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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘Konstantin Bessmertny’

Cause and Effect: London solo for Macau-Russian artist Konstantin Bessmertny

Posted by artradar on May 11, 2010


Konstantin Bessmertny Causarum Cognitio Philosophicus

Bessmertny's Causarum Cognitio Philosophicus

Courtesy Rossi & Rossi

RUSSIAN ARTIST TALK EXHIBITION

A technical impresario who underwent rigorous formal training, Konstantin Bessmertny has risen to become one of Macau’s foremost artistic ambassadors.

Raised in Far Eastern Russia on the Chinese border, Bessmertny learned the traditions of European painting while studying under Russian dissidents exiled eastward by the Soviets. Later moving to Macau, a city of Chinese and Portuguese history, perpetually shadowed by the bustling Hong Kong, Bessmertny is a creature of boundaries between times, cultures and places. He represented the Chinese enclave at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

Konstantin Bessmertny

Konstantin Bessmertny, La Battaglia di Anghiari dell'Opera Perduta di Leonardo (Copy after Leonardo No. 2) 2009

Bessmertny’s works address the many absurdities of contemporary living and our understanding of history. The paintings are lush, thick with coded allusions to high and low culture. They gleefully portray challenges of basic, almost universally accepted understanding of zeitgeist and history.

Rossi & Rossi, in association with Amelia Johnson Contemporary, is holding an exhibition of much anticipated new paintings and sculpture by Bessmertny — Causarum Cognitio or Knowledge of Causes.

The exhibition is to be held from May 7 to June 3 at Rossi and Rossi www.rossirossi.com. An artist’s talk was held on May 8  with Pamela Kember, a director of the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong.  Kember is a curator and historian of art. She has lectured at the Hong Kong Arts School and the Academy of Visual Arts in Hong Kong. She has contributed to Asian Art News, World Sculpture News and Art Asia Pacific.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue 52 pages in length.

Konstantin Bessmertny

Konstantin Bessmertny

Courtesy Museu de Arte de Macau

Pamela Kember

Pamela Kember

Courtesy Chelsea College of Art & Design

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Posted in Classic/Contemporary, Konstantin Bessmertny, London, Oil, Russian, Social, UK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

More art, better art, riskier art at Art HK 09

Posted by artradar on May 19, 2009


HONG KONG ART FAIR

“What do you think of the art fair this year?” Advisors, fair visitors, writers and artists graciously suffered our question ‘du jour’ for the duration of the much-anticipated second edition of Art HK.

Tipped to be the Art Basel of Asia after its successful inaugural edition in 2008 we, along with art market participants around the world, were curious to know if this year’s show was still on track to fulfill its promise.

There was more art on offer this time with 110 participants (up from 101 in 2008) and there was a consensus view that the show was well-organised. “The management of the show is slick, very slick,” said a reporter from an established London-based arts magazine.

Whether it was the latent potential of the Asian market or the polished work by organisers Asian Art Fairs Ltd , a collaboration between Single Market Events, Andry Montgomery and Will Ramsay of Pulse Contemporary Art Fairs, prestigious galleries such as New York’s Gagosian and London’s White Cube signed up for the first time this year in an unexpected coup for a fair so early in its career.

But what about the quality of the art? Did it hold up against the top international art fairs? What did galleries dare to bring to a new market in the midst of a wrenching recession? How safe did they play it?

The answer: Happily not very safe at all. The utilitarian convention centre hall venue was filled to the rafters with eye-sizzling  non-decorative pieces: intriguing installations vied with over-sized multi-media works and towering sculptures.

Last year Amelia Johnson Contemporary sold Macau-based Russian artist Konstantin Bessmertny’s  popular paintings  like sweets. The year she also showed his more demanding enormous horse sculpture/installation/performance piece Momentum pro Aliquis 2008/9, a riderless Renaissance horse in wood.

“It is much, much better than last year” said a Hong Kong-based art advisor with 15 years of experience. “It is more cutting edge, much riskier”. Managing editor of Orientations magazine, Hwang Yin agreed “Yes the quality of the art is far better this year, less Chinese painting. The work on show is much more interesting.”

Even a Hong Kong hedge fund manager fair visitor who has not purchased an artwork in 10 years noticed the difference. “The quality is up several notches compared with last year. I found plenty of ideas and I am thinking of buying a piece this time”.  An account manager for a London-based arts magazine visiting the fair for first time said she liked the art at the fair because it is ‘international’ and was particularly intrigued by the Korean works because of their novel use of space and materials.

