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Art of the Matter: Affordable Art Fair

Ahead of Affordable Art Fair’s return in August, ECHELON invites key organisers and emerging local artists to explore the importance of nurturing today’s young art community and Hong Kong’s still burgeoning art scene.

By Ashlyn Chak
July 21, 2022

Hong Kong’s annual art month may have wrapped up weeks ago but that by no means suggests a pause for the burgeoning talents on the local art scene. From August 4 to 7, the 9th edition of Affordable Art Fair (AAF) will make its highly anticipated return to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, showcasing thousands of contemporary artworks from the likes of South Korea’s Gallery Twostones, Singapore’s Studio-ID Art Gallery, Australia’s ADD Gallery Australia, Peru’s Diverso Art Gallery, and the UK’s Quantum Contemporary Art. The handpicked line-up has expanded to welcome 65 exhibitors this year, over a quarter of which are newcomers and over 40 are from right here in Hong Kong. On top of that is an array of stimulating programmes designed to uplift the local community through the presentation of both local and international rising stars, as well as art education and therapy sessions to open up the world of art to young minds. 

Photo: Trust and Faith by Lauren Cheng

On a mission to make art accessible to all, the fair brings a diverse range of art pieces under HK$100,000 to collectors-to-be and has now become a global phenomenon with 13 fairs in 10 cities. “We are always about breaking down the barrier between contemporary art and the public and democratising the art world,” says fair director Regina Zhang on AAF’s ethos of transparency, friendliness, and art education – which involves children’s art tours and workshops. “We also believe we help nurture the city’s arts and cultural development by supporting the local art community.” 

Revealing her picks from this year’s fair, Zhang mentions the Seoul-born, Hong Kong-based Yihong Hsu’s large-scale digital installation, Decisions, which she explains as “the artist’s interpretation of connecting life and nature.” Also not to be missed is Hong Kong mixed media artist Amber Ng’s experimental project of recycled materials that, in Zhang’s words, “takes the city’s fading playgrounds as inspiration, recreating and reinventing childhood memories.” 

Photo: Magenta II by Audrey Lu

Another highlight is Young Talent Hong Kong, a platform themed ‘THE NEXTGEN’, catering to the public’s increased curiosity about what the future generation has to offer. Curated by award-winning illustrator Jonathan Jay Lee, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ involves 26 emerging local artists and represents the spectrum of individuality in creating a unified whole. 

Referring to the project as “a common narrative through distinctive perspectives,” Lee expresses excitement to show off the artists, many of whom are former students of his. “The audience will be surprised to see the quality of the work out there. The artists’ works are unique and different, yet together they paint this rather interesting and complete image of an interpretive theme.” He concludes, “This project is our love letter to Hong Kong.” 

Photo: Dance Gene: The Discovery Note p.1 by Wong Kwan Ho

As for the artists themselves, local multimedia and digital artist Wong Kwan Ho is thrilled about his first-ever experience at AAF with his booth entitled ‘LOVE’, which provides a safe space for the young and underrepresented artists in Hong Kong of both queer and non-queer sexualities. 

“Having exhibited in White Cube, a commercial gallery, and alternative spaces both online and offline with many underground artists who are, in my opinion, criminally underrated, I see almost a duality between these two ways of showing art,” explains Wong. “I am constantly switching personas and running between the two ends – they are so similar yet different, and sometimes they blend into one.” 

Photo: Fishball girls by Jonathan Jay Lee

Working with the emotionality and spirituality of art, Lauren Cheng is, too, joining AAF for the first time, as part of a three-women artist collective. She describes having their works shown to the Hong Kong art community as an incredible opportunity, as the collective consists of different mediums, from abstract acrylics to Chinese calligraphy. 

“Being able to collaborate with other creatives is incredibly inspiring and supportive, and it is so exciting to see what can come of artists of different backgrounds and experiences.” Cheng continues, “The emerging art scene in Hong Kong has grown even more in recent years. I believe the work of my fellow local artists will only become more intriguing and powerful as we continue to hear stronger voices from young artists experiencing the shifting sociopolitical, environmental, and economic situations of the city.” 

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Originally published in ECHELON Issue 8