OMA designs Lehmann Maupin’s first Hong Kong gallery
Hong Kong's contemporary art scene has become so attractive to Western gallerists, they are now jostling for space in the city centre. The latest arrival is New York's Lehmann Maupin, which now resides in the historic Pedder Building with a new space designed by Rem Koolhaas and his practice OMA.
Hong Kong is fresh territory for Rachel Lehmann and David Maupin, who operate two well-established locations in Manhattan. Yet the concept is not. The gallerists have known Koolhaas since he designed their first raw, plywood-panelled space in Chelsea in 1996, and their inaugural Chinese venue embodies the same unrefined spirit.
Like the New York galleries, Lehmann Maupin's new 105 sq m space feels less like a commercial gallery and more like an artist's studio: neutral in its materials but very specific in the way artists can use it and how visitors can be routed through it.
For Hong Kong, OMA developed a new palette of materials, although plywood still features heavily. A continuous wall of plywood starts outside the fourth-floor entrance of the gallery, against the building's neo-classical interior. The wood appears inside in the form of a sliding wall that can separate the open plan into a larger and smaller exhibition space. A vast glazed corner jutting out between the two spaces gives dimension to the limited space and eases the flow in and out.
'David [Maupin] was quite specific about entering the gallery from the end of the corridor,' says OMA partner David Gianotten, 'so Koolhaas came up with the corner door idea.'
To the left is a small square nook where an artist could show one central piece without it being swallowed by the gallery as a whole. The larger area to the right offers the possibility for exhibiting a sequence around an original pre-war column. 'It's the space that determines what is going to happen where, and the visitors will naturally blend into that,' says Gianotten.
The architects have left much of the space in its natural, bare state. The original window frames and ceiling were retained to keep part of the colonial building intact, and the central structural column has become a statement of the space.
'We wanted to create a working space, something that breathes still, a backdrop for art,' says Gianotten, 'one that would not take over that idea by using very specific materials or having the brand name of the gallery being more exposed than the art itself.'
Lehmann Maupin's inaugural exhibition features Korean artist Lee Bul, who recently finished a major retrospective at Tokyo's Mori Art Museum. In May, a group show of Asian and international artists will coincide with the debut of The Art Basel show in Hong Kong.
Preparations are in full swing for the gallery's first summer in the East. The partners are representing Brazil's Adriana Varejão, South Africa's Robin Rhode and German photographer Juergen Teller.
As for the overlap with Chinese contemporary gallery Hanart TZ Gallery, Maupin says it was 'good karma'.
'We are honoured to take the former space of such an important gallery in Hong Kong' he says. 'And we'll also still be on the same floor. So that's really nice.'
407 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong
Yoko Choy is the China editor at Wallpaper* magazine, where she has contributed for over a decade. Her work has also been featured in numerous Chinese and international publications. As a creative and communications consultant, Yoko has worked with renowned institutions such as Art Basel and Beijing Design Week, as well as brands such as Hermès and Assouline. With dual bases in Hong Kong and Amsterdam, Yoko is an active participant in design awards judging panels and conferences, where she shares her mission of promoting cross-cultural exchange and translating insights from both the Eastern and Western worlds into a common creative language. Yoko is currently working on several exciting projects, including a sustainable lifestyle concept and a book on Chinese contemporary design.
Last chance to see: Sharjah Biennial 15, ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’
Built on the vision of late curator Okwui Enwezor, the Sharjah Biennial 15: ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’ offers a critical reframing of postcolonial narratives through major new commissions
By Amah-Rose Abrams • Published
For London Gallery Weekend 2023, the mood is hardcore
With London Gallery Weekend 2023 almost upon us (2 – 4 June), here’s our list of must-see art exhibitions
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Published
Birkenstock celebrates its most memorable styles with colourful capsule (and matching socks)
Birkenstock marks the 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of the Gizeh, Arizona and Madrid sandals, respectively, with limited-edition versions
By Jack Moss • Published
Yayoi Kusama on love, hope and the power of art
There’s still time to see Yayoi Kusama’s major retrospective at M+, Hong Kong (until 14 May). In our interview, the legendary Japanese artist vows to continue to ‘create art to leave the message of “love forever”’
By Megan C Hills • Last updated
Homoerotic paper cuttings and 3D-scanned Chinese restaurants tell stories of Asian migration
In Hong Kong, stories of Asian migration take over Blindspot Gallery in group show, ‘Soy Dreams of Milk’
By Megan C Hills • Last updated
‘A Show About Nothing’: group exhibition in Hangzhou celebrates emptiness
The inaugural exhibition at new Hangzhou cultural centre By Art Matters explores ‘nothingness’ through 30 local and international artists, including Maurizio Cattelan, Ghislaine Leung, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Liu Guoqiang and Yoko Ono
By Yoko Choy • Last updated
Cao Fei’s dystopian fantasies fuse art and technology
Chinese artist Cao Fei’s dystopian art tackles themes such as the automation of labour, hyper-capitalism and the effect of a global pandemic. Having just completed her first major solo show in Beijing, the prolific winner of the 2021 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is going global, with her retro-futuristic take on contemporary life now the subject of exhibitions from Los Angeles to Rome, and a 20-page portfolio for Wallpaper*
By Daven Wu • Last updated
Hong Kong through artists’ eyes
Hong Kong’s buzzing art and design scene, explored through the eyes of two creatives drawn to practise in the city
By Harriet Lloyd Smith • Last updated
Hong Kong’s M+ Museum to open with six thematic shows
Asia’s first global museum of contemporary visual culture will open on 12 November in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, with six themed shows spanning art, design and architecture
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Last updated
Architectural futurism and urban ‘nudity’: Liu Wei at White Cube
What is urban space without bodies? Chinese artist Liu Wei describes his eerie exploration of deserted cityscapes at White Cube Bermondsey
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Last updated
Ethereal minimalism infuses Shenzhen’s KennaXu Gallery
KennaXu Gallery, designed by Da Integrating, is a new Shenzhen contemporary art space created through the transformation of an old residential unit into a haven of ethereal minimalism
By Ellie Stathaki • Last updated