When it comes to art, Katie Alice Fitz Gerald knows a thing or two. She has spent the last few years living in New York as one of the founding partners of Denny Dimin Gallery. Prior to that she held the position of Gallery Director at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in New York. In 2017 she relocated to Hong Kong with her family and is now the Director of Denny Dimin Gallery Hong Kong (DDHK).
We spent some time to speak with Katie Alice about Hong Kong's evolving art scene and her contribution to Arts Month with the exciting launch of her new Denny Dimin contemporary gallery.
KBEN & HOL: You moved to Hong Kong from New York. How would you compare the Hong Kong art scene with New York?
Katie Alice: The art scene in Hong Kong is still relatively fresh compared to New York where art is so embedded into the fabric of the city. There are a cluster of art galleries representing emerging artists here, but Hong Kong has still got a little way to go in promoting new growing talent. In New York there is a strong cohort of galleries, non-profit spaces and art fairs which support the emerging scene. I think with the recent arrival of Tai Kwun and the nearly finished M+ as well as now a stronghold of galleries in Wong Chuk Hang, the emerging scene will really gain momentum here in Hong Kong, so it's an exciting time for art here.
KBEN & HOL: What led to your decision of opening a gallery space in HK?
Katie Alice: There's not one single thing. Hong Kong is an inspiring and creative city and as a partner of Denny Dimin Gallery, it was always our ambition to have a gallery space and projects which connected us to the city. As I said before, I think it's an exciting time for art in Hong Kong. Through the institutions which have arrived and are due to come, the city is embracing contemporary art and visual culture in a new way; we wanted to be part of that. We also felt that Hong Kong would be a receptive and exciting place for us to develop new curatorial projects such as an apartment based gallery. Whilst it's not a new idea, apartment galleries are not a convention in Hong Kong as they seem to be in other cities like New York and London so it felt natural to approach our gallery space in this way - to do something a little bit more alternative in the city. We also wanted to become more closely embedded with a community here and therefore to welcome people into our home which will hopefully foster those connections. From a curatorial level we also wanted to give our artists the opportunity to have their work seen in a more intimate and site specific context.
KBEN & HOL: What excites you about the art scene in HK?
Katie Alice: I love the hidden gems. Nothing is obvious from street level. The city and particularly the art world lives behind closed doors, almost unseen till you purposefully seek it out. From spaces in Wong Chuk Hang, to Chai Wan, to Kowloon. Even the Pedder Building, it's discreet until you arrive into the space and view the art. This is another reason as to why we wanted to host an apartment gallery; it's an idea that sits so well in Hong Kong where art galleries are quite often found in the most unlikely of places.
KBEN & HOL: What type of art and experience can people expect from visiting your gallery?
Katie Alice: We have a roster of exceptional emerging and mid-career artists. They range from painters, photographers, sculptors to artists who work across all spheres. When it comes to how we exhibit work we have of course the remit of the work being shown in a living space which should allow viewers to imagine how they could live with the art as well. In our first exhibition we will be showing two artists, Erin O'Keefe, a photographer who began her career as an architect. Her work explores both disciplines in ways which both excite and surprise the viewer. She has a huge following in the US particularly after the success of her show with the gallery at Untitled Art Fair during Miami Basel. The second artist is the painter Matt Mignanelli Matt creates paintings based on geometric forms, inspired by light, shadow, and architectural elements present in the urban landscape. His process is highly detailed methodical hand-painting which explores the possibilities of both the freedom and restraint of the material.
KBEN & HOL: Your walls at home are adorned with such interesting artworks. What value do you see in incorporating art into your home interiors?
Katie Alice: Many people fear art as they feel that perhaps their way of life can't allow for beautiful objects around them. However, as a mother of two young, wild boys, I believe that whatever your situation, you can adorn your space with incredible work. The value it adds in your home as something to provoke thought and pleasure is priceless and I feel really strongly that art shouldn't be stored as a collectable item only there to accrue value. People also shouldn't fear their own aesthetic. Developing a collection of work is so personal it becomes a mirror to who you are and therefore is such a special legacy to pass down.
KBEN & HOL: Some of our customers are first time art buyers. What things would you recommend they consider when buying art for the first time for their home?
Don't always be drawn into the idea that filling the most wall space with a single piece is the way to go - the idea that bigger is better is often a misnomer. Also go with what you love rather than what you feel might be a financial investment. The beauty of collecting emerging art is that you can build a collection in an affordable and steady way. It can be so fun and rewarding, developing your knowledge and watching the artists grow in their careers and their practice. You then find yourself with a unique and special collection. As a more practical piece of advice, you can collect some bigger named artists by buying into one of their runs of editions. Editions are when a number of the same work is made. Another affordable place to start is with works on paper or sketches by artists, some people have based their whole art collections round works on paper as they can be very intimate in their raw incarnation of a later work.
KBEN & HOL: What are your future plans for Denny Dimin Gallery Hong Kong?
Katie Alice: Alongside being really excited about the DDHK, the gallery in New York is about to move into a bigger space in Tribeca which will open up the way for the us to embark on even more ambitious exhibitions. In terms of DDHK, we have a programme of four outstanding exhibitions to look forward to over the coming year, with our first opening on March 29 2019. Given it's a living space in a domestic environment the exhibitions will run in tandem with our family life, but rest assure, for those who book an appointment to come, they will be welcomed warmly and encouraged to join for a glass of wine whilst they hang out and experience the work!
To visit Denny Dimin Gallery Hong Kong contact Katie Alice Fitz Gerald
Phone: +852 5721 2638
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