Posted by: Frederik Balfour on May 5, 2009
I was never able to afford tickets to watch tennis legend Martina Navratilova play when she was in her prime, but it looks like I’ll be getting the equivalent of center court box seats when she takes up her racket in Hong Kong next week. But this is no ordinary performance by the winner of 59 grand slam titles [including 18 singles crowns] as Navratilova has chosen a very different doubles partner this time around: Slovak artist Juro Kralik. The duo will produce unique works of art by having Navratilova firing her famous shots at a canvas using paint-covered balls. It’s not clear to me yet what role Kralik plays in this partnership. Maybe he selects the paints? Or yells “foot fault”? The name of the performance is, appropriately enough, “Art Grand Slam.” [If you go to her website, there are some pictures at the bottom of previous works] And as it turns out the pair have been exhibiting works since their first show in Prague in October 2006, just a couple of months after Navratilova quit pro-tennis after winning her 59th title at the U.S. Open.
As a member of the media, I have been invited by the Sovereign Art Foundation to a preview, which I guess will serve as her warm-up session for the main the main event, a “vernissage” for the general public at the opening of the international art fair, ArtHK 09 on May 13. For a taste of last year’s fair have a look at my story from 2008. I am wondering if they will consider letting me be the ball boy?
I’ve already seen photos of some of Kralik and Navratilova’s collaborations and I will say this much: they show a lot more promise than works done by David Beckham as part of an Adidas Olympic marketing tie-up which went on auction for charity at Sothebys here in Hong Kong last year. Bidding was pretty tepid, but that was in October as the wheels started falling off the art market in the wake of the Wall Street crisis. Let’s hope things go better for the Czech and Slovak pair. Proceeds from the sale of five works from Art Grand Slam will go to Sovereign Art Foundation, a charity registered in Hong Kong and the UK that raises money to help disadvantaged children using the arts as rehabilitation, education and therapy. If you visit their homepage I linked to above, you can also watch a newsclip of Navratilova doing her thing.