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A UNIQUE MIX OF EX­PER­TISE IS THE SE­CRET OF FINE ART ASIA’S SUC­CESS

WHEN FINE ART ASIA WAS BORN IN 2006 AS THE ART & AN­TIQUE IN­TER­NA­TIONAL FAIR, IT WAS ALONE IN ITS FIELD, BUT IT’S SINCE BEEN JOINED BY ART BASEL IN HONG KONG AND A HOST OF SMALLER FAIRS. CALVIN HUI SEES THE BOOM AS A GOOD THING. “THERE ARE MORE PEO­PLE WHO AP­PRE­CI­ATE ART AND THEY ARE BE­COM­ING MORE DI­VERSE IN THEIR TASTE,” HE SAYS.

HUI JOINED AS CO-CHAIR­MAN IN 2010, RE­BRAND­ING THE FAIR AND WIDEN­ING ITS FO­CUS FROM MOSTLY AN­TIQUES. “THERE WERE A LOT OF THINGS ON THE MAR­KET THAT WERE NOT BE­ING REP­RE­SENTED IN ASIA,” HE SAYS. “THE PRI­OR­ITY IS TO SE­LECT FIRST-TIER GAL­LERIES WITH RE­ALLY HIGH REPUTATIONS AND HIGH-QUAL­ITY WORKS. WE DE­LIB­ER­ATELY MIX THE BOOTHS SO THERE’S A LOT OF SYN­ERGY. PEO­PLE AL­WAYS SAY THERE IS A LOT OF CON­TRAST, LIKE A CON­TEM­PO­RARY ART BOOTH NEXT TO ONE SELL­ING TIF­FANY LAMPS.”

MUCH OF THE FAIR’S SUC­CESS STEMS FROM THE RE­LA­TION­SHIP BE­TWEEN HUI AND CO-CHAIR­MAN ANDY HEI, WHOSE RE­SPEC­TIVE FIELDS OF EX­PER­TISE, ART AND AN­TIQUES, GIVE THEM A UNIQUE SET OF REF­ER­ENCES. “WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT ART YOU AL­WAYS HAVE TO TALK ABOUT HIS­TORY AND TRA­DI­TION; YOU SEE THE IN­FLU­ENCE OF THE PAST,” SAYS HUI. THE DUO’S GRASP OF ASIAN AND EURO­PEAN TRA­DI­TIONS GIVES THEM IN­SIGHT INTO WHAT COL­LEC­TORS WANT, HE SAYS. THOUGH GAL­LERISTS SOME­TIMES WANT TO STOCK THEIR BOOTHS WITH WESTERN RE­LI­GIOUS WORKS, HUI WARNS THEM NOT TO BE­CAUSE IT TENDS TO ALIEN­ATE CHI­NESE COL­LEC­TORS. “ART COL­LECT­ING IS SOME­THING RE­ALLY PER­SONAL,” HE SAYS. “YOU HAVE TO FIND A CON­NEC­TION WITH YOUR OWN EX­PE­RI­ENCE AND CUL­TURAL BACK­GROUND.”

MOST OF THE FAIR’S COL­LEC­TORS COME FROM HONG KONG AND THE MAIN­LAND, BUT HUI SAYS MORE AND MORE ARE FROM TAI­WAN AND SOUTH­EAST ASIA—“IN­DONE­SIAN COL­LEC­TORS ES­PE­CIALLY; THEY LOVE FINE JEW­ELLERY.” HE THINKS IT’S THE FAIR’S DI­VER­SITY THAT DRAWS THEM. “THAT’S WHY WE HAVE SMALL OB­JECTS THAT ARE NOT TOO EX­PEN­SIVE ALONG­SIDE MAS­TER­PIECES BY PI­CASSO AND MONET.”

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