An art fair should be like a bustling supermarket. Individual artwork, once sold, can be packed, removed and the gallery quickly refills that space with something else. The usual considerations associated with judging art - aesthetic qualities, originality and artistic excellence - can be suspended when measuring the success of an art fair. The only factor is commercial: viewers must buy to justify the high participation costs of a gallery. If galleries sell, then they return. Last week's Hong Kong International Art Fair, or Art HK 08, was a success by this equation: sales were bubbling along. But art fair visitors and art collectors can, and do, have other expectations. Some attend to seek an overview of contemporary art trends and the chance to meet gallery owners, others use the occasion as an opportunity to discover a young talented artist and to see work by well-known overseas contemporary artists. The latter category might have got very little out of this combination of galleries participating in the inaugural Art HK 08. On offer was generally a safe and solid presentation of paintings and photography. There was neither the high-end top-price work of art market favourites Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Gerhard Richter, Damien Hirst, Chuck Close and Lucian Freud, nor did we see the presentation of extensive video, installation, sound and large-scale sculptural pieces that is the staple of most international art biennials. The tile-sized Richters seen in one booth were an astute acknowledgement of Hong Kong's reputation for few collectors and little decent hanging space. Mature art fairs - Art Basel and ARCO in Madrid for example - have introduced an edginess and impression of relevance by providing special invitation-only project spaces comprising less commercial art organised by seasoned curators and independent art spaces. Art HK 08's equivalent was the commendable Mirage exhibition featuring Hong Kong's artists. But the large centrepiece timber platform was too dominant and allowed little breathing space for the other work which consequently seemed irrelevant. Recent graduate Esther Yip's The Happy Tree, however, was an oddly cute and successful installation. Unfortunately, Mirage, curated by Sabrina Fung, and artist Movana Chen's 'bodysock' performances, took on the role of entertainment rather than building a rapport between the conceptual ideas of their display and the determinedly commercial of the art fair booths. The tight presentation in One and J. Gallery of Korea was excellent. Kim Jong-ku uses fine steel powder in all his work, and a highlight of the fair was the display of a long scroll placed on the floor with Chinese calligraphy executed with sprinkled steel filings. A ground-level video camera captures a horizontal view of the calligraphy on to an adjacent display monitor; from this viewpoint the small undulations of the three-dimensional calligraphy is seen as a dark landscape of low mountains and flat valleys. The artist photographs these installations and, using set-lights and a variety of angles, can alter the look of each landscape - night, sunset and winter landscapes can all be photographed. In the same gallery, the paintings of Kim Su-young and Park Jina, and the photographs of Yum Joong-ho were equally impressive. Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso in Rossi + Rossi displayed one of the fair's few political art pieces in Yo, you, protect your airway! Gyatso builds up an image of the Olympic rings using layers of simple children's stickers accompanied by free-hand drawing. This small work on paper contains a plethora of messages to China: calls for freedom of speech, more openness to criticism and restraints on commercial excess. The hyper-real imagery of Japanese anime was displayed in Nanzuka Underground with the work of the influential Tanaami Keiichi, and in the Magical Artroom where the young Korean-born Japan resident Hyon Gyon presented a series of her paintings. The latter verged on kitsch but her swirls of motifs - including the Korean choguri national dress, swords and long-haired women whose faces are purposely hidden from view - have strong feminist connotations. Likewise, the sequinned buddha and mannequin of Noh Sang-kyoon (far left) in Gallery Simon succeeded by offering a strange beauty. Large-scale photography was on display with M+B of Los Angeles displaying the monumental photography of the Italian Massimo Vitali whose group scenes of people at play and leisure has a superb dreamy other-worldly quality of frozen time. Shock photographer Terence Koh at Peres Projects was disappointing and verged on the gratuitous when seen in the bright confines of an art fair. Rashid Rana's Red Carpet in Chatterjee & Lal Gallery looked impressive but the technical wizardry takes precedence over content. Taiwanese artists Yao Jui-chung of Gallery Grand Siecle and Hou Chun-ming of PYO Gallery (above) are mature, quirky and both highly respected - it was a privilege to see substantial bodies of work by each on display at the fair. Art HK adds a welcome layer to Hong Kong's arts scene and should assist in encouraging more people to critically look at and collect art.