Evan’s corner: Hong Kong Art Fair

Written by: Evan Lowenstein
Photos by: Evan Lowenstein
Once again I had the privilege of travelling to Hong Kong for the sixth iteration of ART Basel, held from the 27 to 31 March 2018.
It was a marvellous opportunity for many international art galleries to showcase their artists to an international audience of mainly Chinese and Asian buyers.
According to the organisers, the estimated attendance was 80,000 people across the four days.
As on previous occasions, the highlight for me was the marvellous Encounters section, where the organisers commissioned Australian curator, Alexie Glass-Kantor, to put together twelve projects throughout the venue. These consisted of museum quality installations and sculptures.
Unfortunately, the paucity of Australasian art galleries was disappointing with only a handful of galleries participating in ART Basel. The galleries from our region were:
Fox/Jensen, Gow Langsford, Starkwhite from New Zealand; and
Roslyn Oxley9, Sullivan and Strumpf; and also Dianne Tanzer – This is no fantasy – from Australia.
This level of participation from our part of the region is well down on previous years and it could possibly reflect the general pessimism in the Australian art market.
Nevertheless, the quality of work was excellent and many galleries were very happy with the results.
Over at the satellite fair, Art Central, there were more art galleries from our region: Mars, Hill-Smith and Chalk Horse Projects. They also posted some good results.
With the advent of the tremendous interest being shown by the Hong Kong and Asian art buyers, another phenomenon that I observed in Hong Kong was that many more international galleries are continuing to open large permanent gallery spaces in the area around Central which are attracting large crowds with block buster shows, with artists like Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth and Ai Wei Wei at Tang Contemporary.
The importance that these major players in the international art scene ranks Hong Kong on a par with the great commercial art cities of the world.
The challenge for the Australian art world is to ensure that our own art – which is of the highest quality – gets an opportunity to be shown and sold in this growing art mecca.

Ben Quilty talks of tax reform

It is a good development when a leading artist takes the lead in calling for some form of government change to tax policy.
In his keynote address to the 2025 Create NSW symposium, Ben Quilty called on government to reform the tax system to respect the value that the arts have in society.
As an accounting firm that represents 3500 clients in the creative industries, Lowensteins has also been working to promote some changes to tax policy insofar as it affects the arts.
We will be releasing some tax position papers in the next June/July Newsletter for public discussion.
Some of the possible tax reforms that we will be looking at include:
  • Tax free scholarships.
  • Removal of the $40,000 Non-commercial losses cap that is affecting more and more artists
  • Tax exemption for artists – for which further research will be done.