Exhibitors eager to woo new Asian art buyers at global show

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 May, 2008, 12:00am

Exhibitors at a high-profile international art show in the city hope to sell the works that are on show and meet new Asian buyers at the five-day event, which opened yesterday.

Gilbert Lloyd, of London-based Marlborough Fine Art, which is showing 100 works, including Francis Bacon's painting Man at a Washbasin, valued at HK$275 million, said he was confident about sale prospects this week and believed the market's long-term prospects were good.

'We want to develop the market here and we are prepared to invest money and time. If the sales are not enormous this time, it will get better next year,' said Mr Lloyd.

He said he had a few Asian clients and had sold art to clients from the region, including the mainland, Hong Kong and Japan, but hoped to find more during the ArtHK08 fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Another London-based exhibitor, Ben Brown Fine Arts, which is showing 100 pieces, including works by Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol's Avanti Cars, valued at HK$29 million, said the fair provided a great opportunity to network with new clients.

Although art worth HK$500 million is up for sale, not all those who will be admiring the works are potential buyers. Hundreds of free tickets had been given to art students, said the fair's director, Magnus Renfrew.

Charles Merewether, chief adviser for the event, said visitors could not only learn about art, but also about the art galleries showing works at the fair.

Mr Merewether encouraged students eyeing a career in arts management to visit the fair.

The event, which is in its first year, had made a good start, he said, with more than 100 galleries from 28 countries, including 10 from Hong Kong, taking part.

Artist and writer Law Wai-ming said there was a lot of inspiring art on show.

'The commercial nature is unavoidable because it is run by galleries, but the good thing is that there are a lot of works by young artists as well as established artists,' he said.

The organisers are expecting 15,000 visitors, and are providing guided tours in both English and Chinese.

The fair runs until Sunday. Tickets cost HK$150, or HK$50 for full-time students.

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen will give a speech tomorrow at an Asia Art Archive event at the fair about cultural investment.