Ora Ora is one of just two Hong Kong-based galleries in the new H Queen’s art tower, which is welcoming leading exhibitors from around the globe.
It’s obvious from the way Henrietta Tsui speaks that she entered the art world after over a decade climbing the corporate ladder. Forthright and pragmatic, the pioneering gallery owner has as much to say about the economics of Hong Kong’s burgeoning cultural sphere as she does about the skills, concepts and relevance of the artists she represents.
“I still love finance, and the stock market, and property,” she says. But her first love was always art, ever since she attended after-school drawing and painting classes as a child. She had actually dreamed of one day becoming an artist, but her father vetoed that plan owing to fears that it would not be a sustainable way of life. But since leaving the banking sector in her 30s to start her own gallery, life has gone full circle. “I really enjoy what I do, I was always really into art, and art making,” she says. Tsui speaks with a breathless enthusiasm that carries her through the interview on what is a rather nerve-wracking day. It’s the opening of her first show at the highly anticipated H Queen’s, the new art-centric Queen’s Road skyscraper by architect William Lim that has drawn some of the world’s top players in contemporary art.
Bright, hardworking, and ambitious, Tsui has run Galerie Ora-Ora since 2006, after she completed an MBA in entrepreneurship. Over the course of the space’s history, Tsui built up a brand for herself, bringing in popular international artists, which made the gallery stand out in a cultural landscape that was much less diverse than it is today. She also found a knack for picking up emerging local and mainland Chinese artists, who she says she is delighted to have grown up with as a gallery. Among them are mainland ink artists Peng Wei and Zhang Yanzi, who continue to feature in her roster of shows in Hong Kong and abroad. Some of the local artists she represents include Halley Cheng and Hung Keung.