Beyond the art fairs and gallery openings throughout art week in Hong Kong, an arguably bigger draw than the artworks themselves would be the champagne and revelry that goes along with all of it (though chances are, nobody would admit to that). If you’re looking to see and be seen brushing shoulders with the crème de la crème of the art world, you’d better jot these dates in your diary — and best hope you’re on the guestlist.
Asia Contemporary Art Show VIP Collectors’ Preview
When: 17 March, 4-9pm
The art week festivities kick off with Asia Contemporary Art Show’s exclusive preview, where VIPs get to browse the mini galleries set up at the Conrad Hotel Hong Kong. Armed with a glass of bubbly in hand by Langton’s Fine Wines, you can browse and have first dibs on original paintings, limited edition prints, sculptures and photographs. Already feeling sore feet on the first night? Spend the following evening recuperating at the fair’s HK Liquor Store Art Night (18 March, 5-9pm), where two specially craft cocktails will be served — the “Cyan No. 10” and “Magenta No.10”, made with blue and pink gins.
Conrad Hotel, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Absolut Art Bar at Potato Head
When: 17 March, 8pm onwards
Also launching this Friday is the opening of the Absolut Art Bar, designed by Portuguese, Hong Kong-based artist João Vasco Paiva. Taking over Potato Head in Sai Ying Pun, the bar will be completely transformed into a tropical escape inspired by Terrence Malick’s 1998 war film, “The Thin Red Line.” Be the first to see it on opening night, when doors open at 8pm. Here’s a good chance to take it slow — there’s plenty of art yet to take in the next week, after all.
Potato Head Hong Kong, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 2858 6066
SOHO 189 Art Lane VIP Opening
When: 17 March, 6pm
While the galleries along SOHO 189 Art Lane have their official exhibition openings on the busy day of 20 March (where practically every gallery is slated to open a new show), VIP guests are invited to the lane on 17 March for an exclusive preview and a night of performances held across Galerie Huit, Puerta Roja, Leo Gallery and Pearl Lam Gallery — all in honour of SOHO 189’s second anniversary. After that, guests are invited to join a dinner party at Va Bene next door from 9pm-midnight.
SOHO 189 Art Lane, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; admission by invite only or with Art Basel VIP Preview Cardholder; RSVP essential at firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Central VIP Preview and First Night
When: 20 March, 3-5pm; First Night 5-9pm
If you’re one of the lucky few to get to enjoy Art Central a day earlier than everyone else, congratulations, we’ll see you there. Those who purchased the First Night ticket can also enjoy the art before most of the city, and can celebrate their wise choice as they party through the grand tent with a glass of bubbly in hand.
Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central, Hong Kong; VIP Preview by invitation only, Single-entry First Night ticket HK$500 from here, includes a glass of champagne.
HKAGA Art Gallery Night
When: 20 March, 6-8pm
On the 20th, the HK Art Gallery Association Art Gallery Night is where 40-plus of the most established galleries in Hong Kong will extend their opening hours for the night and host special festivities to open art week. Artists and curators will be there to give talks, performances, sip wine and mix and mingle for many of the galleries’ cocktail receptions. If your schedule’s tight and you want to see as much art as you can in a limited time, this night’s the way to do it.
Various galleries throughout Central and Sheung Wan
K11 x MoMA PS1
When: 20 March, 6-8pm
One of the most important art collaborations in town this month is the joint exhibition by the K11 Art Foundation and MoMA PS1, an ensemble show that tackles how art is affected by regional internet cultures and ecosystems. There’s an art talk from 4-6pm, followed by the opening reception (invite/RSVP essential) from 6-8pm.
K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space, Cosco Tower, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong Private Views and Vernissage
When: Private View 21 March, 3-8pm; Private View and Vernissage 22 March, 1-9pm
As the week settles in, it’s prime time for collectors to do the bulk of their art buying at Art Basel. As a VIP to the invite-only preview, you’ll have plenty of time to browse before the rest of Hong Kong even sets foot in the fair, by heading to the private views on both Tuesday and Wednesday, which rounds off with the Vernissage from 5-9pm.
