by Kim Tay
In the past few decades, Hong Kong has positioned itself as the hub for art world activity in Asia. The arrival of the Art Basel franchise solidified Hong Kong’s place as a global art city, with numerous international and blue-chip galleries opening in the late 2000s. The city has flourished with commercial art galleries, but is notoriously lacking on the institutional front – something that is set to change with the much-anticipated opening of M+ Museum in 2019.
GETTING AROUND in Hong Kong is very easy – walking is an option for most destinations in Central, an MTR [train] ride allows you to avoid getting stuck in traffic, and taxis are affordable and readily available.
For ease of access, STAY in Central. Most major hotel chains have at least one property in Hong Kong, but be prepared for small rooms given Hong Kong’s scarcity of space.
Hong Kong at any time of the year is guaranteed to keep you busy, but the best time to GO for art purposes is in March to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong, and the recently launched Art Central satellite fair.
10 CHANCERY LANE GALLERY (G/F, 10 Chancery Lane, SoHo, Central) was one of the first galleries in Hong Kong to focus on Chinese Contemporary art and remains on the forefront of the scene to this day, representing and promoting important artists from the region. In addition to the original gallery space, which was founded in 2006, a much larger warehouse space was opened in 2013.
Founded by architects, ART PROJECTS (17/F, 43 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Regency Centre Phase 2, Wong Chuk Hang) is an art gallery and consultancy established in Hong Kong in 2010. They work with both established and emerging artists, and aim to promote and encourage artistic innovation.
AXEL VERVOORDT GALLERY (Unit D, 15/F Entertainment Building, 30 Queen's Road Central, Central) opened its space in Hong Kong in 2014, however, for many years before this, the Belgian collector, designer, art dealer and all around tastemaker, has been deeply interested in Asian art, travelling to Thailand, Cambodia and Japan as early as the 1970s. Vervoordt has become known as a mastermind of East/ West aesthetic integration, bringing seemingly polarized elements in to calm conversation with one another and finding common ground in the international concepts of artistic creative process, time, space and the void.
BLINDSPOT GALLERY (15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang) represents both established and emerging artists, and is one of the few galleries dedicated to photography in Hong Kong. In Asia, photography has been slower to catch on as a collectable medium – through its exhibitions the gallery hopes to shed light on this ‘blind spot’ in the contemporary art landscape.
One of the older galleries in Hong Kong, CONNOISSEUR ART GALLERY (1 Hollywood Road, G3 Chinachem Hollywood Centre, Central) began in 1989, dedicated to expanding the reach of Chinese contemporary artists. In the past few decades, the gallery has transformed to one of the leading commercial galleries in Hong Kong.
DE SARTHE GALLERY (20/F, Global Trade Square, No. 21 Wong Chuk Hang Rd, Wong Chuk Hang) was founded in Paris in 1977 and since then has expanded to New York, Beijing and Hong Kong. From inception, the gallery quickly made a name for itself in the secondary market, selling 19th and 20th century Asian and Western masters, and has recently expanded its focus to include important Chinese contemporary artists.
EDOUARD MALINGUE GALLERY (6/F, 33 Des Voeux Rd Central, Central) occupies the entire 6th floor of a building in Central. The gallery focuses on solo exhibitions and tightly curated shows often mounted in collaboration with outside curators.
With an unconventional curatorial approach, EMPTY GALLERY (18/F & 19/F, Grand Marine Center, 3 Yue Fung Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen) presents exhibitions by emerging and established artists that focus on ephemeral, time-based and non-object-oriented practices.
Gallery EXIT (3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen) opened in 2008 and has become one of the leading Hong Kong galleries fostering emerging talent. The edgy contemporary art gallery pushes artists and their viewers to consider cultural production that goes beyond the confines of nationality and discipline through progressive, ambitious and well-researched exhibitions.
LEO GALLERY (189 Queen's Road West, Sheung Wan) opened up a second space in Hong Kong in 2015 (the first is in Shanghai). The gallery represents a number of Chinese artists as well as international artists based in China.
