It has been Edith Ho’s dream to open her very own art gallery for a long time. It started 20 years ago, she says – but it seems that it can be traced even further back, deep into the world of art as seen through the eyes of a child.
Ho was raised in Cannes, France, and as a kid, she would tag along whenever her mother visited her friend in Denmark.
“Hanne, my mum’s best friend, lived in the middle of nowhere, in a village so tiny that I could not even count four houses. Yet, she runs one of the most successful art galleries in northern Europe,” she recalls of those colourful summers, where collectors from near and far would call on this little place tucked away in the Danish countryside.
“I was fascinated by the paintings hanging from trees, the paintings stashed under the sofas and beds … there were just so many paintings everywhere! These collectors would sit in her garden, sipping coffee and admiring the artworks – and I thought, what a life! This is what I want one day!” she says.
Ho has been living in Asia for the last 25 years, and is currently based in Malaysia. She is married to Edwin Ho, nephew of Macau casino magnate, Stanley Ho, and is of Danish and Brazilian heritage. The newly-launched Gallery des Artistes in Tropicana Golf and Country Resort in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, is her dream materialised.
“Having put my dream on the backburner because of other professional commitments and family life, I finally decided to take the plunge when my daughter left KL to study in Europe. As I also have a nine-year-old, I wanted to stay put in KL and rethink my priorities,” says the mother of three.
Although Gallery des Artistes is halfway across the world from the country she grew up in, Ho insists on injecting the French art de vivre into this project that is very much a labour of love. In fact, Gallery des Artistes is all French – at least, at the moment.
Its inaugural exhibition, France Is Now, features some 95 works from 10 French artists, including pop sculptors HeRsk and Thierry Trives, painter Laeti de Flo and Jeremi Ca, and contemporary artist David Ferreira. The others are Isa K, Stephan Venekas, Nicolas Desmon, Cecil, Kikayou and Sophie Ferraud.
Clearly, this is a contemporary gallery with a focus on Pop and Street art.
“In the last two years or so, I took many trips to France and other parts of Europe to study and understand the market and its trends. I visited many contemporary art fairs all over France, it was quite a marathon! What I am showing in France Is Now is precisely what is being sold now; there is a demand for Pop and Street art, and France is at the centre of this creative trend.”
France Is Now offers paintings and sculptures of all kinds. The curatorial focus, says Ho, who is also the director of Gallery des Artistes, is to showcase the latest trends in contemporary art in cross-disciplinary mediums.
“I want to demonstrate that France has been since forever at the forefront of cutting-edge practices in art and that this is still true today, hence the ‘now’ in France Is Now. I feel very fortunate that this group of artists – some of the best of their generation – have agreed to work with Gallery des Artistes in Asia.”
Ho believes that the art and space go hand in hand, and her choice of the gallery located in a contemporary villa nestled in the lush greenery of Tropicana Golf and Country Resort is hardly a coincidence.
“The viewer interacts with both art and space, and I hope the mood is uplifting and exciting. Sotheby’s position on the white cube traditional gallery model is that it is dying and that people now want to see art in different environments. I believe that too,” she says.
She highlights Paris as an example, where increasingly more art shows are being held in private homes with dinner parties and drinks.
“It is moving away from the traditional gallery setting where people feel a certain pressure to buy or even to ask about prices. Art is the ultimate lifestyle, so it should be viewed and enjoyed in a unique setting.”
France Is Now runs till Sept 30 at Gallery des Artistes, Tropicana Golf & Country Resort, Jalan TR 3/1, Villa Shalimar, Petaling Jaya. Viewing by appointment. Email: email@example.com to make an appointment or visit gallerydesartistes.com for more information.