A trip to Art Basel

In recent years, we have witnessed a rapidly growing number of art fairs all over the world. Among the fierce competition, the most attractive and well-known art fair must be Art Basel. It is held three times a year in three different locations around the world, including Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach.  

This year’s Art Basel in Switzerland is open from June 16 to June 21. The first three days are reserved for collectors who received invitations. Public days starts from June 17, and it is expected to attract plenty of people who come to visit.

Art Basel is mainly composed of five sectors: galleries, feature, statements, edition, and unlimited. The unlimited sector is the most popular one, because this exhibition includes large-scale installation artwork, live performance, massive sculpture and painting. In other words, it is perfectly suitable for Instagram posting. My trip also starts from this sector.

Fair is open at 11:00 AM, but one hour ahead of the opening time, there are already lots of people gathering in front of the hall, and some people were sitting inside. Few minutes to 11:00, visitors are waiting and talking in front of the gate excitedly and I am one of them.

I stayed in this sector for one hour and a half. It is an enormous space with many pieces of artwork scattered around. Some of the artwork needs to line up for a while. After viewing all the artwork, I have to say that it is not amazing enough for me. Some artworks are made for catching up with the trend rather than expressing meaningful and thoughtful messages. Buzz words like VR and minority group are used by several artists to show off their updated awareness towards to the world trend. However, the overall organization is quite impressive. There are enough seats for visitors to rest. The organizer also leaves enough space among each artwork, so that people can stop and discuss without bothering the following visitors. Each artwork is numbered and provide a description paper. Volunteers are also standing next to the artwork, who you can ask without hesitate. 

After the unlimited sector, I move to Hall 2, where has galleries, statement and edition located.

The galleries part’s excellence exceeds my expectation. Here you can have an overlook of the worldwide art gallery scene. There are galleries that sell blue chip artists’ artwork, for instance, Picasso, Degas, and Monet. Moreover, some galleries bring up fresh and emerging artists to the audience. You will never feel bored while walking around. Every booth contains its own tiny world. 

The most eye-catching gallery must be Jeff Koons’s artwork Sacred Heart at Gagosian’s booth: a large pink heart with a yellow ribbon. The smooth surface works like a mirror to reflect the people approach it. Security staff in a black suit and stands still beside this pink heart. At the same time, people are changing their poses and facial expressions constantly in order to get the best photos of the day.

There is a gallery that lights up my day, which is Perrotin Gallery. Perrotin divides their booth into several rooms, and each room has painted in different colors to match with the theme. Their booth has three floors, and artwork is placed in every empty space, like the corner and along the stairs. I am so happy when I saw the artwork from Italian artist Paola Pivi. Colorful polar bears were dancing on the stairs to welcome the visitors.

I only leave one day for Art Basel, but one day was definitely not enough for me to look through all the galleries. The fair organizer has forecasted this situation, so that visitors can easily find empty seats to rest and find food truck/booth to order some snacks and drinks for refreshment. 

Except for Art Basel fair, Basel city has lost of other events and important exhibitions hold at the same time. Nearby the Art Basel Hall, there are several art fairs with various styles, including Volta, LISTE, Photo Basel, Scope and Design Miami. 

Basel in June is a feast of art waiting for you to explore. 

WORDS BY LOU YILUN

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