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Community Colours

Meg Maggio  

Established in Beijing in 2005, Pékin Fine Arts will soon open its doors in Hong Kong, with a gallery in Wong Chuk Hang on Hong Kong Island. In addition to exhibitions, Pékin Fine Arts is also a leading advocate for contemporary Asian artists. Founder Meg Maggio, a long-time China resident originally from Boston, tells why she is opening her first gallery in the city.  

Why did you decide to open a branch of Pékin Fine Arts gallery in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is an important crossroads for doing art business not only with China but with all of Southeast Asia. Hong Kong is centrally located, super-efficient for logistics, transport and the high-quality level of Hong Kong personnel, and Hong Kong has a mature art sales infrastructure, as well as easy access for clients coming from all over Asia and the world. I am very happy, and very excited, to be expanding our presence into Hong Kong with a branch office and new gallery space, which will be open to the public daily. 

On the personal side, I was a student in Hong Kong in a summer programme at the University of Hong Kong in 1985. I again lived in Hong Kong from 1990 to 1995. This will, in fact, be my third time establishing a presence in Hong Kong. I feel like I am going home when I return to Hong Kong.

How will being in Hong Kong benefit Pékin Fine Arts and the artists that you work with?
We work with several artists from Hong Kong, southern China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, and they all have projects in Hong Kong in the next year or two. It is important that we follow and advocate on behalf of the artists we represent wherever they have important projects. We look forward to introducing our artists’ work on a regular basis to audiences in Hong Kong.

What types of artists are represented by Pékin Fine Arts, and why do you think it’s important for Asian artists to move beyond nationalism?
All good gallery owners are passionate advocates on behalf of the artists they represent. At our gallery, we look for independent artists who we believe will have promising career paths. Attractive characteristics include great resilience and determination, always willing to push themselves, unafraid of setbacks and failures, artists who are compelled to creative action, who are not afraid to take risks. This also means being intellectually honest, with good self-awareness and a character strong enough not to be swayed by social pressures. Nationalism is a form of social pressure and excessive group conformity. These are phenomena that can kill an artist's creativity and ability to produce sincere and authentic works related to his or her personal experience and observations.

What are your thoughts on Hong Kong’s art scene?         
The opening of M+ Contemporary Art Museum is very exciting, and this has already infused new energy into Hong Kong’s art scene. We see expansion and increased activity of new and established art centres, such as the Heritage Museum in Shatin, Para-Site, Hong Kong University Museum of Art, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Asia Art Archive, Asia Society and other important private and public venues and organisations. They are making Hong Kong’s contemporary art scene increasingly more vibrant and attractive, not only to Chinese artists but also to Asian and international artists. We will continue to increase our community involvement with all of these organisations.

As an artistic business, how do you balance commercial and artistic decisions?  
It’s not easy to make this balance. If I believe in the artist, I am willing to just go for it and follow my conviction that, long-term, the artist is a genuine, authentic character, with deep reserves of creative determination. If I can afford it, this also means ignoring the short-term ups and downs of the market place. My loyalty first and foremost is to the artists we represent, and I strongly believe they will succeed and receive the critical recognition they deserve, if not in the short term, surely in the long term. And we all have to be patient and find ways to survive economically.

What are the advantages of basing Pékin Fine Arts out of Wong Chuk Hang instead of Central, where many of your competitors are based?
Central is too expensive, too brand-conscious and too susceptible to the vagaries of the fashionable consumer marketplace. No artist can afford to live in Central.

I want the gallery to be situated in a more normal neighbourhood, with a community feel. I hope this philosophy of community values and embracing Hong Kong’s heritage will be the strongest future trends. Frankly, I want to be in a real Hong Kong neighbourhood, neither a retail shopping place nor a new real estate speculative venture for expatriates.

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