Between a skyrocketing auction market and top art fairs, Asia’s art future has never looked brighter. With a new generation of artists that have been quietly mining the cultural currency throughout the region, Asia has become a true complement to the global art community. Contemporary Asian galleries range from globally renowned to lovely, small independent places. They are on the forefront of the latest art trends, showcasing a wide range of artists, both local and international. As complex histories and dynamic changes affect Asian political, social, cultural and economic landscapes, it is the artists who grapple with the past, present and future creating a backdrop for new ways of thinking. For this reason, the art scene in Asia is thriving. Hong Kong hosts a major annual art fair, Korea has one of the most developed and sophisticated art scenes on the continent, Indonesia has some of Asia’s top collectors, and Singapore seeks its place as a cross-cultural nexus.
For this reason, we have made a selection of some of the finest art spaces on the Asian continent. From major international players such as Gagosian, to more independent, small operations like Kult Gallery and Above Second, all spots featured on the following list are well worth poking your head into. They provide a great insight into the international, and more importantly vibrant local art scene and exhibit groundbreaking art, especially the smaller places that bravely challenge the status quo and where one can find the most challenging art around.
Featured images: Galeria Continua, conceptualfinearts.com; Shanghart Gallery and H-Space, via arthop.co; Gana Art Gallery, via ganaart.com; Contemporary By Angela Li, via onthegrid.city
Situated in Bangkok's Siam Square and established in 2006 by American architect David Mayer, owner of the renowned architecture and interior design company of the same name, and Thailand artist and curator Maitree Siriboon, Whitespace Gallery is one of best known independent art galleries from Thailand. Strongly focused on supporting emerging artists in finding non-commercial gallery space to display their artworks, Whitespace Gallery has been extremely successful in introducing and promoting extraordinary local talents during the last eight years. Curated by Maitree Siriboon and occasional guest curators, Whitespace Gallery organizes frequent and rather varied, mainly solo exhibitions of fresh Thai artists with more of an experimental, avant-garde leaning. The raw setting of Whitespace Gallery allows for few distractions from the art, with the only addition being fluorescent lights that beam down from the ceiling.
Founded in 200, Chambers Fine Art Beijing specializes in contemporary Chinese art. It serves as an authoritative source of information on the latest developments in the rapidly growing contemporary art world in China. Situated in a building designed by Ai Weiwei in Caichangdi, this village in the north east of Beijing has transformed into a major arts center as Ai Weiwei emerged as a distinctive force in contemporary architecture. With the incorporation of open space into the design of the building that permits an unusual degree of flexibility, it consist of a courtyard that features artworks by Qiu Zhijie, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, and Zheng Guogu, two large galleries to the east and west and a smaller gallery to the rear for video, installations etc.
Featured image: Chambers Fine Art Beijing, via mlutyens.com
Of all the major international venues that have been opening their branches in Hong Kong, the Gagosian caught on to city's cash-rich market potential in 2010, opening a luxurious and flexible gallery space filled with light, that occupies 480 square meters of the historic Pedder Building on Pedder Street in the heart of Hong Kong's Central shopping district. Originally opened in Los Angeles in 1979, Gagosian Gallery became to be one of the world's leading modern and contemporary art spots. With the addition of the Hong Kong gallery, there are now eleven galleries worldwide in cities like New York, London, Rome, Paris and Geneva. Since its opening the Gagosian Hong Kong gallery has been showcasing substantial solo exhibitions by some of the greatest names of the contemporary art scene including artists such as Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Roy Lichtenstein, Zheng Fanzhi, John Chamberlain and Cy Twombly, showing a growing confidence and sophistication.
Contemporary by Angela Li is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary and avant-garde artists from China, Hong Kong and worldwide. Since its establishment in 2008, the gallery has gained considerable attention and has become one of Hong Kong's top galleries for contemporary art. The gallery has held successful exhibitions for Chen Jiagang, Chen Wenling, Li Hongbo, Mo Yi, Tony Oursler, Georgia Russell, Shi Jindian, Peter Steinhauer, Martin Wehmer, Wong Hau Kwei, Nancy Chu Woo and Ye Funa, to name a few. In January 2013, the gallery moved to a bigger space at the trendiest part of Hollywood Road, with over 2,000 square feet of newly renovated exhibition space. The gallery's carefully curated exhibition programme consistently challenges and brings surprises to the local and international art scene.
Featured image: Contemporary By Angela Li, via onthegrid.city
SCAI The Bathhouse is a Tokyo based contemporary art gallery passionately dedicated to introduction of Japan's exceptional artists from the WWII up until the present day. Opened in 1993 under the direction of Masami Shiraishi and situated in a former bathhouse building located in a charming neighborhood of Ueno Park in Tokyo's Yanaka district, SCAI The Bathhouse gallery features simple white walls combined with excellent natural light which turn it into a bright and airy space. The fact that SCAI (Shiraishi Contemporary Art Inc.) gallery is situated in an antiquated high-ceilinged building, which is over two hundred years old, gives it a minimalist aspect that is both traditional and extremely fashionable at the same time. The gallery host exhibitions that last around two months with an interim installation period of several months, during which SCAI The Bathhouse travels around the world and shows artworks by Japanese artists at international art fairs.
