Fine Art Asia opens this weekend, presenting a motherlode of over 5,000 years of sumptuous historical artifacts, lavish jewellery and art pieces from the East to the West. Started in 2006, Fine Art Asia’s founder and director Andy Hei has helped create an environment for cross-collectors to discover the best of Asian and western art and antiques — what is seen now as a groundbreaking and necessary move in an increasingly globalised world.
As a well-regarded second generation dealer in classical Chinese furniture, Hei is also a consultant for the International Craftsmanship Association, which debuts its presence at Fine Art Asia with a spread of pieces by local craftsmen from Kyoto prefecture. Exhibits range from briefcases by the ‘Hermes of Kyoto’ to alloy singing bowls that were first created by Japanese monks centuries ago.
Held concurrently at the Hong Kong Convention and Expo Centre from 4–7 October is Ink Asia (of which Hei is also a co-founder), an expansive showing of the ink art discipline now returning for the fifth edition. Fine Art Asia this year also presents the inaugural Masterpiece Pavilion, a small-scale presence by the reputed Masterpiece London — a kindred spirit that has been bringing the curated creme de la creme of fine paintings and sculptures to surface since 2016.
Ahead of the fair’s opening date, we chat with Hei about five things to know for collectors keen to explore the Fine Art Asia treasure trove this weekend.
To you, what makes fine arts and crafts, ink art and antiques particularly interesting to collect?
As a businessman, the investment potential interested me in discovering more about fine art at first. Compared to contemporary art, these ‘fine craftsmanship’ pieces we have selected at the fair are affordable. Most of the antiques offer a world of appreciation alone, while some of these pieces can be used as furniture at home or functional living tools.
With Fine Art Asia, Ink Asia and working with the International Craftsmanship Association (ICAHK), how are you hoping to introduce fine arts and craftsmanship to a wider audience?
Fine Art Asia has been enjoying its growing international status, just like Masterpiece in Europe. With ICAHK becoming a part of Fine Art Asia, it also proves that ICAHK is a trustworthy brand because we are running something unique, where we can spotlight specialist craftsmen who have been versed in their disciplines that date back decades and centuries.
Can you give us some tips for beginners who want to learn more and potentially collect? Is there a genre or category of fine art that is the easiest and most accessible to start with?
I’d say, do not limit yourself to one particular category. I will collect what I like, because if you like it, you will naturally want to learn more about that genre. Also, our selected works are not just for decoration but they are also functional and practical — you can really use them!
For novice collectors, can you share a few points on what mistakes to avoid, how to spot counterfeits or how to make sure the item is of a high quality?
It’s better to purchase from the craftsman directly, just like what ICAHK does with our craftsmen. All of our selected wares have their own history and stories, and we provide maintenance services, so customers never need to worry about that.
What kind of crafts are gaining popularity and why?
Paraphernalia relating to tea ceremonies (chado), Japanese incense appreciation (kodo) and floral arrangement (ikebana) have been particularly gaining traction lately.