Art Central Report by WHITESTONE Gallerist

Art Central lobby view

The world has now returned to normalcy with less traveling hesitation. Many art enthusiasts flock to Asia's international art hub, Hong Kong, attending art fairs "Art Basel" and "Art Central" from March 22nd to the 25th. In this article, we've asked our new gallerist at Whitestone Gallery, who visited for the first time to share her thoughts.

Art Central Hong Kong for the first time

Art Central view

I had the fantastic opportunity to participate in Art Central Hong Kong 2023 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Art Central is one of the city’s most anticipated fairs in Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. As a first-timer at such a vast art fair, I can confidently say that the fair delivers on its promise of being an “incubator of art.”

This year, being its eighth edition, the fair took place over five days in March – and I would say it was a phenomenal and unforgettable celebration of contemporary art. People from all over the world – art collectors, art enthusiasts, and local and international artists reunite in this beautiful affair. With the recent lifting of travel restrictions in Hong Kong, this year’s fair is known to be the biggest thus far – boasting over 70 galleries from around the globe – from Hong Kong to Busan, Johannesburg to New York, Tokyo, Seoul, and Beyond.

Art Central revitalized after the Corona disaster

Art Central signage guiding visitors towards the hall

Walking through the exhibition halls, visitors were greeted with a stunning display of art in various forms, from painting and sculpture to performance and installation art. One of the standout features of this year’s event was the diversity of the artworks on display, from emerging artists to established ones. Visitors had the opportunity to discover new artists and rediscover familiar ones, with works by Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami among the highlights. The fair offered an exciting platform for these talented individuals to showcase their works and connect with collectors and enthusiasts. These artists brought their unique styles and techniques. Their creations ranged from abstract expressionism to realism, from traditional Chinese ink paintings to contemporary pop art. In addition, the displayed works reflected the global art scene, strongly emphasizing contemporary Asian art.

Art Central view

In addition to the galleries, the fair also hosted a series of talks and panel discussions featuring prominent curators and art directors. These sessions provided valuable insights into the creative processes behind the displayed works. In addition, they offered a glimpse into the future of the contemporary art world.

Art Central view

First time at an art fair For New gallerist

Art Central view

Two works at the fair caught my attention, probably because of the enormous space they occupied in the hall:

One of them, and my favorite, was a site installation artwork done by Korean artist BAHK (Seon-Ghi Bahk). Bahk is renowned for his suspended installations that create three-dimensional illusions in space. His art is known to be a “reflection of modern human civilization.” Titled An Aggregation-Space (2023), this installation comprises hundreds of charcoal pieces suspended from the ceiling. This work doubles as a maze that allows the audience to walk through it. The optical illusion created by the shadows because of the charcoal pieces tricks not only one’s eye but boggles the mind. Bahk says, “shadows are an important element that can be considered part of the artwork – this is because they evoke an image of an Oriental painting composed of black-and-white gradations.”

From Art Central 2023, BAHK Seon-Ghi, An Aggregation-Space 2023, presented by 021gallery.

The other was Hong Kong artist Clara Wong’s Prelude in A minor Trauma (2020-23). This multimedia installation work explores the complex and often painful nature of trauma. Through a combination of visual art, sound, and interactive elements, the work creates a powerful and immersive experience for the viewer, inviting them to reflect on their experiences with trauma and how it can shape their lives. Her installation features a cramped fictional living space with a leaky water pipe and a computer that inevitably gets wet – a metaphor for the oppressive reality of life in Hong Kong, which allows for exploring personal traumas and their consequences. Such a profoundly affecting and thought-provoking work would undoubtedly leave an impression in the viewer’s mind.

Hong Kong during Art Week

Art Central view

Hong Kong Art Week 2023 was an exciting and dynamic event showcasing the best contemporary art worldwide. The event was held in various locations across Hong Kong, including galleries, exhibition spaces, and outdoor public areas, providing visitors with diverse art experiences.

For instance, held in the same building was Art Basel Hong Kong 2023 – also known as a world-class art fair. The fair occupied two levels, providing visitors with an immersive art experience. The fair was spread across two floors, each offering a distinct and curated selection of galleries and artworks. In addition, the space was carefully designed to enhance the visitor experience, with ample space for visitors to move around and view the artworks and dedicated areas for rest and refreshment.

From Art Basel 2023, Gimhongsok's multimedia installation, Solitude of Silences, presented by KUKJE GALLERY.

It was no doubt that Art Basel was way more crowded as compared to Art Central. However, although Art Basel was more crowded than Art Central, both fairs had a unique charm. Art Basel attracted a larger and more international crowd, with a broader range of galleries and artworks on display. However, Art Central had a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere, focusing on showcasing emerging and mid-career artists from Asia and beyond.

From Art Basel 2023, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan, Constellation Forest, presented by Hanart TZ Gallery

Aside from art fairs, the newly opened M+ museum is currently showing the largest exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work outside of Japan. Interestingly, the M+ museum is housed in an architectural gem designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects known for their innovative Tate Modern building. It also houses the Sigg Collection of Contemporary Chinese paintings, which is well worth visiting.

Hong Kong has emerged as a burgeoning city for the arts, partly thanks to the numerous art fairs held there in recent years. These fairs have provided a platform for local artists to showcase their work and attracted leading galleries and collectors worldwide.

Aside from Art Central and Art Basel Hong Kong, which have recently passed, Fine Art Asia 2023 will be held at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre later in October. Fine Art Asia is unique as it is the only fair to showcase a wide range of fine collectible art from Asia and the West. Such events like these have bolstered the city’s reputation as a hub for the arts, attracting high-profile artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts from around the globe.

Art Central Hong Kong 2023 was a vibrant celebration of art and culture. With its diverse artworks and engaging events, the fair offered a unique and enriching experience for art lovers and collectors alike. With the continued success of these art fairs and ongoing investment in the arts, Hong Kong is poised to further cement its status as a leading city for the arts in the years to come.

Whitestone Gallery's booth at Art Central

Art Central Special Feature Page.

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