Man looks at artworks during the opening of the Art Basel art fair
Hong Kong - Arab Today
Hong Kong's biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors Friday with thousands of visitors expected over the next five days for a city-wide canvas of creativity and commerce.
The sprawling display of artworks took over the city's waterfront convention centre, as artists, gallerists and celebrities gathered to talk, buy and sell art.
"The Hong Kong art scene is growing so rapidly and robustly... the galleries seem to grow stronger every year," said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler just ahead of the launch of the show on Friday evening.
The first two days are invite-only, with the fair open to the general public from Sunday.
The whitewashed walls of the convention centre display space were crammed with everything from traditional ink paintings to film installations and giant sculptures.
A taxidermy reindeer with sprawling tree branches for antlers greeted visitors to the first floor, with a giant ear and trumpet protruding from a wall nearby.
The Hong Kong edition's new director, Adeline Ooi, told AFP that the strong showing of Asian artists would be taking a "more daring" approach this year.
"There will be a strong representation of local artists at the show," she added.
Also central to the display are large-scale "Encounters" pieces, including a suspended forest of olive trees by Irish artist Siobhan Hapaska, a mausoleum made from styrofoam boxes by Hong Kong-based Portuguese artist Joao Vasco Paiva and a giant see-sawing log propped up by Indian Buddhist statues by Indian artist Tallur L.N.
Smaller shows pop up all around town to coincide with the show -- many of them throwing the spotlight back on grassroots talent.
Art Basel Hong Kong kicked off three years ago and is the newest addition to the international art show, which started in Switzerland in 1970 and also has a Miami Beach edition.
The Hong Kong edition is attracting celebrities this year such as Victoria Beckham and Hollywood star Susan Sarandon.
Greater China, grouping the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, maintained its market leader status in 2014, accounting for $5.6 billion in global art sales -- closely followed by the United States -- according to data firm Artprice.