Of Skulls and Butterflies: ARTHK 10

Damien Hirst, "Transcience Painting"

Skulls and butterflies may as well have been the  mantra of ARTHK 10, this year’s edition of the Hong Kong Art Fair. You saw them everywhere, most notably those of the Damien Hirst variety. The artist’s London representatives, Jay Jopling’s

Detail, Damien Hirst butterfly collage

White Cube, organized a special exhibit of Hirst’s works in a separate space alongside their own booth.  Billed as one of the fair’s special projects, the exhibit showed a range of his works:  one spot painting, an installation of 6000 colored glass stones in a steel medicine cabinet, even The Inescapable Truth, Hirst’s formaldehyde work of a dove hovering over a white skull.  Painted skulls hung on the walls, smaller versions of  Hirst’s most recent work exhibited at The Wallace Collection.  The show also included his butterfly collages, actual butterflies forming kaleidoscopic patterns or suspended on brightly-colored household gloss.  Several other galleries within the fair carried more of these butterfly pieces.  Hong Kong is the land of labels and logos, and Damien Hirst is the ultimate art brand.  Nothing screams ART COLLECTION as much as a flock of these babies hanging on your walls!

Damien Hirst, "Beautiful Squashed Butterfly Painting"

But hey, without Hong Kong’s culture of conspicuous consumption we would not enjoy an art fair of this calibre so close to Manila’s shores.  Eager to take advantage of the might of the Chinese purse, as well as attract collectors from this side of the Pacific, the titans of the commercial art world came in full force—and brought pieces from significant artists with them.  Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Roni Horn, Subodh Gupta, Antony Gormley, Chuck Close, Gilbert and George, Tracy Emin, Lucian Freud, Murakami, Andy Warhol, they were all there. You also had Picasso and Giacommetti and Henry MooreYoshitomo Nara had a solo show at the Marianne Boesky space.  They featured his signature wide-eyed “kid-dults” in huge ceramic plates, his latest medium of choice.  I did not realize that one of my favorite artists, Yinka Shonibare MBE, had a piece on display until the Vernissage almost closed for the night.  I had already walked through

Spot on: Damien Hirst, "Denatonium Benzoate"

the exit doors when  I skimmed through the fair’s catalogue.  I ran back in—stilettos and all, in true tai tai fashion — to savor a piece of heaven.  Heaven, in this case, being Shonibare’s Woman On Flying Machine, a remnant of his 2008 show at the James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai.  For that exhibit, they filled a historic building with his mannequins in varied tableaux, all clad in 18th century French fashions.  He uses headless mannequins to hark back to aristocratic guillotine victims.  The brightly-patterned cotton used to costume  the mannequins migrated to West Africa via the Dutch East Indies, perfect for his commentary on colonialism.  What I would give to have seen that!  Still, one piece in the flesh sure beats enjoying his work only through  Art 21 downloads.

Damien Hirst, "The Inescapable Truth"

The next day, shod more sensibly in flip flops, I returned to appreciate the fair, and see the half that I missed at the reception the night before.  With less people milling about, the kids and I had a great time meandering in and out of the booths. We were lucky enough to catch Tim Marlow, Gallery Director of White Cube, as he took a tv crew around the Hirst exhibit.  Tara Donovan’s cube of stacked toothpicks from Pace Beijing proved to be a hit.  Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto had a wonderful series of kinetic installations called Long March to

Damien Hirst, "Ghost Skull"

Java.  By strategically positioning objects used by a traditional Javanese army,  and integrating high-tech effects and sound, he managed to convey the martial advance of a conquering colonial force without the use of figures.  Polly Walker had us enthralled. She showed preserved baby birds hanging from tiny balloons inside bell-shaped vitrines; the string of the balloons formed a noose around the birds’ necks.  How fascinatingly gruesome!

