Is the Distinction Between Performing Arts and Visual Arts Becoming Blurred in Hong Kong?

Arts + Culture

The distinction between the performing arts and visual arts in Hong Kong appears to be blurring as the Hong Kong Tourism Board labels March “Hong Kong Arts Month”.


Sculpture by Alain Choisnet of France will be on display at Asia Contemporary Art Show in Hong Kong. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.


Hong Kong Art Week is a loose term used to refer to a changing collection of visual arts events taking place at the end of March. So what is Hong Kong Arts Month?

The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) is one of the largest and most diverse performing arts festivals in Asia.

HKAF started out nearly half a century ago as an initiative to boost tourism during the slack season between Chinese New Year and Easter, when hotels rooms throughout the then British Crown Colony experienced a sharp drop in bookings.

The Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), meanwhile, was launched four years after HKAF got started and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Fully 280 films from around the world are shown on average during each festival.

But despite these two high profile events, Hong Kong’s performing arts scene is considered to be rather underdeveloped when compared to cities of similar economic stature. Its performance venues are certainly not up to international standards.

Visual Arts

The visual arts, meanwhile, have a much shorter history in Hong Kong than the performing arts.

Auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s have long been active in the city. There have also long been antique shops and art galleries lining Hollywood Road on Hong Kong Island.

But the value of art auctioned at art auctions has skyrocketed in recent years, and the number of art galleries and exhibition spaces opening in other parts of Hong Kong has also exploded.

Art galleries  and exhibition spaces can now be found along both busy thoroughfares and quiet back alleys as well as in abandoned industrial estates in various parts of Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the New Territories.

A major turning point came in 2008, when ART HK, a high profile international art fair, arrived on the scene.

Then Hong Kong’s first local auction house, Atting House, which focuses on Asian contemporary art, opened its doors.

Art Basel

Perhaps the biggest shot in the arm came in 2013, with the arrival of Art Basel, which stages large scale annual art fairs in only two other cities: Basel, Switzerland, and Miami Beach, Florida, in the United States.

Hong Kong is now the world’s third largest art market after New York and London, and much of the business comes from north of the border.

Hong Kong’s visual arts scene has evolved so quickly and is do dynamic that it can be hard to sort out. Does anyone remember ArtWalk, which attracted 70 participating galleries in 2013? What about October Contemporary?

Hong Kong Art Week seemed to be becoming a fixture on the annual arts calendar. But try googling Hong Kong Art Week 2016 and see what happens.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board is now referring to March as Hong Kong Arts Month – grouping HKAF and HKIFF together with the assortment of visual arts events taking place at the end of the month.

The field is becoming so crowded, in fact, that some of the events that used to take place in March are being re-scheduled for later in the year.

Hong Kong Art Week

Here’s a quick look at some of the visual arts events scheduled for what used to be known as Hong Kong Art Week.

Hong Kong Art Basil 23 March – 25 March 2017

Art Basel is held each year in 3 cities: Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. It is considered the world’s top show for modern and contemporary art. Artworks on display at Art Basel range from museum quality pieces to works by emerging artists. Included are paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, multiples, prints, performances – the list goes on

Asia Contemporary Art Show 17 – 20 March 2017

Thousands of works of contemporary art will be on display at the Asia Contemporary Art Show, which will be held at the Conrad Hong Kong at Admiralty on Hong Kong Island. Included will be original paintings, limited editions, sculpture, and photography from some of the world’s most interesting and promising artists.

Art Central 21 – 25 March 2017

More than 30,000 artists, art collectors, and art lovers are expected at Art Central, which will return this year to the Central Harbourfront in Central on Hong Kong Island.

At least two events that were traditionally held in March have been moved to other months. Is it because of the crowded scheduling? Or it is simply a coincidence?

The Hong Kong Affordable Art Fair has been moved to May. The Hong Kong International Literary Festival has been moved to November.

Hong Kong Art Walk will not be held in March – that much is for sure. I read on Facebook that because so many other arts related activities were taking place in March, organizers of Hong Kong Art Walk had decided to postpone it.

Is this a matter of art overload?


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