Art & Culture

All About the 9th Asia Contemporary Art Show with Co-Founder Mark Saunderson

01 July 2020


Are you counting down to the fall edition of the Asia Contemporary Art Show? The wait is almost over, with the 9th ACAS set to open over the Mid-Autumn Festival weekend from September 15th - 18th, it will showcase more than 80 exhibitors from over 20 countries. The Hong Kong art scene has been thriving in the recent few years with the introduction of many new exhibitions, galleries and major art shows, ACAS continues to set itself apart, offering something very unique to the art lovers of this city.

The show aims to bring the world of art to Hong Kong at accessible prices, giving collectors and art buyers the opportunity to browse and buy original paintings, limited editions, sculptures and photography from some of the world's most interesting and promising artists – from emerging to mid-career artists, to those who have already achieved recognition in private and public collections.

It welcomes buyer and artist interaction in an intimate art space setting – a unique feature that sets the show apart. With more than 50 artists present at the show and so much to see, buyers and art collectors have been known to pay a return visit each season.

We speak to the Director of Asia Contemporary Art Show, Mr. Mark Saunderson in anticipation of the upcoming show. He explains to us that, "the principal objective of hosting any art fair is to connect art sellers and art buyers, to close sales. Many of the artists presented at the show have not been seen in Asia before. Compared to the high price of premium works of headline artists at Art Basel Hong Kong and seasonal auctions, the price tags at the Asia Contemporary Art Show are accessible for the younger collector and interested buyer. The five-star Conrad Hong Kong's spectacular mountain setting and views of Hong Kong Island offer an unparalleled backdrop in which to enjoy the art. It's a unique art fair experience! Sipping a complimentary glass of wine or cocktail in the cosy atmosphere of a luxury hotel, viewers are at ease and are prompted to think about how an artwork may add to the character of their home or workplace." Director Mark Saunderson also adds, "This will be one of our most anticipated shows, as we have been working for 12 months to identify some of the brightest young and mid-career talent from around the world."

The organisers of the show, all long-term Hong Kong residents, have a passion for art that extends beyond the four days of the show. Mr. Mark Saunderson gives us insight into what it takes to curate an incredible selection of works for each edition and a sneak peek into what to expect for this season's show.

What elements are most important when curating a collection for the Asia Contemporary Art Show?
The show will be presenting more than 2,500 works of art in each category of work as it is important to present a diversity of material, media and experiences. Some artists may be exhibiting for the first time in Asia, whereas others are familiar names with an established collector base. We also look at artist's history, their technical skill and more importantly their sustainability. Our selection committee has the task of scrutinising the art to define a content mix that works for both buyer and the seller.

Each Show is better than the last, and we are especially pleased with the line-up of artists this year. The exceptional collection of works will be presented in what we call 'art spaces' — much like how you would see art presented in a home or office, and it will be far more welcoming and engaging than a normal gallery or exhibition space.

From works on paper to sculptures and installations, what type of art form is most popular in Hong Kong?
Here in Hong Kong, there is a strong interest in figurative paintings with rich colour palettes and a clear depiction of the work's context. On the other hand, abstract pieces are also popular because the narrative is open to the interpretation of the viewer. Often, works are purchased not only because of their aesthetic appeal but also for practical reasons such as whether the work suits the décor and size of the buyer's home.

Sculpture is also very sought after and sells very well at our shows. At the 8th edition of the show in March, there were several well-established sculptors whose works were snapped up by collectors – Stephen Glassborow from Australia, internationally recognized Taiwanese sculptor Hsieh Tong-Liang and Xie Aige from Beijing whose small but powerful works are almost always sold out.

We strive for diversity at our shows, not just with the types of works exhibited but also with the range of artist's experience. About half of our repeat visitors are collectors themselves and they return because they are looking for new and exciting art and artists to add to their collections. The diversity that we pride ourselves on is very important to these repeat visitors; they know that here they will find an investment-grade work that will fit in nicely with their collection.

What is the most important piece of advice for first time buyers?
I often get asked this question, and I always start off with this caveat: be prepared to do some serious research. Buying art involves many factors, but it often starts with the visual allure – the work should appeal to the buyer's aesthetic sense. Once you have identified the type of work you like, then comes the homework:

Research the artist – what is their background? Do they have a defined art narrative? Do they have extensive exhibiting experience? Has the artist sold at auction, along with public pricing? Are there critical writings and reviews of the artist's work?
Research the market – if possible, meet the artist and ask questions. Visit art fairs and galleries. Attend auctions. Use online tools to research market trends. Network with other collectors and learn from their experiences.
Over time, first time buyers will evolve into informed, serious collectors.

Why is the Asia Contemporary Art Show scheduled twice a year around this time?
The Asia Contemporary Art Show is held twice each year in Hong Kong, to coincide with the two main art-buying "seasons" in Spring and Fall. It is the only art fair in Hong Kong to be held twice a year. This year's Fall edition will be the Show's 9th and the largest art fair, it takes place at the onset of the Fall auction season, another busy time of the year in Hong Kong.

What are your favourite art pieces from this year's show?
Some special favourites of mines include Mario Gomez, a Chilean artist whose paintings are inspired by Latin American magical realism, Korean artist Jeong Myoung Jo, who captures traditional themes with a hyperrealist approach and local artist Martin Lever who transforms familiar Hong Kong locales into abstract "groundscapes." There are also some exciting artists whose works are new to Hong Kong including Doan Xuan Tang, a Vietnamese artist whose colourful and mysterious works are unlike anything I've seen come out of Vietnam recently, Luo Yang, one of China's up-and-coming young photographers and Marcus Chan of Canada, an experimental artist who blends Eastern and Western techniques. It's going to be a great show!

How has the art scene shifted in Hong Kong since the first ACAS?
In a maturing arts hub like Hong Kong, gallery rents have driven all but a couple of dozen galleries up or out – up in a commercial building or out to remote industrial areas like Aberdeen and Chai Wan. Both have contributed to waning walk-in gallery visits, and of course, a persistent challenge to engage critical mass at exhibit openings. Art fairs have stepped in to become the natural catalyst and marketplace for convenience, diversity and choice.

For more information, please contact your Lifestyle Manager for more information about access to exclusive benefits at this upcoming Asia Contemporary Art Show. Interested in becoming a Member? Request more information.

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