As the embodiment of history and sophistication, financial buoyancy and cultural vibrancy, Central never fails to impress. Notwithstanding the successive branching out of international gallery giants into the territory, Hong Kong’s art ecosystem remains an open chessboard upholding diversity and vitality. Amidst the narrow and steep streets stand quality local galleries endeavoring to establish their increasingly recognized presence, keeping a delicate balance between the high-end market and the community.
In 2012, as the first overseas branch stretched from England, White Cube simply stunned the crowd by its luxurious occupation of the two-storey space extending over 2,000 square feet. Prodigiously spacious and ambitious, the gallery made a glamorous debut showcasing the London Pictures by the famed London’s duo, Gilbert & George. Since then it has never ceased to be a leading gallery giant in Hong Kong, bringing buzz-stirring exhibits from weighty artists. Currently the gallery presents the esteemed Mexican artist Gabriel Orozc’s solo exhibition, whose artworks center on form, geometrics and fluidity.
Simply from the choice of location – the revamped historical and commercial Pedder Building – does Larry Gagosian’s percipience in launching a Hong Kong branch become clear. Spreading over the whole floor, Gagosian Gallery is a brightly lit and lofty exhibition space. Striving towards museum quality, the gallery always presents monumental oeuvres from prominent artists such as the Beijing contemporary artists Zeng Fanzhi and the conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin. Exquisite and luxurious, the gallery hopes to make every curated collection blue-chip and forward.
Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong | Courtesy of Edouard Malingue Gallery
With an acute sensitivity to the burgeoning art market, Edouard Malingue Gallery debuted with pieces by Pablo Picasso in 2010. With a high ceiling and plainly décor, the gallery carves a captivating space, enhancing the impressionist and modernist collections from worldwide contemporary artists. Going beyond the established art space, the gallery has been boundary-pushing in actively holding off-site exhibitions and pop-up installations. An early example is the installation of Three Heads Six Arms from the prestigious Chinese conceptual artist Zhang Huan in 1881 Heritage. From curated collections to art in public space, the gallery is one of the leading groundbreakers.
Once a lyricist and author, Marie-Florence Gros left Paris in 2014 with her partner Cyril Delettre, a French photographer, to launch La Galerie Paris 1839in Hong Kong. With perceptive insights into visual art, the Parisian couple value photography, art and prints for their unique compositions and stories. Currently showcasing botanical artworks by the vegetal artist Duy Anh Nhan Duc, La Galerie continues to lift emerging photographers and artists to a broader stage via its fastidious curation.
Led and directed by Anthea Fan, the executive director of Art Map, a.m. space is located on Aberdeen Street overlooking the reinvigorated cultural hub PMQ. By maintaining that art should provoke thought and mirror contemporary spirits and aesthetics, a.m. space has gradually established its humanistic path. From the early sound projects of Samson Young exploring the notion of boundary and the associated intermingling of regional cultures, to the latest installation by Frank Tang Kai-Yiu and Chang Huei-Ming at Art Basel 2016 concretizing the living space of Hong Kong city-dwellers, the gallery has always been speaking for the city.
Despite its premium location at the Mid Levels, Art Supermarket aims not to get a share of the alluring cash-rich market. Instead, as explicitly suggested by its name and icon, the Swiss owner Michael Manzardo brings alive an ideal yet rare philosophy of art, where art is an accessible and affordable daily necessity. Materialization of this belief does not come at the expense of quality. The gallery values actual experience of art appreciation, thus devoting time and efforts to getting in touch with potential talents in mainland China who are bold enough to create daring works. Rarity and originality would best summarize the supermarket-styled gallery experience.
With a central philosophy of recognizing history and therefore establishing its place along Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s historical trail at the crossroads of Aberdeen Street and Gage Street, Voxfire Gallery aspires to promote regional talents – in particular Hong Kong based artists. Holding solo exhibitions as well as installations and performances, it is a cavernous multi-functional art space. From street art to transgender-themed photography, the gallery is a platform presenting diversified perspectives, amplifying every artist’s unique voice and thus building up its well-versed audience base.
Ora-Ora, pronounced ‘era-era’, symbolizes the gallery’s faith in art withstanding and going beyond time and space. Galerie Ora-Orais owned by Henrietta Tsui, the founder and co-president of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association. Sharing her aesthetic vision of Asian contemporary ink works and fine art sculpture, Henrietta leads the gallery in promoting emerging local and regional talents. If you missed the meditative works of Zhang Yanzi in Art Basel 2015, you’re in luck: the gallery is hosting his solo exhibition Essence until late August 2016.
Well-established as a contemporary art leader in Tokyo, Whitestone Gallery expanded into Hong Kong in 2015, setting up two galleries in Wong Chuk Hong and Central respectively. The gallery comes to Hong Kong with a mission of lifting avant-garde Gutai art to an international context, ultimately bridging the distance between Japanese and international art communities. Postwar East Asian art has indeed been receiving increasing acclaim worldwide – Gutai being no exception. The current Yume Asobi exhibition by Nobuko Watabiki would unveil how the experimental Gutai art has been far ahead of times.
Karin Weber from Germany established the gallery early in 1999. Notwithstanding the relatively small size, the long-lived Karin Weber Galleryworks better than a mere exhibition space. It distinguishes itself from the crowd through a remarkably global network and the resulting variety of curated collections, including the collaborative, experimental local sound library soundpocketin Around Sound Art Festival 2015, from which Chinese, Danish, Brazilian, American and Japanese artists gathered and exchanged ideologies on sound as an art medium. The recent group exhibition of German artists once again brings audience an exotic gallery experience.