Art fair seeks bigger toehold in global market

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 May, 2010, 12:00am

Organisers of this year's Hong Kong International Art Fair are hoping to attract more affluent buyers from the mainland and around the region.

Some of the art world's biggest names are at the fair, including Takashi Murakami, Zhang Xiaogang and Antony Gormley, as well as Australian film director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge), who is here to unveil the installation art piece The Creek, 1977, which he created with fellow Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo. Solo exhibitions of the most sought-after names in the contemporary art world, including Damien Hirst and Yoshitomo Nara, are also featured.

Fair director Magnus Renfrew said that members of the fair's advisory group, including Chinese art collectors Richard Chang and Yang Bin, had been working hard to bring collectors to the event, which starts today and runs till Sunday at the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

He said events had been held in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou to introduce the fair, ART HK, to the mainland. Chang said the art world had expanded fast and the number of collectors had been rising.

The fair also courted collectors from Indonesia, Seoul and Taipei, but it remained to be seen who would end up taking prominent roles this year, Renfrew said.

This week is the inaugural Hong Kong Art Week, a government-backed effort to better put the city on the cultural-event map. It features an audio-visual installation by British-born composer and artist Simon Boswell, as well as exhibition of the Hong Kong art biennial awards and a series of art talks. Auction houses Christie's, Bonhams and Est-Ouest Auctions are also hosting sales.

Renfrew hoped to surpass last year's attendance of 28,000 visitors. Organisers received more than 300 applications and selected 155, from 29 countries.

Gregor Muir, director of Zurich's Hauser & Wirth, a newcomer to the event, said the gallery was showcasing some art works from the east, including those of Chinese artist Zhang Enli. 'We don't want to bring things that people cannot make a connection to,' Muir said.

Returning galleries included Tokyo's SCAI The Bathhouse and Hilger Contemporary from Vienna. Fumiko Nagayoshi, from the former, said business went well last year and with increasingly successful auction results, collectors should spend.

Hilger director Sabine Jaroschka, who has brought 20 pieces including a few from Austrian artist Oliver Dorfer, said the city's lack of a sales or import tax made the fair an attractive one to international collectors.