'Affordable' art gets in on the act in growing Hong Kong market

London fair is slated to bring in works aimed at the lower end of the market to promote artists who have yet to make their name

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2013, 9:17am

A London art fair selling "affordable art" will be landing in Hong Kong, taking up a slot in March in the city's already congested art market calendar.

Three-quarters of the works will sell for under HK$75,000 at the show, where prices will range from HK$1,000 to HK$100,000.

Organisers say Hong Kong is not facing an art-fair overload. On the contrary, they say, there has been a lack of platforms to display quality "affordable" works by artists who have yet to get their big breaks.

Will Ramsay, who founded the Affordable Art Fair in London in 1999, said it was appropriate now to bring the fair to Hong Kong as the art market had blossomed and the city had developed an audience for viewing and buying.

"But maybe not everyone can afford [art] selling at ART HK or Art Basel," Ramsay said, referring to two upmarket events.

He hoped his fair would eliminate the intimidating feeling of the art world and make art more accessible.

The city has been hosting fairs, auctions and international galleries selling top-notch artworks. Following the success of those events, fairs that promote works at comparatively affordable prices are beginning to take root, tackling the lower end of the market.

Besides the Affordable Art Fair from London, organisers of Affordable Art China have also said they are planning to launch a Hong Kong edition this year.

"There will be more and more [art fairs] as the market expands. Some will stay, some will go," Ramsay said.

In 2011, 51.6 per cent of artworks sold by dealers went for €3,001 to €50,000 (HK$30,200 and HK$502,900), the European Fine Art Foundation found in a survey. Dealers said 27.9 per cent of the works sold were priced at €3,000 or less, the survey showed. Only 0.9 per cent of the works were sold at €2 million or more.

The Affordable Art Fair already takes place in 15 cities and countries, including Singapore.

"Affordable doesn't mean cheap or bad quality," Ramsay said. "Only few lucky artists can make it big. This is a platform for young artists selling their works."

The Hong Kong edition, taking place from March 15 to 17, will host 80 galleries, of which 60 per cent come from Asia, including 10 that are home-grown.

It would feature creations in a range of media from traditional works to photography and new media, Ramsay said.

The fair would also include an exhibition showcasing 12 Hong Kong young artists to promote the local scene, he said.

Hong Kong is becoming crowded with art fairs since ART HK, which Ramsay co-founded, took off in 2007. The first edition of Art Basel Hong Kong will take place between May 23 and 26 after the Swiss giant bought over the successful Hong Kong fair.