Interview
Commercial galleries

Five minutes with… Brett Gorvy on the Asian art market

Lévy Gorvy launches its Hong Kong space with a group show exploring how nature and tradition have provided comfort in turbulent times

Brett Gorvy: 'Hong Kong is such an important region—there is so much potential' Photo © Zenith Richards

The London and New York-based gallery Lévy Gorvy is launching its Hong Kong space this week with a group show exploring how nature and tradition have provided comfort in turbulent times. Though the gallery is the dealers’ first permanent location in Asia, Brett Gorvy and Dominique Lévy have long been active in the region. The new Hong Kong gallery occupies a 2,500 sq. ft space on the ground floor of the high-rise St George’s Building in Central. We caught up with Brett Gorvy to find out more about his plans in Asia.

Why did you feel 2019 was the right time to open a gallery in Hong Kong?

It has been our intention to open a space in Hong Kong ever since Dominique and I formed our partnership [in 2016]. We wanted to find the ideal location and were able to secure an exceptional space at the end of last year. This meant a very quick turnaround time in terms of an opening because we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the exciting opportunities in Asia that we foresee for 2019.

How important is the Asian market to your business?

My experience from my time at Christie’s and continuing now at Lévy Gorvy is that the Asian market consistently provides between 20% to 30% of business for auction houses. With the deep relationships that I have formed with regular visits to Asia over the past 20 years and Dominique’s own very strong presence there through art fairs, our commitment to the Asian market has only increased. It is such an important region and there is so much potential. With our growing Asia team, overseen by Danqing Li, we want to strengthen our existing connections, as well as develop new relationships throughout Asia.

Why did you choose Return to Nature as your inaugural show?

In dialogue with the team, and specifically with our Asian colleagues, we wanted our Hong Kong exhibition programme to not just be about responding to strong market interest and showcasing great, high-quality works of art in Asia, but also to make a meaningful statement that resonates and has a long-term purpose. This is something Dominique and I believe in. Return to Nature is not just about natural forces, but about the materiality of nature and the mystery of spirituality that artists throughout the history of Eastern and Western art come back to in times of moral, cultural and political crisis. These artists are going back to the fundamentals, but are searching for something more spiritual and poetic at the same time.

Our ethos is one of collaboration… We do not see ourselves as competitive, but as complementary

Which Asian artists will you be representing?

Lévy Gorvy already works with Seung-taek Lee, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Chung Sang-Hwa, Kazuo Shiraga, and Zao Wou-Ki, but Return to Nature will include a selection of works by Hao Liang, Satoru Hoshino, Song Dong, Nannan Tang, Tu Hongtao, Wu Dayu, Wu Yinxian, Yan Wenliang and Liu Ye.

What are the biggest challenges of opening a gallery in Hong Kong?

Challenges is really the wrong word. It is more about looking at how we can seize the opportunities provided by Hong Kong. For us Hong Kong is not just about China, it is the gateway to the whole of Asia. It is an incredibly dynamic, international trading place and we want to be flexible within that arena—to be nimble and take advantage of every opportunity. While there are short-term hurdles, our long-term vision and overall position is for Lévy Gorvy to be in Asia for many years and to grow our Hong Kong location as a third and equal arm of our business.

Which local galleries do you rate?

We are very excited to become part of the growing gallery community in Hong Kong. Our ethos is one of collaboration and we feel that we provide a programme that is so different to all the other galleries that we do not see ourselves as competitive, but as complementary. We look forward to working closely with local galleries and also the international galleries who are as committed as we are to the region.