Over the past few years East Asia’s art-friendly metropolises – Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong – have been engaged in a pitched battle for supremacy in the region. A few recent key openings have put the last of these in pole position for both Western and Eastern art. Herewith, Brian Noone offers a guide to the must-visit landmarks
The towering 24-storey new art space in Central – it opened in March this year – boasts a roster of international galleries that includes the first Asian spaces for global powerhouses David Zwirner (davidzwirner.com) and Hauser & Wirth (hauserwirth. com) as well as new locations for Pace (pacegallery.com) – whose other HK gallery down the road remains vital – Ora- Ora (ora-ora.com), Whitestone (whitestone-gallery.com) and Tang Contemporary Art (tangcontemporary.com), among others. The building is also home to six restaurants and an array of retail therapy options are forthcoming.
WEST KOWLOON CULTURAL DISTRICT
Headlined by the M+ Museum, set to open next year with 17,000sq m of exhibition space designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the purpose-built arts quarter has already opened the M+ Pavilion, will debut the Xiqu Centre for Chinese opera later this year and will eventually comprise multiple museums, a theatre complex and sculpture park – all spread across 40 hectares of reclaimed land on the Kowloon shore, with Instagram-ready views of Hong Kong Island at every hour of the day.
This handsome colonial-era edifice was the original HK art destination and remains an essential stop. The first major Western arrival was Ben Brown (benbrownfinearts.com) in 2009, and it is still the London gallery’s only foreign outpost. Asian dynamo Pearl Lam (pearllam. com, above), meanwhile, has spaces in several Asian cities and opened her first Hong Kong gallery here in 2012, a can’t-miss space that was joined earlier this year by a second location, in H Queen’s. Other boldface galleries with a space in the building include Gagosian (gagosian.com), Simon Lee (simonleegallery.com) and Lehmann Maupin (lehmannmaupin.com).
TAI KWUN CENTRE FOR HERITAGE & ARTS
Set in prime Central, the sprawling compound features 16 repurposed police buildings, two new structures and a much-needed green space. The first contemporary art exhibition took place during Art Basel Hong Kong in March (complete with hard hats, as the site was still under construction), with the first traditional exhibition opening last May. With a focus on local artists – and genuine acknowledgement of the city’s heritage – there is no better spot for taking the pulse of the city’s homegrown creatives.
Local artists will be bolstered even further in the coming months by the addition of The Mills, a site that combines business and retail with a significant programme and space dedicated to contemporary artists from the city.