Art Basel Hong Kong diary—Beeple gets in a spin while a bunny bench brings happiness

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Beeple’s spinning sculpture has a serious eco message

The digital art japester Beeple—who hit the headlines in 2021 with his $69m NFT sale at Christie’s—is making his presence felt at Art Basel Hong Kong, drawing the crowds with a revolving kinetic sculpture that looks like a technicolour time machine . We bumped into the digital megastar who said he was keen to do something outside the 2D medium box. His spinning visual piece at LGDR gallery—S.2122 (2023)—is about “climate change. The water is rising [in the work] but the people will try to adapt”, he said, adding that the head-twisting assemblage has a “hopeful message”. Spread the love Beeps.

Zadie Xa

courtesy artifacts

Zadie Xa, Hong Kong star, goes underground in London

Zadie Xa is having a moment. At Art Basel Hong Kong, two of Xa’s works were snapped up at Thaddaeus Ropac gallery who recently signed up the Canadian-Korean artist. The fetching pieces, both made of recycled leather and assorted shell buttons, were priced at £22,000 each. But Xa is not just making waves in Hong Kong. She has just unveiled a major public art piece on the London Underground, presenting a mural at the eastern end of Aldgate East station near Whitechapel Gallery. The eye-popping work is inspired by the mythical griffin, which was used as an official symbol by London Transport (Tfl) from 1933 until the late 1950s. The two-part piece comprises Griffin and Guardian which reimagines the TfL griffin as a seagull and fox hybrid; the second part, Underworlds Connect, shows (wait for it) a three-eyed wide tiger stepping out of a conch shell. Commuters will be delighted.

Jacob Twyford has some down time on Barry Flanagan’s statue-cum-seat

courtesy Gareth Harris

Respite at the fair on a rabbit-hugging bench

Visitors to Art Basel Hong Kong are usually strictly forbidden from touching the art. But fairgoers can, to their surprise, sit on a large-scale sculpture by Barry Flanagan at the stand of Waddington Custot. A steady stream of happy individuals, no doubt keen to rest their tired aisle-darting feet, have taken up Jacob Twyford’s offer to perch on The Handshakers piece depicting two huge rabbit-esque figures joined at the hand (or paw). Twyford, senior director at the London-based gallery, says that the sitting statue is “all about saying hello, all about love”. And we all need a little bit of that.

The moving artist at K11 Musea

courtesy Gareth Harris

No, it’s not…. is it Banksy?

All the kids on the block in Hong Kong descended on the K11 musea at Victoria Dockside earlier this week to see “China’s first major exhibition of graffiti and street art” (City as Studio, until 14 May) featuring works by big name graffiti guys such as Shepard Fairey and Futura. But one particular exhibit—a dysfunctional moving mannequin spraying the wall—had people at the VIP party scratching their heads. “Who is that meant to be?” asked a number of visitors with one or two going so far as to speculate that the jerky automaton might even be the ever elusive Banksy (we’re not sure he’d like the speculative comparison though).

Art world gets in a lather over lifts at H Queen’s

The art world may have been missing from Hong Kong for the past few years due to Covid but one of the city’s most pressing problems persists—the lifts at the H Queen’s building in the Central district which seem to take an age to go up (and down). Hordes of eager art buffs descended on the skyscraper earlier this week to see shows at David Zwirner (Rirkrit Tiravanija) and Hauser & Wirth (Rashid Johnson). But the elevators were packed out, prompting the (mainly) high-heeled guests to make their way down by (shock horror) the stairs. A worker at H Queen’s, bemused by the disgruntled party crowds, quipped that he’d forgotten “during the Covid years how nobody ever had to go down via the stairs”.

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