Hong Kong, a gateway to Asia and a thriving cultural metropolis and global marketplace, holds a particular allure to gallerists and jet-setting collectors. With close ties to the West, in part through its colonial history, Hong Kong has attracted numerous overseas galleries in recent years, White Cube and Pace among them. Gagosian set its sights on Hong Kong even earlier. In 2006, Nick Simunovic, then working for the Guggenheim Museum in New York, began visiting the region; a year later, he took a position at the helm of the Gagosian’s Asian venture, joining the gallery in the summer of 2007 to establish a presence in the East. “It took us almost three years to find an appropriate space in the city,” Simunovic told Artsy. “In retrospect, I am delighted that we were so patient. The gallery is located on the 7th floor of the historic Pedder Building on Pedder Street, in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central district. Built in 1923, it is one of the last surviving pre-war buildings in Central and an iconic reminder of Hong Kong’s colonial past. The flexible, light-filled galleries occupy 500 square meters and enjoy 4-meter-high ceilings, a rarity in Hong Kong. The space is exceptionally elegant and an ideal environment for art.”
Among the other galleries and fashion boutiques housed in the Pedder Building, Gagosian occupies a seat from which to connect the gallery’s impressive roster—including Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Urs Fischer—with Asia’s famously booming art market. “We are very bullish on Hong Kong, and Asia overall, in the short-, medium- and long-term,” Simunovic states unequivocally. “I have no doubts about the increasing importance of Asia in geopolitical, economic and cultural terms. It is also very encouraging that our performance in Asia is strengthening every year.” Hong Kong’s liberal tax code, he notes, adds further incentive for collectors, of which the Gagosian’s base extends to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. At the upcoming Art Basel in Hong Kong, the gallery will show Georg Baselitz’s Auch wirt lern helmt mich (Able fwill red) (2013), from a series of self-portraits inspired by Willem de Kooning.
What plans does the Gagosian have for its presence in Hong Kong? One thing seems certain; it won’t be leaving anytime soon. “Between the growing influx of world-class galleries, the emergence of Art Basel in Hong Kong as the most important and successful art fair in Asia, a pattern of record-setting auctions and the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD), Hong Kong and its cultural credentials are improving every day,” Simunovic remarks.
Visit Gagosian Gallery, Art Basel in Hong Kong, Galleries, May 15th–18th, 2014.