The back room: the center cannot hold

East Hong Kongthe art scene flourishing like never before, or in the midst of a political existential crisis? The answer to both questions is yes, according to my colleague (and Hong Konger for decades) Vivienne Chow.

Traditional indicators of success have swept across the city:

  • Collectors and sales were plentiful at the boutique art fair Not programmed in September, raising hopes of an activity similar to the Asian Fine Arts just this month.
  • Fall gallery openings are lively, thanks in large part to the big spending of a new generation of young Asian buyers.
  • The first seasonal auctions of art, antiques and design are imminent in Sotheby’s Hong Kong and thanks to a newly extended partnership between Phillips and Poly auction.
  • The institutional sector continues to gain momentum, as evidenced by recent movements such as the opening of Tai Kwun, the redesign of Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the upcoming launch of M +.

But the fear of Hong Kong national security law unleashed “the biggest Exodus the city has seen for decadesVivienne writes, with many contemporary artists joining democracy advocates and others in its vibrant cultural scene to leave Hong Kong forever.

Although no specific data on permanent emigration is available, the city’s population has fallen. 1.2 percent-almost 90,000 people—Since June 2020, when lawmakers Beijing voted unanimously to give the state broad powers to criminalize activities in Hong Kong believed to be linked to secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign agents to undermine national security.

The result, according to Vivienne? “Never before has the vitality of the market been so disconnected from the daily life of Hong Kong people.”

Some expatriate artists, such as politicians Kacey wong, spoke from their new home to confirm that they had been driven out by mass arrests and other coercive measures. Many others simply let their social media followers know about their move after it’s been completed, and still others choose not to make it public at all.

But there seems to be at least a direct link between the city’s political conflicts and the prosperity of its art industry.: A wave of local, regional and international patrons can grab the works of Hong Kong-based artists – often an overlooked segment of the market – in part to show their support for free speech in the city.

This is the theory of several Hong Kong dealers based on the size and nature of the demand. Kenneth Young, the director of Karine Weber gallery in Central, noted that some recent buyers of local artists are themselves expatriates from the city; others previously collected only Western and Japanese art. The sudden interest of many clients (especially corporate collections) in media beyond paintings suggests that their motivations are broader than aesthetic and financial appreciation.

If the trend is real and lasting, then more Hong Kong artists could eventually join the ranks of international market darlings like Chris Huen, Florence lai, and the end Matthieu wong (who grew up in the city after her Hong Kong parents moved the family from Canada). But without a reversal of Hong Kong’s political fortunes, their local success might come at a different price.


The bottom line

In assessing the future of the Hong Kong art scene, I think Kacey Wong’s point of view is fundamentally relevant: “The art market, art fairs will continue. Sales will continueHe predicted, but the content of the artwork will be shaped by the threat of national security law, either by taking advantage of cleverly coded symbology or by retreating into a decoration pleasant.

The same principle will likely apply to the city’s institutional power and sales force. As long as wealth continues to grow and collectors continue to spend, Hong Kong will only become an increasingly important presence in the global art industry. But like the giant inflatable KAWS Companion that floated in Victoria Harbor for Art Basel Hong Kong 2019, the size of its profile may depend on maintaining a deeper trough.

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Paint drips

Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris on May 20, 2019. Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP / Getty Images.

In the last Fresh paint, Annie Armstrong details a dispute between Emmanuel Perrotin and advise Theo Lindqvist, who posted an Instagram story (later deleted) stating that he received the following voicemail from Perrotin “after his gallery rescinded a verbally agreed upon deal (hands were shaken) to Basel Art yesterday: “If you sue us legally, we will attack you. “

And in other news from “galleries that behave badly”, the dealer Niels Kantor overturned a work by a booming textile artist David “Mr. Starcity” White To Phillips latest “New now” auction, less than a year after its purchase … in his own gallery… Which sold after (White alleges) that Kantor gave unauthorized discounts to buyers including himself. (Like a Russian nesting doll, this one!) Work, Moonlight roses and heartache (2020) sold for an all-inclusive price $ 113,400, almost quadruple its $ 30,000 low estimate.

Here is what has left its mark on the industry since last Friday morning …

Art fairs

  • Frieze announced the 160+ exhibitors for London frieze and the 130+ exhibitors for Masters of the frieze, which will come back to Regent Park October 13-17.
  • Among the exhibitors of London frieze will be the Climate Coalition Gallery, which will raise funds by offering a unique, eco-themed edition Wolfgang tillmans photo (courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley) for $ 95,000, according to FT.

Auction houses

  • Phillips and China‘s Poly auction have extended their strategic partnership and will partner with a number of hybrid 20th century and contemporary art and design auctions in Hong Kong this autumn.
  • Christie’s outmoded $ 100 million of NFT’s worldwide sales after its very first NFT auction in Asia September 28 reached HK $ 122 million ($ 15.6 million).


  • David Kordansky confirmed that he will open a gallery in new YorkChelsea neighborhood in April 2022 with a solo exhibition of Lauren Halsey. The space will be led by ex-Victoria Miró head of sales Anna fisher.
  • Thaddée Ropac officially announced the hiring of Gagosian alum Dawn Zhu as director, Asia.
  • Rumors are circulating that Martos Gallery fell Kayode Ojo from his list.


  • After six years of blocking, the Prado Museum has received 36 million euros ($ 42 million) in government funding to finalize an expansion slated to open in 2024.
  • MASS MoCA tapped Kristy edmunds, the director of UCLA Performance Art Center, to succeed Joe thompson as its next director.
  • Margate‘s Contemporary Turner named Tate Senior Curator of British Contemporary Art Claire Wallis its new director.
  • The new museum launched a $ 400,000 in prizes for new works by women sculptors, one of the most valuable scholarships in the art world.

NFT and more

  • The English museum will partner with a French start-up, LaCollection, to produce and sell NFTs of 200 works by the Japanese engraver Katsushika Hokusai.
  • Five NFTs per Nigeriabased artist Osinachi will be offered jointly by Christie’s and the 1-54 African Art Fair in an online-only auction from October 5 to 19, making him the first African artist to symbolize his work through the auction house.
  • The highly publicized auction star Mr. Doodle dropped an animated version of one of his signature scribbles as an NFT on the market Super rare.

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Data drop

Are headwinds hitting Global Art Travel?

Data from Sivak Applied Research.  Graphic by Artnet News.

Data from Sivak Applied Research. Graphic by Artnet News.

What you see in the graph above are the percentage changes (adjusted for population) in the number of months Transportation safety administration (TSA) at U.S. airports compared to their 2019 counterpart, thanks to data from a transportation analyst Applied research Sivak.

The trend is unmistakable: After 11 consecutive months of improvement, the number of passengers screened by the TSA peaked in July 2021 and then declined again over the following 51 days. (Data for September 2021 only covers the first 21 days of the month.)

These numbers are just one part of a growing body of evidence that the Delta variant, the mind-boggling patchwork of international travel regulations and other factors could make last week’s regional flavor Basel Art the rule, not the exception, on the art market for much longer than we thought a few months ago. Buckle up, it could be a bumpy ride …

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