Angelle Siyang-Le: Director of Art Basel Hong Kong and Mother of Two

Angelle Siyang-Le: Director of Art Basel Hong Kong and Mother of Two

by HULA Marketing on Mar 28, 2024

It's the 11th year of Art Basel in Hong Kong, a milestone that holds a special significance for the organizers as it marks the beginning of the second decade of the brand's presence in Asia. Over the past ten years, Art Basel has not only established itself as a prominent platform for visual art but has also embraced the realms of performing art and pop culture, growing hand in hand with the vibrant creative community here.

Angelle Siyang-Le has been instrumental in catalysing the Hong Kong art scene since she was appointed the director of Art Basel Hong Kong in Nov 2022, a role that puts her in charge of leading the strategy and development of Art Basel's flagship event in Asia. 

Ahead of the 2024 edition of Art Basel Hong Kong (26 – 30 March), she tells us about her own experiences of the city’s creative trajectory, her career lifestyle as a mum of two and how art and personality inspire her style choices.

  Angelle wearing Veronica Beard's olive sequin-embellished jacket and pants from HULA. 

How have you seen this region's progress over the past decade in terms of art?

Although Art Basel is a Swiss brand, we very much feel that we're part of the Hong Kong art community. We felt that in the first decade we, together with the city, built the infrastructure and the foundations of Hong Kong. We can now see how, through our platform in Hong Kong, as well as other public and commercial art entities, we can elevate the Asian art scene to a more global, international level in this second decade.

We have always been collaborating with UBS, which is our global lead partner on what we call the ‘Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report', which the latest one just came out last week.

China, once again, became the second biggest art market, which put Asia after COVID back on the back of the map. We felt that 2023 was a period of reopening for Asia, with things gradually returning to normal. And 2024 is truly about reconnecting. Our platform's goal is to foster cultural exchanges, which is something we excel at -reconnecting everyone we've brought back.



Angelle's favourite part of the office 

We're even bringing art outside of the city to connect with the general public with M+, Tai Kwun and other institutions, such as performance art, live installations, and DJs to inject energy into this Art Week, now extended into an Art Month. We feel that raising awareness of art and culture is best achieved through education, so we're placing more emphasis on our public programs than before.

This year's edition boasts an impressive lineup of 242 galleries, reflecting a remarkable 37 percent growth compared to the previous year. Hailing from 40 countries and territories, these galleries converge upon Hong Kong, transforming it into a dynamic hub where cultures and artistic expressions blend harmoniously.


What do you love most about your job?

It's my passion. I've never been out of the art world as working in it feels natural to me. I'm surrounded by colleagues who feel like friends, and we're driven by our love for the platform and the people we serve, especially in Hong Kong. 

The synergy and level of collaboration are incredibly high, especially after COVID. We, as the leading brand in this industry, couldn't have achieved this without the community. Since last year, when Hong Kong began reopening, everyone has been pulling together to revive the Hong Kong art scene. This year, the sense of community is even stronger. Months before the fair, we all sit down together to plan and organise, working as a unit and the sense of collaboration and community engagement is truly unparalleled.

I've been with this brand for twelve years. This morning, I've been counting. It's one-third of my life that I've spent with this brand.


A full collection of Art Basel books before entering the office space

With a busy travel work schedule, how do you balance motherhood responsibilities and self-care?

It's really tough, I won't sugarcoat it. You need a strong support system. I've been fortunate that my family understands the sacrifices required to pursue my passion. And I constantly remind myself to appreciate and give back to those who support me.

I have three boys, including my husband! It's easy to feel overwhelmed. I've learned not to strive for perfection, but rather to do my best in balancing work and family. Communication is key to staying connected with loved ones, even when apart. They truly understand that even when you're not physically present, you're constantly thinking about them. By maintaining that connection, you can nurture your relationships regardless of the distance.

While travelling, I prioritise staying active. I may not hit the gym at 6 a.m., but I make it a point to move for 15 minutes each morning in my hotel room. I also use apps for yoga or pilates as guidance, ensuring I stretch and energise my body regularly. And in the evenings, I prioritise self-care, whether it's my skincare routine or simply unwinding.

Also, that's what we say in the art world, there's always a free flow of champagne, but not a free flow of water. So, I always try to carry a bottle of water with me, and I don't have to always drink alcohol if I don't have to.

Meeting Room 

A wall of books at the rear of the office

Who or what inspired you to pursue your profession in the art industry?

For me, I've always been drawn to soft power. I feel that art is a form of soft power, a universal language where everyone can resonate. It is a dialogue, it creates interactions and I LOVE IT.

It's difficult for me to pinpoint a specific person who had that impact on me. Growing up, I've always found that films, TV shows, art, and literature have a profound effect on me. They touch me deeply, and I find inspiration in them. Whether it's watching a moving film, reading a book, or visiting an art exhibition, these experiences have shaped my perspective. At one point, I even tried my hand at being an artist myself. 

I always had a desire to positively influence people, even those around me. I believed that if I could just make a positive difference in the life of the person sitting next to me, it would be enough. And I've always had a lot of energy and a naturally positive outlook.


Conversation at meeting room II decorated with some of her art collections

What was your first job here in Hong Kong, and what roles have you had here?

Quite a few roles. I started as a project manager, dealing directly with galleries, assisting them in putting together their booth presentations, managing art projects in Hong Kong, and working directly with artists or commissioned projects.

Then I became the head of the department, responsible for gallery relations, and overseeing all relationships with the galleries. Before taking on the director role, I was also appointed as head of development for Greater China due to my background, language skills, and understanding between the East and West. Therefore, Art Basel saw me as the connector between brands and the Greater China area, which includes Mandarin-speaking regions worldwide, not limited to just Greater China.


A very warm welcome at Art Basel office's main entrance

How would you describe your style, like your personal style in a few words?

As you can tell, I'm a very colorful person. I am a very positive person, and I've been told that I'm very smiley. The clothes I wear are usually very bright. And I'm not shy, I don't shy away from trying any sort of style. As a mom and a fair organizer, I’m always on my feet. So I wear trainers, not heels. And my style very much accommodates my way of life - comfort comes first.




Text and Photography by Tiffany Law

Location: Art Basel Hong Kong Office 

Interview Date: 20 March 2024