While feedback was overwhelmingly positive, there were a few stray, albeit muted, dissenters. A young highly-regarded Asian curator was less enthusiastic: “I think the art could be better but to be honest I am biassed. I have a problem with fairs anyway as I come from a non-profit background. But I can say that the work at Green Cardamom is stellar and The Drawing Room is showing some interesting pieces too”.

Hong Kong artist James Feldmanblogged unhappily about the Ferdinand Botero-like fat figure sculptures and the ‘saccharine kitsch’ from Beijing. But he did like Baselitz and Schnabel: “they stood out like a couple of grizzled WWII vets swaggering through a kindergarten”.

Surprise was the response of renowned Biennale-exhibiting artist Din Q. Le from Vietnam whose solo show South China Sea Pishkun at 10 Chancery Lane opened during the fair. “I am taken aback by the enthusiasm for the fair that everyone is showing. In the west the art scene is kind of depressed.”  

Hong Kong is known for its energetic, can-do culture and maybe that accounted for some of the fizz and excitement.  But for Johann Nowak of DNA Berlin, it was the future opportunities offered by the Asian art market which made his voice bubble with excitement as he talked to us. He believes Hong Kong is the ‘perfect place in every way’ for an art fair. ‘It is just perfect’. Pressed for specifics he came up with a benefit new to us: he explained that one of the key advantages of Hong Kong  is that “there are no dominant galleries in the town” allowing a level playing field and equal opportunities for visiting galleries. ”There are no gallery intrigues, that is what makes Basel work so well too”.

And what about sales? 

Reuters  focussed on the performance of the major international galleries in the first days of the fair and reported ‘notable sales’ such as the  Gilbert and George ‘Gingko’ piece bought from White Cube by an Asian collector for GBP325,000. For a rounded view, Art Radar approached a few of the other lesser known and Asian galleries on the last day of the fair.

Tokyo-based Yamamoto Gendai said “We have not sold so many pieces here, about 5” and German gallery Levy reported just one sale. Korean art specialist Cais Gallery who participated last year too said they had sold 4 to 5 pieces in the US$4-8,000 range. “It is slow compared with last year, fewer collectors”. Another Japanese gallery sold 5-6 pieces in the US$5-20,000 range with much interest shown in Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs. Beijing -based Aye Gallery sold 7 pieces.

In terms of sales, this was a “bits and pieces” fair and on the last day the mood was less buoyant than suggested by early press reports. Nevertheless the galleries remained firmly committed to the fair because of ‘the quality’. According to Novak, this year making sales is less important than networking and exposing work to institutions and international collectors. “Next year is the year to watch sales.”

Related links: Images on Flickr, 80 images on Arrested Motion blog,

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Posted in Fairs, Hong Kong, Market watch, Recession, Russian | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Newslink roundup Hong Kong art fair – Art HK 09

Posted by artradar on May 13, 2009


  

 

Mu Boyan, Nude No 2

Mu Boyan, Nude No 2

HONG KONG ART FAIR NEWS

Flu SeasonArtforum – 24 May 09 – Must read – This gossip column-style drily written piece, complete with photos of Asian art scene-shapers, takes a comprehensive look at most aspects of the fair: management (white plastic and undrinkable wine), gallery sales (“Art HK winners: major Western galleries, local Hong Kong galleries. Big losers: major mainland galleries.”), the parties (one a victim of its own exclusivity) and the panels (a big thumbs up).  Not much written about the art itself though.

Art market reporting is notoriously conflict-ridden. Business class tickets and VIP jollies for journalists are not unknown and big ad bucks in harsh economic times also make a potent lure for bias. There is not much evidence of (or opportunity for) independent research: most of the hard data about sales and visitor numbers comes from galleries and event promoters who have an inherent commercial conflict.

Now that the ‘blog reader beware’ warning is done with, grab a handful of salt and enjoy the read.

There is some interesting coverage of lesser known Asian-based artists by the New York Times and read (the more honest??) comments by the Asian galleries about sales which are at odds with those of the Western galleries – this is covered in several of the pieces. Overall the reviews are mostly positive (of course) but for what it is worth we thought both the art and the  fair management were excellent in this second edition of the show.

 

 

Art fair saw 31% rise in visitors and several major sales South China Morning Post – May 20 09 – Gives details of visitor numbers (sourced from the fair managers) and specific big sales claimed by Western galleries and Western artists. A Korean gallery reported few sales.

