Art Fair

Sydney Contemporary 2017

September 15, 2017
Hahan, with his soon-to-be carved up mural

It was both pleasing and wryly amusing to learn that sales at this year’s Sydney Contemporary Art Fair topped $16 million. For a commercial gallery sector feeling unloved and unvisited this figure represents a resounding endorsement. Nevertheless, before breaking out the champagne it’s worth putting that achievement into perspective with a glance at Day One … More


Art Stage Jakarta 2017

August 25, 2017
Melati spits ink at the Macan Museum

Two moments from the week of Art Stage Jakarta 2017 will stay lodged in my mind: the would-be ‘glittering occasion’ of the inaugural Indonesian Art Award, and a performance by Melati Suryodarmo in which she spent three hours in a blank cubicle, grunting, groaning and spitting ink at the walls. Indonesian art today lies somewhere … More


Art Basel 2017 & Documenta 14

June 22, 2017
The title of Art Basel's special installations section said it all...

Contemporary art can be a punishing obsession for its true believers but rarely do the art die-hards get the chance to attend four major events during a single visit to Europe. The Venice Biennale, which has been running since the second week in May, has now been joined by a uniquely bifurcated version of Documenta, … More


Contemporary Istanbul 2016

November 18, 2016
View of Contemporary Istanbul 2016. Courtesy-Contemporary Istanbul.

Istanbul is proud of its historical reputation as a meeting place of cultures. This pride is apparent on the website for the Contemporary Istanbul art fair, which boasts: “As the hope chest of civilisations, Istanbul is the capital of the world…” but insecurities arise before the end of the sentence, with the qualifying clause “…in … More


Art Basel Hong Kong 2015

March 21, 2015
Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015
Photo by Jessica Hromas/Art Basel 2015

At the Cocktail Reception that followed the Private View of this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong the Swiss luxury brand, Davidoff, was handing out free cigars. It proved a wildly popular giveaway. The entire party, held around the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt, was wreathed in a fog of cigar smoke. A food queue … More


Venice Biennale 2013: The Encylopaedic Palace

June 8, 2013
Vadim Zakharov, Danaë, Installation view, Russian Pavilion

Every Venice Biennale is a talk fest – a place for the beautiful people of the art world to exchange opinions and business cards at endless parties. Unfortunately most of the talk is of a very tawdry nature: “I just loved the Ruritanian pavilion!” “Oh yeah, I loved it too!”  And so on, ad infinitum. … More


Art Basel in Hong Kong 2013

June 1, 2013
Yayoi Kusuma, Flame of Life — Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu)

Hong Kong is said to have got its name from the smell of incense stored in warehouses by the waterfront. Nowadays in “the fragrant harbour” the dominant smell is that of money, and it’s a perfume most residents find highly agreeable. There was a certain tang in the air last week, as the increasingly successful … More


Lars & the big poo

May 28, 2013
Cao Fei's Suckling Pig

At the end of another Hong Kong Art Fair – now rebranded as Art Basel in Hong Kong – one image stays in my mind. On an elevated platform stands Lars Nittve, executive director of the much-heralded M+ Museum, due to open in 2017. He is wearing a brown suit and giving a speech, in … More


Markets & mindsets

September 11, 2012
On site 1

In China last week for Shanghai Contemporary, it began to dawn on me why Australia’s commercial gallery scene seems to be struggling to keep afloat: while the contemporary art market has become completely globalised we remain a stubborn provincial outstation. This is no reflection on the quality of Australian art but it is a growing … More


Melbourne Art Fair 2012

August 11, 2012
Screen shot 2012-09-02 at 11.12.08 AM

Another Melbourne Art Fair, another chance to take the unsteady pulse of the local art market. With no hard data about turnover, a hasty prognosis would suggest the sector is still feeling the pain, although smiling through tears. Every year the Fair commissions a major work that is subsequently gifted to a public gallery. This … More