2017 Asia Arts Awards Hong Kong

A Gala Celebration honoring the Asia Arts Game Changers

Text by Ja’pheth Toulson

HONG KONG, March 23, 2017 — Every year, the gala celebration known as the Asia Art Awards takes place in Hong Kong. The signature gala honors the Asia Art Game Changers during Art Basel week in Hong Kong.

My coworkers and I walked downstairs of the JW Marriot Hotel and ate some food before greeting some of the guest. I spoke with some of the Asia Society New York Center members during the cocktail reception. For a brief moment, I reflected on how I adapted to Hong Kong since moving here six months ago.

Before the auction began, I stood between two tables in the middle of the room. My coworkers and I were instructed to help guide the auctioneer in calling upon participants who raise their pallets. Cai Guo-Qiang, Eko Nugroho, Do Ho Suh, and Sun Xun were some of the artists that were featuring their work. I had no idea that I was about to experience a bidding war. One piece of art was worth around $1,200. One bidder would raise his or her pallet. Then another. Then another. One piece of artwork went to raise as much as $100,000.

The next piece was no different. Bidders waved their pallets in the air. The bid grew higher and higher. I remember the bidding war between one man and woman. The man raised his pallet. The woman then followed. This went on for nearly a minute before the man conceded. 

As a result of both auction and ticket sales, we raised a record-setting US$1 million. The money will help cover global art programming. This year, the honorees were Hon Chi Fun, Kimsooja, Rashid Rana, and Hiroshi Sugimoto. People seemed to be enjoying themselves. The room was filled with laughter and chatter. I learned that in Hong Kong people do have an appreciation for contempary art. Throughout the years, Asian artists continue to engage more and more people through their artwork.


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