Art Basel has a new plan for Asia: Become a consultant for trade fairs and events across the region


Art Basel has a new program for Asia. Instead of launching another fair in a region saturated with capital young collectors, the Swiss giant takes on the role of a consultant and advises regional art events on how to attract more attention.

Art Basel will partner with Singapore’s SEA Focus for its 2022 edition, which takes place January 15-23, in Southeast Asia’s emerging market.

The new initiative is kind of a twist on Art Basel Cities, in which the Swiss company offered itself to local governments as a cultural producer. (The Cities project started in 2016; its only comprehensive event took place in Buenos Aires in 2018.) The experiment with SEA Focus is the second such collaboration by Art Basel; it has a similar arrangement with Art Week Tokyo, which takes place next week from November 4th to 7th.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it is that we should work together and create something meaningful,” Adeline Ooi, Asia Director of Art Basel, told Artnet News. “We play a role as consultants, as consultants … In principle, we are happy to answer any questions you have in order to support the success of SEA Focus.”

Tent from SEA Focus 2020_Picture courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery

Basel’s new Asia strategy could spark speculation as to whether the fair is considering Hong Kong, which despite an exceptionally strong art market is facing ongoing political turbulence and an extremely strict and much-criticized hotel quarantine of up to 21 days for arriving travelers.

Ooi said Art Basel plans to return to Hong Kong in March 2022. “Hong Kong remains the flagship of our Asian trade fair. But why not try different ways of working together? ”She said. “If this cultivation process works, we will have new target groups and strengthen the region. From an Asian point of view, we want to do something respectfully. “

The invitation to work with SEA Focus came from the organizers of the event in Singapore, which has served as the anchor of Singapore Art Week since the collapse of Art Stage Singapore in 2019.

Organized by STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery with the support of the National Arts Council of Singapore, the showcase for regional galleries aims to reach the world while “serving as a critical and much-needed platform that will advocate for art from Southeast Asia,” said Emi Eu, project manager of SEA Focus and Executive Director of STPI.

“Southeast Asian art is valued locally, but the overseas population isn’t that big,” Eu told Artnet News. “The Art Basel team in Hong Kong will help us with this, precisely because they know this region so well.”

Overview of SEA Focus 2020_Image courtesy of STPI - Creative Workshop & Gallery

Overview of SEA Focus 2020_Image courtesy of STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery

The participating galleries now include the Yavuz Gallery, the Gajah Gallery, the Yeo Workshop, the Mizuma Gallery and Ota Fine Art from Singapore as well as the Vietnamese The Cuc Gallery, Silverlens and Drawing Room from the Philippines and the Thai Nova Contemporary.

Meanwhile, Art Week Tokyo, organized by the Japan Contemporary Art Platform with the support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Art Basel in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Dealers Association Nippon, brings 50 museums, galleries and art spaces together in a joint program via bus connections . The aim is to strengthen the local art scene amid the pandemic.

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