Asia Hotel Art Fair is traditionally held in an unconventional venue, displaying artwork in hotel rooms rather than in white cubes or on white walls. Situated on multiple floors of a luxury hotel, the exhibition takes place in the hotel rooms, with paintings placed on the bed, windowsills, and walls and sculptures installed in the bathtub. This innovative display concept also enables visitors to visualize the artwork in their own home.
Spearheaded by the Asia Art Net Committee to promote active conversation and communication in the Asian art scene, the Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair (AHAF) celebrated its inaugural year in 2008 in Hotel New Otani, Tokyo. Joined by 71 galleries from Korea, China, and Japan, the first edition of AHAF attracted nearly 3500 visitors during the three days.
Understanding the hotel as a possible new art fair venue, AHAF newly launched Seoul fair edition in the summer of 2009. The first venue chosen in Seoul was the Grand Hyatt Seoul, which is located in the heart of Seoul, overlooking the Han River. The Seoul edition gained heated attention from the media and the public, attracting over 9000 visitors over the course of three days. The second edition was also noted for its adequate balance between the commercial and exhibition content. The solo exhibition of Lee Ufan, the leading Korean contemporary artist, was held by the title of Communication and Relational Aesthetics. Furthermore, the Young Artist Contest was first conducted to encourage and stimulate the young artists of Asia to participate and present their works in international art fairs. The celebrity artists, such as Zio Minky, Yoo Naul, and Han Jemma, attracted publicity and allowed much more comfortable and accessible for the general public to breach into the art scene.
Hong Kong being one of the biggest and busiest Asian cities for both the art and business, AHAF had taken the challenge to launch the third edition of AHAF in Hong Kong. AHAF first introduced the concept of hotel art fair in Hong Kong, and successfully established this new concept in Hong Kong’s art scene.
AHAF had established itself as the leading hotel art fair in Seoul, holding the 4th edition in one of the most prestigious hotels in Korea, The Shilla Seoul. With continuous support and attention not only from the art scene, including galleries, collectors, but also from the general public, AHAF proved the hotel art fair as a new established venue for exhibiting art. Furthermore, AHAF was established as a biannual international fair, holding shows in Seoul and Hong Kong. The most notable exhibition was “The Adventureres of Images,” which was curated by Sanda Haruo, one of the members in AHAF’s operation committee. This exhibition represented Japanese artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Yasumasa Morimura, and Yoshitomo Nara, who lead the contemporary art scene in Japan.
The second time returning to Hong Kong, AHAF was held in the most historic and celebrated hotel in Hong Kong, The Mandarin Oriental. To promote the Asian art scene, AHAF had gathered Kim Joon, Jao Tsung-I, and Kozo Nishino from Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan respectively for AHAF special exhibition.
AHAF returns to the Grand Hyatt Seoul for the second time. Expanding the innovative display concept of hotel art fair, which enables the visitors to visualize the artworks in the homely setting, AHAF had collaborated with BAO project group, consisting of four young furniture designers. The hotel rooms, compared to the white cubed walls, allowed a more accessible and friendly environment for the public to experience this quite new and different medium.
Returning to the Mandarin Oriental, AHAF Hong Kong 2012 focused on establishing the fair in the Hong Kong art scene. As the number of local Hong Kong galleries participating continually increasing, AHAF Hong Kong 2012 enjoyed most diversified pool of participating galleries, including Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and more. Sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, AHAF had conducted Hong Kong in My Mind, which invited artists outside of Hong Kong and express about Hong Kong through their work.
WESTIN CHOSUN, the venue for AHAF Seoul 2012, is one of the oldest western style hotels in Korea. Corresponding with its history, AHAF Seoul 2012 can be characterized as the oriental and its evolution. The exhibition DILLUSION by Lee Lee-Nam and Flower from Far East by Cho Young-Nam attracted many good compliments from the public.
Changing of title to Asia Hotel Art Fair, AHAF Hong Kong 2013 focused on introducing Korean artists, especially of photography, to the Hong Kong art scene, Beyond the Authenticity, consisting of five separate exhibitions of Self-portrait by Ahn Jun, Existing in Costume by Bae Chan-hyo, The Costume of Painter by Bae Joon-sung, New Photographs by Kim Dong-yoon, Long Moment by Roh Sean, introduced the works of emerging photography artists, who works and experiments with their medium of photography. Rather than staying in the very traditional method of photography, these young artists have experiments within and beyond the boundaries of the medium.
AHAF Seoul 2013 was held in a newly opened CONRAD SEOUL. CONRAD SEOUL being connected to the International Financial Center Mall Complex, AHAF sought possibility of extending the exhibition to other familiar and daily setting. Holding the exhibition of An Invitation to Indigenous Land in the IFC complex during the month of August, 2013, AHAF had aimed at public’s casual surprise on their regular day in the mall complex and encountering a piece of artwork integrated into various spaces of the mall.