The Rise of Hong Kong in the International Art Scene

Hong Kong is a bustling city of skyscrapers and commercial excess. It has long been known as a center of trade and finance, not as a Chinese cultural destination like Beijing or Singapore. However, as many articles explain these days, that image is quickly changing as an influx of international art ventures is helping Chinese galleries and artists to realize the potential of the city.

There are two main reasons why Hong Kong appeals to art ventures that want to establish themselves in Asia. The first reason being that the city is a gateway to multiple Asian destinations, which helps in selling and buying. The second reason is that the tax system in the city favors art. The import and export of art is duty free and there is no sales tax, therefore costs are cut to a minimum, which means a bigger return can be yielded.

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These unglamorous truths do not in any way mean to diminish the art scene but provide the basis for understanding why galleries, auction houses, museums, and artists are being drawn into the city and making it such a vibrant cultural destination. The start of which all came from the ART HK fair held every year in which attendance numbers kept rising, and gallery participation kept increasing.

The art fair began this spiral of success for the city where international galleries run by Gagosian and Ben Brown established themselves to capitalize on the fair, with several more prominent ones set to open this year. Auction houses, seizing on the private market and location, have set record breaking numbers in Hong Kong over the course of the past two years to make China the number one art market in the world.

With such a dominant collecting atmosphere, the international community is donating art and building museums and co-ops in the city to encourage international visitation and support local artists. One of the largest contemporary art museums, called M+, is set to open in 2018 and will house collections that rival both the Tate and MOMA.

Plans for M+ Museum Image: West Kowloon Cultural District site

The art community in Hong Kong is still relatively small due to the high cost of living, but with the influx of such great endeavors people are beginning to realize that you can make a career out of art. With this being just the beginning of the Hong Kong scene, who knows what brilliant artists, shows, or sales is to come but it is certainly something exciting to look forward to.

Article: Hunt, Katie. Hong Kong Art Scene Takes Off. Sotheby’s at Auction (March 2012).

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