An artistic quest in high gearInternational Herald Tribune / New York Times – May 20 09 – Must read – Interesting piece with a focus on the art on display, with a refreshing emphasis on lesser known Asian artists such as Konstantin Bessmertny, a Russian artist based in Macau. Several images.

More art, better art, riskier art at Art HK 09Art Radar Asia – May 19 09 – Report on visitor opinions of the fair this year, gallery sales (weak for lesser known and Asian galleries), the management of the fair (better) and quality of the art.

Artist makes sure fair goes with a bangSouth China Morning Post – May 20 09 – Short piece about avant-garde artist Chow Chun-Fai’s 2 performance pieces hosted by Shanghai Tang.

Art HK 09 –  George Chen – May 17 09 – Set of photos on Flickr

Asian auction houses starting to come of ageSouth China Morning Post – May 17 09 – Brief piece about auctions staged to coincide with the Hong Kong art fair (Est-ouest Auctions and the inaugural Asian Auction Week – a joint auction by Korea’s K Auction, Japan’s Shinwa, Kingsley’s from Taipei and Larasati from Singapore).

The second edition – Financial Times – May 16 09 – Describes art on sale and sold half way through sale.

Hong Kong Art FairArt World – June/July 09 – promotional blurb with a list of Australian galleries

Solid start to Hong Kong art fair despite downturnReuters – May 16 09 – Brief report on ‘notable sales’ in fair’s first days – This Uk edition focuses on sales (at the top end with values at tens and hundreds of thousands US$ per piece) of Western artists by top London and New York galleries including Damien Hirst, Gilbert and George, Julian Opie.

Opening HK art fair – Arrested Motion blog – May ? 09 – More than 80 images of works on show at the fair – Unfortunately not tagged but it gives a flavour of what exhibitors have brought.

Art HK 09: Hong Kong International Art Fair has a good startArtdaily –  May 15 09 – List of artworks sold on first day – Reports ‘robust sales’ and a ‘heady atmosphere of excitement’. Sales by Damien Hirst, Gilbert and George, Kohei Nawa, Fang Shao Hua, Ron Arad.

Hong Kong Art Fair Part 11 – Illustrator James Feldman blog – May 15 09 – Acerbic blog piece about weak and strong art at the fair – Baselitz and Schnabel stand out against bloated ‘reverse engineered Botero’ sculptures. Hong Art Fair Part 1 drily discusses the pecking order of tickets – ‘I have a pink ticket and a black ticket and I can’t work out which is more exclusive’.

Tennis art at the Hong Kong International Art FairNY Times Globespotters – May 14 09 – Short feature about live demonstration of Martina Navratilova creating one of her tennis ball paintings –  She has been making these with fellow Czech and artist Juro Kralik since 2000 but has only recently started to sell the works.

Strange Hong Kong art fairDetroit Free Press – May 13 2009 – A set of 6 images, mostly sculptures at the fair and the concurrent Seoul Auction. Artists Mu Boyan, Yi hwan Kwon, Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Lin Yilin.

Insider Art FairArtinfo – May 13 2009 – Short list of artists’ works and prices brought to the fair by leading galleries.

 Prefair coverage

Much of the prefair coverage republishes the press release or gives other repetitive promotional content. A couple of links covering the basics are given here and a more complete list can be found on the Hong Kong art fair site.

Magnus Renfrew on ArtHK09 Artinfo – May 12 2009 – Pre-fair interview with director Magnus Renfrew. Great questions, predictable answers. Content is mainly promotional but does cover failure to get sponsorship this year. Claims Hong Kong is superior location in Asia for art fair: well-positioned geographically to tap mature collector groups in Taiwan and South Korea as well as latent potential of future Chinese market; tax benefits.  Gallery mix is 65% Asian, 35% international. MR also claims that HK art fair is more regional than competing fairs.

Hong Kong’s contemporary art fairFinancial Times – May 9 2009 – A somewhat promotional pre-fair piece which lists participant galleries and side events.  Based on a news angle which suggests Hong Kong (and environs) is a rising star in Asian art scene. Evidence for its growing importance as a cultural hub is given as 1) Guangzhou Triennial “widely considered China’s most important art event” 2) last year’s budget approval by HK government for the development of West Kowloon cultural district –  a 40 hectare site for the arts 3) Hong Kong has become third largest art market by auction sales in world 4) last year’s introduction of ArtHK, Hong Kong art fair.

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