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Beauty on a budget – The Affordable Art Fair comes to Hong Kong

 

Friday March 15th – Sunday March 17th, 2013

 

Last weekend saw Hong Kong play host to the city’s first ever Affordable Art Fair, with thrifty art aficionados descending in their thousands to snap up masterpieces at a snip. The three-day event, held between March 15th and 17th at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, showcased contemporary works from around the world, ranging in price from HK$1,000 to HK$100,000. Localiiz was there to cast its discerning eye over the eclectic display.

The Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is something of a global phenomenon, born out of London in 1999 as a rebellion against the elitist nature of the existing scene. To date, more than a million people have visited the art fairs in cities all over the world, including Amsterdam, Brussels, New York, Milan, Singapore, Hamburg, Mexico City, Rome, Seattle, and now, Hong Kong.

Speaking at the Hong Kong Arty-Licious Evening on Friday night, AAF founder Will Ramsey explained the ethos behind the event. “My idea 15 years ago was to democratise art. Some people felt you had to be a millionaire or have an art degree to collect art, but we live in such a visual world that I just felt everyone knows what’s good,” he said.

“Art plays different roles in people’s lives; it may make you laugh, smile or cry, but as long as you connect with it, that’s all that matters. My advice to first-time buyers is to consider your choices and then go home and think about it. If you’re still thinking about it when you’re brushing your teeth the next morning, then that’s the one for you.”

Of the many weird, wonderful and colourful exhibits on show, a choice few stands drew particularly close attention from the curious crowd. Chris Wood’s ‘DOT’, a manipulation of glass and light, was one such piece. Her simple arrangements of optically coated glass, which create kinetic patterns of reflected and refracted coloured light, were one of the understated but powerfully beautiful pieces bought to Hong Kong by the Byard Gallery in Cambridge, UK. Ruth Waller and Lee Hewett’s appropriately-titled felt and wire creation ‘Random‘ was another abstract offering from the same gallery.

Also impressing from the West were Tim McFadden’s oversized hand-blown glass stones from Gallery K.A.G in the US and digital artist Joel Moens, who showcased his photomosaics of bikini-clad bottoms via Belgium’s United Gallery – definitely a hit with the boys!

But Asian artisans were not to be outdone; Korean artist Lee Geun Hwa drew lavish praise for his ocean-like fluid mixed media offerings entitled Desire and Flow, as did a striking pop art collection from Singaporean gallery Pop And Contemporary Fine Art, and atmospheric city photography from the Hong Kong-based Picture This Gallery.

In an ongoing effort to display emerging artists alongside established names, AAF also devoted a special corner of the exhibition hall to Young Talent Hong Kong. The offerings of the city’s up-and-coming artists were a hit despite being understated and abstract, with Ho Siu Nam presenting Memento, a quartet of close-up photos of a camera used by three generations of his family. Lam Yau Sum also made an impact with painted circuit boards representing the consumer and waste culture in Hong Kong.

Speaking about the Young Talent exhibition, curator Eric Leung Shiu Kee commended local art graduates in Hong Kong for producing work so visually different from the mainstream. “The younger generation is very creative and tends to make pieces with local context,” he said. “The work is very conceptual and the artists try to mix traditional techniques with new concepts. One of the greatest things about young artists is that they tend to sell their work for much less than established artists, which is exactly what the Affordable Art Fair is all about!”


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