Its first edition, which closed on Monday, housed 77 galleries—almost two-thirds of them from the wider Asia-Pacific region—in a 10,000-square-meter tent on Hong Kong’s newly developed Central Harbourfront. The fair set itself a double goal: be uniquely relevant to Hong Kong—in ways, the organizers claim, that bigger fairs cannot—while offering the region’s increasingly daring collectors a place to discover the unexpected.
Unlike the reclaimed land on which it stands, the fair did not just spring out of nowhere. Masterminded by Tim Etchells, the man behind ART HK—born in 2008 and which Art Basel acquired to create Art Basel in Hong Kong
(ABHK) in 2013—Art Central was the fruit of careful market observation. “The market need,” explained co-director Maree Di Pasquale, “came when ART HK and then ABHK became big enough. There was a thirst to do more during Art Week. In New York, Miami, London, there is a range of other activities around a major fair. Art Central responds to that thirst.”