As a passionate art lover, Sharlane Foo now assists the development of art collections, including contemporary and modern art, at Opera Gallery Hong Kong.
Lovers of the arts! There is an amazing array of creative workshops, gallery tours and independent exhibitions in Hong Kong. With Opera Gallery Hong Kong being one of our favourite curated art galleries in Hong Kong, we sat down with the director Sharlane Foo to chat about the creative landscape here and how to cultivate art to engage local audiences.
An interview with Sharlane Foo
Hi, Sharlane. Thanks for sitting down with us. So, you’re an art curator and art gallery director. How did you first get involved in this field?
I started many years ago. I was a Liberal Arts student and I attended a program in South East Asian Art History. My first job was at a private museum in Singapore for Linda Ma and from there, I moved on to her commercial gallery Linda Gallery. Two years ago, I was headhunted to move to Hong Kong to help a French collector turn his hobby into a business. I got the opportunity to meet with the owner Gilles Dyan. I really believed in his vision and what he has planned for Opera Gallery, so I came on board.
Opera Gallery operates worldwide in 12 locations. How is the creative landscape here in Hong Kong different from other countries?
Hong Kong is the main arts hub in Asia, so it’s definitely a lot more interesting in comparison to the rest. Most of the auction houses and a lot of the international galleries are here. And this year in particular, some of the international galleries will have their first Asian branch right here in Hong Kong.
Who are the frequent visitors of Opera Gallery? Are there any specific groups?
These days we see a lot more younger people coming through. It might seem quite intimidating before, but now we actually have a lot more younger artists and we also create a lot of programmes trying to engage the younger emerging collectors. We have very different collector types, I’d almost describe it as a generational thing, say the parents looking at the modern masters while the youngers check out the contemporary ones.
Do you think Hong Kong people respond differently to art compared to other countries that you have been involved in?
I think a lot of the people we see are very sophisticated and very well-travelled, so they’re used to the concept of just being around art, just having art as a part of their lives. I won’t say they respond differently, but it comes very naturally to them.
When you are curating your art space, what do you typically think of? Is there a certain feeling that you have or a theme that is in your mind that you stick to?
It depends on the artworks. For the upcoming exhibition with the three Korean artists, we have a lot of sculptures with different materials, like bike materials being put in human forms. I think it’s more about working within the space for story building. I can see how I can engage the public by where I place the work. It’s like I need to tell a story and I would lay them out in a way. I would say the most successful curation is when someone enters the gallery and comes to their own understanding.
Opera Gallery, 52 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2810 1208, 香港中環雲咸街52號W Place地下﹣3樓