Hong Kong's cultural cache

Hong Kong has a long history of being a center for cultural exchange, blending influences from around the globe to create a unique fusion of ideas and creativity. Here’s how two companies are helping evolve Hong Kong's creative portfolio.

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Hong Kong’s cultural cache

A dynamic East-meets-West environment coupled with new events and venues are enhancing the city’s status as a global arts hub that fosters fresh talent and ideas.

Creative evolution is essential for safeguarding the health of any arts ecosystem.

Since the first gallery in Hong Kong opened on Chatham Road in Kowloon in the early 1960s, Hong Kong has developed into one of the world’s leading art hubs. Its energetic, creative atmosphere and reputation for nurturing new ideas have also borne fruit in architecture, film, television, music and design.

“Hong Kong has so many advantages as a creative hub in Asia,” says Angelle Le, director of Art Basel Hong Kong, the Asian edition of the coveted international contemporary art fair. “It's a leading financial center, which attracts investment and sponsorship. And it has a unique geographical location adjacent to China at the heart of Asia and is home to a wonderful mix of individuals and cultures.”

Key to retaining its position are initiatives such as the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), one of the world's largest cultural infrastructure projects. It offers world-class integrated arts and cultural facilities, including M+, a global museum of modern and contemporary visual culture, and the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which presents over 900 priceless treasures from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Also integral to Hong Kong’s cultural transformation is Art Basel Hong Kong, which features premier galleries from Asia and beyond to showcase works by some of the region’s leading artists. It also encourages emerging talent through its various platforms, ensuring Hong Kong continues to provide a hub for different cultures to meet, influence one another, and evolve.

If I had to choose two words to sum up Hong Kong's art environment, they would be 'international' and 'diverse'. That’s why it’s a natural base in Asia for Art Basel. The openness of the place is just incredible.

Another major player facilitating the evolution of Hong Kong’s cultural climate is William Lim, acclaimed architect and artist. The founder of award-winning practice CL3, Lim is a famously prolific collector.

An enthusiastic champion of emerging Hong Kong artists and galleries and the city’s creative climate, Lim and his team designed H Queen’s, a 24-story purpose-built vertical gallery in the heart of Central district. H Queen’s is Hong Kong’s first art and lifestyle hub and has attracted leading global gallery brands including David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, Whitestone and Tang Contemporary Art.

Art-focused design elements include an integrated building maintenance unit featuring a gondola system to facilitate the delivery of artwork through the operable facade on each gallery floor.

The pandemic presented challenges for Art Basel and the wider creative community in Hong Kong, with restrictions limiting international travel and in-person events. Art Basel pivoted in 2021 by staging Art Basel Live: Hong Kong, featuring online viewing rooms, a digital events program, daily broadcasts and virtual walkthroughs.

Technology is redefining the arts industry: how audiences are engaging with art, and how artists create new and immersive experiences.

In April 2022, Hong Kong-based moving image pioneer Ellen Pau’s “The Shape of Light” was co-commissioned by Art Basel and M+. The live performance, woven with sci-fi sequences, was presented on the massive LED façade of M+. Elsewhere, Hong Kong continues to pioneer art technology through initiatives such as the Digital Art Fair and by championing trends like NFT artwork.

“Artists are deepening their practices in different mediums,” says Le. “And we are aware digital platforms or channels are crucial in connecting audiences with galleries and artists.”

When we first dreamed of having H Queens be a purpose-built fulcrum for galleries, there was a huge demand for suitable spaces from international names. But space is limited in Hong Kong, and they couldn't find them. Now they can, so I am proud to see how it is improving Hong Kong’s art landscape.

For collectors and art lovers like Lim, Hong Kong's embrace of technology and digital art forms is exciting. Lim is enthusiastic about the opportunities to view potential purchases via online portals run by auction houses and galleries. He’s also thrilled by the possibilities of digital art and the opportunities to experience it — alongside other art forms — in Hong Kong.

“It is important to move forward creatively, so the promotion of innovation at new venues and events is a very positive development for Hong Kong,” he says.

Brand Hong Kong

With its unparalleled appetite for entrepreneurialism, Hong Kong's business climate continues to thrive, priming this world city for a bright future.

This page was paid for by Brand Hong Kong. The editorial staff of CNBC had no role in the creation of this page.