Art Basel 2015

Art Basel 2015

Art Central satellite fair has a lot to offer, and access is easy

Show on Central harbourfront fills niche between pricier Art Basel offerings and Affordable Art Fair

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 March, 2015, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 March, 2015, 9:05pm

If my memory serves me correctly, Hong Kong hosted a record five contemporary art fairs in May 2013. This week, we see the big brother of them all, Art Basel, returning for its third edition, while the others - bar the Asia Contemporary Art Show - have all but disappeared.

But Hong Kong being a fertile ground, especially for businesses, ‎there is already a new kid on the block: Art Central. Well, kind of new. For the people who founded this "satellite" fair on the Central harbourfront are more or less those behind Art HK (co-founder Tim Etchells, for one)  which was subsequently bought by Art Basel.

So there was a slight sense of déjà vu when I stepped into Art Central for the VIP preview, with the overall layout of the venue not dissimilar to that of Art HK when it was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. One difference is the bouncy floor boards here (this is just a temporary venue after all). So is this a case of old wine in a new bottle? Not quite.

The art on display is diverse - paintings, sculptures, videos, photography, installations -  and more international that I'd expected. Colombian gallery +MAS: Arte Contemporaneo caught my attention with the video Man of Gold, by Nicolas Cardenas-Fischer, showing a naked man trying in vain to move or pick up a large rock of gold.

"This work is about greed and ambition and was shown at the Saatchi Gallery in London last year," +MAS director Carlos Vargas tells me. "This work has a heavy theme but is made light by the humour."

Art Central is touted as a fair that fills the gap between the Affordable Art Fair and Art Basel (price-wise) and the quality on show is impressive - I did a double take when I spotted a couple of drawings by Yoshitomo Nara (which one would expect to see at Art Basel).

Given its smaller size (10,000 square metres), this fair doesn't feel overwhelming and i'll definitely return for a second visit. Getting there is not difficult and I took the shortcut via the central government complex from Admiralty MTR station.