This Year’s Event To Feature Split Between Western And Asian Participants
Five years after its establishment — which, at that time, was met with skepticism in the global art world — this year’s Hong Kong Art Fair (ART HK) looks to be the best yet, placing it far ahead of regional competitors in South Korea and Singapore. With Asian collectors becoming an increasingly critical pillar in the international art market, and Hong Kong becoming one of the world’s key auction hubs since 2008, ART HK has managed to attract a steadily growing number of established galleries and exhibitors, several of which have opened, or soon plan to open, dedicated spaces in Hong Kong.
Running this year from May 16-20, ART HK 2012 will be the biggest yet, edging out last year’s event with 264 galleries from 37 countries taking part. Though the fair has organically grown, for the most part, this year’s event undoubtedly will benefit from the support of MCH Group, the owners of Art Basel and Art Basel Miami Beach, which purchased ART HK last year.
As Artinfo notes this week, the 50/50 split between Western and Asian participants in this year’s fair indicates that the organizers have finally achieved a unique balancing act among global art festivals:
This diversity has been achieved through three different strategies. First, the fair has attracted a greater number of leading Asian art houses to participate in the main “gallery” section of the event. Notable new local entrants this year include Koyanagi from Japan (which is selective to the point of reclusivity when it comes to art fairs, hitherto only spotted at Art Basel), Gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke and Volte from Mumbai (all of whom were standout participants at this month’s India Art Fair), and new entrant to the Hong Kong scene de Sarthe Fine Art.
In a second move, the dedicated Asian section of ART HK, ASIA One, is returning this year with 49 participants (up from 47 in 2011.) Last year, ASIA One provided some of the fair’s most invigorating moments, with an array of booths largely devoted to solo presentations of emerging Asian artists. It lost some impact by being placed on a separate floor from the main drag, but in 2012 a new layout will place it at the center of the event — the main gallery section will be spread over two floors and ASIA One situated at the middle of each. The section looks set to provide some of the most distinctive experiences of the fair with a range of notable new entrants including New Delhi’s Latitude 28, Beijing’s PIN Gallery, Seoul’s GALLERY SKAPE, and Hong Kong’s Edouard Malingue.
Finally the Art Futures section of the fair, which is devoted to emerging galleries from around the world showing artists younger than 35 has — perhaps unsurprisingly — a notable number of Asian participants. However achieved, the global reach of the event is likely to become one of ART HK’s trump cards going forward in an increasingly crowded art fair calendar. ART HK director Magnus Renfrew confirmed that the 50/50 split was something the fair was committed to: “We want to ensure a balance, to show different aesthetics, and to get away from this West-centric view of the world.”
The mix of galleries taking part in this year’s event indicates that ART HK has truly come into its own, with established Western participants including Sadie Coles HQ, Hauser & Wirth, Acquavella, Marianne Boesky, Leo Castelli, Cheim & Read, Gagosian Gallery, Marian Goodman, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, and David Zwirner taking part, alongside Asian galleries like Pace, Long March Space, Vitamin Creative Space, Roslyn Oxley9, ShanghART, Platform China, Hanart TZ, and SCAI THE BATHHOUSE.