There are only a handful of galleries in Macao. Founded in 2012, IaoHin Gallery is one of the few commercial galleries in the city. Florence Lam, director of IaoHin Gallery discusses how she finds a new way for the Macao arts.
S: Managing Editor of C² Magazine, Flora Shaw
L: Director of IaoHin Gallery, Florence Lam
S: Macao is a city with people from the East and the West. Have you noticed any different views on arts between the Chinese and the foreigners?
L: Of course they look at arts differently, so as their views on cultures, food and consumer products. For foreigners, like reading, arts satisfy their spiritual needs. They tend to dine at a nice, quiet restaurant; on the other hand, Chinese people pay more attention to food quality and presentation. It also explains why the Chinese collectors are more conscious about the future value of the art pieces.
S: Who are the art collectors in Macao?
L: Mostly foreigners with aesthetic connotation. One of the reasons I founded this gallery is hoping to break down stereotypes and use the most direct way to involve more people in art appreciation.
S: Do you mainly organise exhibitions for local or foreign artists?
L: We exhibited foreign artists’ works at first as Macao people are curious about art from other countries and consider them with higher market value. Through these exhibitions, we hope to raise local consumers’ interests in arts and gradually local arts can also get their recognition.
S: Have you worked with any local artists?
L: Yes. Jacques Le Nantec, the bronze sculptor is the first local artist we worked with. We cooperated with him in 2013. He is a highly accomplished artist, who has based in Macao for over ten years but kept a low profile. The exhibition received very good reviews and gave us huge encouragement. The second artist we worked with is Yuen Wai Ip Leo, an interior designer with unique style. Yuen has great interest in paintings since he was a boy and mainly uses Macao as his theme. His paintings are also metaphoric, reflecting his sentiments regarding things happen around him.
S: Is it difficult to run a gallery in Macao?
L: We are under huge pressure. Many people are under the perception that art galleries are only profit makers but we hope to show people that we are passionate about arts by maintaining good relationships with artists, our working partners and media.
S: What is the greatest challenge?
L: Our aspirations will be to inject a new driving force into the existing model and to be able to provide more choices for art lovers. One of the challenges would be to “overturn” the existing system in Macao’s art scene, that is primarily made up of non-profit organisations. They are well-funded and always have plans for their next shows, while we are having an entirely different operation. Balancing artistic value and market demand is important for art curation. For example, an artist with high artistic reputation might not be a good choice for a commercial gallery because the style is too much for the viewers. Strategic planning are made for every exhibition, regarding themes, presentation of the artwork, corporate collaborations, whether all of the above factors can bring novelty, and of course, cost control.
S: IaoHin Gallery was just granted over a million dollars of subsidy from the Cultural Industries Fund. How do you plan to use the subsidy?
L: Part of the subsidy will be spent on improving the exhibition space. We hope to fix the structural problems of the old building. With the new resources, we can also improve the visual presentation and functionality of the exhibition room and the entrance of the gallery by installing movable walls, in order to create a moving “route” for the viewers. The new improvements will help the gallery become a better platform in promoting and selling Macao artwork.