Art at center stage

Local | Phoebe Ng 21 Mar 2017

Art lovers and dealers are flocking to Hong Kong with two major arts event - Art Central and Art Basel - being held this week.

While Art Central had its opening yesterday at the Central Harbourfront, Art Basel kicks off today in the convention center in Wan Chai.

This year Art Central is bringing in more new interactive art forms, including Swarovski's sound installation, live performances and site-specific installations. The art scene has also entered a world of virtual reality with the addition of moving image and digital works.

Art Central managing director Charles Ross said the event pushes boundaries in contemporary arts. "It is the most engaging and stimulating we have ever presented," he said.

For the first time, the event is incorporating performance art in its core program in collaboration with 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art, a Sydney-based non-profit center. It hopes to encourage experimentation and offer platforms for new talent.

The program line-up includes Red Chador by artist Anida Yoeu Ali, who is to dress in a red cape as the name suggests. The artist researched slogans from political events like the Umbrella movement and will weave through the crowds with "political signs."

Other highlights include a mechanical crystallophone "Sharevari" by Swarovski, exhibited at the fair's main entrance. Through a network of sensors, visitors can "conduct" their own songs with their hands.

Held in white marquees, the fair, which is in its third year, runs until Saturday. Of the more than 100 galleries represented, 75 percent are from the Asia Pacific, including 17 galleries from Hong Kong. Art Central co-founder Tim Etchells is expecting 40,000 people to attend like last year. "It [Art Central] is a very different play to Art Basel," Etchells said. "Already we are 35 percent up on attendance last year compared to its first edition."

One of the world's biggest art fairs, Art Basel opens today and also runs until Saturday. The show at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre will feature works from 240 galleries in 34 countries.

Collaborating with Google, it will feature a special presentation of first- time VR artworks by five artists using the tech giant's 3D drawing and painting app. Like Art Central, there will be an emphasis on Asian-based galleries.

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