But once the L.A. gallery was fully operational, they had a bit more time to ponder on Hong Kong.
“We had sort of been looking around, not in a rush, and then the Li family approached me at Art Basel in Hong Kong last year,” Wirth said. “In a record time of just three months we renovated the space, which is amazing. It’s a miracle!”
Dealers felt comfortable moving that quickly in part because the architect, William Lim, is a collector, and understands the rhythms of a gallery night stroll from opening to opening. From the ground, an elevator glides northward in the center of the building, journeying up across glass, giving glimpses of each gallery’s show as it passes, a flip through an Instagram slideshow in real life. From the top, one can gallery hop via the staircase, Hong Kong-style. Lim told Indesign Live
that he was inspired by the winding outdoor staircases of the Whitney Museum
’s new building in New York’s Meatpacking District, designed by
Lim also designed the building to accommodate the logistics of mounting ambitious art shows, fixing upon the building’s shaft a high-tech gondola that can hoist up heavy works by crane.
“This gondola system is a very unique feature of the building,” Li said.
That machinery could be pivotal—much of the programming of the galleries is yet to be announced, but after Zwirner opens his relatively easy-to-ship show of
photographs, what’s to stop him from deciding to foist very, very heavy
sidewinders up five floors? After the works by Bradford, Hauser & Wirth will be having a show of works by
, and then
—hypothetically, if they wanted to show one of her gigantic spider sculptures, there are few places in Hong Kong to install them. Hong Kong residents could experience a vastly wider range of art thanks to a gondola.
The size and technical capacities of the building open up the opportunity for these galleries to go deep into their roster and show artists who haven’t shown anywhere in the Hong Kong market, or in Asia at all.
“When we talk to artists, Asia is on the top of their list,” Wirth said. “They want to have exposure in Asia.”
Despite the developments at H Queen’s, Hong Kong still needs to develop a richer, more multilayered cultural landscape before it can truly be a world-class art power, Lam said. The contemporary art museum M+, which is scheduled to fully open next year, along with a raft of initiatives in the West Kowloon Cultural District, is a step towards bolstering a thriving gallery system.
“When M+ opens, it’ll become the voice of the art world, then we have the chance to compete with the West, and it will inspire other museums to up their standard,” Lam said. “When that’s up, that’s when we can truly compete with the West, but until then—nope!”