Better last year? Exhibitors on Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2014

Four galleries share their experience and their performance at this year’s Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Record numbers attended Hong Kong’s Affordable Art Fair between 21-23 March 2014, but did this translate into record-breaking sales for the exhibitors? We interviewed four different Asian galleries to find out about their sales and their feelings towards the fair this year.

Affordable Art Fair, installation view. Image courtesy Affordable Art Fair.

Affordable Art Fair, installation view. Image courtesy Affordable Art Fair.

The 2014 Affordable Art Fair in Hong Kong was, according to post-event press releases, “the best-attended Affordable Art Fair globally in the company’s 15 year history,” with footfall in excess of 29,000 over the three days.

Despite increase in fair-goers, mixed reviews were given overall from international galleries regarding the fair and their sales. A variety of gallerists commented to Art Radar that the fair was “not too bad”, although “sales are slow today” or “last year was better.” All in all, despite the fair’s record-breaking attendance this year, many exhibitors complained of slower sales compared to last year.

Art Radar interviewed four galleries on the last day of the fair about their sales this year and their evaluation of the fair.

Seoul Contemporary Gallery (Seoul, South Korea)

Is this your first time at the fair?

This is actually our second time at the fair.

How have your sales been so far? What did you sell and how much for?

So far, it’s okay but I think so far last year was better. But we do have today, and people buy more on the final day.

For the moment, we sold small to medium size art works and they were all under HKD20,000.

Which artists have attracted most attention in your booth this year?

All our artists are from Korea. More specifically, this young female artist, Ka Yeong Rhee, is quite a talented and emerging artist. .. People seemed to have liked her work.

Seoul contemp gallery

Kae Yeong Rhee, ‘The Club of Myeong-Wol’, Korean paper, 62 x 94cm, HKD20,000. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Did you notice anything about collectors at the fair?

I (noticed) a lot of Asian young collectors so far.

How did fair compare to last year?

Last year was pretty good. This year is just okay.

How does the fair compare to other fairs in the region?

Hong Kong has the best art market. People buy a lot of art here and they seem to be much more familiar with art nowadays.

Will you be back next year?

I think so. Definitely.

Soemo Fine Art’s booth at the fair. In the foreground, Zhang Jianlong’s sculptures. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Soemo Fine Art’s booth at the fair. In the foreground, Zhang Jianlong’s sculptures. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Soemo Fine Arts (Beijing, China)

Is this your first time at the fair?

This is our first time at Hong Kong AAF, but we have joined other kind of fairs like Shanghai Contemporary, Art Beijing and we have also collaborated with other galleries abroad too.

How have your sales been so far? What did you sell and how much for?

So far it is not bad. We sold quite a few large paintings and a lot of sculptures. Since the price is limited here, we have priced our works under HKD100,000. So far, we have sold three paintings around HKD100,000 each. The sculptures, however, are priced lower and we are selling each of them for HKD20,00 or 80,000. For the smaller sculptures, we have sold three of them (for) HKD42,000 each. (Lastly), we have sold three of the bigger sculptures for HKD80,000. So we are very happy.

Which artists have attracted most attention in your booth this year?

Our sculptures here have brought a lot of attention. Everyone who has passed by our booth has taken a long look at the sculptures- they smile, joke or laugh and take pictures of them. I even told the artist (Zhang Jianlong)  this morning, “I think 20 or 30 percent of people (have taken) pictures of your sculptures!” They are very popular!

Did you notice anything about collectors at the fair?

We have sold our paintings to young collectors around the age of 30. However, we sold sculptures to a couple above the age of 30-40 years old. So the collectors seem rather young this year.

Will you be back next year?

Sure. We will definitely be back next year.

Olga Tobreluts, 'Modernization', triptych, print on canvas, edition ½. Image courtesy AP Contemporary.

Olga Tobreluts, ‘Modernization’, triptych, print on canvas, edition ½. Image courtesy AP Contemporary.

AP Contemporary (Sheung Wan, Hong Kong)

Is this your first time at the fair?

Yes, this is our gallery’s first time.

How have your sales been so far? What did you sell and how much for?

Honestly, we haven’t sold anything yet. Our pieces are quite big and there are not within the real affordable price range. Our average price is over HKD40,000. So they are a little bit over the range of prices compared to the other exhibitors. Additionally, our pieces, (in terms of size), our over 157cm, so they are quite big.

Which artists have attracted most attention in your booth this year?

