Art Basel

Rise of the Hong Kong pop-up art fair

Another city fair surfaces abroad - this time at Masterpiece London, where work by contemporary local artists will be showcased

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2013, 5:33am

Western art fairs are looking East as more major fairs are making their way to Hong Kong and the mainland.

After Art Basel made its debut in Hong Kong last month and The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) announced recently that it is planning a Beijing version in 2014, and Masterpiece London is now all set to collaborate with a Hong Kong art fair.

The eight-day fine art, antiques and design fair kicks off in Chelsea on Thursday, complete with a Hong Kong pavilion presented by local fair Fine Art Asia and supported by the government's Economic and Trade Office in London.

Four Hong Kong galleries - Alisan Fine Arts, Kwai Fung Hin, Andy Hei and 3812 Contemporary Art Projects - will be featured, showcasing work by Hong Kong and mainland artists as well as Chinese antiques.

In October, the London fair will make a debut appearance at the Fine Art Asia fair in Hong Kong in return.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post in London, the fair's chief executive Nazy Vassegh said: "It's a very important initiative and we hope to encourage Asian collectors to come to Masterpiece."

Vassegh said she was not worried about rivalry among art fairs, "as long as everyone is offering something different, as long as there's enough to offer to collectors and curators".

She added: "Globalisation is something we have to embrace. Asia is a very important market [and] Hong Kong is one of the principal drivers of the market."

The art market boom in Hong Kong and Asia has attracted global attention, particularly after the financial crisis.

Art Basel, the world's largest modern and contemporary art fair, arrived in the city after its acquisition of a 60 per cent stake in Art HK in 2011.

In March, Maastricht fine art and antiques fair Tefaf announced it was in discussion with the Sotheby's Beijing joint venture GeHua to bring Tefaf to China, the world's second-largest art market last year, according to a European Fine Art Foundation art market report.

Asked if Masterpiece also has a plan to establish an Asian edition, Vassegh said: "Never say never."

Local dealers and artists want to catch a ride on this trend to showcase Hong Kong on an international platform.

Daphne King of Alisan Fine Arts hoped participating in this week's London fair would introduce European collectors to her gallery.

"Hopefully this will whet their appetites to find out more about Hong Kong galleries and artists," she said.

She will be showcasing three sculptures by Man Fung-yi. King said the works are based on the cheongsams worn by the artist's mother and her niece as well as a pair of her own shoes, and reflected three generations of women in her family.

Man said she appreciated the collaboration with Hong Kong and the phenomenon of art fairs looking East helped build up local artists' profile and expanded the audience.

"Art fairs seemed very remote 10 years ago. But now collectors, buyers and museum curators go to art fairs," Man said. "Business is one thing, but meetings and discussions with an international crowd are fruitful. They have brought positive opportunities to artists."