International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
This week, the London-based White Cube art gallery joined the many overseas galleries that have set up outposts in Asia to tap into the region’s growing interest in art collection and investment.
In line with other art-world powerhouses like Gagosian and Ben Brown, White Cube chose Hong Kong for its first foray into the region, and this is also the esteemed contemporary art gallery's first overseas branch.
White Cube Hong Kong opened its doors to the public on 2 March, with an inaugural show called London Pictures, created by famous British duo Gilbert & George. Twenty-two pieces out of the 292-work series -- the largest by the artists to date -- are on display until 5 May at White Cube's 6,000ft space in Hong Kong's Central district. It is the first stop in a global tour of the exhibition.
In London Pictures, Gilbert & George -- who have collaborated since the 1960s in various media forms, from films to living sculpture -- present grids of images overlaid with text that reads like tabloid newspaper headlines. Inspired by the gritty East End of London, the work touches on issues like corruption, patriotism, sex and religion.
"Brutal and declamatory, these brooding and disquieting pictures have been created from the sorting and classification by subject of nearly 4,000 newspaper headline posters, stolen by the artists over a number of years," wrote Michael Bracewell, a British writer and novelist, in the show's catalogue.
Founded in 1993 by contemporary art dealer Jay Jopling, White Cube came to prominence around the same time as the Young British Artists, a now-famous collective. White Cube, which represents the likes of Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Andreas Gursky and Franz Ackerman, has three gallery spaces in London: Bermondsey, Mason’s Yard and Hoxton Square.
Jopling himself has won considerable commercial acclaim in the UK, and given the current climate, it's likely that Asia will prove fertile ground for further success.
"The earth is clearly tipping eastwards on its axis, and Asia is playing a more important role in all our lives, be it economically, politically or culturally,” Magnus Renfrew, director of the Hong Kong International Art Fair, told BBC Travel last year. “The art market tends to follow the money and there is immense wealth being created in the region."
Hana R Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel