On the cusp of Frieze and I’m suffering a bit of cabin fever from being grounded with a broken foot.
So to get my art fill I managed to limp my way through Fine Art Asia at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this past weekend.
Now in its 8th edition, this year felt much stronger compared to its first few years as the Hong Kong International Asian Antiques and Arts fair. It lived up to its promise of showcasing high quality fine art works, jewellery and antiques from a greater selection of dealers from Asia and the West, and just a smattering of conversation-starter contemporary Asian art installations scattered around the convention centre hall.
I was very excited to see Shapero Rare Books from London. I can count the number of fine book sellers in HK on … well, I don’t even need all five fingers on one hand. They had a wonderful collection of vintage maps, Chinese ink manuscripts, first editions and monographs. As a passionate gardener I simply loved Henry John Alwes, A Monograph of the Genus Lilium with beautiful handcoloured drawings of the flower.
London dealer, Michael Goedhuis, had a beautiful presentation of Asian contemporary art, with elegant ink on paper works from Qin Feng, Wei Ligang and Taiwanese artist Yao Jui-chung. The detail of Yao’s works kept me mesmerised for ages. Mr Goedhuis himself is that rare personification of the gentleman art dealer from yesteryear — knowledgeable, charming, indefatigably patient and helpful — so it’s always a delight to pop into his booth.
Hong Kong’s iconic art-world figure, Johnson Chang of Hanart TZ Gallery, was of course also present this year in his trademark changshan with work by two Hong Kong artists, Wucius Wong and Leung Kui Ting. Wucius’ work was showcased in a ‘yellow box’, “a concept that stems from the traditional Chinese literati’s culture of connoiseurship” in an effort to reinterpret the traditional literati spirit and fuse it with contemporary art.
Works by Monet, Picasso, van Gogh and Rodin also made an appearance. New Orleans-based fine art dealers MS Rau were showing for the first time this year with a collection of 19th century works from Renoir, Courbet, pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward John Poynter and early 20th century Russian artist Fedor Zakharov.
Not to be outshone by the fine art, there was also a confection of fine jewels and antique silver glittering on display. Belgian antique jewellery dealer Jan van Krankendonk Duffels had a beautiful collection of rare 19th and early 20th century pieces including the Tutti Frutti necklace from Raymond Yard, loaded with an assortment of emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds. Hong Kong’s Dickson Yewn presented his intricate Chinese inspired contemporary jewellery designs, and Siegelson from New York had a great selection of Art Deco-era Cartier, and a suite of blue chalcedony, sapphire and diamond pieces commissioned by Prince Edward for ‘that woman’, Wallis Simpson.
Not at all like your usual frenzied art fair, the atmosphere at Fine Art Asia was much more relaxed and visitors were able to take in the extensive selection of fine art, jewellery and antiques at a leisurely pace. The calm before the auction storm!