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With Strong Sales, Art Hong Kong Confirms Its Position Amongst the World's Leading Art Fairs
A visitor walks past the "Untitled (Abracadabra) 2011" by Polish artist Piotr Uklanski at Hong Kong International Art Fair in Hong Kong. The largest international art fair hosts 155 exhibiting galleries from 29 countries that exhibited from May 26 to 29. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu.

HONG KONG.- Strong sales of work by artists from around the world including Liu Wei, Zhang Enli, Yan Pei-Ming, Jeff Koons, Andreas Gursky and Louise Bourgeois to collectors from Asia, Europe and America reconfirmed ART HK’s status as Asia’s premier art fair. The 4-day fair, which ran from 26-29 May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre’ (HKCEC), attracted 260 galleries from 38 countries presenting works by more than 1,000 artists – with a record numbers of visitors attending, 63,511, a 37.7% increase on 2010, and a similar number of visitors to Art Basel in 2010.

Major sales of Asian and Western Contemporary Art at ART HK 11 included:
• Beijing’s Long March Space sold Liu Wei’s Don’t touch, 2011, to a European Collector for an undisclosed US$ six figure sum.
• Galerie Gmurzynska from Zurich sold Flying Eagles, 2008 by Fernando Botero for US$650,000 to an Asian Collector.
• Yan Pei-Ming’s Self Portrait, 2011, priced at US$420,000, was sold by David Zwirner, New York to an Asian Collector. The gallery also sold The Couple, 2011 by Luc Tuymans priced at $1.1 million.
• Sprüth Magers Berlin London sold Andreas Gursky’s Ferrari II, 2007 to a European Collector for 550,000 Euros.
• Jeff Koon’s Monkey Train (Orange), 2007 was sold at L&M Arts from New York for in the region of US$3.5 million.
• Hauser & Wirth London Zurich New York sold out of a number of works by Zhang Enli including one to a private foundation in Shanghai priced at US$120,000. They also sold an eye for an eye, 2011 by Bharti Kher, to a Beijing based collector for US$265,000.
• The Geometry of Pleasure, 2009, by Louise Bourgeois sold for UD$750,000 to a Chinese Collector by Cheim & Read from New York.
•White Cube from London sold Jake & Dinos Chapman’s Dass Kapital ist Kaput? Ja? Nein! Dummkopf!, 2008 for £525,000 to an Asian collector.
• Timothy Taylor Gallery from London sold Wall of Light, Pink White, 2011 a large new painting by Sean Scully for an undisclosed sum to a Hong Kong based collector.

Art collectors attended the Fair from across Asia, Europe and the USA. High-profile collectors in attendance included Don and Mera Rubell of the Rubell Family Collection and the Contemporary Arts Foundation (Miami); Richard Chang (Beijing & New York); Sidonie Picasso; David Tang (Hong Kong); Samir Sabet d’Acre (Brussels) and Judith Neilson of the White Rabbit Foundation (Sydney).

Commenting on their experience at ART HK, Don and Mera Rubell jointly said: “This is our first time in Hong Kong in over 40 years and things have changed rather dramatically. It’s a city on steroids -dynamic, fresh, vibrant - a true international city, and the general curiosity of people is incredible. The Fair goes out of its way to cater to families and children and there is an explosion of young people at the Fair who were fully engaged with the art on show. They are the future of art, and the Fair is helping build audiences for art here in Hong Kong. There are very few places which are a gateway between East and West and there is a unique opportunity at the Fair to compare and contrast Eastern and Western art, to see the similarities and the differences. It’s been a great opportunity for us to learn about Chinese art, and we've seen an outstanding interest from the Asian collectors who are intent on learning more about Western art. This trip we have bought Chinese art, Indonesian art, and some European art. We hope to come back next year.”

Acquavella Galleries from New York, Victoria Miro from London, Anna Schwartz Gallery from Australia and Yvon Lambert from Paris were notable galleries debuting at the 2011 Fair. They joined established ART HK galleries such as Gagosian Gallery, Emmanuel Perrotin, Hanart TZ and Lisson Gallery. This year’s new section, ASIA ONE, showcased vibrant solo presentations of work by emerging Asian artists from galleries across Asia. Commenting on showing in ASIA ONE for the first time, Bill Gregory, Director, Annandale Galleries, Sydney said: “I am very impressed with the way ART HK has positioned the ASIA ONE and ART FUTURES sections, which have been integrated into the Fair. We have done very well with our solo show of work by Zadok Ben David and made a lot of connections with people in the region. This is the first time we have participated in the Fair and we will definitely come back next year.”

