Cover Dolce Vita by Esther Chow (Image: KeenAble Creation and the artist)

This year’s art fair partners with KeenAble Creation to champion inclusiveness and promote talented artists

Art is for all, regardless of your abilities. That’s the message KeenAble Creation, a Hong Kong charity that supports artists with special needs, is promoting at this year’s Affordable Art Fair, which will take place from August 4 to 7 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. A total of 70 works will be presented, each adhering to an overarching theme of love for nature.

The original paintings will also be turned into digital images to be sold as NFTs on the platforms BOAX and Artify. The proceeds from both the physical and digital art sales will go to the participating artists.

Among the line-up are a number of highly regarded artists, include Chengdu-born painter Ko Nam, who lost his hearing in childhood due to an illness. As well as having exhibited in Europe, Ko made his name on the international art arena when he won gold in the painting competition at the Seoul 2011 International Abilympics, a contest held in Asia every four years to promote independence for disabilities people and enhance their vocational skills. The calm and serene style in his landscape paintings conveys optimism and will be among the pieces shown at the fair.

Hong Kong artist Liu Tung-mui, who uses a wheelchair due to a mobility impairment, has painted pieces for the MTR and Hong Kong’s SAR celebration events, and has served as a juried artist at Washington DC’s VSA Arts Festival. Her paintings of birds in the forest will be on display at the fair.

Chiu Lai-kuen, who founded KeenAble Creation in 2009, says the greatest challenge for disabled artists isn’t a lack of artistic skill and mobility, but the isolation and lack of meaningful connection to people in wider, non-disabled society. “Participating in the Affordable Art Fair opens this portal of connection,” she says.

Over the years, Chiu’s organisation has teamed up with a group of art teachers who provide long-term art training to artists with special needs. She adds that the workshops also develop the artists’ sense of self-worth and confidence in social interactions.

Chiu believes that the art fair is an opportunity for dialogue between the artists, who showcase their talent to the world, and the viewers, who are invited to “come in and take a closer look at [the artists’] hopes, aspirations, dreams and worldviews”.

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