The literal translation of MUR NOMADE is ‘nomadic wall’ in French. The curatorial office and gallery present site-specific projects throughout the city, as well as within their gallery space in Aberdeen. They encourage cultural exchanges and creative encounters through artist residencies, collaborative art projects, travel grants, workshops and outreach initiatives.
OSAGE HONG KONG (4/F, Union Hing Yip Factory Building, 20 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon) represents significant Asian artists with multidisciplinary practices, and focuses on the artistic relationship between different regions in Asia, and the interaction of Asia with the rest of the world. The gallery has represented a number of Southeast Asian artists for over 10 years and believes strongly in the importance of arts education for the young, and the ability of the creative arts to shape communities.
A leading international contemporary art gallery, PACE (Unit C, 15/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queens Road Central, Central) was established in Hong Kong in 2014, joining the gallery’s nine other locations. Pace decided to keep it small in Hong Kong – nothing like the gallery’s vast spaces elsewhere in the world.
The PEDDER BUILDING (12 Pedder Street, Central) is a hub of art activity in Central Hong Kong. This Beaux Art building was built in 1923 and is the only pre-war building left on Pedder Street. This historically commercial building was given a new lease of life with the establishment of a number of blue chip international galleries. Starting with BEN BROWN FINE ARTS (3/F) in 2009, art world giants GAGOSIAN (7/F), PEARL LAM (6/F), SIMON LEE (3/F), MASSIMO DE CARLO (3/F) and LEHMANN MAUPIN (4/F) have joined suit. Local veteran Johnson Chang also calls Pedder Building home to one of his two HANART TZ (4/F) spaces in the city.
Beijing-based PEKIN FINE ARTS (16/F, Union Industrial Building, 48 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang) opened their Hong Kong branch in 2012. Led by Meg Maggio, the gallery represents some of the best and most innovative contemporary artists from Asia, working in a wide variety of media.
GALERIE PERROTIN (17/F, 50 Connaught Road, Central) moved in upstairs from White Cube in 2012, but like many international galleries that have opened in Hong Kong, had already been heavily involved with artists in the Asian region. Perrotin is known for his early collaborations with Maurizio Cattelan and Takashi Murakami and his interest in merging art and music.
Originally founded in 1985 in London, ROSSI & ROSSI (3C Yally Industrial Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang) is a leading dealer in traditional Indian and Himalayan art, early Chinese and Central Asian textiles as well as contemporary Asian art, with a particular focus on Tibetan artists. Their Hong Kong outpost has been housed in a former industrial building since 2013.
SAAMLUNG (26/F Two Chinachem Plaza, 68 Connaught Road, Central) was opened by curator Robin Peckham in 2011 to fill what he saw as a gap between the international galleries and local galleries that focus on local content. With a definite lean towards the conceptual, the gallery shows artists that are from all over the world.
The first gallery to bring the works of innovative Indonesian artists to Hong Kong, SIN SIN FINE ART (52 & 54 Sai Street, Central) has flourished in the past two decades, since the gallery was launched in 2003, with an eye for spotting emerging talent from the archipelago.
SUNDARAM TAGORE GALLERY (4/F, 57-59 Hollywood Road, Central) was established in 2000 in New York and subsequently opened in Hong Kong and Singapore. The gallery focuses exclusively on notions related to the subject of globalization, promoting cross cultural dialogue.
TANG CONTEMPORARY (19/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central) is considered one of Hong Kong’s most progressive galleries and a pioneer in the region. Propelled by a tightly curated program, the gallery originally opened its doors in Bangkok in 1997 and later expanded to Beijing and Hong Kong. Showing some of China’s leading contemporary artists, such as Ai Weiwei, Yang Jiechang, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, the gallery also collaborates with international art luminaries such as Rirkrit Tiravanija and promotes a space of cultural discourse and exchange.
WHITE CUBE (50 Connaught Road, Central) opened its first overseas venture in Hong Kong in 2012 after Jay Jopling participated in Basel HK and decided to expand his gallery to Asia. White Cube HK is spread over two expansive and beautifully renovated floors, mounting ambitious shows that bring greater visibility to their mainly British roster of artists and generating a new market for them in Asia.
