No luxury home is complete without the family's favourite artworks. But buying a painting is not just about appreciation, it also has the potential to be a lucrative investment.
Record sales have raised awareness of Chinese artists such as Zhang Xiaogang, whose painting Forever Lasting Love sold for HK$79 million in Sotheby's last year. Lotus and Mandarin Ducks, by the legendary Zhang Daqian, which had been estimated at HK$20 million, sold for HK$191 million, while an abstract piece by Zao Wouki fetched HK$68 million.
'The current trend is that artists from China, Japan and South Korea are in demand, with prices above HK$40,000 for a one-metre by one-metre painting.
Apart from this, there is also a growing awareness of once-neglected Hong Kong artists, due to the arts boom,' says dealer Kelvin Lim.
'At the turn of the century, art was purely for decoration or personal appreciation, but after the economic boom, it brought financial rewards because reputable auction firms, such as Sotheby's and Christie's, included Chinese contemporary art in their list.
'The recent global credit crunch brought prices down. Still, it didn't stop people buying because the price has become more affordable. An amateur piece that may have cost HK$100,000 before the financial crisis may have been adjusted to almost half [of that amount].' Hong Kong-born Raymond Fung, a renowned architect and ink-painter, says: 'Only a handful of galleries, such as Plum Blossoms and Hanart TZ Gallery, showcase local artists' works. However, you may venture into Fo Tan in Sha Tin, or Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre to meet them face-to-face as their workshops and exhibitions are held there.'
K.Y. Fine Art deals in Chinese art and antiques from the Neolithic Age to the 20th century. Owner K.Y. Ng sources his collections from around the globe. 'We sometimes receive special requests from clients. You must go to reliable dealers for antiques,' he says. 'The Hong Kong Art Craft Merchants' Association offers antique authentication services for about HK$2,000 per piece.'
An event to put in your calendar is the Hong Kong International Art Fair, a showcase for international Modern & Contemporary Art in Asia. Held 17-20 May, this year's event will draw 266 galleries representing 39 territories.