I would say our Russian artist Alexander Zhakarov. A lot of people (have been) asking about his works because they are quite cute, funny, interesting and a little bit naughty. Usually kids and adults really love them, but they are big works. He also does miniature art. So he either does mini size works or he enlarges them into big canvases.

From top to bottom: Alexander Zhakarov, 'The Bait', mixed media on canvas, 86 x 230cm. HKD70,200; 'The Fall', mixed media on canvas, 140 x 180cm. HKD70,200. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

From top to bottom: Alexander Zhakarov, ‘The Bait’, mixed media on canvas, 86 x 230cm. HKD70,200; ‘The Fall’, mixed media on canvas, 140 x 180cm. HKD70,200. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Did you notice anything about collectors at the fair?

I found that there are more Chinese rather than expats. Of the many collectors I have seen, I found they are mostly Chinese. I also really think a lot expats in Hong Kong are starting to get used to going to art fairs. They have got a more educated way of buying art. So they might not like to buy spontaneously. They like to do more research and want to know more. For more local buyers, now they intend to buy to decorate their home. So I would say they are more starter collectors.

What could be improved at the fair in your opinion?

I think they should make it a little bit more spacious. Because the spaces between (our booth) and the installation or with other sculptures, are actually quite close. During the VIP Preview night or on Friday night, it was really packed and people couldn’t even walk through or even near the installation. People were jammed there and could not walk through. There were just too many people so we couldn’t associate with every one of our clients. But apart from that I think everything is fantastic.

Will you be back next year?

I would say to 70 to 80 percent yes. We want to come back with lower range price of (works).

Rachel Koko, 'The Price of Freedom', oil on canvas, 70 x 80cm. HKD80,000. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Rachel Koko, ‘The Price of Freedom’, oil on canvas, 70 x 80cm. HKD80,000. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

RE Emerging Art (Aberdeen, Hong Kong)

Is this your first time at the fair?

No this is our second time.

How have your sales been so far? What did you sell and how much for?

They have been slower than last year. We’ve sold a couple of original pieces and a few limited editions. So in general I’d say our prices for our limited editions are around the HKD2,000 mark. The originals are around the HKD25,000 to HKD35,000 mark.

Which artists have attracted most attention in your booth this year?

Rachel Koko has attracted a lot of attention. She’s originally Chinese but has lived in the US all her life. Outside that, Nathan Ota has also attracted a lot attention. Nathan is an artist based in Los Angeles, and we’ve had a lot of attention based on his compilations with the graffiti artist Risk.

Nathan Ota and Risk, 'Then and Now (box)', acrylic and spraypaint on board, 92 x 92cm. HKD75,000. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Nathan Ota and Risk, ‘Then and Now (box)’, acrylic and spraypaint on board, 92 x 92cm. HKD75,000. Photo by Claire Bouchara.

Did you notice anything about collectors at the fair?

Not really, not this year. Last year [differences were] more pronounced. We had a lot of Australians, a few Indians; this year I would say they are more Australian-based.

How did the fair compare to last year?

I think it’s obviously larger. I think people have been a little bit more overwhelmed with the number of galleries, when I’ve spoken to them. They said its almost getting to be a bit too much. I think last year it was 80 to something galleries. So I think as soon as you start to break the 120 galleries, you’re getting a lot of information flowing at people. I get the feeling people are a bit more overwhelmed this year with the information.

How did the fair compare to other fairs in the region?

I think it’s a great fair. I think for us, dealing with more emerging and younger art, the fair is a great opportunity for us to showcase our work and the talent of our artists. I just think this is a very professional fair. It’s put on well. I think their support and the logistics are pretty good, and the price is right. I think a lot of the hotel art fairs are over-priced and they are offering no logistical support, no hanging, no storage. It’s a problem. As a smaller gallery, who shares a space already, trying to cut costs is very important for us. So something like this, is pretty fabricated, we can just hang, it’s great and we get the support as well.

What could have been improved at this year’s fair?

I think potentially classifying the art a little bit better. So maybe into Hong Kong/ Chinese artists versus more international artists. I think it might be clearer for clients and for ourselves. We deal mostly in international art, niche products and new contemporary art. Our work is quite international. So showcasing us next to South Korean galleries and a gallery that specialises in Hong Kong art can confuse people. So I think classifying is always good.

Will you be back next year?

Yes, I hope to be.

Claire Bouchara

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Related Topics: art fairsevents in Hong Kongart and the communitydemocratisation of artbusiness of artmarket watchinterviews

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Better last year? Exhibitors on Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2014 — 2 Comments

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