Interview with Gallerist and Art Dealer Pearl Lam

Pearl Lam Galleries exhibit and promote contemporary art and design, with a particular focus on contemporary Chinese art, and galleries in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. Pearl Lam is to feature in this year’s EXPO Chicago in October, marking the gallery’s first presentation in a major American art fair. The gallery is also participating in ArtInternational Istanbul and Sydney Contemporary, as well as hosting the first major exhibition of Robert Motherwell’s work in Asia, which opens on 8 September. We interview gallerist and art dealer Pearl Lam.

A: You began exhibiting and promoting Chinese contemporary art in 1993. How have your galleries expanded in recent years and what is the next step?
PL: I have been promoting Chinese contemporary art for over 20 years. I first opened a gallery space in Shanghai and now, Pearl Lam Galleries has spaces in a few key cities in Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore. We are consistently working to present exciting contemporary art programmes from our galleries that support and enhance the art scene at a local, regional, and international level. We have just opened a second gallery space in Hong Kong dedicated to emerging artists in one of the city’s most vibrant and fast-developing areas, which is very exciting for us. Apart from supporting Chinese contemporary arts, I have been working closely with international artists, bringing their work to Asia for the first time or presenting major shows for them in Asia.

A: This September, your Hong Kong gallery is to host the first major exhibition of American artist Robert Motherwell’s work ever to be mounted in Asia. What can we expect from the exhibition?
PL: The show in Hong Kong, Form, Gesture, Feeling: Robert Motherwell 1915-1991: A Centennial Exhibition is obviously a show that coincides with the centenary year of the artist’s birth. This will be the abstract expressionist artist’s first solo exhibition in Asia. We will present 15 works from four decades and bring together works in various media from important cycles explored by the artist throughout his career. For example, an early work from his VVV portfolio, 1942, which is considered one of the highlights of Surrealist activity in New York in the early 1940s, will be on show. We will also bring a 1958 painting on paper, Two Figures No. 12, which shows a sense of figuration that is later repeatedly embedded in the hugely important Elegies Series, and in many other works executed in his later career. You will also see the last of five paintings in the Great Wall of China Series remaining outside of a private collection at the exhibition in Hong Kong. We are very privileged to bring to Asia for the first time a solo show of works by such a giant in American and international art history.

A: Pearl Lam Galleries is exhibiting at EXPO Chicago this September, marking the gallery’s first presentation at a major American Art fair. As one of the few Asian galleries participating, what will Pearl Lam offer that is unique?
PL: We see this as a unique opportunity for us to introduce our artists to a wider audience. We take this opportunity to work with artists from both China, the United States and elsewhere, and this coincides with the ethos of our galleries to generate dialogue on contemporary art between Asia and the West. We are presenting works by 18 artists from different regions at EXPO Chicago, including American artist Jenny Holzer and Chicago-born Puerto Rican artist Carlos Rolón/Dzine. Carlos has created for us a very exciting new work, which will be exhibited alongside works by Chinese artists and artists from other regions, such as Los Angeles-based Chinese artist Li Tianbing, British artist Antony Micallef, and top Australian Ben Quilty. Quilty is one of the single most important artists living and working in Australia, and this is Quilty’s American debut. We are also presenting a public site-specific installation, Alchemy (2015), by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa at The Peninsula Chicago.

A: Your gallery is also presenting at ArtInternational Istanbul and Sydney Contemporary in September. Do you have future plans to exhibit at new international art festivals?
PL: Definitely. We are always excited about opportunities that would allow us to be part of, or even generate dialogues in contemporary art. We devote ourselves to promoting the cultural exchange between Western and Asian artists.

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1. Jenny Holzer, Money Creates Taste, 2013. Courtesy of Pearl Lam Galleries, © 2013 Jenny Holzer, member of Artist Rights Society, Photography: Collin LaFleche.