Founded in 1990 by Mario Cristini, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo, the gallery was originally located in an old cinema in the historical town of San Gimignano in Italy. For this unusual location that fostered its quirky reputation, the gallery has earned international attention and acclaim. As one of the first Chinese initiatives by a Western Gallery, the art space in Beijing was launched in 2005. The inaugural show exhibited 16 artists from five continents. Merging Eastern and Western audiences, the gallery has a three-storey space exhibiting Italian and international contemporary art. Each of these exhibitions is uniquely devised and tailor-made for the space by the artist.
Featured images: Galeria Continua, via blog.gessato.com
Originally founded in Paris in 1991, Galerie Perrotin today holds several outposts around the world, with its Hong Kong branch opened in 2012. Gallery's famous owner Emmanuel Perrotin is one of the world's greatest art dealers, well regarded in the art world for being quick to identify emerging talents, as he hosted first solo shows and represented such great names as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Maurizio Cattelan, and more recently, JR and KAWS. Gallerie Perottin Hong Kong gallery space, located on the 17th floor at 50 Connaught Road Central was designed by an acclaimed architect Andre Fu. The gallery shares the same address with another newly opened gallery space (White Cube), and it features one main room, one salon and three private vieweing rooms.
Founded in 1992, Galerie Urs Meile Beijing promotes contemporary art, from painting and sculpture to photography, installation, and video. Located in the center of the art district Caochangdi in Beijing, it has established itself as an international meeting place for collectors, curators, artists and aficionados of the arts. Designed by Ai Weiwei, the complex reflects influences from traditional Chinese architecture. Consisted of five buildings, it has exhibition spaces and an artist-in-residence studio. Operated from Switzerland, Galerie Urs Meile was one of the first international galleries to focus on the Chinese art scene and has been working on an international level with Chinese artists since 1995.
Featured image: Gallery Urs Meile, via flashartonline.com
Housed in a refurbished two-storey wooden school and church building from the 19th century, located in Bangkok's Bang Rak District, long-running H Gallery is one of Thailand's leading private galleries and a jumping-off platform for Thai artists with international ambitions. Established in 1999 and curated by American art dealer H Earnest Lee, H Gallery offers an exciting and diverse range of contemporary art exhibitions covering the photography, painting and sculpture, with the main focus on cutting edge art coming from Asia. It regularly shows artworks by leading local and foreign artists including names of international renown such as Lolay, Michael Lee, Top Changtrakul, Olivier Pin-Fat, Jakkai Siributr and Pinaree Sanpitak. In 2011 Irish curator and art critic Brian Curtin inaugurated H Project Space on the second floor of the building as a venue for experimental projects including performance art.
Gallery Magda Danysz Shanghai is the second branch of the renowned French gallery, owned by art dealer Magda Danysz. The gallery is aimed at being an art space featuring fresh and amazing shows of young emerging as well as established local and international artists and making regular focus on new media or new art forms. As an active art place, Gallery Magda Danysz nurtures projects focusing on future talents making the gallery an efficient platform for exchanges within the vibrant Shanghai art scene. Highly respectable list of gallery's artists includes great urban and street art names such as Shepard Fairey, Futura, JR, JonOne, Vhils and Zhang Dali.
Founded in 1983, Gana Art has organized over 600 exhibitions of modern and contemporary art such as painting, sculpture, video art, installation, and contemporary photography. Its continuous participation in international art fairs and exhibitions has globalized the Korean art community with an advanced international status. As a multi-cultural institution which enhanced the artistic environment in Korea, it is also dedicated to expanding Korean art globally by presenting contemporary artists into the international art market. Since the late 1990s, the gallery has supported promising young artists by providing them work spaces and creative environments in various ateliers. The gallery is continuing its efforts for the development and internationalization of art and culture at home and abroad.
Featured image: Gana Art Gallery, via panoramio.com
Committed to exhibiting the best of international contemporary and modern art by both established and emerging artists, The Cat Street Gallery is one of Hong Kong’s most well-known galleries. Founded in 2006, the gallery was originally established to exhibit the talents of contemporary Australian art. Continuing to grow and evolve, the gallery now represents some of the most important and exciting emerging and established talents from all over the world. It has two exhibition spaces, its partner venue The Space and The Aberdeen Annex, a private viewing venue on the south side of Hong Kong Island.
