Nick Buck­ley Wood

Gal­lerist and Asia di­rec­tor of Ga­lerie Thad­daeus Ropac

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

Last year china be­came the sec­ond big­gest art mar­ket in the world, ac­cord­ing to Art Basel/ubs re­port The Art Mar­ket. Of the three most ex­pen­sive paint­ings sold in 2017, two were sold and bought in Asia: Qi Baishi’s Twelve Land­scape Screens (1925), which fetched US$141 mil­lion at Poly Bei­jing, and Jean-michel Basquiat’s Un­ti­tled (1982), which went to a Ja­panese col­lec­tor for US$110 mil­lion.

Acutely aware of these fig­ures is our fi­nal en­try in this cu­rated list of young achiev­ers, Nick Buck­ley Wood, Asia di­rec­tor for Ga­lerie Thad­daeus Ropac. It’s all hap­pen­ing in the East — and Wood has just re­turned from a hec­tic so­journ in Shang­hai where he ex­hib­ited at not one, but two art fairs: Art021 and West Bund. Be­ing in the thick of Shang­hai’s Art Week, his busiest time, the con­ver­sa­tions are done over phone calls in taxis to and from the air­port. With Western so­cial media blocked in China, it’s been an ex­er­cise in pa­tience try­ing to get this 1.98-me­tre-tall gi­ant of the art world on record.

“We show­cased sev­eral pieces at both fairs and over­all it was a good show,” he says, eas­ing into the back of his car af­ter our photo shoot. “We also had sev­eral meet­ings as there are other projects in the works. The gallery is plan­ning to ex­pand a lot within Asia, and that means rep­re­sent­ing more artists, open­ing more gal­leries, look­ing at spa­ces, meet­ing po­ten­tial buy­ers — ex­pand­ing in ev­ery sense.”

While oth­ers bemoan the state of the econ­omy and look at sales fig­ures with wor­ried frowns, Buck­ley Wood says his trip went well, and not only for him. The Asian art mar­ket over­all is in good form, he says, mir­ror­ing the re­port by Art Basel/ubs. “It’s pretty strong at the mo­ment. The fi­nan­cial mar­ket may be shaky glob­ally but China’s putting on a good show. Just across from us, there was the China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo; Xi Jin­ping’s plan to an­nounce that China was open for busi­ness was well re­ceived. The art busi­ness — and there were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the world over — is go­ing very strong, driven by the strength of Asian col­lec­tors and the qual­ity of mu­se­ums. The new ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces in China are in­cred­i­ble.”

For young mil­len­ni­als as­pir­ing to be col­lec­tors, Buck­ley Wood has some sage ad­vice. “Go and look at as much art as you pos­si­bly can — in mu­se­ums, in auc­tions — and ed­u­cate your­self. And buy what you love. Ei­ther go for young artists on the rise or the blue-chip ones for brag­ging rights — and don’t be afraid of mak­ing mis­takes,” he says. “I mean, they can be ex­pen­sive mis­takes, so have a strat­egy in mind be­fore go­ing gung-ho in the art world.”

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