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An Interview with Kevin Poon, the Founder of WOAW Gallery

An Interview with Kevin Poon, the Founder of WOAW Gallery

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An Interview with Kevin Poon, the Founder of WOAW Gallery

Kevin Poon. Image courtesy of Prestige Hong Kong.

Kevin Poon is a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur, fashion designer, and collector, as well as the founder of WOAW Gallery. He is the consummate networked creative figure, acting as a hub and a filter through his many entrepreneurial and artistic projects. Fuelled by Kevin's love for art and inspired by the years of building relationships and realising collaborative projects around the globe, WOAW Gallery is a dynamic, flexible, and multifaceted hub for artists, curators, galleries, and entrepreneurs. WOAW Gallery will also be opening its fourth space in Singapore on 12 January 2023, adding to its locations in Hong Kong and Beijing. Located at 4 Ang Siang Hill in the vibrant enclave of Chinatown, the launch of the new space will mark the gallery's first and only Southeast Asian outpost. 

This week, The Artling had the opportunity to speak to Kevin about how he started WOAW Gallery, his collecting journey, and Hong Kong's art scene. Scroll down to find out more! 

Charlie Roberts, Teens, oil on linen, 180 x 170 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and WOAW Gallery. 

You are involved in a huge array of projects across various industries such as music, fashion, F&B, and art; Tell us a bit about your background and how you started these various businesses? 

I started in music in early 2000, interning at Interscope records, spent many years after that in streetwear and also, concurrently at the time, helping out friends who were interested in entering the Asia market in fashion, music, did a music festival called Blohk Party. About 10 years ago, I started venturing into the restaurant and hospitality industries, from Elephant Grounds to La Rambla IFC, Wagyumafia HK, Mashi no Mashi Ramen, and finally in 2019 started WOAW Gallery right before the pandemic. 

Marcelo Florida, Pela Janela (Through The Window), 2022, oil on canvas, 86.5 x 81 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and WOAW Gallery. 

Being an avid art collector yourself, why did you start WOAW Gallery and how did that come about? 

I was travelling heavily pre-pandemic to art fairs, fashion shows, and music festivals. I was basically living life on the road, but since the onset of the pandemic, everything came to a halt. I was always fascinated by art and how it connected lifestyle and culture, and we would always do shows around Art Basel, but when the pandemic hit, I wasn’t able to travel and basically, with the help of some friends, we started doing some small shows in our space in Wanchai. The first show we did was on Koichi Sato, followed by Cristina Ban Ban, and those shows were so well received. I built up my confidence to really put more time and resources into developing a full-fledged art program. Since then, I launched spaces at 9 Queen’s Road in Central and in Beijing, both in 2021 and in 2023 we have a new space in Singapore! 

Jon Burgerman, Chameleon, 2022, aerosol on canvas, 162.5 x 181 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and WOAW Gallery. 

How does being a collector affect your perspective and the way in which you shape or build the gallery's roster of artists? 

I guess being a collector, you experience both sides of the spectrum. You know what people are looking for and what people are collecting, so that helps from my experience in collecting for many years. I was able to connect early with a lot of artists, friends, and people from the art world, which helped me curate shows or build up our program at WOAW Gallery.

Charlie Roberts, Los Feliz Sunday, oil on linen, 160 x 150 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and WOAW Gallery. 

How would you define the program at the gallery? Is there a common thread between all the artists that you select?

I think the program is based on emerging artists, but we have had some really great established artists come through the program as well. We are still working on what the full thing looks like much further down the road, but one thing is for sure, we want to have a balance between overseas artists and Asian artists. Right now, I am very fascinated with Asian artists and its diasporas around the world. For instance, we recently presented a solo booth on New York-based Korean artist Stickymonger at the most recent edition of Untitled Art in Miami Beach and at the moment, we have an amazing show at our Beijing space curated by Kang Haoxian that features an eclectic mix of Chinese artists.

Currently, on our roster, we have Charlie Roberts, Kang Haoxian, Jon Burgerman, James Goss, Drew Englander & Stickymonger, which we will bring to the inaugural edition of ART SG. I am also curating "As Friends & Partners", the first show at our Singapore space featuring all my favorites, Jordy Kerwick, Killa Cheung, Aryo Toh Djojo and many others. The throughline of all our programs is to cultivate a cultural dialogue between East and West. 

Architect’s rendering of the new WOAW Gallery Singapore at 4 Ann Siang Hill. Image courtesy of WOAW Gallery. 

The timing of the gallery's opening in 2019 could not have been more challenging - how did you get through it all and where do you think Hong Kong's art scene is heading?

Actually, as crazy as it seems, the pandemic actually helped us a lot, from being able to secure really grade-A real estate because people couldn’t come to lease the space to being able to have more time to work on our digital platforms and expand our horizons. As we come out of the pandemic, we are doing more fairs and shows abroad. As mentioned earlier, we just came back from a solo presentation at Untitled Art in Miami Beach with Stickmonger, and we are hoping to do more fairs in 2023.

As a self-designated 'Cultural Entrepreneur', how have you seen your role evolve over time? What would you like to do more of and what's a dream project of yours?

I don’t like to classify myself and put myself in a box, but I think a cultural entrepreneur is a wide enough all-encompassing title that allows me to do things that I love to do and all in the realm of creativity, from music to fashion, to lifestyle, to hospitality, and art is really an ecosystem that allows me to do more. In the future, I would love to get more involved in the academic side of art, helping young artists and pushing the journey of art, and to be able to give back more to the community. 

Another thing is being able to engage more in public art projects and being able to contribute to the community!

Kevin Poon. Image courtesy of Hypebeast. 

What kind of artworks do you personally collect and what do you currently have your eye on? (Tough question, I know!)

So many! I love Stickymonger, Drew Englander, Aryo Toh Djojo, Greg Ito, Sayre Gomez, Jonas Wood, Kaws, Nara, Killa Chueng, Fredrick Kunath, Stacey Leigh, and the list goes on...

Tell us about some of your projects on the horizon...

Trying to work on a residency program for artists wanting to visit Hong Kong to come work with us, and a few other projects that I can’t really say yet, but hope to do more in Singapore! 


WOAW Gallery Singapore
Opening Date:
12 January 2023
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am - 7pm
Address: 4 Ang Siang Hill, 069786, Singapore


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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