YALLAY GALLERY (Unit 3C, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang) opened in 2013 as a partnership between the Chinese art dealer Jean Marc Decrop and London-based Fabio Rossi of Rossi & Rossi. A 600-square-meter space in Wong Chuk Hang, the gallery combines the two dealers' areas of expertise, bringing Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and Southeast Asian art and production into discussion with one another.
100FT PARK (1/F, 220 Apliu Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon) is, as its name suggests, a very small arts space. Located in Wontonmeen, an apartment block dedicated to providing accommodation and work-space to creatives, this non-profit was set up in 2012 by 3 native Hongkongers. The space encourages (or insists!) that the viewers have a very intimate interaction with the artwork that they are showing.
Located not far from 100ft Park is THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN, a non-profit art space that aims to provide a platform for open experimentation and dialogue in response to the rapidly changing cultural and political context of Hong Kong. Located on the first floor of a residential walk-up building, the programme is conceived as a two-year project, hosting exhibitions and projects, residencies, and a library with the goal of representing and supporting diverse art practices and experimentations taken by local and international artists with the belief that art can take many forms, employ different methodologies, be many things.
An independent, non-profit organization launched in 2000, ASIA ART ARCHIVE (11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan) is dedicated to documenting and making accessible the recent art histories within the region. AAA makes their vast collection of primary and secondary sources available to the public through their website and onsite library in Hong Kong.
ASIA SOCIETY Hong Kong (9 Justice Drive, Admiralty) is one of the 12 global centers for the New York-based educational organization dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding and partnerships. Housed in a former explosives magazine site of the old Victoria Barracks, Asia Society hosts a wide range of programming, from exhibitions to lectures to film screenings.
Intended as a cultural resource for Hong Kong, ARTISTREE (1/F Taikoo Place Cornwall Place, King’s Road, Quarry Bay) is located at Cornwall house, Taikoo Place, and has hosted a range of exhibitions, from their inaugural Vivienne Westwood retrospective in collaboration with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum to a more recent showcase of works from Uli Sigg’s collection.
K11 ART FOUNDATION was established by Adrian Cheng in 2010 to provide a platform for contemporary Chinese art and to serve as an incubator for young Chinese curators. The foundation promotes Chinese art and curation through pop-up exhibitions and residency programs, and has also facilitated a number of collaborations with leading international institutions including the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí in Spain, Serpentine Galleries, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. They always have something (or multiple things) on the burner, so check out their site to see where and when.
PARA SITE (22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay) is one of Asia’s oldest active art organizations and holds a fundamental position as a centre for art in Hong Kong. Founded as an artist-run space in 1996, Para Site has evolved to produce exhibitions, publications, discourse, residencies and educational programs that are always ambitious and always relevant.
SPRING WORKSHOP (3/F Remex Centre, 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen ) is a non-profit organization that was established in 2012 and is committed to an international program of artists, curatorial residencies, exhibitions, music, film and talks. Through their programs the organization hopes to support and bridge artistic dialogues and provide a laboratory for cultural exchange.
There are a few things that are coming soon to Hong Kong that promise to transform and enhance the contemporary cultural landscape.
The M+ MUSEUM OF VISUAL CULTURE will open in 2019, in a space designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and Farrells. The museum will be part of the West Kowloon district and is to focus on 20th and 21st century art, design and architecture and the moving image.
Also keenly anticipated is the opening of the non-profit OLD BAILEY GALLERIES in part of the restored CENTRAL POLICE STATION. There will be a wide range of exhibitions held across the 1,500-square-meter space that will both reflect and contribute to Hong Kong’s contemporary art landscape.
Finally, MILL6 FOUNDATION is scheduled to complete restoration of their 1960s textile mill space in 2018. The Foundation's focus will be on presenting their permanent collection, curating exhibitions, engaging with the community, providing an artist residency program and more broadly exploring new meanings and experience of textile arts and technological innovation.
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Any views or opinions in the interview are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.