Photo credit: Courtesy the artist and Denny Dimin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong.
Installation image – Erin O’Keefe ‘Built Work #40’, 2019, from exhibition with Erin O’Keefe and Matt Mignanelli at DDHK Gallery.
Installation image – from exhibition with Erin O’Keefe and Matt Mignanelli at DDHK Gallery.
Installation image – Greer Howland Smith ‘Regeneration (What is Real)’, 2019, from exhibition ‘Generation, Regeneration’ at DDHK Gallery.
Stephen Thorpe, ‘Self Portrait, Ms Pac-Man”, 2020, oil on canvas, featuring in ‘Space Invaders’ Denny Dimin Gallery, Virtual Series.
What brought you to Hong Kong? I moved to Hong Kong in 2017 with my family. My husband and I are both from the UK and had been living in New York since 2012. Even before living in Hong Kong we had travelled quite a bit round Asia, so having spent 5 years in New York, we felt that it would be interesting and to explore opportunities here.
How did you start working in the gallery/art industry?
I studied Art History at Manchester University and later followed that with a MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths, within this time I had explored working within a well known contemporary art institution – the Hayward Gallery which is part of the Southbank Centre in London. Whilst I enjoyed working on the exhibition programme and with artists, the pace and decision making is a lot slower than in a small commercial gallery so I upon moving to New York, I took a role as Director of the Rebecca Hossack Gallery where I could be across all facets of programming, liaising with artists, fostering client relationships and institutional relationships. I met Elizabeth Denny who was in the early days of setting up her gallery and joined her as a consulting partner when she opened her new space in 2013. It was therefore a natural evolution for us to create a satellite space in Hong Kong once I had settled here.
Can you tell us more about Denny Dimin Gallery?
What started as Denny Gallery in 2013, became Denny Dimin Gallery when Robert Dimin joined as a partner in 2015. The original gallery was located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That area was then known for emerging galleries which supported young artists setting out in their careers. In 2019 we moved to a larger space in Tribeca whilst at the same time creating a satellite space in Hong Kong. We still work with several artists such as Amanda Valdez, Jordan Tate and Sean Fader whose practices we have continued to support since 2013 as well as working with new artists, collaborating with curators and other galleries. Our focus has been developing a space where our curatorial programme has fostered institutional partnerships as well as important relationships with influential collectors. This has been intrinsic to our work with our artists and contributes to their upward trajectory in their practice and collectability.
We decided to use our position in Hong Kong to explore a different model for the art scene here by setting up our gallery space as an apartment gallery. We felt the curatorial concept was new to Hong Kong and would form an interesting platform for our US-based artists and to collaborate with local artists based in Hong Kong. Our shows have been diverse in terms of the artists we have worked with and the work we have shown, from painting, photography, installation and video art. Whilst COVID has clearly been a challenge to those wanting to visit galleries, we had already had a virtual programme in place on our website running alongside physical exhibitions. We used this for our New York exhibition, ‘Hong Kong: Tales of the City’ where we invited the established Hong Kong non-profit, Videotage, to curate an exhibition showing the work of 9 Hong Kong video artists for our space in Tribeca. I foresee us pursuing a virtual programme in Hong Kong for now, whilst the situation remains precarious with the virus. We will be starting with a solo show of British born, Hong Kong-based artist, Stephen Thorpe. His paintings will be hung and filmed as a virtual tour at The Nate and the following exhibition, ‘Space Invaders’ will launch on our website in mid-September 2020.
What is your impression of the local Hong Kong artists and art scene?
I have been delighted and intrigued by the local Hong Kong art scene. It is rich with artists who have very interesting ideas that are often imbued with poetry, sense of self and local cultural practice. The Hong Kong art scene is so quickly identified within an international art market but there are really wonderful galleries, institutions and exhibitions beyond the big players in Central. The opening of Tai Kwun and growing popularity of Wong Chuk Hang have contributed to the Hong Kong scene opening up but we mustn’t overlook the artist-led stalwarts such as Parasite and Videotage which help give the local art scene a real sense of identity. Denny Dimin Gallery continues to strive to support this side of the Hong Kong art world and give a platform to locally based artists.
Who are your biggest influences?
In terms of art and gallery practice, this changes depending on who I am working with at the time. I am very influenced and inspired by the artists we work with as well as different curatorial collaborations we have had. The idea of opening up my home as our gallery in Hong Kong joins ranks with artists and galleries who have been creative and innovative with what a gallery should be. One of the artists we’ve worked within New York, Austin Eddy, even opened his bedroom closet as a gallery, called Eddys Room. I am very influenced by the ingenuity of showing art in alternative spaces where one has the opportunity to see the work differently. Thanks to The Nate we are now exploring this concept within the virtual sphere.
Where do you usually hang out in Hong Kong?
At the moment,due to Covid, my apartment! I’m lucky to look out onto the harbour so feel part of the city but also be surrounded by work by some of the exceptional artists that we represent. My view is always changing!