But Hill thought Wool’s work would connect to a Hong Kong audience, provided his practice was properly contextualized as an abstract artist.
“I asked Alex whether in Asia Pacific if Christopher Wool is viewed as an abstract artist, because everyone tends to associate him with his text works,” Hill said. “What we're trying to do is put Christopher in the context of abstraction. Because Christopher is
an abstract artist. You could argue [that] what
started, Christopher has continued.”
Hill is clearly nuts for Wool, but he only started buying his work six or seven years ago— “Unfortunately, too late!” as he put it.
“I wish I had been like Peter Brant, or Eli Broad, buying really early.” he said. “But I made up for lost time.”
“You caught up very, very quickly!” Errera chimed in.
Now, he’s watching as his Asian collecting peers catch up even more quickly. He first visited Hong Kong as a collector five years ago, with Melissa Chiu, now the director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
in Washington, D.C., who was then director of the Asia Society.
“The only time I'd been here was on business,” Hill said. “We spent 10 days, and I saw the power of where Hong Kong is in the art world.”
Just a few days here can be enough to convince one of the state of art collections in Hong Kong. On Sunday night, I went with a friend to a cocktail party at a pad that, at two stories, is by no means small in a housing-squeezed city where many live in “mosquito apartments”. But the apartment was so filled with masterpieces that the walls seemed jam-packed.
“I turned a corner,” I said to Hill, “and there’s this fabulous Francis Bacon triptych…”
“I know whose apartment that is!” Hill burst out. “We're not saying any names, but I know who it is.”
And with Art Basel in Hong Kong set to open the next day, just hours before the opening reception for his Christopher Wool show, Hill said that the critical mass of activity only indicated that Hong Kong has certainly arrived as a global art epicenter.
“It's a signal that this part of the world is really important in art,” Hill said. “I'm just looking at how collections are being formed here. They’re not wasting any time. It took me a long time to put together all of my collection, and they're doing it pretty quickly.”