If Hong Kong-based art specialist Magnus Renfrew has his way, the old fashioned chat-up line inviting someone to ‘come up and see my etchings’ is about to experience something of a revival.
Renfrew is credited with effectively jump-starting Asia’s regional contemporary art market with his Art HK fair that morphed into Art Basel Hong Kong in 2012. In his new role as deputy chairman and director of fine arts for Asia at Bonhams Hong Kong, he is introducing a new category of auctions in the city, designed to demonstrate that buying art at an auction does not necessarily require a limitless credit card.
The upcoming inaugural auction of 100 prints, photographs and ‘works on paper’ is the sort of affordable art Renfrew believes will appeal to a new generation keen to start buying art but who find art fairs and galleries intimidating.
‘An auction house offers a more relaxed environment and compared to galleries, estimated prices are on show,' he says. ‘We have deliberately included works by recognised artists like Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol at a very affordable price to attract people who may not have bought art before.’
Prices at the auction range from HK$8,000 to HK$700,00 while one of Hirst’s works is listed at an estimated at HK$55,000.
Standouts include a graphic Black Loops & Curves No. 3 etching by Sol Lewitt and Shanghai-born photographer Ho Fan’s iconic Approaching Shadow, an original vintage gelatin silver print that perfectly captures Hong Kong street life and culture during the 1950s.
Prints and photographs don’t usually feature on the city’s white-hot speculative art market but with Hong Kong’s M+ museum of visual culture having snapped up a more recent archival print of the same photograph, that too may soon change.