Aaina Bhargava, Tatler Asia , 14 February 2023
From the humorous to the grotesque, here is everything you should look out for at the city’s biggest art fair in March
Art Basel Hong Kong is back in its biggest iteration since 2019, and will take place from March 23 to 25, 2023, now that restrictions for travelling and social gatherings have been lifted. More than 170 galleries from 32 countries and territories will present artworks across two storeys at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. 
Here are all the artists, artworks and galleries you need to look out for. 
The fair’s Encounters section is back after a three-year hiatus, curated by Alexie Glass-Kantor, the executive director of Artspace Australia and curator of the Australian pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale. Featuring large-scale works interspersed throughout the fair, this year’s Encounters spotlights two local artists: Trevor Yeung and Jaffa Lam.
Yeung will present Mr. Cuddles (2023), an installation which builds on his practice of creating botanical sculptures and inanimate objects that articulate human emotions and relationships, thereby abstractly commenting on social interactions. And Lam is set to create an “oasis” in the middle of the fair constructed from 14 metres of patch-worked recycled umbrella fabric emerging from six factory trolleys. The art piece, Trolley Party (2023), will reflect the social engagement aspect of her work as the fabric was stitched together by female labourers.

"Every project in this year’s sector considers in some way how we can hold space, how we might be present," says Glass-Kantor, "both individually and collectively to nurture connection in this moment.’

Encounters will also feature installations by international artists.
For example, Ukrainian artist Stanislava Pinchuk’s The Wine Dark Sea (2022-23), which consists of two marble works that visualise the similarities between stories of displacement and explores the idea of home through the lens of Homer’s The Odyssey—considered the first “migrant” story. And South Korean artist Gimhongsok will present Solitude of Silence (2017-19), consisting of dummies or sculptures of human bodies with animal faces where their heads should be—through this, the artist questions the value of labour and explores the meaning of the term “worker”. 
This section also includes art by Indian-Singaporean artist Shubigi Rao (who represented Singapore at last year’s Venice Biennale), Danh Vo and David Altmejd. 
Art Basel Hong Kong will also see strong representation by galleries and artists from Southeast Asia.
Bangkok-based gallery Nova Contemporary brings us Scale of Injustice (2021), a five-channel video from Thai video artist Kawita Vatanajyankur’s ongoing Field Work series that explores the hardships of modern-day farmers and the future of industrialised agriculture. Known for her mesmerising performative films in which the artist navigates physically challenging obstacles, Vatanajyankur questions the contemporary worth of labour.
Flowers Gallery, with locations in Hong Kong and London, will showcase work by Thailand-based artist Jakkai-Siributr, who is known for weaving narratives of Thailand’s socio-political issues into his intricately embroidered handmade tapestries and quilts. Meanwhile, Richard Koh Fine Arts from Malaysia is set to introduce three of the country’s rising talents: painters Yeoh Choo Kuan and Justin Lim, and object-maker Joshua Kane Gomes. 
There is also Indonesian artist Agus Suwage, whose art will be presented by Jakarta’s Roh Projects. Suwage is known for his critical yet humorous self-portraits that evoke questions about society, culture, religion and our relationships with animals. 
Portraiture works will be exhibited at Denny gallery, which has presence in Hong Kong and New York, and Seoul’s Jason Haam gallery. They will feature works by Amir H. Fallah and Moka Lee respectively. Fallah and Lee are both known for their distinctive takes on portraiture. Fallah’s subjects are often veiled, their identity revealed through heavy iconography that the artist draws from multiple visual sources, and Lee’s subjects are often young women, whose painted portraits are based on the artist’s archive of images found on social media. 

South Asian galleries such as New Delhi’s Vadehra Art Gallery and Mumbai-based Jhaveri Contemporary and Tarq are also returning to the fair.


Jhaveri Contemporary will present Joydeb Roaja’s intricate drawings, while Tarq will highlight Nibha Sikander’s art, who is known for bridging art, crafts and science together in her intricately layered, colourful, cut-out pieces on card paper to create lifelike insects and birds. 


Hyderabad-based Vida Heydari Contemporary is coming to the biggest art event in Hong Kong for the first time and will exhibit Concrete Dust (2022), a new body of work by artist M. Pravat who uses dust, brick, slate, wood, metal, ink, canvas and other materials in his sculptural creations to explore the different aspects of a city under construction. Retro Africa, a gallery in Abuja, Nigeria, is another newcomer to the fair, and will bring a selection of works by Nigerian American artist and writer Victor Ehikhamenor, who uses motifs from Benin’s culture and African faiths in his creations, and has curated a selection of rosaries in his new art series.


Hong Kong’s Galerie du Monde will exhibit works by the city’s own Wesley Tongson, known for his “splash aesthetic” and contemporary take on ink painting. Lucie Chang Fine Arts will showcase work by Stanley Wong (aka anothermountainman) and Mou Projects will display Chinese artist Yang Dingliu’s creation. Working mainly in video, Yang often recombines images in a way that questions and challenges human perception of the world. Meanwhile, Capsule Shanghai will showcase LA- and Shanghai-based Alice Wang’s artworks, whose brass installation was seen at Para Site’s 2021 Liquid Ground exhibition. 


Asian diasporic artists are also highlighted. Commonwealth and Council, an art space from LA, is bringing Brooklyn-based Kenneth Tam’s film Silent Spikes (2022). Tam’s work takes a critical look at how Asian American masculinity is constructed through the exploration of western cowboy culture.


Work from Taiwanese American artist Pauline Shaw, who draws upon personal and collective histories to create her tactile fabric tapestries, will be on view at LA-based In Lieu gallery’s booth.


Lehmann Maupin gallery is presenting a work by Vietnamese American artist Tammy Nguyen ahead of the opening of her solo exhibition at the gallery’s Seoul space in March. And from Shanghai, Gallery Vacancy will display work by New Yorker Sydney Shen, who creates sculptures and installations using unconventional materials such as Chinese and Western medical instruments, biological specimens, and graphic-designed ornaments.


The combination of the curious and grotesque also finds its way into David Zwirner’s booth, which hosts a presentation featuring American artist Jordan Wolfson’s works including new sculptures with images of iconic figures and stock photos from pop and vernacular culture. Wolfson’s provocative art comments on the controversial issues embedded in American contemporary culture such as the relationship between technology and media. Drawing from advertising, the tech industry and the internet, he creates bizarre narratives centred around invented animated characters. 


Meanwhile, multi-media artist and film producer Li Zhenhua has curated Art Basel’s film programme to feature eight screenings and 28 video works by artists from the around the world and the region, including, Hong Kong’s Angela Su. Two of the screenings will be curated by local NGO Videotage and Bangkok-based art centre Ghost 5265. 


Look out for renowned names in the art world at Art Basel Hong Kong’s panel discussions. Distinguished speakers participating in the Conversations series include: Runagrupa, Hoor Al Qasimi, Gabi Ngcobo, Sin Wai kin, Ming Wong, Aaron Cezar, Christopher K. Ho, Philip Tinari, and Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani, among others. 

In collaboration with M+, Art Basel Hong Kong will also present a new site-specific video by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, whose popular and acclaimed show Behind Your Eyelid at Tai Kwun last year made many a Hongkonger her fan. M+ will show her video, Hand Me Your Trust, which captures Rist’s signature colourful and in-depth aesthetics, on its harbour-facing screen.


 Orginially published in Tatler Asia