The openings are a sign that the famous gallery district remains at the heart of London’s art world nearly two years since the pandemic began.
London-based Indian and south-east Asian art gallerist Joost van den Bergh has moved from Georgian House in Bury Street to larger premises just off Duke Street where he will operate by appointment. His new space will be used to view stock all year round and host exhibitions.
“Lots of my friends said come to Kensington or Portobello Road but I was very keen to stay in the same area. For me St James’s is still the heart of the art trade”, he tells ATG.
Sharing the new space with him is antique Asian arms and armour specialist Runjeet Singh, who will also continue to work from his home studio and gallery in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, and Asian jewellery specialist Sue Ollemans.
Another addition to St James’s is newcomer Dr Shanshan Wang. With a PhD in chemistry, Beijing-born Wang worked in France, Germany and the UK and until two years ago was an industrial chemist in the oil and gas industry.
But as she points out, her background is not so unusual in the trade: “I am not the only scientist in the Asian art world – Giuseppe Eskenazi studied chemistry and Daniel Eskenzai studied computer science.”
Wang’s new gallery, W Shanshan Asian Pottery & Sculpture, is situated in a basement space at 3 Duke of York Street. Her inaugural show, Tastes of the Ancient Eras, features a selection of early Chinese pottery and Tang dynasty sculpture and runs until November 15.
For Wang, who is still establishing herself in the Asian art market, a physical gallery is vital. “I need to be able to show to the market my taste, the quality of my items and for people to be able to visit and handle items. Buyers like to visualise the size and shape of the object in their home”, she says.
Wang is also keen to mix disciplines to attract new and younger buyers and includes some of her own paintings in her stock. She has also launched a series of online conversations with specialists in areas from Contemporary art to European decorative arts and other events planned include a handling session with the pottery in the exhibition scheduled for October 28.
For the longer term, she plans to hold two exhibitions a year including a crosscategory exhibition in the spring.