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ART HK 08 Celebrates Inaugural Success
View of ART HK 08 art fair.

HONG KONG.- Hong Kong’s largest ever international art fair, ART HK 08, closed on a high yesterday with galleries reporting significant sales and visitor numbers at 19,185, a third higher than the original projected figure.

ART HK 08 showcased over US$65million worth of art from approximately 850 artists represented by over 100 of the world’s leading contemporary and modern art galleries.

Galleries are still in the process of reporting sales but amongst the key sales were: “Untitled”, 2000, by Yue Min Jun, US$1.5 million, (Gana Art Gallery, Seoul); Ugo Rondinone, “3, April 2007”, US$320,000 (Eva Presenhuber, Zurich) and a 1992 Lichtenstein, “Water Lilies: Blue Lily Pad” from Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London which sold for a six figure sum to an Asian collector. Other key sales include “Portrait du Timonier No. 7", by Yan Peiming, 1998, US$380,000 (Art Beatus, Hong Kong); “Square Word Calligraphy”, Xu Bing, 2007, US$350,000 (Albion, London) and US$260,000 for “The Little Girl”, He Duoling, 2008, (Chinablue Gallery, Beijing). Hong Kong collectors bought two important Massimo Vitali photographs and works by Brigitte Waldach (M+ B, Los Angeles). (This was the first time Waldach’s work has been shown in Asia). Ben Brown Fine Arts (London), sold design pieces by Ron Arad including ‘At your own risk’ chair for US$150,000.

Major sales were made within minutes of the event opening and at least three galleries including Gandhara Art (Pakistan), The Drawing Room (Philippines) and Hong Kong gallery Grotto Fine Art reported having sold their entire stand. There was unprecedented interest in certain pieces, which could have been sold numerous times over.

Whilst Chinese contemporary sales remain strong, there was significant interest in artists from the West. South East Asian work was also attracting much attention, in particular art from India, Pakistan, Philippines and Indonesia. Chemould Prescott Road (Mumbai) and Chatterjee & Lal (Mumbai) sold all of the work they exhibited by Pakistani artist, Rashid Rana.

Galleries reported that ART HK 08 served a key role in facilitating the meeting of new regional and international contacts. The Fair attracted a balanced mix of established international collectors including private collectors, foundations, dealers and museums. The audience was also made up of international galleries, curators and art students.

In addition to the Hong Kong public, the visitor profile included a high percentage of guests from Mainland China, Korea and Taiwan. Galleries also reported meeting private buyers from Singapore, France, USA, Philippines, UAE, India and Russia. The event was widely supported by the media, with the attendance of close to 200 local, regional and overseas journalists, many of whom had flown in to experience the Fair first hand.

Commenting on the visitor profile, a spokesperson for Galerie Eric Mircher, Paris said: “The Hong Kong public is open and curious about art, reflecting the cosmopolitan aspect of the city and its history. There is no doubt that in the future Hong Kong could lead not only the financial, but also the art market”.

Magnus Renfrew, Fair Director commented: “There was a palpable sense of optimism when we closed our doors yesterday and a belief that ART HK will develop into a very significant event in the coming years. We’ve already taken a number of enquiries from new exhibitors for 2009, both from galleries who visited the Fair and others hearing about the success.”

He added: “The Fair also served as a platform for the development of new relationships forged between galleries looking to collaborate on artist exchanges. We have witnessed a number of galleries buying between themselves and they were impressed by the quality and diversity of work exhibited and the fact the Fair offered the opportunity to be exposed to new artists.”

Dr Charles Merewether, Chairman of the Advisory Committee commented: “The success of ART HK 08 confirms the good health of the international art market. It is a timely event, capitalising on the shifting dynamics of the art world and the level of sales and quality of attendance is testament to the fact that Hong Kong is the place in Asia to stage an international art fair of this calibre.”

Commenting on the cultural significance of the event Sir David Tang, Honorary Fair Patron said: “ART HK 08 was a total triumph. I saw many happy faces and spied a great deal of interest. I very much hope that this will be an annual affair because it will certainly raise the cultural temperature of Hong Kong.”

Local and international galleries alike shared the view that ART HK 08 was a success, commenting on the Fair, Fabio Rossi (Rossi and Rossi, London) said: “ART HK definitely has the potential to become a major fair in the international calendar and to attract worldwide interest”. Hong Kong’s Katie de Tilly who owns 10 Chancery Lane Gallery further added: “The calibre of the collectors and the international galleries puts ART HK 08 on the world’s stage – it looks set to become a key fixture on the art fair circuit”.

ART HK 09 will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 13 to 17 May 2009.

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