The Art Collector’s Guide to Hong Kong

Hong Kong at night. Photo by Yun Xu via Unsplash.

Thanks to the strength of the Asian art market, Hong Kong has become a leading destination for influential auction houses, galleries, and art fairs. Though the city plays host to many international events, established and emerging art market players alike retain a commitment to cultivating the local art scene.

This blend of local focus and global reach is best demonstrated during events like Art Basel Hong Kong, where half of the 248 exhibiting galleries maintain gallery spaces in Asia and Asia-Pacific. In anticipation of the the 2018 edition of the blockbuster modern and contemporary art fair, which takes place March 29-31 at the Convention & Exhibition Center in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, our editors have compiled a list of resources for art collectors making their way to the bustling metropolis. Below, see what neighborhoods and art spaces should be at the top of your travel itinerary.

Making Room for Art: Urban Development in Hong Kong

Among hundreds of building projects in Hong Kong, several multi-billion-dollar arts initiatives are answering local demand for more space devoted to art and culture. The construction of the M+ Building and the renovation of the Hong Kong Museum of Art in the West Kowloon Cultural District are just two of the projects that indicate that the city is serious about becoming a global art and cultural hub to contend with London and New York.

This emphasis on the arts continues to spread across the city. In recent years, neighborhoods like Wong Chuk Hang have transformed empty industrial buildings into art spaces full of studios and galleries. Art incubators like Spring Workshop and the Hong Kong Arts Centre support artists with a wide a variety of performances, talks, and exhibitions. Likewise, programs like HK Walls, which connects street artists with local business owners and landlords willing to let them paint over their walls and storefront gates, have expanded the local and international artist network throughout the city.

From Sheung Wan to Sham Shui Po, each of Hong Kong’s neighborhoods is becoming more dense with shopping, art, and culinary delights. When planning your visit to Hong Kong, consider allocating time to explore the studios, galleries, street art, and cultural institutions in individual neighborhoods. Consult The Hong Kong Cultural Office for a full list of art fairs, creative industries, and cultural districts.

Hong Kong Museums

Museums around Hong Kong come in all shapes and sizes. Film enthusiasts may want to visit the Hong Kong Film Archive. Since 1993, the Archive has preserved films and related materials. Its building houses a cinema, exhibition hall, and resource center.

The Hong Kong Museum of Art. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Reopening to the public in 2019, the Hong Kong Museum of Art has a rich collection of 15,000 cultural objects and works of art that highlight key moments in Chinese history. For visitors looking to dive into the history of the tea ceremony in China, the Hong Kong Museum’s Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware remains open to visitors during the museum’s renovation.

Similarly, the University Museum & Art Gallery of Hong Kong University houses ceramics and bronzes from the Neolithic period to the Qing Dynasty, as well as paintings from the Ming Dynasty to present day China. The oldest continuously-operated museum in the city, UMAG offers a regular exhibition schedule of both ancient and contemporary Chinese and Western art.

Hong Kong Galleries

For many of the city’s galleries, supporting local artists is ingrained in their core values. Pekin Fine Arts and Tang Contemporary Gallery prioritize exhibiting domestic art. Above Second offers a wide variety of illustrations, graffiti art, comic book artwork, and street art from both local and international artists.

Image via Unsplash.

The Pedder Building in downtown Hong Kong is home to a number of high profile fine art galleries including Pearl Lam Galleries, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hanart TZ Gallery. With a specially curated collection of artists who challenge traditional cultural perceptions, Pearl Lam Galleries introduces visitors to trailblazing contemporary Chinese artists like painter Qiu Deshu 仇德树. Founded in London, Ben Brown Fine Arts made its move to a second branch in Hong Kong in 2009. The gallery has exhibited an impressive list of international artists like contemporary artist Miquel Barceló and modern icons likes Pablo Picasso. Hanart TZ Gallery has established itself as a source for up-and-coming contemporary Chinese artists from the mainland, Taiwan, and the extended Chinese diaspora.