During the Vernissage, be sure to give yourself enough time to check out the Collector’s Lounge, where Art Basel Partners Ruinart, Audemars Piguet, Davidoff Art Initiative, BMW and more will have dedicated sections presenting commissioned works and works by distinguished global artists. In particular, the UBS VIP lounge (pictured) will feature a series of talks by opinion leaders of the art world throughout the fair’s duration.
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; Vernissage tickets HK$850 from here
Davidoff Art Initiative Dinner
When: 21 March
To the dismay of many, the yearly extravagant party to celebrate Art Basel Hong Kong that’s hosted by the Davidoff Art Initiative will scale back quite a bit this year. Instead, it’s an intimate, private cigar dinner at Seasons by Olivier E. Hope you scored an invitation… For everyone else, you can head to the Davidoff Art Initiative lounge at the fair, where the brand will be showcasing a masterpiece Damajagua Humidor.
Seasons by Olivier E., Shop 308, 3/F, Lee Garden Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Warhol in China Opening Reception and After-Party
When: 20 March, 6-9pm; After-Party 9-11pm
The “Warhol in China” exhibition at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong opens on Monday, so catch it while you can before 2 April — the pieces are to be auctioned off by Phillips on 28 May. The opening reception is followed by an after-party at the hotel — by invite only.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
The Peninsula Hong Kong Art Gala
When: 22 March
An invite-only gala cocktail event to enjoy the new Michael Craig-Martin installation placed at The Peninsula’s entrance promises the glitterati of the art world to attend. It’s co-hosted by the Royal Academy, the Financial Times, Gagosian Gallery and G4S.
Forecourt and Lobby, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
MEDIAxMUMM Harbour Party
When: 21 March
Another good reason to take it slow on Monday is to gear up for the MEDIAxMUMM Harbour Party — the largest party taking place during art week. Hosted by G.H. Mumm, it aims to celebrate the video and new media art sector through an invite-only affair bringing together Hong Kong socialites and art world elites. Held at Central Harbourfront, this will be a live DJ-fueled bash — with endless bottles of Mumm Grand Cordon to pop, of course. Didn’t score an invitation? We’ve got a giveaway for four pairs of tickets to the party. Otherwise, you could try to make do by enjoying bubbly at the fair itself, with G.H. Mumm Champagne Trolleys roaming the venue, as well as filling flutes and cocktail glasses at the Fernet Hunter Bar.
Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central, Hong Kong
Audemars Piguet After Dinner Party
When: 22 March, 9:30pm
An excellent way to round off all the VIP events this week, this exclusive, invitation-only bash at Zuma complements and celebrates Audemars Piguet’s yearly participation at Art Basel. At the fair, VIPs can head inside the Collector’s Lounge to glimpse new commissioned work by Chinese artist Cheng Ran, with a work (pictured) expressing the watch brand’s cultural and geographic origins, titled “Circadian Rhythms.”
Zuma, 6/F, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
When: 25 March, 6:30pm-late
The most glamorous end to art week comes in the form of the annual amfAR Gala. The American Foundation for Aids Research hosts a dinner each year inviting international A-listers and socialites to honour one particular philanthropist. This year for its third iteration, the event is honouring Hong Kong business magnate and PR guru Pansy Ho. Chaired by Charlize Theron, the black-tie event includes a cocktail reception, dinner, a fundraising live auction and a performance by Charli XCX. Previous honorees include Michelle Yeoh and Victoria Beckham, while the star-studded guest list has featured the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Adrien Brody and more. Perhaps keep your eyes peeled for their surprise attendance at the art fairs this week…
Shaw Studios, 201, Wan Po Road, Tseung Kwan O, Hong Kong; tickets start from HK$25,000 (supporter ticket)