9 Galleries to Know Ahead of Art Basel Hong Kong

With Hong Kong Art Week set to take off Monday, art world jet-setters are officially en-route and eyes are squarely on the coastal metropolis. 

It’s been a busy, challenging year for Hong Kong, as 2023 marked the first Art Basel Hong Kong since the lifting of “Zero Covid” restrictions that had all but eliminated international tourism to the metropolis. It couldn’t have come sooner, as the launch of Tokyo Gendai and Art SG last year and Frieze Seoul in 2022 marked those other cities’ entrance in the competition for Asia’s leading art hub. However, any hopes that local politics could be forgotten were dispelled earlier this week when Hong Kong’s legislature passed a new sweeping national security law that curators and artists are already worrying could dampen artistic production.

Next week should tell us a lot about how the competition for regional dominance is shaking out. But early signs point to Hong Kong’s continued centrality to the Asian art market, as Sotheby’s and Christie’s both prepare to open massive new headquarters in the city this year, and M+ Museum (opened in 2021) and Tai Kwun Contemporary (opened in 2018) anchor the institutional scene. In January, Hauser & Wirth inaugurated a 10,000-square-foot street-level space, a rarity in the notoriously pricy city where most galleries reside on the upper floors.

The Covid years, as Empty Gallery director Alexander Lau told ARTnews in an email, were initially “shattering,” but isolation infused energy into the city, as it “gave every Hong Konger a reality check on how to move forward with life, both philosophically and emotionally.”

The result, numerous art dealers told ARTnews, is a renewed focus on strengthening the city’s cultural ecosystem through new institutions, galleries, and nonprofit art spaces, as well the confidence to invest in and elevate local artists.

“We’ve noticed more of a willingness to take meaningful risks with programming, beyond the typical more commercial route of transplanting blue-chip art trends to Hong Kong,” Lau said of the city’s galleries.

ARTnews caught up a handful of Hong Kong’s rising dealers, along with several veterans, to see how they are evolving along with the rest of the city’s cultural scene.

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