A mere two blocks down from the Pedder Building, Duddell Street is a haven for contemporary art of all shapes and sizes. Founded in 1974, Galerie du Monde exhibits contemporary Chinese artists in a variety of mediums including canvas, paper, sculpture and photography. After you browse for new pieces to add to your collection, visit Duddell’s for a 2-Michelin star restaurant experience with a twist: it houses an art collection as impressive as its dinner menu.

In trendy Wong Chuk Hang, Sin Sin Fine Art offers the largest collection of Indonesian artworks and artists in Hong Kong. Run by Sin Sin Man, a designer and owner of three other fine art retail spaces, the gallery ultimately aims to infuse art with daily life.

Auction Houses in Hong Kong

Given the vitality of the Asian art market, it’s no surprise that many international auction houses have set their roots in Hong Kong. Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have international outposts in the city. Sotheby’s was the first to establish an office in Hong Kong and held its inaugural auction there in 1973. In addition to regular sales, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is home to the S|2 gallery, an exhibition space of over 15,000 square feet that is located on the fifth floor of One Pacific Place.

The Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art team seen during their inaugural Hong Kong Evening Sale. Photo courtesy Phillips.

In their Hong Kong saleroom, Phillips offers 20th century Contemporary Art & Design, along with sales dedicated to Fine Jewels and Watches. The auction house recently announced its first gallery space in Asia will open on March 26, 2018 in St. George’s Building in Central, Hong Kong. Located in Admirality, Bonhams’ Hong Kong office provides specialist services in Jewelry, Watches, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Fine Chinese Paintings, Modern Asian Art, and Wine.

Also located in Admirality, state-owned auction house Poly Auction Hong Kong supports the highest auction transaction volume of Chinese art in the world. Poly Auction is also entering the international art market with offices in Beijing, Taipei, Tokyo, New York, Sydney, and more.

Art Fairs & Markets in Hong Kong

Jessica Hromas for Art Basel.

Art Basel Hong Kong
Top galleries from around the world travel to Hong Kong to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong, one of the premier showcases of modern and contemporary art in the world. Since its first edition in 2012, Art Basel Hong Kong has introduced a large influx of art enthusiasts to Hong Kong’s expanding art scene.

Art Central
Art Central is a contemporary fair that showcases emerging contemporary artists supported by its 100+ gallery partners. Located in an architect-designed temporary structure at the Central Harborfront in Hong Kong, the fourth edition of Art Central takes place from March 27 to April 1, 2018.

Asia Contemporary Art Show
From March 23rd until March 26th, visitors to Hong Kong can explore the twelfth edition of the Asia Contemporary Art Show at the Conrad Hong Kong. The show will present more than 2,500 unique works of art spread out across four flows. The fair also has exhibitions devoted to artists in conversation with each other and the history of Chinese art entitled “Intersections: China and Artist Dialogues.”

Hong Kong International Poster Triennial
The Hong Kong International Poster Triennial was last held in 2017 in conjunction with the the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Designers Association, and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Since 2001, the competition has brought poster artists together around a central theme. The 2017 entries corresponded with the theme “Touch.”

Framing & Display

When in doubt, ask the in-house experts at any auction house and gallery. Employees have seen it all and can advise on all matters pertaining to buying art, transporting, and maintaining art. Galleries like Galerie du Monde offer art-related services like as custom framing and restoration for works of art on canvas and on paper. Arco Fine Art Framing and MH Fine Art Framing are recommended by the art experts at Art Basel Hong Kong.

…If There’s Still Time

Beyond art museums and fairs, there is plenty to do in Asia’s World City. Look down on a panoramic view of the city from Victoria Peak, or visit cultural sites like the Wong Tai Sin Temple and the Tian Tan Buddha. When you get hungry, make sure you eat at one of the city’s best dim sum restaurants or alongside contemporary art by Banksy and Damien Hirst at Bibo. Since Hong Kong is just one of many islands in the archipelago, you may also want to take a break from the crowded streets and charter a boat for a day trip around the area.

Whether you’re in town for a few days or a few weeks, Hong Kong has plenty to delight and distract. Make sure you take the time to explore all aspects of the city’s thriving art scene, as well as its top offerings in culture and food.