Renowned Gallery’s First Location Outside Of The UK
The art collecting boom that has swept across Hong Kong and mainland China over the past several years has now attracted one of the world’s most high-profile contemporary art galleries, Britain’s White Cube, which helped launch the careers of Young British Artists like Damien Hirst in the 1990s. Launching today in Hong Kong’s Central district, the 6,000 square foot space, the opening of White Cube Hong Kong follows a string of other high-profile galleries that have set up shop in the bustling city. In recent years, the likes of Gagosian, Ben Brown Fine Arts and Hanart TZ have opened Hong Kong satellites, and this May, Pearl Lam Fine Art is slated to open a new location in the landmark Pedder Building. Like these galleries, White Cube is placing a high-stakes bet that the growth of art appreciation and collecting in Asia, and China in particular, will buoy stagnation in their home markets.
As the AP writes on the arrival of White Cube in Hong Kong, a move that “underlines the sophistication and increasing influence of the region’s art collectors”:
“Obviously there’s a new generation of collector that is emerging in China,” said Graham Steele, White Cube’s Asia director. But he added that Taiwan and South Korea are also major markets for contemporary art, while Japan, India, Indonesia and Australia have significant pockets of collectors.
China was the world’s biggest fine art market in 2011 for the second year in a row, accounting for 41.4 percent of global sales of paintings, sculptures, installations, photography and drawings worth $4.8 billion, according to market information provider Artprice.
“On a day-by-day basis, there’s more Chinese collectors coming to London, coming to Miami and Switzerland — coming to the international art fairs — in groups, individually, with artists, with other collectors, with curators,” said Steele. “There’s an amazing level of interest.”
For its first exhibition in Hong Kong, White Cube is showing 22 pictures from Gilbert & George’s “London Pictures,” making the gallery the first to exhibit works from the 292-piece series on its world tour. Though it’s not their first show in Hong Kong — the Wanderlister notes this week that the Hong Kong Museum of Art presented an impressive large scale three paneled installation of their work commissioned by Louis Vuitton back in 2009 — it’s by far their largest. Still, hosting an inaugural show by two of Britain’s most famous living artists doesn’t mean White Cube Hong Kong plans to simply foist Western artists on a city that simply hasn’t shown much of an interest in buying them up to this point.
According to the AP, White Cube Hong Kong is already at work developing relationships with Asian contemporary artists, with the gallery’s Steele saying, “We’re trying to find the next generation.” Considering new Chinese collectors tend to start with — and stick with — Chinese contemporary artists and have only purchased major Western, Korean and Japanese contemporary art on a limited scale, White Cube’s Asia focus is a smart move.