“Undoubtedly the art hub of Asia” is how Charles Ross, managing director of Art13 London, describes Hong Kong. He should know. Ross also served as managing director of Art HK, which evolved into Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013. Last year it’s estimated that the event generated over US$1bn in sales and a footfall of 65,000.
Satellite events being the must-have accessory for any major art fair, Friday March 13 marks Hong Kong’s next cultural milestone with the launch of Art Central (tickets from HK$200, about £17), a four-day lead into the world’s newest Art Basel, which kicks off two days later. Ross, along with Art HK’s founders Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus, has gathered 76 contemporary galleries from 21 countries, including Conny Dietzschold Gallery of Sydney and Cologne, Richard Koh Fine Art of Kuala Lumpur and Singapore (look out for Thai artist Natee Utarit’s oil on canvas Passage to the Song of Truth and Absolute Equality, £333,990) and Istanbul’s Krampf Gallery, where standout pieces include surrealist metal works by American sculptor Rona Pondick (Fox, £65,000, second picture). According to Art Central co-director Eve Share Banghart, another Art HK alumna, “there are 17 satellite fairs around Art Basel Miami Beach, but up to now Hong Kong has lacked this component. Art Central represents a natural progression in this city’s development on the international art stage.”
An emphasis on the homegrown also distinguishes this fair, with 65 per cent of Art Central’s participating galleries coming from greater Asia, including 19 from Hong Kong. Prominent Hong Kong galleries participating include Galerie du Monde and Contemporary by Angela Li, which will show Hong Kong-centric works by American photographer Peter Steinhauer, including One Thousand Flats, Hong Kong – 2013 (£7,739, third picture) and Lin Hongbo’s intimate Graze sculpture (£3,187, fourth picture).
Banghart, who worked at Gagosian Gallery in London before moving to Hong Kong, is especially excited about Rise, a sector of 11 solo-show or dual-artist presentations from galleries established in the past five years, such as Mur Nomade, a nascent space in Hong Kong’s edgy South Island Cultural District. “I’m keeping an eye on Vivian Poon, a Hong Kong painter. Her clean, minimal series on vintage notebook paper Yellow, Blue, Green, White and Red 2015 (£588 each, example in first picture) explores how colour shapes the limits of what we can know.”
The space will be a 10,000sq m pop-up on Victoria Harbour designed by London’s Stiff + Trevillion, “the largest temporary structure ever erected in Hong Kong”, enthuses pioneering Hong Kong gallerist Mandy d’Abo. Her Cat Street Gallery participated in the first five years of Art HK, but has switched to the satellite. “What was accomplished with Art HK was amazing. I think that same energy will manifest at this forward-thinking event. It’s positively flush with opportunities to feast one’s eyes on the future of art.”