Chinese collectors warm up to Hong Kong art and antiques fair
Fine Art Asia starts to find its feet in its ninth edition, as local buyers develop a taste for Western art
By Katie Hunt. Web only
Published online: 07 October 2013
It’s taken a while for Fine Art Asia, the Hong Kong-based art and antiques fair that showcases work from both East and West, to find its feet. Early editions felt ramshackle and failed to attract top-flight dealers. But a slick ninth edition (4-7 October) showed that the fair has upped its game, attracting an impressive roster of galleries hoping to access China’s new collectors, who were out in force as the fair is timed to coincide with China’s week-long National Day holidays. “Quality has improved and there’s greater focus on certain European art,” said Nynke Van der Ven van Wijngaarden of Vanderven Oriental Art, here for a third year.
Early sales suggested that Chinese buyers may be developing a taste for Western art but they needed to feel comfortable with a dealer before taking the plunge. As the fair opened on Thursday, London’s Robert Bowman sold Eternal Spring, a bronze by Auguste Rodin for around HK$5m. The piece went to a mainland Chinese collector, who had met Bowman at last year’s fair. By Saturday afternoon, Bowman had sold two further pieces, Le Chinois by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux for HK$5m and Many Summers by Maurice Blik for HK$190,000. “People are here to learn and they often don’t know where to begin,” said Bowman, who sold nothing last year.
The first-timer Galerie Ary Jan from Paris sold a painting by Giuseppe Palizzi for HK$1 million, said the fair’s director Calvin Hui, although other exhibitors making their debut fared less well. As of Saturday afternoon, the London and New York-based Trinity House had not made any sales of its 19th-century and Impressionist paintings, while a pavilion of European art curated by the organisers of Masterpiece London had generated strong interest but no deals, according to Masterpiece’s chief executive Nazy Vassegh.
Among the Asian art on show, ink paintings sold well, with Hong Kong’s Alisan Fine Arts, 3812 Contemporary Art Projects and London’s Michael Goedhuis selling work by Lui Shou-kwan, Lin Guocheng and Yang Yanping.
The fair also benefitted from the overflow of international and regional buyers from Sotheby’s autumn sales, which are held in the same building and offered a strong draw this season. Fine Art Asia is still not a must for Western dealers—high-profile absentees included Mallet, Carlton Hobbs and Michele Beiny—but given Hong Kong’s competitive trading environment and its proximity to the Chinese market, the fair could gain momentum in coming years.
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