Among the many cultural highlights at ART HK 11 was the installation of Paul McCarthy’s Daddies Tomato Ketchup Inflatable, 2007, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, an installation by Australian artist, Janet Laurence, in which viewers encountered a laboratory equipped for the palliative care of ailing plants and Jason Hackenwerth’s balloon installation, sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Artist visitors to the fair included Liu Wei; Marc Quinn; Yan Pei-Ming; Yoshitomo Nara; Takashi Murakami; Wang Kepin; Zhang Huan, who participated in a talk with Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary & Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts; David LaChapelle & Ming Wong, both on the panel for this year’s Intelligence Squared Asia Debate; Wucius Wong, Pak Sheung Chuen, Jeon Yong-Seok, Huan Zhiyang, Qiu Zhijie and Park Chan-kyong who all took partin Asia Art Archive’s Backroom Conversations at the Fair.

This year’s fair was sponsored by Deutsche Bank, who will continue to be the lead sponsor for ART HK 12. Michael West, Deutsche Bank Head of Communications, Asia Pacific, said: "In scale, quality and attendance, ART HK has quickly developed into a premier event on the global art calendar. Deutsche Bank will again be the lead sponsor of ART HK in 2012”.

Magnus Renfrew, Fair Director of ART HK, commented: “From galleries to government, curators to collectors there is genuine excitement that ART HK has put Hong Kong firmly on the international cultural map. We’re thrilled with the record visitor attendance and believe that the people of Hong Kong and the surrounding area are embracing the Fair and are intensely curious to learn and experience more about contemporary art”.

ART HK 11 was also attended by some of the world’s most influential museum directors & curators, including Lars Nittve, Executive Director of M+, the contemporary art museum in Hong Kong’s planned US$2.1 billion West Kowloon Cultural District; Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts, London; Dr. Melissa Chiu, Director of the Asia Society Museum; Doryun Chong, Associate Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London; Kwok Kian Chow, Director of the National Art Gallery Singapore and Tan Boon Hui, Director of the Singapore Art Museum.

Commenting on his experience at ART HK, Lars Nittve, Executive Director of M+, said: “It has been absolutely marvelous to experience the incredible energies in the Hong Kong art community being released this ART HK week. I have heard so many visitors from abroad being both surprised and impressed by the Hong Kong audience and artists - and I have witnessed the delight among the region's art world over being able to take part in a world class art event! We are just in the beginning of something big in Hong Kong, and it is already amazing!"

Private museums of contemporary art are growing extraordinarily fast in Asia and in a groundbreaking seminar, ART HK brought together more than thirty five major collectors and owners and directors of private museums, to explore how to sustain and develop such innovative institutions. Participants came from mainland China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong as well as from Europe and the USA. From mainland China alone, major collectors and private museum owners came from Xi'an, Chengdu, Beijing and Shanghai. This seminar will now lead to the development of an active working group to explore how private museums can cooperate – sharing information and exhibitions - in a way that public museums routinely do.

This year’s ART FUTURES Prize, sponsored by Lane Crawford, was awarded to the emerging artist, Gao Weigang, for his solo presentation at Magician Space, Beijing. The judges for the US$25,000 Prize included Lars Nittve, Executive Director of M+, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London and Elaine Ng, Editor and Publisher of ArtAsiaPacific Magazine. Following his experience at ART HK 11, Hans Ulrich Obrist praised the Fair and its host city: “The Hong Kong experience was even more exciting than in 2010. There is a fascinating local art scene and more and more international artists, collectors, critics, curators, gallerists and museum directors are coming to experience it. The Hong Kong miracle continues.”

Commenting on winning the Prize, Qu Kejie, Founder and Director of Magician Space, Beijing said: “This has truly been a memorable first appearance for Magician Space at ART HK, which has given us a great opportunity to showcase our space and artist Gao Weigang to an international audience. To have been awarded the ART FUTURES Prize this year by its panel of critics and curators of the highest esteem is fantastic. I hope that we can continue on this trajectory into the future and through the exhibitions and projects we are planning, both in our Beijing space and for further events abroad. Gao Weigang is an artist representative of Magician Space’s focus on experimental emerging art, and interest in his work has piqued during the Fair.”

Following consultation with exhibitors, collectors and suppliers during the Fair, the dates for ART HK 12 have been revised and the Fair will take place from 17-20 May 2012, with a preview and press day on 16 May 2012. The long-term plan remains to move the Fair to early Spring, and together with the HKCEC we are looking at suitable dates.

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