Hong Kong is widely considered the financial nexus of Asia, evidenced by its cohort of towering skyscrapers that multiply on the daily. Pair the city’s robust, trade-based economy with its complex cultural history, which blends Chinese traditions and colonial influence, and you get a metropolis as famed for its markets as its Michelin-starred restaurants, sprawling apartment blocks—and, increasingly, its art spaces.
In 2008, Hong Kong’s first contemporary art fair, Art HK, kickstarted a solid commercial scene by drawing galleries from around the world to set up shop in the city. So global was the outlook by 2011 that the fair was snapped up by the Art Basel empire, bringing with it fresh kudos and clout and paving the way for satellite fair Art Central to launch last year. And this March, as the art crowd descends in droves for the fairs, they’ll bear witness to a cultural landscape growing almost as fast as the city’s skyline.
Left to right: JJ Acuna, Tobias Berger, Chantal Wong, Alan Lo, and Aric Chen.
With Chantal Wong, co-founder of Things That Can Happen and Head of Strategy and Special Projects at Asia Art Archive; Tobias Berger, Head of Arts at Central Police Station; Aric Chen, Curator of Design and Architecture at M+; collector, Para Site board member and member of Duddell’s Art Committee Alan Lo; and JJ Acuna, founder and editor of theWanderlister+, as our guides, we explore a buzzing metropolis, bursting at the seams with art galleries, institutions, and alternative spaces.
Central / Sheung Wan / Admiralty
Right in the thick of it, Central is the city’s primary business district and a convenient departure point for exploring Hong Kong Island. Already home to the city’s art fairs a host of important international galleries, the area’s cultural cachet will reach new heights later this year with Tai Kwun, a major arts hub spanning new and renovated buildings around the former Central Police Station. To Central’s east is Admiralty; to the west, Sheung Wan; and beyond that, Sai Ying Pun, whose steep, narrow lanes are increasingly the locale-of-choice for Hong Kong’s hippest bars.
A | Art Basel in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Harbour Road
Now in its fourth edition, and building on solid foundations set by predecessor Art HK, this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong sees some 239 top-end galleries share their wares, with over half hailing from Asia Pacific. A highlight for the 2016 event will be Tatsuo Miyajima’s large-scale light installation, Time Waterfall, splashed across the façade of Kowloon’s International Commerce Center.
B | Art Central
Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central
A second stint for Art Central, Hong Kong’s newest fair, sees 100-or-so contemporary galleries from across the globe descend on Central’s iconic waterfront. Less blue-chip than its more-established contemporary, emerging artists and young galleries are a mainstay at Art Central, with a program of talks in partnership with Asia Society proving a particular draw.
C | Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation
Central Pier No. 4
Conveniently in the vicinity of both ABHK and Art Central, Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation presents solo show “Debris” by Portuguese artist Vhils at Pier No. 4, as well as an intervention on one of the city’s iconic trams.
D | Asia Society Hong Kong
9 Justice Drive, Admiralty
E | Hong Kong Maritime Museum
Central Pier No. 8
Housed in the former Old Victoria Barracks in Admiralty, Asia Society Hong Kong’s program is well worth a look. To coincide with ABHK and Art Central, the non-profit hosts Shahzia Sikander’s “Apparatus of Power,” while a satellite show at Hong Kong Maritime Museum sees the Pakistani artist examine Hong Kong’s cultural heritage within the global maritime trade.
F | Duddell’s
3/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion 1 Duddell Street, Central
Set across two floors linked by a dramatic staircase by acclaimed designer Ilse Crawford, Michelin-starred Duddell’s contemporary fare is rooted in traditional Cantonese cuisine. For ABHK, Duddell’s is partnering with Dallas Museum of Art on Concentrations HK, a solo exhibition by New York-based artist Margaret Lee.
G | Ben Brown Fine Arts
303 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central
G | Pearl Lam Fine Arts
601-605 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central
G | Gagosian Gallery
7/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central
G | Lehmann Maupin
407 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central
An elegant building dating from 1924, high ceilings and iconic frontage make 12 Pedder Street an ideal setting for no fewer than seven galleries. First to install itself, in 2009, was Ben Brown Fine Arts, who this March present Candida Höfer’s “Memory” series. Next to move in was Gagosian, as one of the eponymous gallerist’s 15 global outposts. Look out for the gallery’s solo by Dan Colen during ABHK. Pearl Lam Fine Arts occupies the building’s sixth floor, where group show “Structures of Recollection” coincides with fair week. Floor four has been home to U.S. gallery Lehmann Maupin since 2013, and during ABHK, the space is teaming up with the nearby White Cube for Tracey Emin’s first Greater China solo. Supplementing spaces in London and Milan, Massimo de Carlo will be the newest gallery to call Pedder Street home when it opens its doors to Yan Pei-Ming’s solo during fair week.
H | Edouard Malingue Gallery
6/F, 33 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong
French art dealer Edouard Malingue’s gallery, which opened in 2010 in a space shared with OMA (Rem Koolhaas’s powerhouse architecture firm), last year relocated to this beautifully designed spot that’s double its original size.
“Tracey Emin: I Cried Because I Love You,” at White Cube, Hong Kong. © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo © White Cube Courtesy Lehmann Maupin and White Cube.
Sham Shui Po / Yau Tsim Mong
Sham Shui Po has been enjoying a renaissance of late, with creative offerings popping up around its bustling markets, public housing, and cheap electronics stores. Next door, the Yau Tsim Mong area will be home to the West Kowloon Cultural District. Spanning education, art, and performance, the jewel in its crown will be M+ Museum. Slated to open in 2019, its focus will be 20th- and 21st-century art, design, architecture, and moving image.
