Art Basel’s Parent Company to Launch New Fair in Singapore Next Year

MCH Group AG, the Swiss parent company of Art Basel, is going to launch a new art fair in Singapore next year to increase its presence in the Asian market. The group aims to take advantage of the growing wealth in Asia, especially in the collective market of ASEAN countries with a total population of 620 million altogether. To capitalize on the huge market, MCH Group has decided to team up with Sandy Angus and Tim Etchells, who are the main competitors to Art Basel in Hong Kong.

MCH is the parent company of Art Basel

The new art fair ‘Art SG’ will take place at Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands on November 1-3, expected to attract around 80 galleries from Singapore, Southeast Asia and globally. The dates are in between the Hong Kong autumn sales of two leading auction houses – after Sotheby’s spring auction in October and before Christie’s one in November.

Sands Expo and Convention Centre

The new art fair is a joint venture between MCH Group, Sandy Angus and Tim Etchells. Back in 2008, Angus and Etchells co-founded a large-scale art fair called Art HK, which then proved to be a success in Hong Kong. In 2013, Art Basel bought out Art HK and renamed it Art Basel Hong Kong. Two years later, Angus and Etchells launched Art Central, which takes place annually in Hong Kong in the same period as Art Basel.

Art Basel and Art Central have become two major art events attracting art enthusiasts in the region and around the world. Therefore, March in Hong Kong is also dubbed ‘Hong Kong Arts Month’, when local and overseas artists converge to bring exciting programmes.   

Art Basel Hong Kong|2018

Art Central Hong Kong|2018

This kind of major art fairs are good platforms for galleries to showcase their works, especially contemporary art. There has been a steady growth in the market for this art genre. Contemporary art accounted for 3% of global art auction turnover in 2000. In the first half of 2017, contemporary art contributed US$1.04 billion, up to 15% of global turnover.

International auction houses have placed great importance on the Hong Kong market. If we look at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips alone, they have realized sale totals of over HK$1 billion in spring sales this year.

The prospect of the contemporary art market is positive

Auction houses have recorded outstanding results in contemporary art sales in Hong Kong this spring

With its geographical advantage and favourable business environment, Hong Kong has positioned itself as the art centre in Asia, a stepping stone to unlock the potential Chinese market for major art fairs and prominent global galleries. The same rules also apply in Singapore. It is very likely that MCH group is targeting buyers and collectors not only in Singapore but also countries in the vicinity, such as Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. Though we seldom find public auctions in these countries, auction houses have extended their businesses to these countries by organizing private sales. These are encouraging signals suggesting a promising and profitable market.

To tap into the Singapore market, MCH might have to learn a lesson from precedents. In 2011, Art Stage Singapore made debut in Singapore but experienced dwindling exhibitors since then. The number of exhibitors dropped from 170 in 2016 to 131 in 2017, and to only 84 this year. Its sister fair in Indonesia, Art Stage Jakarta, has cancelled the 2018 edition this May.

Art Stage Singapore

2019 is going to be an extraordinary year for the Asian art market. In addition to the new art fair in Singapore, Taipei Dangdai is also set to be held in Taipei in mid-January. The mastermind behind this project is Magnus Renfrew, the co-founder of Art HK and served as founding director of Art Basel  Hong Kong. Similar to Art Basel, Taipei Dangdai will be supported by UBS.