Melissa Chiu was appointed curator of Honolulu Biennial, and Inseon Kim will be artistic director of Jeju Biennale. Christie’s Hong Kong sets its sights on breaking modernist Sanyu’s current world auction record set just last week at Sotheby’s. And art fair woes continue this week.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial Force
IMAGES: Courtesy various
Biennale Appointments Go To Leading Women in the Art World
Melissa Chiu, Director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. was appointed curator for Honolulu Biennial’s third edition in 2021.
Chiu is known for presenting headliner exhibitions Iranian artist Shirin Neshat and Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama since her appointment at the Hirshhorn. As Museum Director and Senior Vice President at Asia Society in New York from 2001 to 2014, she was responsible for overseeing the programming for museums in New York, Houston and Hong Kong. Specializing in contemporary art from the Asia-Pacific region, She has participated in the advisory committees for the Gwangju and Shanghai Biennales.
As curator for the relatively young biennale, Chiu will be overseeing one of the largest exhibition series in the world to focus on contemporary art practices of the Pacific. Honolulu Biennial expanded for its second edition in 2019 to include works and performances from 47 artists and collectives across 12 iconic venues throughout Honolulu.
Jeju Museum of Art in South Korea announced on 13 October that Inseon Kim, the former co-curator of Busan Biennale 2006, will be the artistic director of the 2nd edition of the Jeju Biennale in 2020.
Reported by e-flux, Jeong-ju Choi, director of the Jeju Museum of Art, said at the time of the appointment, “The preparation of the Biennale has officially begun, and the authoritative agency along with the outstanding artistic director is now nominated for the exhibition… I will make the Jeju Biennale 2020 as an interdisciplinary platform and differentiate it from the past Biennale, yet to remain committed to Jeju Island’s unique identity.”
Inseon Kim was previously the producer of Busan Biennale in 2012, co-curator of Busan Biennale in 2006, exhibition coordinator of Gwangju Biennale in 2002, chief curator of Daelim Museum and assistant director of Kukje Gallery in Seoul, Korea.
Christie’s Hong Kong Seeks to Make Historic Auction World Record
Reported by Artnet on 17 October, late Chinese-French modernist Sanyu’s work Five Nudes (ca.1955) will be headlining Christie’s Hong Kong evening sale of 20th century and contemporary works on 23 November with a low estimate of US$ 33 million.
If sold at its low estimate, or even the reserve price, the largest painting of feminine form by the artist, will break Sanyu’s current world auction record of US$ 25.2 million which was set just last week at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.
Sanyu’s works have reportedly generated at least US$ 22 million per year at auction worldwide since 2009. Selling for US$ 16.5 million in 2011 at the Taipei-based auction house Ravenel, Five Nudes was responsible for one of the artist’s previous world auction records, establishing a new high mark for any oil painting by a Chinese artist.
Hong Kong Hotel Art Fair Suspends Upcoming Edition in 2020
The Spring 2020 edition of the Asia Contemporary Art Show and its participation in Hong Kong Art Week will be suspended. The hotel art fair organiser announced this new development on 14 October after the fair closed its fifteenth edition on 7 October.
In a press release statement, Director Mark Saunderson said, “On the heels of a number of local galleries shutting up shop, the rest of 2019 is poised to be more challenging in some ways than the global financial crisis. The effect of four months of protests in Hong Kong saw attendance at the Asia Contemporary Art Show decline by just over 40%.”
While organisers were pleased with the return of “diehard collectors and buyers” and “quality of guests” during its recent edition, they acknowledged that “regrettably, there seems little end in sight for the protests in Hong Kong with the knock-on effect on the broader economy accelerating”. Given that “regular exhibitors are apprehensive”, the fair decided to suspend its spring edition.
Exhibitor applications for the show’s next Fall Edition (8-11 October, 2020) will open early in the New Year. All application deposits for Spring 2020 will be refunded or transferred to the Fall 2020 event.
Regarding the fair’s decision to suspend its upcoming edition, Saunderson added, “I expect others might end up doing the same.”
CIA Agent Reveals Playing Role of Shanghai Art Dealer
Reported by Artnews, former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent Amaryllis Fox shares in her memoir that she posed as an art dealer in Shanghai while carrying out intelligence operations in the early 2000s. Her memoir was released on 15 October and is titled Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA and will be developed as a TV series by Apple starring Brie Larson, the academy award winning actress who plays Captain Marvel in the lead role.
Fox who left the agency in 2010, said her then-husband who was also a CIA officer disguised himself as a member of the art industry as well. It was reportedly a “harrowing time” as they just had their first child and were under close surveillance.
Art Fair Chairman Takes A Controversial Political Stand
The chairman of Contemporary Istanbul art fair, Ali Güreli’s statement defending Turkish military offensive in northeast Syria made headlines in the art world this week.
The chairman’s statement was emailed to media and fair stakeholders on 14 October, criticising the international press on their “inaccurate reporting” of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring. In line with the Turkish government’s official rhetoric, Güreli claims the military campaign “does not target any ethnic group, nation, or country; rather, it purely and simply aims to neutralize the elements that pose a terrorist threat on a regional and global scale as well as to our country.”
International galleries involved in the fair might not be happy with his sentiments since leaders of France, Germany and other European countries have vocally opposed Turkey’s military moves into Kurdish-controlled Syria and the sudden withdrawal of US troops from the region.
Fraudulent Art Companies Shut Down by UK Government
According to a press release statement by the UK government on 14 October, two companies involved in a fraudulent art investment scheme have been shut down by the court after abusing almost US$ 1.3 million.
The High Court in Manchester, UK, heard that the two companies Gem Tobin Ltd and Dionysus Design Services Ltd came to the attention of the UK government watchdog Insolvency Service as a result of a previous investigations into associated companies – Halifax Mannin Ltd and Hey Design Services Ltd which were found to have abused investors’ funds of almost US$ 1.8 million earlier this year.
Investigators established that Gem Tobin and Dionysus Design Services continued the activities of Halifax Mannin and Hey Design Services, receiving payments from “elderly and vulnerable people” who were persuaded to make investments in works of art, supposedly by renowned painters. They were also able to establish that the art investment scheme appeared to operate from Spain or Morocco by a separate business known as Asset Consulting Services or Asset Consulting Group, which had been subject to a previous public warning from the financial regulators.