A | Things That Can Happen
1/F, 98 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po
Housed on the first floor of a residential walk-up, nonprofit Things That Can Happen does exactly as its name suggests. Praised by Lo for its “amazing artist-driven exhibition and residency program,” the experimental platform was founded in September 2015 by Asia Art Archive’s Chantal Wong and artist Lee Kit.
B | 100ft. PARK
1/F, 220 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
A little farther along Apliu Street is 100ft. PARK, another nonprofit, artist-run space established by photographer South Ho in 2013.
C | Wontonmeen
1/F, 135 Lai Chi Kok Road, Sham Shui Po
Wontonmeen is the brainchild of designer Patricia Choi, whose renovated 11-floor apartment building now houses artist studios, events space, a hostel, and cafe. On the ground floor is Holicycle, where the trendiest two-wheelers in town can be rented by the hour.
D | Mei Ho House Public Housing Museum
Block 41, Shek Kip Mei Estate, 70 Berwick St, Sham Shui Po
Built in 1954, Shek Kip Mei estate on Sham Shui Po’s Berwick Street is Hong Kong’s oldest public housing development. Of its eight original buildings, only Mei Ho House remains: the renovated Grade II historic building now housing a hostel and museum.
E | Cafe Sausalito
G/F, 201 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po
F | Cafe Papillon
Cockloft, 202 Tai Nan Street, Sham Shui Po
For a pitstop, try Cafe Sausalito or Cafe Papillon, both on Tai Nan Street. From here, swing by 38-year-old outdoor textile market Yen Chow Street Bazaar.
One of the city’s best districts for eating and shopping (window or otherwise), Wan Chai is home to Hong Kong’s finest. It’s dense with five-star hotels, designer boutiques, and glitzy office towers, with more unique gems hidden away down narrow lanes.
A | Kapok
3 Sun Street, Wan Chai
B | Monocle
1-4 St. Francis Yard Wan Chai
Clustered around Star Street, find lifestyle design stores, cute cafes, and trendy eateries. One of the first to descend on this now decidedly hip enclave was Kapok, with a curated selection of international fashion brands. A second space on Sun Street followed, incorporating a gallery and cafe. Also worth seeking out is Monocle for designer bags, stationery, and homeware, as well as back copies of the eponymous magazine.
C | Back Bar @ Ham & Sherry
G/F, 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai
Hidden from view behind British Michelin star chef Jason Atherton’s Ham & Sherry restaurant and accessible via an adjacent alley, Back Bar is the place for superbly-mixed, in-the-know Wan Chai cocktails.
D | The Pawn
62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Part of the Press Room Group collection of restaurants—co-founded by collector Alan Lo—The Pawn is helmed by British chef Tom Aikens. A three-story affair on the site of the famous Woo Cheong pawnshop, its rooftop is particularly lovely.
Aberdeen / Wong Chuk Hang
To the east of Aberdeen, Wong Chuk Hang’s one-time industrial spaces are increasingly being taken over by commercial galleries as well as experimental platforms. “It’s a factory district that is fast being gentrified into a new cultural district with amazing spaces, as well as collectors Alan Lau and William Lim’s private collection spaces—if you can score a visit!” says Lo. While currently not linked by MTR (Hong Kong’s rapid transit line), that’s set to change later this year with the opening of South Island Line (East).
A | Spring Workshop
3/F Remex Center, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen
Cross-disciplinary platform Spring Workshop has been making waves since its inception in 2011, having hosted exhibitions by the likes of Qiu Zhijie, Heman Chong, and Cosmin Costinas. During fair week, Spring presents artist-in-residence Wu Tsang’s film installation “Duilian,” based on writings by 19th-century Chinese revolutionary Qui Jin.
B | Blindspot Gallery
15/F Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang
For contemporary photography, Blindspot occupies a former industrial space along gallery-heavy Wong Chuk Hang Road. Offering a concise overview of Blindspot’s range are two shows taking place in March: “Fragments of Future Histories” by young French artist Cédric Maridet, and “A Permanent Instant,” featuring polaroid snaps by local photographers from the 1980s–2000s.
C | Pékin Fine Arts
16/F Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen
Gallerist and longtime China resident Meg Maggio’s Pékin Fine Arts opened in the city in 2012, seven years after its Beijing big brother. With a reputation for innovative art from Asia, the Hong Kong space celebrates fair week with the launch of Xie Qi’s “The Unbearable Weight of Things.”
D | Floating Projects
Room D, 8/F, Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang
Floating Projects is an art space and incubator set up in 2015 by artist and Hong Kong City University School of Creative Media professor Linda Lai. Aimed at fostering young artists, it hosts exhibitions and residencies, along with discussions around the specific challenges facing young artists today.
A | Para Site
22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay
Since relocating to Quarry Bay in 2015, independent Para Site has upped an already impressive roster of exhibitions, residencies, and symposia. At ABHK itself, expect a solo by sound artist Andio Lai as well as a group show, “Afterwork,” at the gallery, part of Para Site’s ongoing “Migrant Domestic Workers Project.”
B | ArtisTree
1/F Cornwall House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay
A dedicated exhibition space inside an office/retail complex, ArtisTree currently hosts M+ Museum’s teaser exhibition, “M+ Sigg Collection: Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art.” The Swiss national has famously donated his collection of contemporary Chinese art, amassed over some 20 years, to the museum, which is due to open in 2019. Before that, a selection of works by Ai Weiwei, Fang Lijun, Geng Jianyi, Huang Yong Ping, Zhang Peili, and more is on display through April 5th, 2016.