State of the Art (Scene): In Conversation with Charles Ross, Managing Director of Art Central 2019

Since its inception in 2014, Art Central has grown with Hong Kong’s flourishing art scene, earning its place as a platform for discovering both emerging and established artists in the region.

Staged at the Central Harbourfront, the fair headlines Art Month in Hong Kong alongside other major events on the cultural calendar such as Art Basel. Works of museum-quality from generational talents aren’t uncommon here, and neither are experimental forms of art from young but promising creators.

Here, we speak with Charles Ross, managing director of Art Central (as well as Taipei Dangdai and ART SG), about this year’s highlights and his thoughts on the local art scene.

From your unique perspective as Art Central managing director, what are you looking forward to seeing more of at the fair?

We’re delighted to have participated in the growth and development of the art scene and the market. After a highly successful 2018 edition, our goal this year was to continue building a dynamic and thought-provoking programme which included outstanding visuals and strong curatorial themes in the Projects sector, which comprises large-scale installations that the public could relate to, even those who are not seasoned art collectors or viewers.  We went back to the drawing board to decide on specific themes and interests for the 2019 edition, and worked with our curator Ying Kwok to realise these within the six selected projects.

Lê Giang, Phản Niệm, an installation in the Projects sector. Image courtesy of the artist and Vin Gallery
 What excites you most about this year’s Art Month?

I am particularly excited by the new types of art that are being seen, produced and collected regionally and internationally. Performance and sound works have existed on the peripherals of the conventional cannon, and technology is an increasingly key component of artistic dialogue. At Art Central, we bring the best and most exciting work from across the world to Hong Kong, exposing the market to new artists and creating new experiences for collectors and visitors alike.

A scene from Art Central 2018

“Beyond simply being a bridge between the East and the West, Hong Kong has a very exciting and vibrant arts scene, with the flourishing of commercial galleries, art spaces, non-profit institutions, and the myriad large-scale projects” 

How do you see Hong Kong, in terms of being an art hub?

Hong Kong has evolved and matured to become one of the most important cultural hubs globally. Beyond simply being a bridge between the East and the West, Hong Kong has a very exciting and vibrant arts scene, with the flourishing of commercial galleries, art spaces, non-profit institutions, and the myriad large-scale projects. I can’t wait to see more interactions and collaborations between artists and institutions from Hong Kong and overseas, with projects that fully embrace the dynamic art scene.

 

PHUNK, New Hope of an Old World, 2016-2017, pigment print & collage on paper mounted on plywood. Image courtesy of the artist and Art Seasons
 What about the rest of Asia?

In Southeast Asia, contemporary art practice is constantly evolving, bringing in new themes affected by the socio-political landscape of the region. Artists have been increasingly working in new mediums such as film and moving image, in attempts to more clearly articulate these concerns within compelling formats.

Also in the Projects sector of Art Central 2019: City Rhapsody (detail), 2019, by Angela Yuen, crafted with plastic toys, resin, LED lights, motor, gears and Perspex. Image courtesy of the artist and Contemporary by Angela Li
What were some challenges your team encountered while coming up with this year’s programme?

For example in 2018, the complexities of the Hong Kong urban landscape was an issue which resonated with our audience; in 2019 young Hong Kong artist Angela Yuen will be presenting a new commission with a fresh perspective on this subject, using recycled objects.

Additionally, we wanted to ensure our collaborative education programs with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Asia Society remained stimulating and coherently presented. We think this year’s line-up will create a good foundation for dialogue and artistic exchange.

In partnership with UOB, Art Central runs from March 27 to March 31 at the Central Harbourfront, with a VIP Preview on March 26. Tickets are available online and on site. 

 

Photography: Jacquie Manning (header); courtesy of the artists and galleries (art)