Based in Hong Kong, Wendy Xu joined White Cube in 2017 and oversees regional operations and business development for the gallery across Asia, alongside the day-to-day operations of the Hong Kong space. She is an expert in the art and culture scene in Hong Kong and works at the forefront of one of art’s fastest growing markets.
For White Cube Hong Kong, we focus on bringing artists of the highest calibre to the Asian market and promote different dialogues as well as artistic mediums
In May at Art Basel Hong Kong, White Cube presented over 40 works by artists including Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Georg Baselitz, Antony Gormley, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Christian Marclay, Julie Mehretu, Sarah Morris, Isamu Noguchi, Park Seo-Bo, Takis and Andy Warhol among others.
Despite continued Covid related restrictions impacting travel, Wendy comments on White Cube’s success at the fair, “results have been very optimistic, with the majority of sales to collectors based locally. On opening day, we sold seven pieces, reaching over £1,000,000 (US$1,300,000)”. Despite reduced international attendance, Marc Spiegler, Global Director at Art Basel attributes the success of the Hong Kong 2022 edition to “the city’s growing and engaged collector base, including many first-time buyers” and “the continued growth of online sales and the importance of new virtual formats connecting with ever-broader audiences.”
In the wake of Art Basel Hong Kong’s return, we catch up with Wendy Xu, General Manager (Asia) at White Cube to learn more about Hong Kong’s art scene and the ever-growing Asian art market.
Q: Tell us about White Cube in Hong Kong – what shows do you have lined-up for this year?
A: German artist Georg Baselitz’s latest works are currently on show at White Cube Hong Kong through 3 September in an exhibition titled Sofabilder / Sofa Pictures. Following this, from 14 September to 12 November we are excited to present works by Haim Steinbach in his first solo exhibition in Greater China, and from 23 November to 7 January 2023 we will present Inside the White Cube: Margaux Williamson, the Canadian artist’s first solo exhibition in Asia.
Q: What is the focus of your programming for White Cube Asia, do you seek to promote dialogues between artists from east and west?
A: For White Cube Hong Kong, we focus on bringing artists of the highest calibre to the Asian market and promote different dialogues as well as artistic mediums. We hope to introduce and broaden knowledge of Western artists, but also to present Asian artists to Western markets.
Q: With the opening of M+ and The Palace Museum, Hong Kong has further cemented itself as a foremost destination for global art and culture lovers. What do you think the impact will be of the opening of these incredible new art destinations in the city?
A: Hong Kong’s art scene has certainly witnessed a prosperous evolution throughout the years. The appetite for art in the city has continued to grow, and with the opening of these wonderful new institutions, there is no doubt Hong Kong will see more and more cultural appreciation and arts-focused tours once restrictions ease.
Q: How would you characterise the art scene in Hong Kong?
A: White Cube opened in Hong Kong in 2012, becoming the gallery’s first international space outside of the UK. With Hong Kong’s reputation as an international business hub, its position as an arts and cultural hub has followed suit. In the years since White Cube came to Hong Kong, the art scene has matured rapidly, with international auction houses and other international galleries setting up shop alongside its fair share of local galleries. The presence of one of the world’s biggest art fairs, Art Basel, also indicates the robustness of the landscape here.
Q: Are there any artists based in Asia that you are particularly excited by at the moment?
A: Christine Ay-Tjoe works out of Bandung, Indonesia, and creates very intuitive and expressive work. We presented her work at our Hong Kong gallery last year and it was a beautiful show of large-scale, abstract paintings reflecting the artist’s insights and ideas over the pandemic. A solo show by Christine is currently on at Kunsmuseum Schloss Derneburg until 20 November 2022. Park Seo-Bo’s ‘Ecriture’ series is also now showing at Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice until 27 November 2022. We are excited to present Chinese artist Liu Wei’s solo exhibition at White Cube Palm Beach at the end of the year.
Q: As we look to the future, and the re-opening of the borders, what recommendations would you make to art lovers travelling to Hong Kong. What should they see and do to experience the incredible art scene in the city?
A: Make a note of ongoing exhibitions at both international and local galleries, and visit museums including M+ and the newly opened Palace Museum. Aside from heritage conservation projects such as Tai Kwun and PMQ which have also become great venues for art exhibitions, Hong Kong also has an exciting street art scene. Hong Kong has a number of art events year- round but it is particularly exciting around Art Basel given the various activations and pop-up events taking place around the city.
Q: How would you compare the art market in Hong Kong to elsewhere? It seems there are very engaged collectors and creatives across Asia who are deeply involved in the art scene?
A: Whereas art destinations such as New York and London have been established for a very long time, Hong Kong’s art market, if it must be compared, is relatively young – yet it has yielded enormous success for artists and galleries alike, becoming one of the most important art markets in the world in a short amount of time.
Art writer, curator and public relations specialist, focussed on platforming emerging talent across the visual culture sector. When not walking my dog in rainy East London parks, I can be found on my sofa writing articles for FAD magazine, Bricks Magazine, Art Plugged and Off the Block Magazine. Find me on Instagram @bellabonner