Australian-born Maree Di Pasquale plays a pivotal role in Hong Kong’s arts scene. As director of the Art Central fair, Maree divides her time between Hong Kong and Melbourne, where she made her name setting up Melbourne Art Fair.
With Art Central kicking off shortly, we catch up with Maree to learn more about Hong Kong’s developing art scene and some of the most exciting artists to look out for at Art Central this year.
Make Me Feel It by Jeffrey Gibson, 2015
What is a typical working day like for you?
Whether I’m in Australia, Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world, my routine is much the same. I spend the first part of the morning with a latte in hand (from The Cupping Room if I’m in Hong Kong), reading market and industry news, and catching up on exhibitions, fairs and auctions. Soon after I dedicate an hour to catch up on overnight emails so that I have a clean slate by 10am – I have a strict 12-hour email reply rule. I then spend some time on social media to see how the Fair is tracking with our audience and observe what content they are responding to. This helps me to better understand what drives them to engage with the Fair.
The rest of the day is spent having either Skype or face-to-face meetings with colleagues, galleries, partners, contractors and suppliers for at least the next eight hours, although usually longer as I work across three time zones with offices in Sydney, Hong Kong and London. I’ll catch up on the day’s emails after it’s all over, and then, depending on the day of the week, I’ll try and head to a gallery opening or event.
What the most exciting and least interesting parts of your job?
The most exciting part of my job is working with young galleries on their application and getting them through the fair selection process. It is a truly awesome feeling when you see collectors and fairgoers engaging with the work during the show. The least interesting has to be reviewing contracts.
Ko (detail) by Yuichi Inoue, 1961
What is the selection criteria for artists and galleries keen to participate in Art Central?
Selection for participation in Art Central is based on the curatorial strength and premise of the gallery’s exhibition program and their represented artists. Criteria such as quality of the artwork, previous art fair presentations and any projects undertaken by the gallery both locally and overseas are central to the selection committee’s decision.
Which key organisations and up-and-coming galleries do you think will further reinforce Hong Kong as the art hub of Asia over the next few years?
Art Basel has cemented Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s art hub, and the emergence of Art Central has certainly helped to elevate the city as an international arts destination. Furthermore, world-class international galleries such as Simon Lee Gallery, White Cube, Whitestone Gallery and Gagosian among others have opened up in Hong Kong, and form part of a gallery association (HKAGA) that is now 60-plus members strong.
These galleries are essential to the creation of a sustainable art market here in Hong Kong, and work to promote year-round engagement with the arts. Likewise, Hong Kong is also home to important non-profit spaces such as Para/Site, Spring, Asia Art Archive and Asia Society Hong Kong Center, all doing their bit to engage the public. However the future must include a museum, which is why the industry and public alike are all keenly focused on M+, which will play a major role in future growth of Hong Kong’s contemporary art scene.
Which artists and events are you are most excited about at this year’s Art Central?
- Manolo Valdés represented by Galerie Forsblom (Helsinki). Valdés is included in such prestigious collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and Kunstmuseum in Berlin.
- Liu Dan and Qing Feng represented by Michael Goedhuis (London), part of the curated ink show From Historicism to the Avant-Garde, 1980-2015.
- Lee Ufan presented by GALLERY HYUNDAI (Seoul), a true master of the Korean monochromatic movement, Dansaekhwa.
- Indonesian born Dwi Sentianto presented by Sin Sin Fine Art (Hong Kong) and his site-specific 12meter mural painted live throughout the fair.
- NONOTAK Studio and their audiovisual installation titled Daydream No.3, exhibited as part of the Media x Mumm sector and presented by Bluerider ART (Taipei). A true media experience.
- Jeffrey Gibson’s native-American inspired intricately beaded and text based wall works. Gibson is exhibiting with MARC STARUS (New York).
- James Ostrer’s solo show Ego Systems, photography and performance as an amalgamation of celebrity icons who seduce their onlookers through traditional and social media with their promises of success, beauty and glamour. Ostrer is represented by Gazelli Art House (London) and is also the man behind Guru Jimmy and the 2016 Absolut Art Bar.
- Parkview Art presents Each Line One Breath by German artist John Franzen; a durational performance taking place each day of the fair that develops with each breath the artist takes.
- Yu-ichi Inoue exhibiting with KAMIYA ART (Tokyo). Inoue’s radicalization of traditional calligraphy is visually stunning.
What publications do you read to keep up to date with the industry ?
In no particular order: ArtAsiaPacific, The Art Newspaper, Leap, Randian and Artsy. They provide the best mix of regional and international, relevant and up-to-date market coverage in my view.
Tell us a little bit about your own personal art collection; how do you buy art?
I certainly don’t qualify as a collector, however I do buy whenever I can afford to. The works that I have acquired are predominantly early-career artists from emerging markets. I tend to buy from art fairs, but do try and continue to follow the artists beyond that first fair encounter.
What do you think is art’s greatest purpose?
Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on society and the issues that are relevant to us as individuals as well as the collective. Its purpose is to contemplate the world around us. This is art’s greatest accomplishment.
What do you love most about attending art fairs?
Being exposed to new and interesting work from a curated selection of hundreds of artists from all over the world. If not a fair, where else will you see a gallery from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Europe together at the same time? I also love the social aspect of art fairs. They are a remarkable cross-section of the art world – artists, galleries, collectors, institutions, and journalists – and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with friends from around the world.
Finally, which are the top art events to attend in the world?
In no particular order, La Biennale di Venezia, The Whitney Biennale, Sharjah Biennial, Gwangju Biennale and of course, Hong Kong Art Week – Art Central and Art Basel’s Hong Kong edition.