Though only a stone’s throw away, waltzing into the Art Central Hong Kong tents after a stint at Art Basel Hong Kong feels a world apart.
Those familiar with Art Basel Miami know that a trip to Miami at that time can become an art immersion en toto by taking in the dozen or so companion art shows that have sprouted up on the beachfront and beyond during the Art Basel window. It’s a wide range—and that makes a trip to Miami at that time all the more fun—hopping from show to show with an occasional stop to sip margaritas in one of the many beachfront watering holes. One show even has a theme of only art that can fit in a refrigerator! In Hong Kong, Art Central seems to be the only companion show so far- shouldering the entire burden perhaps of representing the wide diversity in the art world beyond the upper crust Art Basel shore.
Like Art Basel Hong Kong across the field, you can find many of Asia’s, and the worlds’, leading artists on display at Art Central. In Art Central though, you find a broader range—with the totally undiscovered mingling in with the barely discovered and the art-household name rock stars.
The attendees similarly feel like they come from a broader economic spectrum, though perhaps a demographic skewed younger.
Here you find gourmet food truck fare, albeit from big name gourmet restaurants—whereas at Art Basel it’s more sit down meal style and with more options for champagne and better wine sips, but perhaps less beer.
Were there more Asian artists at Art Central? It felt that way, even if not necessarily true. The Art Central stats for this fourth year were 102 international galleries (30 new to the show) with more than 75% from the Asia-Pacific region.
Was there more humor on display per exhibit inch at Art Central? It felt that way too. This show’s identity is more tied with disruption and challenge to the contemporary art scene, which seems in keeping with the more whimsical or ironic pieces on display.
The HUGE difference though, seemed to be the gallery reps stance towards you, the unannounced visitor. At Art Basel Hong Kong, if your visit to the booth isn’t pre-scheduled and expected, you can expect to be ignored and allowed to wander in and out at your own pace. Not so in Art Central, where some Gallery reps were so expansive about the works they were showing that we sometimes felt like we were abruptly disappointing them by suggesting it was time to move on. Better (or worse, depending on your goals), we got to meet many of the artists as well, similarly chatty about their work, the art world, and more.
If you’ve logged a lot of time or lived in one of the art ghettos in a global city as this writer/photographer team has, Art Central might feel more “at home”.
Not that you have to choose between the two shows. Stamina permitting, if you’ve made your way across the planet to visit Art Basel Hong Kong you’ll likely find Art Central Hong Kong a good salad course. Or, if you log most of your time at Art Central do make time for at least a sampling of Art Basel and especially if you like to absorb your art in anonymity and with less chitchat.
For more information, visit the Art Central Hong Kong website.