Solo exhibitions, time-based works, and media presentations that take an active, outward-looking approach to our post-pandemic era—such are the key themes of this year’s Liste Art Fair Basel, which returned for its 28th edition on Monday.
Opening at 11 a.m., just hours before the highly anticipated Art Basel Unlimited VIP preview at 4 p.m., Liste immediately drew a crowd ranging from seasoned collectors and industry professionals to young people visiting the Swiss city for the first time. As they streamed into Hall 1.1 of Messe Basel, adjacent to where the main fair takes place, cheerful chatter and joyous reunions were heard at gallery booths and along the aisle. The upbeat mood is at least partly because this year’s Basel week is the first for many from East Asia since the pandemic hit, as the region had much more stringent travel restrictions that were only relaxed earlier this year.
This year’s Liste sees 88 galleries from 35 countries showcasing more than 100 artists—mostly young, emerging artists. Twenty galleries are new to the fair.
Paintings might have been hot in the market and chased after by collectors and buyers, but many of the pieces on show are three-dimensional or media works, which promise to challenge collectors. Joanna Kamm, director of Liste, said she appreciated gallerists’ determination to take the risks, raving that this year’s show is the fair’s best edition since she took over directorship in 2018.
The fair offers an overview of a new young generation of artists from all over the world. It is dominated by solo shows, with 75 percent of the booths dedicated to one artist, according to Kamm.
More than 30 galleries are showing time-based art, and works that incorporate performative elements—scent, A.I., sound, and digital components—also have a strong presence, according to the fair director. “This is a good sign for the art market,” Kamm said, as it serves as evidence that galleries are confident that the market has a broad appetite, including for these works with more complicated presentation.
“We’ve noticed artists are turning from an inward-facing gaze, which could probably be driven by the pandemic, to an outward-facing approach,” Kamm told Artnet News. “There are more social/political presentations. Some are really risky, commercially.”
Among the highlights are a booth from PHD Group, from Hong Kong. The young, edgy gallery was founded in 2021, and Liste is its art fair debut. The booth is a solo presentation of the 1988-born Japanese artist Sasaoka Yuriko, who was featured in a solo show in Hong Kong gallery in September. Titled “Gyro,” the immersive video installation centers around a colorful video work of the same name featuring hand puppets, painted body parts, and digitized images that was created in 2018 in response to the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Paintings of the characters from the video installed on a Japanese folding screen are also part of the installation. Works at the booth are priced from $10,000 to $18,000, and several works had already sold before the fair opened.
Willem Molesworth, co-founder of PHD Group, told Artnet News that Liste is the best platform for galleries working with emerging artists. “We are hoping to meet more collectors. European collectors are very educated and have a strong eye,” he said.
Another Hong Kong gallery, Blindspot, which has long been a regular at Art Basel Hong Kong and Frieze London, is also a newcomer at Liste. The gallery is staging a solo presentation of Berlin-based Hong Kong-born artist Isaac Chong Wai, showcasing new works on paper and installations responding to socio-political imagery, as well as a video work. The pieces are priced between $5,400 and $15,000.
Some galleries are using Liste to introduce the art scene from their homebase, which might otherwise be lesser-known to the international crowd. Bangkok gallery Nova Contemporary, taking part in-person for the first time, brings a solo presentation by Thai artist Tada Hengsapkul. The 25 works including works on paper and installation works on show are priced between 2,500 CHF and 8,600 CHF. Several works have been reserved by European collectors. The gallery said that while Thailand has a strong reputation for tourism, it’s hoping to showcase the country’s artistic talents to the world.
The Warsaw-based Wschod presents a mini-retrospective of the 1987-born Polish artist Cezary Poniatowski. Gallery founder Piotr Drewko said the market for edgy contemporary art in Warsaw is almost non-existent, and so Liste, known for experimentation and surprises, has been an appropriate platform for the gallery. It is returning to the fair for the third time this year. Works on show are priced from €6,000 to €10,000 and one has already sold to the collection of fashion house Celine.
Kogo Gallery, from Estonia, which also returns to Liste for the third time, is presenting a solo show of 30-year-old Estonian artist Anna Mari Liivrand. Titled “Whispers of Unfurling Tears,” the booth features a wide range of delicate Gothic-inspired architectural sculptures revolving around themes of change, transformation, the anxiety of loss, and hope for a new beginning. Some of the pieces include the artist’s own wisdom tooth, flakes of her burnt skin, and the fur of her cat. Works are priced between €1,200 and €8,000 and several have already been reserved.
“Those of us from the Baltic states, we are in between Scandinavia and western Europe,” Selda Pukite, the gallery’s international project manager and curator, told Artnet News. “We have a vibrant art scene and strong female artists. People are slowly finding us, but we want to bring these artists to the international stage.”
Ukrainian galleries The Naked Room and Voloshyn also returned to Liste this year. Both said the situation in Ukraine has been difficult recently, amid the catastrophic damage to the Kakhovka dam, but they still managed to bring art to Liste to maintain their presence at the fair.
Meanwhile, Kamm had good news for the coming years, too: the fair will remain at Messe Basel, a venue favored by exhibitors, after reaching a consensus with Art Basel, she confirmed to Artnet News.
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