Despite being the newest kid on the block of art fairs during the Spring art season, Art Central HK has already cemented its presence by changing the Hong Kong's landscape both literally and figuratively. Located in a temporary structure at the iconic Victoria Harbour, the fair drew a 30,000 strong crowd of art lovers during its first edition last year. Ahead of the 2016 edition that runs from 23 to 26 March, we speak to Fair Director, Ms Maree Di Pasquale to find out what to expect this year and how to conquer the fair in just under an hour.
After the success of last year’s fair with an attendance of 30,000, what do you have planned for the second edition of Art Central HK?
We were incredibly pleased with the success of the inaugural fair last March. It exceeded expectations on all fronts with more than double our initial projection for attendance. This year we are set to raise the bar with an ambitious program of installations, live art, experiential film, an engaging talks program by Asia Society Hong Kong Center, as well as a strong gallery line-up.
As is the philosophy of Art Central, we will be showcasing the next generation of talent alongside some of the most established names from across Asia and the globe. With 75% of our galleries hailing from greater Asia, Art Central is perfectly positioned to present the very best of what is happening in the region, a sort of microcosm of Asia’s contemporary art scene. Newcomers to the gallery list include Galerie Forsblom (Helsinki), Michael Goedhuis (London/New York), Sin Sin Fine Art (Hong Kong), Leehwaik Gallery (Seoul), Dominik Mersch Gallery (Sydney), Gallery Baton (Seoul), Gana Art (Seoul), and Artspace (Dubai) just to name a few.
This year you have an extensive line-up of programmes and collaborations such as with Swarovski, Roundtable x 4A, Screen x Experimenta and Media x Mumm. Tell us more about these partnerships and what we can expect from the programmes this year.
We have worked hard to create even stronger links with fair partners for programming and commissions this year. In particular, I would encourage you to look out for ROUNDTABLE X 4A, a collaboration with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, that explores artistic and curatorial practices from across Asia and the Pacific through performance and interactive roundtable discussions. The program introduces new performances by Frances Barrett, Abdullah M.I. Syed and Latai Taumoepeau, each of which reflect on the context of the contemporary art fair in Asia.
Swarovski returns for the second year and will be unveiling a concept driven kinetic crystal installation by Hong Kong Designer Elaine Ng titled ‘Sundew’, while MEDIA X MUMM will be the fair’s first exhibition of new media and performance art supported by G.H. Mumm Champagne. We are also very excited to share that the Absolut Art Bar will be at Art Central this year. Absolut presents a new collaboration with Guru Jimmy on an immersive site-specific Art Bar in the Art Central Street Food area, titled ‘Guru Jimmy’s Absolut Ashram of Spirituality’. Following his celebrated appearance at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Guru Jimmy, artist James Ostrer’s spiritual guide, has been given carte blanche to fully conceptualise and create his Technicolor Art Bar.
SCREEN X EXPERIMENTA is also a key one to mention. Hong Kong’s own Gina Wong has curated an inspiring and diverse selection of experimental and narrative, motion picture films from across Asia and the globe. Screened for one hour each day of the fair, three different thematic streams – World Drama, Poetry and Stage – promise to challenge and entertain.
What are some of the issues you faced last year as a first-time satellite fair, and how did you overcome them?
Art Central takes place on Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbour in a 10,000 square meter temporary structure, the likes of which had not been seen in Hong Kong before. One of the greatest challenges has been navigating the operational considerations of this site, which I’m pleased to say are now some of the most positive aspects of the fair. The nonconventional nature of the venue and its blank canvas appeal, while challenging at times, has enabled us to think more creatively about our use of space and the visitor experience. Every line, every corner has been thought about, discussed, designed and then built. It really is quite an amazing creative process to be part of, particularly when it’s led by appointed fair architect Mike Stiff of award winning architecture firm Stiff + Trevillion (London). What we have created is a parallel fair unlike any other; polished and presented as a world-class show, with the brand values that one would associate with a main fair.
Covering everything at fairs such as Art Central HK is always a challenging feat. If we had only an hour, what are the ‘must-see’s at this year’s edition of the fair?
Michael Goedhuis (London) is sure to attract interest with his specially curated show, From Historicism to the Avant-Garde, 1980-2015, with famed ink artists such as Liu Dan and Qin Feng. As is Galerie Forsblom (Helsinki), a new addition to the gallery line-up this year, with a group show featuring Manolo Valdés, one of the most established contemporary artists of Spain. Valdés is included in such prestigious collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Kunstmuseum in Berlin and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.
Regionally, GALLERY HYUNDAI from Seoul is one to see, with an impressive selection of Dansaekhwa Korean monochromatic paintings that include works by masters, Chung Sang-Hwa, Park Seo Bo and Lee Ufan. While Hive Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing) highlight generations of contemporary Chinese art with names such as Shang Yang, Liang Quan, and Wei Dong, both not to be missed.
New to Hong Kong and the fair is Whitestone Gallery (Tokyo / Hong Kong), presenting some of the best examples of the Japanese Gutai movement, including museum quality pieces by artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Kazuo Shiraga, and Atsuko Tanaka. And I would also recommend sighting Locust Jones’ site-specific installation, Back to the Dark Ages, as part of the fair’s PROJECTS sector. Represented by DOMNIK MERSCH GALLERY (Sydney), Jones returns to Hong Kong after a solo show at ART HK in 2011, and this time to create an ambitious installation; a suspended large-scale scroll, with text-based imagery and expressive scrawled drawings in his usual free style.
With more fairs choosing Hong Kong as a destination to set up, what are your thoughts on the city’s ever-changing cultural landscape and how does Art Central HK factor into it?
Hong Kong is home to a culturally astute public who are keen to engage with art and immerse themselves in art events along with a large community of collectors, buyers and art lovers. Art Basel has cemented Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s Art Hub and as evidenced by the success of the inaugural Art Central, Hong Kong is now ready for a complementary fair of international standards. There is a huge opportunity here in Hong Kong and we believe that Art Central has helped to elevate the city as an international art hub.
Any plans yet to bring Art Central beyond Hong Kong, as a satellite fair in other cities?
The fair founders (also the founders of ART HK) stage a number of art fairs around the world and as an organisation we are always considering our position and reviewing new opportunities across Asia and around the world. Art Central is unique to Hong Kong and defined by its host city, and while we have no plans to launch in other cities at present, this could change if the right opportunity presented itself.
The Artling is an Official Media Partner for Art Central HK 2016.
To read more about Art Week in Hong Kong, click here.
Any views or opinions in the interview are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.