Lisson Gallery

'CEO of Lisson Gallery: Art does not distinguish between 'Chinese' and 'Foreign'' – Financial Times China

28 March 2024

The last time Lisson Gallery participated in Art Basel Hong Kong was in 2019. In 2020, it participated in Hong Kong Basel’s online exhibition. This year, it finally returned in full force for face-to-face contact with collectors. In its presentation, Lisson carefully presents new and recent works by an international group of artists that highlight the gallery's personality and characteristics, including the work Olga de Amaral, who will be exhibited at the Venice Biennale; Anish Kapoor, who held a large-scale retrospective exhibition in Venice in 2022 and presented his work Non-Object Black using Vantablack carbon nanotechnology as a medium for the first time; the new personal portrait series by Julian Opie; and the work Opticks 034 by the photographic artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, who will have a retrospective exhibition at UCCA in Beijing.

It is worth mentioning the Chinese artists represented by Lisson also have outstanding works on display, including Yu Hong’s new work Riptide (2024). She will launch her first large-scale solo exhibition in Europe, ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ during the Venice Biennale. Lisson also shows Li Ran's Archives Becoming Symbols (2023); Zhao Gang's oil painting White Night (2023); and artist Liu Xiaodong's work Time (2014) consists of 20 panels and was created locally in Gwangju, South Korea, freezing a group of young people in that specific period. So far, Lisson has signed contracts with five Chinese artists, making it a leader among international galleries, and said that this number will continue to increase.

Alex Logsdail joined Lisson Gallery in 2009 and now serves as global CEO. He introduced Carmen Herrera, Hugh Hayden, Sean Scully and many other artists to Lisson, and has rich experience in working with artists...

What kind of artists is Lisson Gallery looking to work with in the long term? "We work with many artists. Some of them start their relationship with the gallery in the early stage of their development, and some after they become famous. There are different ways of working together. The first is of course the work. Good works alone are not enough, but excellence. There are many good artists, but few are outstanding." Alex said, "Artists must have lofty ambitions, endless creative motivation, belief, and a long-term vision for the future. In addition, it is very important that artists need to make sure the gallery believes in this belief and vision. Every artist has a different personality. Some artists are extroverted, while others are withdrawn and even want to live a life of isolation. This is understandable. Artists do not need to let the world believe in them. It’s enough for us to believe, and then we can help them pass on this belief.”

According to Alex Logsdail and Greg Hilty, artists and artworks transcend countries and nations. They convey common human emotions and thoughts, but using different artistic languages ​​​​in different cultural backgrounds.

“When introducing Yu Hong to Western collectors and art museums, I say that she is an outstanding artist, rather than that she is a Chinese artist.” Greg recalls the shock he received when seeing Liu Xiaodong’s works: “That was more than ten years ago. At the previous Gwangju Biennale, his works had an obvious Western realism style, straightforward narratives, tense atmosphere, and outdated characters, but they condensed a historical moment." In Greg's view, Liu Xiaodong referenced Western art although he has no training in it. He has a deep understanding of Chinese history and tradition, and the emotions and thoughts he extracts from it transcend countries and nations and resonate with all mankind. "Such an artist may be well-known in one region, but still unfamiliar in another region. Our job is to introduce such works to collectors and museums around the world, and find resonance in different cultures and contexts.”

It takes time, sometimes a long time: "For example, Korean artist Lee Ufan," Greg said, "We have been exhibiting him since 1996. At that time, not many people in the West knew about him, but now he is a well-known artist worldwide.

Alex believes: "In the past few years of the pandemic, everyone was unable to go to theaters, sports venues, or travel, so seeing exhibitions online became a kind of entertainment. Last year's high inflation rate, high interest rates, coupled with elections and other factors – there are many uncertainties in the future. It takes time to restore confidence with people." However, Alex said: "The art market has always been swinging, and all we can do is to swing with it."

Continue reading via Financial Times China.

'CEO of Lisson Gallery: Art does not distinguish between 'Chinese' and 'Foreign'' – Financial Times China
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