Art and culture

Adeline Ooi of Art Basel on talent, love and VR

Adeline Ooi, Art Basel’s Director Asia, on leading the region’s biggest art show, the role of tech and following your passion

It’s your third Art Basel this year. Tell us about your role in making it all happen.

I’ve always seen myself as the conductor. There are all these different aspects – the galleries, the collectors, the institutions we work with, and the programme for the week – and I’m just trying to make everyone sing. It’s a collective effort and my job is to facilitate and make decisions nobody wants to make.

Art Basel has established itself as the premier art show in Asia. Where do you feel the Asian art scene is at now?

I think we underestimate ourselves here in Asia. There’s so much potential here. Personally, I’m fighting the Asian corner and trying to highlight the talent and showcase the great work. There’s still a lot of getting to know one another in this region. This whole exchange is exciting, not just in terms of the art but in how people in the community have become friends and collaborated.

What’s going to define the future direction of the industry?

There’s a lot of talk about how tech will change one’s experience of art. But I think ultimately art has passed the test of time through centuries and you can’t take away that physical encounter. For me, in this day and age, it’s still amazing how a work can take your breath away.

What’s got you really excited in areas beyond art?

I’m curious about the world of virtual reality. Recently I experienced an art project and realised how incredible and scary it was. The world as you know it can be something else in five seconds, and you can stay there for as long as you like. That’s really interesting, scary and intriguing, all at the same time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Do something because you love it, not because of the fear of missing out. It’s something that I pass on because all the right moves in my life I think I’ve done out of crazy, stupid love.

You travel a lot in this role. What’s your favourite city from an art perspective?

It’s a toss-up between Tokyo and Seoul. The museums in Tokyo are out of this world, and it’s also the food, architecture, design and clothes. In Seoul, I love the Leeum [Samsung Museum of Art]. I think it’s one of the most amazing museums that we have in Asia.

Art Basel Hong Kong 2017 is held 23-25 March; artbasel.com

EDITOR’S PICKS

Discover More

Cathay Travell Book

ABOUT

Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
Discovery Book Silkroad Book