Damien Hirst, "Laughing Skull"

Damien Hirst, "The Five Stages of Dying"

The Pinoy contingent did us proud!  Both The Drawing Room and Silverlens brought artists whose works elicited excitement

Wish we could bring this home! Yinka Shonibare MBE "Woman On Flying Machine"

from the crowd.  Marina Cruz, at The Drawing Room, caused quite a stir with UN/Fold,  an assemblage of photos of heirloom baby dresses mounted as diplomas.  She debuted this series last year,  for her Ateneo Art Awards culminating exhibit.  Within an hour of the VIP preview, the piece already had a waiting list.  The Primo Marella Gallery of Beijing and Milan also carried Pinoy art in its roster of

Detail, Yinka Shonibare MBE, "Woman On Flying Machine"

Southeast Asian artists.   They displayed two Geraldine Javier pieces, small-scale mixed media diptychs, as well as an assortment of Ronald Ventura’s resin scultpure, plus a Nona Garcia painting from the Prague Biennale.  Korea’s Arario Gallery had three Leslie de Chavez paintings from his Banana Republic series. They also sold these during the preview.     Silverlens exhibited an amazing Bea Valdes

Detail, Yinka Shonibare MBE, "Woman On Flying Machine"

soft sculpture of a white bull’s head swathed in a diaphanous veil.  So luxe!  A European collector just couldn’t stop talking about it.  By the third day of the fair, the ladies from Silverlens had to redo the installation of works in their booth.  Collectors had already carted off choice pieces.  Other Filipino artists exhibiting in ARTHK 10:  Rodel Tapaya, Kawayan de Guia, Kiko Escora, Leeroy New, Gary Ross Pastrana, Patty Eustaquio, Luis Lorenzana, Isa Lorenzo, and Mariano Ching.


Detail, Marina Cruz, "UN/Fold Series"


Jun and Kat Villalon at The Drawing Room booth with works by Marina Cruz and Kiko Escora

Right next door to the Convention Center, at the Grand Hyatt, Sotheby’s set up a two-day preview of the highlights of their upcoming London auctions.  The centerpiece of the Impressionist and Modern Art sale, Manet’s self-portrait with a palette, hung alongside Odalisques Jouant Aux Dames of Matisse.   The preview also included choice pieces for the Contemporary Art sale, Warhol’s Camouflage Self Portrait and Richard Prince’s Millionaire Nurse, as well as eye popping bling for their jewelry sales.

Admiring UN/Fold by Marina Cruz

Christie’s, on the other hand, deliberately set their spring auctions for Modern and Contemporary Asian and Southeast Asian Art to coincide with ARTHK 10.  It felt a bit disconcerting to walk into the preview hall,  a space filled with mostly paintings,  after the variety of media that stimulated the senses in the fair. Here the atmosphere was hushed and formal.  Somehow, that made the art feel a bit flat.  Jose John Santos III marked his return to the auction circuit with The Closet, another jaw-dropping piece. Geraldine Javier did a rendition of Frida Kahlo in a celestial pose.  Akin to the Blessed Virgin, she contemplates  a pair of white doves in her hands.  Frida stands completely surrounded by jewel-toned blooms.  Embedded onto the painting, within gilt-edged frames covered in glass, are Geraldine’s beautifully-embroidered flowers and –what else but?– preserved butterflies.

Leslie de Chavez, "My Way"

Bea Valdes, "In Memoriam"

ARTHK 10 runs from 27 to 30 May 2010 at the Hong Kong Conventions and Exhibitions Center.  For more information, visit http://www.hongkongartfair.com


Paulino Que viewing Nona Garcia

Geraldine Javier, "Ash"

Geraldine Javier, "Leaf"

Kawayan de Guia, "Modern Guilt"

Kawayan de Guia, "White Shade of Pale"

An assortment of Ronald Ventura sculpture

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

By Ronald Ventura

Rodel Tapaya, "The Beginning Of Man"

Rodel Tapaya, "The Request of the Great Lumawig"

Super piece! Mariano Ching, "European Son Series 3"

Leeroy New, "Gorgon Sola"

Luis Lorenzana, "Dama del Cigarillo" and "Hombre del Cigarillo"

Gary Ross Pastrana, "Abandoned Prototype for Design Firm Broke No.4" and "Abandoned Prototype for Design Firm Broke No. 1"

Polly Walker, "Still Birth 2010", preserved baby bird hanging from a balloon

Yoshitomo Nara ceramic pieces from solo show at Marianne Boesky Gallery booth

Tara Donovan toothpick cube

By Agus Suwage

Alberto Giacometti, "Buste de Femme 1946"

Andy Warhol, "Beatle Boots"

Upside down inside an Anish Kapoor

By Anish Kapoor

An Antony Gormley sculpture against a Gary Hume painting

Antony Gormley works on paper

Aya Takano, "Concrete Beach"

Aya Takano, "Isezaki Explodes"

Hwang Ho Sup, "Buddha Face"

