ARTHK 10 was another fine showing of world class calibre art from something over a 100 galleries from all over the world. The writing of this particular entry comes just days after the closing, just enough time for me to digest the work and formulate some thoughts to share.
Overall, this years showing was better than the previous and probably on par with the first show I attended two years ago. I've probably biased last years show simply because I felt like the photography shown was stronger but the other work, be it drawing, painting, sculpture or video didn't stand up to the level I thought the photography stood. This year, I was particularly please with pretty much everything however the volume of work to absorb was somewhat overwhelming. I described the viewing of the show to someone, after two walkthroughs myself, as like reading 50 magazines in one sitting and trying to articulate three articles from each publication. It was that hairy for me.
Now you might ask why I'm not showing pictures here - well, its out of respect for the artist. I might be little old fashioned in that way, but if you can't remember the piece for itself, a picture is just going to influence what you think it actually looked like and what it actually made you feel. I did however take pictures of the artist names and/or the cover of their books for reference. Why? Cause it makes me do my homework. I believe that if you want to remember a piece that affected you, you should study their work. That's what annoyed me at the show was the fact that people photographed the work like it was theirs. For me that's simply disrespectful. Besides that most galleries don't allow viewers to photograph the work. But I will continue on with my analysis before really ranting.
Again, this was a strong year for the show. Its every getting more interest from bigger and better galleries which benefits viewers and buyers alike. The photography over previous years was probably the strongest. Last years highlight was probably the predictably mammoth Andreas Gursky piece. Last years low was probably vendors displaying like-Gursky scale photographs but with weaker artists. Now I will say this - the HK art community will love seeing Gursky's, Demand's, Hofer's, Struth's, but they probably won't appreciate Winogrand's, Eggleston's or Frank's. A photographer I have yet to see, one I'd really like to see in HK, a Gregory Crewdson.
The rest of the show was really good. Overall I sensed that the Chinese artists were maturing away from the Mao-communist era oppression work and into the new area of Chinese art. The Korean work was strong this new. As always the Europeans and Japanese artist always inspired. As a mentioned before the Gursky shown was brilliant but I would have liked to have seen the race track image from that series. I was happy to see a diCorcia but the picture shown wasn't something to write home about.
A couple of things annoyed me and I will rant about them now.
1) Don't copy:
I saw a bunch of copies for more famous work. Some artists can pull it off, others just plain old plagiarize. If you do, its just lazy. Being influenced is one thing, copying is another. I saw Chuck Close's work, probably the second or third time I've had the opportunity, then further down the road I saw some other photorealism that resembled Close's earlier work. I was, as you can imagine, disappointed;
2) Don't touch the art:
I don't care if its covered with glass or is security wrapped in lazers and alarms, you never ever touch the art;
3) Please don't photograph the work.
I was there with a friend and I told her my peeve and she still photographed it. Do your research, buy their book cause the reprints in the books are a hundred times better than the picture you took on your camera;
4) If you don't know something ask someone
: I am usually asked to guide friends through a gallery or a show and share some thoughts on the work. That's fine and I enjoy giving them my opinions. Art is like any other medium, be it books or movies. After you see it you have an opinion. Art is the same way. You might not know a lot about art but others do, like the gallery assistant. They should know everything under the sun about the artist's work. They are your experts. At the show I saw work from Thomas Demand and Gerhard Richter. I knew their work but for Richter's, I saw some work I wasn't familiar with - the abstracts. His retrospective I attended back in SF may have featured some of these but I didn't remember it. I flipped through his book at the show and soon enough I started questioning the gallery personnel about the work. She answered promptly and gave me the information I needed. As for the Demand photograph, the same occurred.
I hope next year the work remains as strong and perhaps reach a higher level.