Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015 teaches citizens about art

The third edition of the Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong closed with an excellent turnout, with many reporting an enjoyable experience. 

With a strong emphasis on education, this year’s thoughtful programming created a relaxed yet comprehensive and all-round experience for visitors. 

In an art talk about digital art in Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015, emerging artist Guang-Yu Zhang discussed how old ideas influence new media and digital works and talked about his own digital photo montages that reflect both traditional and imaginary attitudes. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

In an art talk about digital art in Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015, emerging artist Guang-Yu Zhang discussed how old ideas influence new media and digital works and talked about his own digital photo montages that reflect both traditional and imaginary attitudes. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

The Affordable Art Fair HK 2015

The finale of Hong Kong’s spring art season, the Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015 took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 22-24 May 2015.

This year’s fair showcased thousands of works from more than 130 local and international galleries. Works were all priced between HKD1,000 and HKD100,000, encompassing paintings, prints, photography, sculpture and mixed media by both household names and young and emerging artists.

In addition, the action-packed weekend featured an exciting art education programme of creative workshops, talks, tours, live artist demonstrations and lectures on photography, ink and art therapy, among others. These events were designed to allow aspiring art collectors to develop their tastes and define the styles of art they like.

Winus Lee, 'Tea Set', 2013, porcelain. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Winus Lee, ‘Tea Set’, 2013, porcelain. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Tempting Hongkongers to buy their first pieces

The brainchild of Will Ramsay – who launched the first London edition of the fair – the Affordable Art Fair has become known as the art fair that encourages people to buy their first pieces of art. Ramsay told  The South China Morning Post that:

The great thing about the fair is that everyone is a potential collector. When you visit you’ll hopefully find loads of stuff that you like and can afford. […] There is something for every budget and taste.

Touting the slogan “Art for everyone”, the fair aims to open up the art market to a wider audience. This has proved challenging in Hong Kong, a city where “[o]nly 15 percent of visitors actually make a purchase compared with the 40 percent from some Western contemporary art hubs the Fair covers, such as London.”

Fair Director Stephanie Kelly told Marketing Interactive:

The rate of art ownership in Hong Kong is undeniably lower. People in Hong Kong don’t often have art on their walls. It’s relatively harder to drive them to buy their first piece. But it’s a journey. People who come to our Fair in the first year probably wouldn’t buy, in the second year they may start to have purchase intention, and more often people would make purchases on their third-year visit.

Park Hyung-jin, 'Redemption 02', 2013, lenticular screen. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Park Hyung-jin, ‘Redemption 02’, 2013, lenticular screen. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Using education to inspire audiences

This year, first-time buyers were made to feel at home in the fair’s relaxed, fun and educational atmosphere. The fair catalogue included lists like “Top Tips for Buying Art”, and this year’s “Gallery Speed Dating” tours introduced visitors to the different styles, media and artists of participating galleries.

Many reported an enjoyable experience. An art student who purchased her first piece at the fair told Art Radar:

There was a lot of cute stuff. The atmosphere was informative but fun and relaxed – not pretentious at all.

Meanwhile, on account of the more affordable prices, seasoned collectors snapped up pieces more spontaneously. A collector and arts professional who had not intended to purchase anything from the fair told Art Radar:

I just came for a quick look, but me and my husband ended up buying something. We’re really happy about it!

Gallery Speed Dating tour at Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015. Image courtesy Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Gallery Speed Dating tour at Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2015. Image courtesy Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Hongkongers hungry to learn about art

This year’s edition placed an even greater emphasis on education than in previous years. There was a designated education space, a venue for interactive talks, artist demonstrations and creative workshops, as well as a Children’s Art Studio hosted by the Sovereign Art Foundation.

In addition to seeing art being made or even making art themselves, visitors were taught about practical art-ownership knowledge, including tips on hanging artworks, finding the perfect frame, and protecting the artwork from sunlight and humidity.

Kelly told Timeout Magazine that the increased emphasis on education was a response to market research:

We asked our visitors why they come to the fair – 80 percent said they wanted to come and learn about art.

Tung Wing Hong, 'Untitled (Head Piece)', 2014, swinging device, CRT TV, digital video, 43 x 36 x 32 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Tung Wing Hong, ‘Untitled (Head Piece)’, 2014, swinging device, CRT TV, digital video, 43 x 36 x 32 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

Spotlight on Hong Kong Artists 

Another key highlight of the fair was the “Young Talent Hong Kong” exhibition specially curated by veteran local curator Eric Leung Shiu Kee. The show featured ten emerging Hong Kong artists who exhibited experimental new media digital works, including:

  • Chan Chi Hau
  • Sim Chan
  • Dirty Paper
  • Hui Hoi Kiu
  • Lau Ching Wa
  • Tsang Tsz Yeung
  • Tung Wing Hong
  • Wong Hiu Fung
  • XCEED

The theme of the exhibition was for artists to share stories of art-making and life. Tung Wing Hong’s works, for example, explore his bodily experience of the world and at the same time demand audiences to react within his personal sphere.

According to The Standard“[o]f the over 130 local and international galleries participating, 60 percent originate from Asia, with Hong Kong artists making up a strong 22 percent.”

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: art fairs, the art market, art and education, market transparency, democratisation of art, Hong Kong artists, events in Hong Kong

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