At the Pace Beijing booth,Zhang Huan Buddha head from cowhide,

By Cai Guo Quiang

By Chuck Close

Chuck Close detail

Subodh Gupta, "Only One Tiffin"

Detail, Subodh Gupta, "Only One Tiffin"

Louise Bourgeois, "Mirror"

Subodh Gupta and Louise Bourgeois

Ed Ruscha, "Oh"

Gilbert and George, "Britishers"

Gilbert and George, "Britain"

HC Berg, "Lightspace--Inner Momentum", an ARTHK10 Special Project

HC Berg, "Visual Vortex-Oily Colours-Butterflies-Wave III"

HC Berg, "Skulls"

Henry Moore sculpture


Indieguerillas, detail

J Ariadhitya Pramuhendra, "Ashes to Ashes"

By Eko Nugroho

Jack Pierson, "Last Chance"

Jaume Plensa, "Soul of Words"

Giant birdcages---- Rirkrit Tiravanija, "Ne Travaillez Jamais"

By Julian Opie

Keichi Tanaami, "Amazing World"

Floor installation by Do Ho Suh

Another view, Do Ho Suh floor installation

Still another view, Do Ho Suh floor installation

Lucian Freud, "Sally Clark "

Ai Weiwei, "Map Office"

Martin Creed, "Work No. 293 Sheet of Paper Crumpled Into A Ball"

Martin Creed, "Work No. 914"

Yoshitomo Nara, "The Crated Room In Iceland/Drawing Room"

Takashi Murakami, "Flowers, Flowers, Flowers"

Pablo Picasso, "Personage"

From colored pencils, Lionel Bawden, "the caverns of temporal suspension(of flesh, earth, blood, and the undergrowth"

Detail, Lionel Bawden

Richard Prince, "Untitled"

Richard Prince, "A Nurse Called Happy"

Roni Horn, "White Dickinson, heinheritshisuncleemilysardorforlife"

By Tracy Emin

Checking out another Tracy Emin

Drawing by Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo Nara at Marianne Boesky Gallery

By Hitoshi Sugimoto

Smashing pumpkin! By Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama, "Dots Accumulation"

Yue Minjun, "Picture of Noble Bather"

Zhang Xiaogang , "Green Wall-Husband and Wife"

Jompet Kuswidananto, "Long March To Java"

Detail, Jin Nv, "Wormhole"

More Yoshitomo Nara drawings

I was allowed one shot: Geraldine Javier, Jose John Santos III, and Ronald Ventura at the Christie's Auction Preview



6 Responses to Of Skulls and Butterflies: ARTHK 10

  1. jon says:

    Thanks for bringing HK Art to our shores! visitors must be star struck with all the Art Superstars’ works. But judging from the pics, us pinoys managed to hold our own against the Superstars. Thanks again

  2. cris says:

    First, I would like to thank you for letting me know of two exhibits. The Philippine Art Awards at the National Museum and the Dekalogo+Banner Project at UP. If it wasn’t for your blog I would never have found out about them and had a nice time. Again, thank you. Now, onto ARTHK 10. I didn’t think ARTHK was that big a deal. But after reading about it here now, apparently, it IS a BIG DEAL! This is like going to the Frieze without traveling halfway across the world. What’s better is that it has an added Asian flavour unlike the Frieze(which is mostly about western art). Brought a smile to my face to see the YBA’s(Young British Artists, well, they were, back in the 90’s) featured prominently in the fair. I still remember Damien Hirst’s cow-sliced-in-half-then-pickled-in-formaldehyde work and Tracy Emin’s infamous ‘Bed’. Before, my reaction to them would be; ‘what the ….???’ But now, I really like their works, especially the newer ones. Through the years their works have become more refined. Would have loved to have seen a Zhang Xioagang. There’s just something eerie and ethereal about his portraits. The Filipino artists have indeed done us proud. Love the sense of humour in Luis Lorenzana’s work.

    This is one art fair I wish I had gone and seen, Hongkong being so close to Manila especially. Hope I could do it next year.

  3. Hans Bulos says:

    Yeah, I would have gone there had I known that works of the superstar artists around the globe were part of the fair. Sana, you informed us before it ended. hehe. Demanding ba?

  4. Auction Aux…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  5. vita says:

    Salamat! missed it there but enjoyed ARTHK 10 here!

  6. oscar floirendo says:

    daghang salamat for giving us a glimpse of ARTHK 10..It was a feast in the eyes…our pinoy contingent made us proud…


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