Featured image: The Cat Street Gallery, via hk.asiatatler.com
Megumi Ogita Gallery is one of the leading contemporary and urban art venues in Japan. Originally opened in Tokyo's Ginza 5-Chome in 2007, gallery space which today operates as gallery's Showcase venue, Megumi Ogita Gallery relocated to their current premises in Ginza Chuo-ku in 2010, with gallery's spectacular main exhibition space located underground. In addition to representing a number of acclaimed Japanese artists, including Toshimasa Kikuchi, Karin Kamijo and Mitsuru Takeya, Megumi Ogita Gallery also seeks to actively promote various foreign artists, including Holly Farrell, Julie Heffernan and Frank Trankina. Megumi Ogita Gallery's Showcase venue in dedicated to showcasing artworks created by emerging local and international artists.
A contemporary art space in Beijing established by Meg Maggio in 2005, Pekin Fine Arts Beijing has over 600 square meters of exhibition space designed by Ai Weiwei. Striving to represent and promote the best and most innovative contemporary artists from Asia, the gallery focuses on individuals adept at working in a wide variety of mediums, with experience in both domestic and international exhibitions. Besides hosting a wide range of gallery exhibitions in Beijing, Pekin Fine Arts has a seminal role in promoting Asian artists internationally. Artists represented by the gallery has been exhibited in many important art institutions from all over the world.
Featured image: Pekin Fine Arts Beijing, via en.cafa.com.cn
One of the newest editions to the Singapore art scene and city's first street art gallery, Kult Gallery, established in 2009, is a lowbrow urban style gallery space of eponymous art magazine Kult Magazine, the free quarterly which is distributed across Asia and Australia. Kult Gallery is strongly dedicated to showcasing original artworks created by both local and international young street artists and illustrators that challenge conventional notions, and it is one of the coolest street art exhibition spaces in the world. Its constantly evolving space gives its visitors a fresh experience every time they visit, and offers original artworks, limited edition prints, and many other collectibles created by its artists on sale for quite reasonable prices that fit anyone's budget.
Founded in 1966, ShanghART Gallery is now one of China’s most influential art institutions and a vital resource to the development of contemporary art in China. With Main Space and H-Space in 50 Moganshan Road, a public warehouse space ShanghART Tapou in West of Shanghai, a gallery space in Beijing, and a new space in Singapore, the gallery now represents over 40 artists. It was one of the first galleries from China to participate in major international art fairs like Art Basel and FIAC in Paris and it has been selected as one of 75 most influential galleries by Thames & Hudson’s publication International Art Galleries: Post-war to Post-millennium.
Featured image: Shanghart Gallery and H-Space, via randian-online.com
Founded in 1982, Kukje Gallery has been committed to presenting the work of the most current and significant Korean and international contemporary artists. As a leading venue in the country, the gallery has presented pieces by major international artists such as Damien Hirst, Eva Hesse, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joan Mitchell, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Candida Hofer, Bill Viola, Anish Kapoor, etc. These exhibitions presented a unique opportunity for the Korean audience to encounter artworks of acclaimed contemporary artists from around the globe. Recognizing the importance of promoting Korean artists abroad, Kukje Gallery participates annually in major art fairs such as Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach and The Armory Show.
Featured image: Kukje Gallery, via e-architect.co.uk
Serindia Gallery is an art gallery located in Bangrak, one of Bangkok's oldest neighbourhoods, and one of Thailand's most established art spots. Founded in 2009 by Shane Suvikapakornkul as an extension of his eponymous Chicago based publishing company of the same name, Serindia Gallery is widely known for its exceptional, highest quality exhibitions and high caliber events organized with deep commitment. It features monthly rotations of both Thai and international cutting edge art, but as the name suggests, gallery's main focus is on artwork from the Himalayas, Tibet, and Southeast Asia. Situated in the Mandarin Oriental Garden Serindia Gallery occupies beautiful post-colonial style home, a rather cozy and welcoming space with charming teakwood floors and high-ceilinged white walls.
Above Second is an artist-run gallery and studio space, and one of the newest and hippest Hong Kong culture spots. Established in 2010 by Jasper and May Wong, Above Second quickly gained international attention for its strong support of the local urban and street artists. Located in Sai Ying Pun area, near the Hong Kong's Central district which houses numbers of renowned art spots, Above Second manages to stand out and be very different, as it is a combination of a gallery and art space. The gallery showcases wide array of exceptional urban artworks influenced by illustration, graphic design, graffiti, comic books, pop culture and street art. Most of the pieces are for sale at affordable prices and because of this Above Second gallery constantly attracts first time buyers.
A small, 300-square-meter photography gallery in Shanghai, M97 gallery is a leading exhibition space in the city’s booming contemporary art scene. Founded in 2006, the gallery was one of the first photography galleries in China. Today, M97 stands as one of the largest of its kind in the city of Shanghai. Focused on contemporary and fine art photography, M97 presents the work of both emerging and established Chinese-born photographers who have managed to depict visually stunning aspects of life in China. Intentionally designed in a minimalist way, visitors can completely focus on amazing pieces of art featured inside. Presenting artworks from over 30 different Chinese and international artists, it is the largest source for photography in the city.
Featured image: M97 Gallery, via vonaconsulting.com