Hong Kong Native Pearl Lam on Why the City Will Soon Rival New York and London

Want to know more about Hong Kong? Ask Pearl Lam, pioneer of the Chinese art scene and native to the emerging Asian art capital. Though she’s exhibited internationally for two decades and her eponymous gallery is situated in three locales—Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore—Lam has a soft spot for the city where her now-legendary career first began. “I started organizing pop-up avante-garde art and design exhibitions around the city in 1993,” she told Artsy. “This was before there was any real public interest in art or design.” Before long, Lam opened her first gallery space in Shanghai in 2005, and hit Hong Kong in 2012, where she moved into the historic pre-war Pedder Building, an art-hub home to Gagosian, Hanart TZ, Simon Lee, and Ben Brown Fine Arts.

“I wanted to open a gallery space in Hong Kong because it’s my hometown,” Lam says. On the lure of the city, she describes Hong Kong as a gateway to both mainland China and international collectors; one filled with well-educated cosmopolitans. “The Hong Kong art scene is constantly growing, with the opening of more international galleries, like Pace Gallery,” she says, whose opening will coincide with this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong fair, set to open next week. She also mentions the government’s developing West Kowloon Cultural District, which will feature the M+ museum for modern and contemporary art and design, scheduled to open in 2017. “The space is set to rival MoMA New York and the Tate Modern,” she says. 

During Art Basel in Hong Kong, Pearl Lam Galleries will open an exhibition at the Pedder Building space, curated by Paul Moorhouse of London’s National Portrait Gallery, which will feature lacquer sculptural abstract paintings by Chinese artist Su Xioabai. At the fair, the gallery  is included in two sections; in addition to the main booth, it will show in the Encounters sector, which presents large-scale sculptures and installations. Learn more from Lam about what the gallery will be showing:

On the main booth:

“Pearl Lam Galleries’ main stand will feature a selection of Chinese abstract art works from the 1980s to the present by artists like Li Huasheng, Qin Yufen, Qiu Deshu, Su Xiaobai, Juju Sun, Yan Binghui, Zhang Jianjun, and Zhu Jinshi, who are pioneering the Chinese abstract movement. These artists reinvent ancient Chinese philosophy and traditional Chinese art forms, such as calligraphy, ink brush, and landscape painting, for the 21st century. The stand will also feature works by international artists Jenny Holzer and Michael Chow aka Zhou Yinghua ~O-O~, who had recent solo exhibitions with the gallery.”

On the Encounters installation:

“We are exhibiting a 10-meter-wide installation by Hong Kong artist Morgan Wong in the Encounters sector. The work addresses the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy and the recent controversy over perceived mainland interference in the Hong Kong educational system. The work consists of tens of thousands of ‘white flags,’ which are from the sticker backings of peeled sheets of mainland red flag propaganda stickers, and embroidered cushions.”

Pearl Lam’s Hong Kong hit list:

“For Italian, I frequent Gaia Ristorante in Sheung Wan or the Michelin-rated 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo in Central. I go to the China Club and Island Tang for Chinese (dim sum and dinner). SEVVA with its rooftop view is good for drinks and dessert. The Mandarin Cake Shop at the Mandarin Oriental has delicious treats. For the adventurous, the food stalls on and around Stanley Street offer local comfort food. Besides the Pedder Building, there are other galleries in the Central area like Amelia Johnson Contemporary, Art Beatus, 10 Chancery Lane, Schoeni, and White Cube. The Hong Kong Museum of Art has interesting shows from time-to-time.”

Portrait of Pearl Lam courtesy of William Louey and Pearl Lam Galleries

Visit Pearl Lam Galleries at Art Basel in Hong Kong, May 15th – 18th.

Explore Art Basel in Hong Kong on Artsy.

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