Art Basel Hong Kong 2018: The insiders’ guide
Ahead of Asia’s most important annual art fair
(29-31 March), Hong Kong gallerists, artists and restaurateurs reveal the best places to see new work, savour a meal to remember, and take time out from the unceasing bustle of the city
Arthur de Villepin, founder and CEO of the Art de Vivre Group
‘I love the energy of the city and the passion of the people here. Everyday it feels like there is a new opportunity around the corner. I would always recommend that friends visit The Peak for the breathtaking cityscape. But I also love the beaches that are just a few steps away from the city, at Shek O on Hong Kong Island, for example, and also on Lantau Island.
‘For a great hangout, head to 3812 Gallery. The men who run it, Mark Peaker and Calvin Hui, are amazing, while de Sarthe gallery in Aberdeen is also very good.
‘For a drink, ON Dining has the best Bloody Mary and cheese selection in town. Le Boudoir just re-opened late last year with a newly renovated interior. For Chinese food, Mott 32 and China Tang are great. French restaurant Amber, at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental is another favourite.’
Yenn Wong, founder of JIA Group
‘Hong Kong regulars know no trip is complete without dim sum. Either Duddell’s for the beautiful or refined; Lin Heung Tea House for the chaotic but fun; Lock Cha Tea House for vegetarians; or Lin Heung Kui for Old Guangdong-style yum cha.
‘In the evening, the bar at Potato Head is a favourite because it feels like a mini hiatus from the city — not to mention its delicious cocktails.
‘Para Site in Quarry Bay is one of the oldest and most active art institutions in Asia. It's not for profit and one definitely worth supporting. Other galleries to visit while in town include the Edouard Malingue Gallery, Blindspot Gallery and Empty Gallery.’
Louise Soloway Chan, artist
‘Hong Kong is most inspiring in areas that combine the urban, rural, water and mountains. For an inspiring visual experience, take the walkways that weave between the shopping malls and markets. Head to the local fishing communities such as Po Toi O in Clearwater Bay for a day on the water and amazing fresh fish. In the evenings, Ping Pong Gintonería does a delicious juniper berry and lemon twist gin & tonic.
‘This year, I’m especially looking forward to the opening of the Central Police Station and H Queens, both new art venues for Hong Kong. I’d also recommend visiting Yan Gallery on Hollywood Road and the Asia Society art gallery, an interesting and historical location that is well worth a visit.’
Samantha Li, artist
‘For first-timers to Hong Kong, I would recommend taking the tram — be sure to grab a seat on the upper deck, and enjoy the old-time interiors. It’s a bracing contrast with the modern cityscape outside.
‘For a drink, I like Tycoon Tann. It has a cosy bar area and a view overlooking the bustling city. From time to time they do crossover projects with artists, displaying their work on the second floor.’
Li Zhenhua, curator of Art Basel Hong Kong’s film programme
‘Hong Kong’s cultural landscape has changed dramatically in the past five years, and every time I visit there’s more to discover. My advice is to visit a host of art institutions and galleries, from the long-established Videotage to M+, a brand new museum for visual culture.
‘I recommend Osage gallery and Para Site too, and that’s before you even get to the top international galleries that keep opening spaces here.
‘Beyond the art, I often just take the tram and hop off anywhere I’d like to take a walk. Temple Street late at night, for example, where there’s such a buzz it can feel like you’re walking through a film set. As for food, it’s hard to beat the legendary Kam’s Roast Goose, a small place but a great one, and with a Michelin star to boot.
Henrietta Tsui, co-founder of Ora-Ora gallery and co-president of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association
‘Art Basel is a wonderful time to catch up with old friends and also make new ones. I’ll be dividing my time between Ora-Ora’s booth at the fair and a solo show by the artist Xiao Xu that we’re having at our new space in the H Queen’s building in Central (where a wealth of international galleries have also recently opened).
‘I thoroughly recommend the Hong Kong Museum of History. Having two children, I appreciate the way it presents Hong Kong’s past in a way that is fun, interactive and informative. For anyone looking to understand the manifold influences that have made this place what it is, it’s a must.
‘Hong Kong is a food paradise, so no visitor should go hungry. My favourite spot is the Golden Valley Restaurant in the Wan Chai area, which serves the best Sichuan food around. Little wonder it’s held a Michelin star for the past seven years.’
Tina Kim, founder of Tina Kim Gallery, New York
‘When I visit Hong Kong each year for Art Basel, I like to stay at the Mandarin Oriental in Central. I love its sumptuous breakfast almost as much as I love a few drinks just before bed in the M Bar, the hotel’s elegant 25th-floor lounge. The views over the glittering Hong Kong skyline are stunning. Another pro tip: I’d recommend every visitor stay in the city centre, or as close to it as possible, as traffic can be brutal.
‘As for art, I make time to visit Para Site. Set up in 1996, it was a pioneering space for contemporary art in Hong Kong and is still going strong.
‘If you’re catching a midnight flight out of Hong Kong, as I often do, stop by one of the many local foot-massage parlours before heading to the airport. It’s a culturally immersive experience, and one you’ll probably need after a number of days on your feet at the fair!’
Fred Scholle, founder and chairman of Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong
‘Between our booth at the fair — dedicated to Taiwanese conceptual artist Wu Chi-Tsung — as well as a new exhibition at our gallery, I’m expecting a lot of dinner parties. Which is good news, as Hong Kong is a foodie’s heaven.
‘From Michelin three-star restaurants to the street-food stalls known as dai pai dong, there’s something for every taste and budget in Hong Kong. For truly great Chinese food, I recommend Duddell’s, in Central. Order the pan-fried Kagoshima A5 Wagyu beef, barbecued Iberico pork and crispy salted chicken.
‘There’s almost an equal amount of choice when it comes to art. The Hong Kong Museum of Art is currently undergoing renovation, so my main tip for visitors in 2018 is UMAG, the University Museum & Art Gallery at Hong Kong University. It has an interesting exhibition programme, and the surrounding area is filled with cool cafés and shops.’