Shanghai Art021 art fair to launch a Hong Kong edition aimed at galleries from the Global South

Shanghai Art021 art fair to launch a Hong Kong edition aimed at galleries from the Global South

Shanghai Art021 art fair to launch a Hong Kong edition aimed at galleries from the Global South

After months of speculation, the Shanghai-based art fair operator Art021 is launching a Hong Kong fair, scheduled for this summer – provisionally July.

Called Art021 Hong Kong, the inaugural edition is planned as an invitation-only event: all the galleries involved have been selected by the organisers.

With dozens of exhibitors, it is smaller than the city’s Art Basel and Art Central events. It hopes to differentiate itself from more established fairs by focusing on galleries from mainland China, the Middle East and the rest of the Global South – including India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and Pakistan – as well as the Chinese diaspora, says David Chau, co-founder of Art021 and of the new fair.

“Western artists are well received by collectors in China, but the reception of Chinese artists in the more traditional art markets in America or Europe has not been as enthusiastic,” Chau says.

The Hong Kong edition of the Art021 fair was set up to increase the exposure of art from the Global South, says Art021 co-founder David Chau (above). Photo: courtesy of

“This is why we’ve been considering ways to bring greater exposure to exceptional art, from not only China but also, more widely, the Global South, to international collectors. Hong Kong, with its established infrastructure and favourable policies, is the ideal platform to achieve this.”

The fair, which has obtained direct financial support from the Hong Kong government’s Mega Arts and Cultural Events Fund, will replace the Shanghai company’s existing fair in neighbouring Shenzhen, Chau says.

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DnA Shenzhen was launched in 2021 to cultivate the city’s emerging art market, while also targeting seasoned collectors from Hong Kong, Chau says. However, the fair is now “on hold” after its second edition in 2023.

“We still believe Shenzhen has significant potential, but when the opportunity arose to launch a fair in Hong Kong, we felt compelled to pursue it. For now, our focus is on Art021 Hong Kong, but this doesn’t preclude revisiting DnA Shenzhen in the future.”

Art021 will continue to run its flagship fair in Shanghai and Jingart in Beijing, which launched in 2018, Chau adds.

While acknowledging the importance of financial backing from the Hong Kong government, Chau says the company is committed to the Hong Kong fair “long term”.

The entrance to Jingart, the annual art fair at the Beijing Exhibition Centre operated by Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair. Photo: courtesy of Art021

He adds that Art021 Hong Kong will feature curated sections that explore themes related to the Global South. The Post understands that Art021 is exploring a potential partnership with Art Dubai, a leading art fair in the Middle East, to bring more galleries from the region to Hong Kong.

The launch of the fair coincides with growing anxiety over the impact of Hong Kong’s new national security law on the city’s cultural sector, with the government repeatedly highlighting the risk of the arts being used to promote anti-China sentiment.

But Chau says Hong Kong’s art scene is still less restricted than that in mainland China, where art fairs have to submit a full list of artworks to government censors ahead of opening.

In Hong Kong, where no such censorship is required, “it’s up to the exhibitors to decide what they show to the audience”, he says.

The 11th edition of Art021 opened at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, in China, on November 9, 2023. Photo: SCMP /Enid Tsui

Art021’s foray into the Hong Kong market marks the arrival of yet another new regional fair just as the global art market is experiencing a downturn.

Hong Kong saw the debut of a new boutique fair, Supper Club, which coincided with Art Basel Hong Kong in March. The organisers said sales were above expectations and there will be another edition in 2025.

The African art fair 1-54 also tested the waters in Hong Kong with a small show at Christie’s in March, with a view for a full fair in 2025.

In Seoul, a new fair called Art OnO will take place from April 19.

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Chau acknowledges the strain that a packed art fair calendar can place on exhibitors while testing collectors’ enthusiasm. However, he emphasises that there is just a handful of regional art powerhouses in the Global South.

“We believe Hong Kong’s art market is big enough to sustain another fair, particularly in the second half of the year, similar to the auction model with spring and fall seasons.”

As to why the fair will launch during the city’s hottest season, Art021 explains that it has to do with the venue’s availability, and that it hopes to hold subsequent editions in the cooler time of September.

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