Art Basel and BMW are delighted to present Leelee Chan as the next BMW Art Journey winner. An international jury conducted its selection process unanimously and online. Leelee Chan was selected from a shortlist of three proposals by artists who are represented by galleries originally accepted into this year’s Art Basel show in Hong Kong. Leelee Chan is represented by Capsule Shanghai gallery.
Leelee Chan’s BMW Art Journey “Tokens From Time” intends to trace material culture from the past, present and future. The artist will visit artisan families that practice ancient craftsmanship techniques using copper, silver and marble, among other materials, some of which play a role in the artist’s own sculptural practice. Along her journey, Chan will engage in dialogues with scientists and experts to understand how natural materials may be substituted by synthetic materials in the future.
Investigating ancient materials and their future substitutes from the emerging fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology, Leelee Chan’s BMW Art Journey project gives expression to the evolving relationship between people and materials, and touches on contemporary debates surrounding ecological and cultural sustainability. Spanning from the hand-crafted to the industrial to the post-industrial, the artist's investigation of materials ultimately asks the question, “What does it mean to be a sculptor today?” In search of an answer, Leelee Chan plans to visit destinations in Europe, Japan and the Americas. Her final travel itinerary will be determined in observance of current travel and health regulations tied to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am beyond excited to be selected for the BMW Art Journey. Material objects have always been at the core of my practice. The journey will allow me to dig much deeper by discovering new processes, by encountering the people who work with them in their everyday lives, and, thereby, to make them meaningful for me as a sculptor working in this current uncertain moment,” says Leelee Chan.
The international jury consisted of Claire Hsu, Director, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Matthias Mühling, Director, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich; Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Philip Tinari, Director, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; and Samson Young, artist and winner of the first BMW Art Journey.
“Leelee Chan’s journey spans across time and space to consider the stories of materials, including metal, stone and crystals, and explore how they have shaped our human experience,” noted the Jury in its statement. “From ancient crystal caves in Mexico to marble workshops in Italy to high-tech synthetic quartz factories in Japan, the artist plans to investigate materials with the help of experts and craft practitioners, both as a source of raw material and as an inspiration for reflection. We were impressed by how Leelee Chan engages with materials that are charged with needs, values and ideas, to ask what it means to be a sculptor working today and tomorrow.”
In addition to Leelee Chan, the shortlisted artists for the BMW Art Journey 2020 were: Jes Fan (represented by Empty Gallery, Hong Kong) and the artist duo Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho (represented by 47 Canal, New York).
Launched in 2015, the BMW Art Journey is a collaboration between Art Basel and BMW, created to recognize and support emerging artists worldwide. Now in its sixth year the initiative is evolving. Since 2020, the circle of eligible artists has been broadened. For the first time, eligible participants included not only emerging and mid-career artists from the Discoveries sector, but also artists presented by participating galleries founded no more than ten years ago. As this year's Art Basel show in Hong Kong had to be cancelled due to the outbreak and spread of Covid-19, the jury conducted its selection process online. Artists and their galleries were invited to submit digital applications, including a short video by the artists explaining their work and process.
Past winners of the BMW Art Journey include sound and performance artist Samson Young (represented by a.m. Space, Hong Kong at Art Basel's Hong Kong show in 2015); video artists Henning Fehr and Philipp Rühr (represented by Galerie Max Mayer, Dusseldorf at Art Basel's Miami Beach show in 2015); Abigail Reynolds (represented by Rokeby, London at Art Basel's show in Hong Kong in 2016) as well as Max Hooper Schneider (represented by High Art, Paris at Art Basel's Miami Beach show in 2016), Astha Butail (represented by GALLERYSKE, New Dehli, Bangalore at Art Basel´s Hong Kong show in 2017), Jamal Cyrus (represented by Inman Gallery, Houston at Art Basel’s Miami Beach show in 2017), Zac Langdon-Pole (represented by Michael Lett, Auckland at Art Basel’s Hong Kong show in 2018) and Lu Yang (represented by the gallery Société, Berlin at Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019).
BMW has supported Art Basel’s shows in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong for many years.