Hong Kong Art Gallery Week Kicks Off

Art dealers unite to turn the spotlight on Asia's most vibrant gallery hub.

Hong Kong Art Association board members. Photo courtesy of the association.

The Hong Kong Art Gallery Week is upon us! Forget the auctions (see “Asian Art Auctions Pop: Christie’s Hong Kong Evening Sale Hits $82 Million“), in the next ten days, it’s the galleries that will steal the limelight. 

The festival started last year when the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association (HKAGA) felt something needed to be done to get the public to visit galleries more often.

“The industry has really grown extremely quickly over the last 10 years,” HKAGA co-founder Katie de Tilly told artnet News, reminiscing on the association’s early days. “Most of the galleries are quite young. We decided to create the Art Gallery Association to have one voice to speak to the greater community. To join forces instead of each of us acting on our own.”

While Hong Kong has long been acclaimed as a key art hub in the region, it doesn’t have much of a gallery-going culture, and the auctions still reign supreme. But gallerists are now working together through the 50-member-strong HKAGA to promote the importance of galleries in the art ecosystem, educating the public on what galleries do and why.

Hong Kong Art Gallery Week’s Programing

This year, Art Gallery Week will run from today to December 5, offering a packed program of talks, workshops, art tours, and special performances and exhibitions.

De Tilly is particularly excited about the series of talks. Artists and speakers will explore themes relating to Hong Kong as a growing arts hub for the region and globally. Kicking things off is a discussion on “Presenting Hong Kong on the World Stage” on November 28 at PMQ, speakers include Doryun Chong, Chief Curator of M+, Johnson Chang, Gallery Founder of Hanart TZ Gallery, Cosmin Costinas, Executive Director and Curator of Para/Site, and artist Adrian Wong.

De Sarthe Gallery will also host a talk on “Public vs Private: Developing Museums in China and Southeast Asia” on December 3. Speakers include Pi Li, Museum Curator of M+, Florian Knothe, Director of University Museum & Art Gallery at University of Hong Kong, Lynn Fung, Managing Director of the Liang Yi Museum, and Hallam Chow from the H1 Foundation.

Art students will be interested in the talk on “Rites of Passage: Graduating into the World of Art in Hong Kong” on December 5. “It’s about Hong Kong artists’ future and trying to understand that this is a new and growing industry, to look at the career choices,” said De Tilly.

Other participants in the talks program include: Jehan Chu, Art Advisor, Richard Buckley, Executive Vice President, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, John Aiken, Professor at Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kyle Ford, Professor at SCAD, Dr. Yeewan Koon, Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong, Mimi Brown, Founder of Spring Workshop, and will feature representatives from The Art Newspaper, Artron.net, Ocula, and Artsy.

Some of Their Best Shows

Participating galleries have saved some of their best shows for Art Gallery Week, exhibiting a wide range of names, from Chinese “gunpowder artist” Cai Guo-Qiang at Axel Vervoordt Gallery to Impressionist master Henri Matisse at Opera Gallery.

The Hong Kong outpost of Gagosian Gallery continues its popular showing of Jeff Koons’ “Hulk” series, while much-talked-about photography masters Ho Fan and Tseng Kwong Chi will show at AO Vertical Space and Ben Brown Fine Arts respectively.

For a dose of Hong Kong talent, head to the “Hong Kong Bestiary” exhibition, gathering works by Kacey Wong and Trevor Yeung at Platform China (HK). Or register to visit the studio of Hong Kong-based artist João Vasco Paiva, who will welcome the public to his work space on November 29.

Organizers also hope to familiarize the public with Hong Kong’s art districts and have created a handy online maps of six neighborhoods: Central, Sheung Wan, SOHO, Chai Wan, Tsuen Wan, and South Island. Galleries are clearly marked on the maps, while a special Art Bus will run from Central to Chai Wan and South Island on November 29, taking people on art tours.

“Hong Kong has a unique typography, with hills and winding roads. We are trying to bring people to see art, while at the same time getting lost in these neighborhoods that have interesting local restaurants and small shops,” said De Tilly.

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