Shanghai’s ART021 Launches New Hong Kong Fair

The invite-only event will have a regional focus and feature around 80 art and design galleries.

ART021 Shanghai 2023 . Courtesy of ART021.

Shanghai’s ART021 fair group has shared its plan to expand to Hong Kong within the next year. The announcement follows the conclusion of this year’s edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, which saw a return to pre-pandemic exhibitor numbers.

Founded in 2013 in Shanghai by three collectors—Kylie Ying, Bao Yifeng, and David Chau—ART021 has quickly grown from a boutique event into a major art fair, attracting top galleries, institutions, and collectors. As part of its “think global, act local” approach, ART021 initiated other fairs, including Beijing’s Jingart in 2018 and DnA Shenzhen in 2021.

The new Hong Kong fair will feature around 80 galleries, according to the organizers. “We want to give the whole benefits back to the participating galleries, giving them enough space and walls to present art,” Ying said. “Galleries from the mainland expressed a strong desire to come back to Hong Kong soon with spotlighted and equal booth spaces,” she said, highlighting the fair’s commitment to giving generously sized booths to its exhibitors.

Jingart in Beijing. Courtesy of Jingart.

She added that the first edition will be an “invite-only event” and acknowledged the possibility that it might not turn a profit in the first year.

The ART021 founders have not ruled out the possibility of seeking local governmental funding or other forms of support, but have not confirmed whether any additional funding has been secured at this point. However, the Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund has supported many major art fairs that in Hong Kong, including Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Central, and Ink Art, as well as the pop culture fair ConplexCon. The fund is run by the city’s Culture, Sports, and Tourism Bureau and is chaired by Adrien Cheng, the billionaire art collector and the CEO of New World Development.

Ying said the mission of the new fair is to “create and curate an ideal image of an art fair” that focuses on the pan-Asian region, rather than a large international event. This approach reflects lessons learned and insights gained from the founders’ recent international travels, she said, noting enlightening trips to Dubai and Singapore. Without visiting a region, “it’s challenging for most people to see a concentrated group of galleries,” Ying said. Therefore, the curatorial format of ART021 Hong Kong can help “filter out the best artists from the best galleries in a region.”

The fair’s expansion may signal the end of the neighboring fair DnA Shenzhen, as the fair group funnels its four years of market and collector development in China’s Greater Bay Area into the Hong Kong venture. It poses unique challenges, according to Ying, including adapting to the local language of Cantonese as well as the city’s distinctive legal and financial systems.

Shanghai’s ART021. Courtesy of Art021.

“We are almost starting from scratch,” Ying noted, emphasizing the need to build a local team.

According to its plan, the main gallery section will highlight galleries from mainland China, reflecting ART021’s strong connections and the enthusiastic response from these galleries during the invitation phase. Additionally, galleries from China’s Greater Bay Area, including Hong Kong, will be prominently featured, showcasing the region’s vibrant art scene.

The fair will also feature galleries from the broader pan-Asian region, encompassing the Middle East, West Asia, and Southeast Asian countries, further emphasizing the fair’s inclusive and expansive reach. Some international galleries have also been invited, with expectations set high for them to “present their most exceptional works,” according to the fair organizers. The event will also include design galleries to showcase a curated collection of premier design works, broadening the scope of traditional art fairs.

The venue and dates will be announced at a later date.

“Hong Kong is an international metropolis and Asia’s window to the world,” Ying said, adding that the idea of expanding to Hong Kong has been part of ART021’s vision since its inception. “With ART021 Hong Kong, the aim is to pivot the conversation back to Asian and Asian diasporic art, fostering deeper engagement with the diverse and rich cultures of the Global South.”

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