Queenie Rosita Law, the founder and director of Q Art Group, recently opened her new Double Q gallery in Sheung Wan. We talked to her about Eastern European art and why she decided to bring the artists and their work to Hong Kong.
Why did you open the gallery?
Recently I’ve seen a growing interest in contemporary art in Hong Kong, especially among younger people. I believe this new generation of collectors is looking for a better experience in collecting art, without the traditional art-world barriers. That’s why Double Q is dedicated to showcasing artworks of the highest quality at an accessible price and within a welcoming environment. Our first-year programme includes six artists with museum collections or exhibitions.
How does it tie in with your museum in Budapest?
During my journey, from collecting to establishing the Q Contemporary art space in Budapest, I met rising talents from Europe and America who lacked the opportunity to expand into Asia. In recent years, they’ve started noticing the growth and importance of the Asian art market and began asking me to showcase their works in Hong Kong. That’s why our gallery programme is focused on European and American artists. Our vision is to empower today’s best new artists who lack Asian audiences by becoming a leading platform for expanding their careers in this region, starting with our flagship location in Hong Kong.
Q Contemporary, on the other hand, is a non-profit museum in Budapest dedicated to supporting Central and Eastern European contemporary art. Led by a team of art historians, curators and experts, Q Contemporary provides curatorial support to Double Q Gallery with their research and insights.
Tell us about the gallery’s design.
I’ve always loved Sheung Wan – it’s surrounded by hip neighbourhoods with amazing energy, creative vibes and an eclectic blend of local and international culture. Amid this hustle and bustle, our space is on a quiet street and yet it faces a busy intersection. The location fits perfectly with our desire to offer a warm and welcoming experience to anyone interested in art. What really drew us to this space is the uniquely high ceiling – it’s rare to find a ground-floor space like this. For the interior design, we went with a clean and minimal aesthetic, as we want to direct all the attention and focus on the art.
What’s the theme of your first exhibition?
We’re featuring two leading emerging artists from London and Budapest – Tomo Campbell and Marton Nemes. We’re excited to introduce their works to Hong Kong audiences for the first time.
Tomo’s paintings are extremely romantic and optimistic. His mythical creatures and heroes flicker as they traipse in and out of abstraction, while the stretched and warped space offers multiple focal points and keeps viewers’ eyes in constant motion. Amid the current sluggish social and economic environment, Tomo’s desaturated hues and unconventional composition reveal fear and confusion about the unknown, but also hope for the future.
Inspired by Hong Kong’s urban density, Marton created a new series of sculptural paintings that encompass layers upon layers of engineering precision. His works always inspire me, as they’re so innovative, with painstaking craftsmanship and the combination of five layers of steel, canvas and mirrored steel to add visual depth and create negative space, giving the viewer a sense of void and emptiness. Marton views Hong Kong and other metropolises in a similar way, as these cities are constantly growing but only in layers deeper in the ground and higher in the sky.
What were the challenges of opening and maintaining a gallery during the restrictions?
We’ve certainly encountered a lot of challenges, but because of the pandemic we’ve had more time for preparation. Other than that, due to Covid there’ve been a lot of delays for both our renovations and artwork shipping. Shipping prices have increased a lot in the past six months. Our first year’s exhibitions are fully planned and we’re busy preparing for the following year. In fact, we’ve already confirmed three exhibitions in 2024 because that’s the artists’ earliest availability.
Now we’re in the third year of the pandemic, do you think the way people consume art has changed?
We believe there’s a new generation of collectors and art lovers who want a better experience in collecting art. The art scene in Hong Kong has bloomed, especially during the past two years with the pandemic, and I believe it will continue even after the pandemic is over. It’s very exciting to be a part of this flourishing art scene, especially since I see more of my generation starting to appreciate and love art. It makes me happy to see so many new and exciting art spaces opening in Hong Kong. The most important one, of course, is part of M+, which is a milestone in Asian art history and something everyone in Hong Kong can be extremely proud of. M+ continues to play a major role in enhancing the public’s awareness and appreciation of contemporary art. Galleries play an essential role in the art scene, because they support and nurture artists’ careers.
Tell us more about your passion for Central and Eastern European art.
I only became passionate about collecting art after I travelled to Central & Eastern Europe on holiday, where I came across historically overlooked artists whose museum-quality work was still available at accessible prices. I immediately fell in love with the raw expression and powerful energy of the region’s artists. As I continued exploring the art scene there, I met some extraordinarily talented emerging artists, who were well known in their home countries but lacked the opportunity for exposure in Asia. Over the years, I’ve realised this issue exists in not only Central and Eastern Europe, but also around the world. That’s why the focus of Double Q Gallery is to identify today’s best new artists who lack Asian audiences, and we introduce them to the Hong Kong market.
Has the situation in Ukraine affected any artists you represent? Is Q Art Group doing anything to help or raise awareness?
One of our artists – Artem Volokitin – is from Ukraine. We were talking to him about consigning new artworks right before the war started. Fortunately, he and his family are all safe, though their lives have obviously been turned upside down. We’re excited to be showing his new body of work at our gallery in 2023.
Do you have a favourite artist – or artists – and why do you like their work?
I have many favourites, so it’s hard to only name one. What I’m looking at is a wide range of artists from different geographical areas and generations, such as a Hungarian artist named Ilona Keseru – I’ve loved her since the very first time I saw her – and a Czech artist named Klára Hosnedlova, from the younger generation. From the West, there’s Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon. I saw their works as a teenager, and they influenced my understanding of what contemporary art is.
Aside from Eastern European art, what other work do you collect?
I also love collecting emerging artists, and the idea of being a part of and supporting an artist’s career in the early stages and being a part of the same language of what’s happening today.
Find out more here