This month, we spoke with co-founder of Seefood Room Gallery's Samson Ko about growing up between Hong Kong and Boston, what advice to give to someone looking to buy their first work, and their latest sale with AucArt, Latent Dreaming,
Where are you from originally, & where do you consider home?
I was born in Hong Kong, and studied and worked in Boston for around 14 years until I moved back to Hong Kong in 2011.
Something you cannot live without?
My daughter is a Bichon named Furby. I cannot live without my dog. I literally take her everywhere I go!
Most unexpected source of inspiration?
A lot of my inspiration came from attempting to build a career that allowed me to spend bring Furby to work as much as possible. I sacrificed a lot of career direction and opportunities in hopes to being the best father to my dog as possible. I don’t have kids so I take the father role quite seriously. As a gallerist today, I can proudly accompany Furby on our mission to propelling education and awareness in the art world!
Favourite place you’ve visited?
My favourite place might be Hawaii. It is a combination of a resort atmosphere with the luxuries of very current city-type businesses and outlets. Normally there is a trade-off between a resort island and a city but Hawaii really has the best of both worlds.
Highlight of your career so far?
I have been on television and newspapers before, but being able to speak about art and being heard would be the most important to me. To bring awareness to emerging and overseas artists to exhibit their talents in a more commercial area of Hong Kong was important to me.
Best and worst advice you’ve been given?
I was told before never to use phrases like “I don’t know” or “maybe”. This advice has really taught me to always have answers and no uncertainties. The worst piece of advice would be to give up just because it is difficult. It is not always bad advice but if it is pertaining to something you love, do not ever give in to emotion and do not give up!
Tell us one thing few people know about you?
Originally, I wanted to be an artist when I was young. My parents did not want me to pursue an art career because they said it was very difficult and it was hard to make money unless you passed away like Leonardo Davinci. Decades later I have immersed myself fully into art as a profession but not as an artist. I believe interest and hobbies are very possible careers and its amazing to see a continual growth in interest.
Do you have any superstitions?
I believe in Fung Shui and do favour collecting paintings with more grass and water elements. Each painting needs to be dedicated to certain areas of my home and also need to have very specific objects to surround each area. I personally try to stay away from morbid and grotesque imagery for artworks I hang at home.
What kind of artwork do you like to surround yourself with?
My taste in art is always growing so I tend to change my artworks from time to time. I never really cared for wall space before, but now trying to find a perfect place for each image collected is very addictive.
What advice would you give to someone looking to buy their first artwork?
Always identify your goal when you collect your first artwork. Are you collecting for display and/or investment, superstition, or art talking points, etc. Some collect for short term wall solutions while others may seek a different value. Collecting in any collectible, or investment requires patience and a lot of research as well. As art collecting can get very addictive, make sure you purchase responsibly.
What was the first piece of artwork you purchased, and how did you feel?
I believe my first art piece was a Takashi Murakami print. I was really excited at the time and the first print purchase evolved into an addiction. I first went into bigger and more mainstream names then began to research more into original paintings of younger and less known artists. As the collecting experience gets more serious, some collectors tend to do more research and put in a lot of time into understanding and the patience and dedication it requires to build a good collection. A lot of people tell me art is for rich people, which is why they do not get involved. I think this is entirely false as many great artworks are not always expensive. Big prices do not always define the development of an artist’s career, which his why building exposure for younger artists is important and is a great way to get involved in art collecting.
What are you looking for in a piece of art at the moment?
I have been looking to add larger oil paintings into my collection. In terms of imagery, I have been searching for a Dutch flower painting inspired work or artworks with unique composition of mixed mediums. A friend of mine introduced me to Kevin Beasley’s work and I fell in love with the blend of cotton shirts with polyurethane resin created into abstract masterpieces. I also have many artists I wish to collect one day such as Sara Anstis, Anastasia Bay, Alex Gardner, Cindy ji Hye Kim, etc. The list really goes on.
What is your relationship with social media?
Social media has contributed to the exponential growth in the art field as of late, but it is a lot of adjustment for more traditional galleries and businesses to adapt to. I feel social media has given a lot of artists a lot more methods and ways of exposure outside of gallery exhibitions. For collectors alike, information gathering and overseas gallery and artwork exposure are more accessible because of the social media era. As a gallerist, understanding social media is integral to understanding the art world today.
Can you tell us about your selection of artists and works featured in Latent Dreaming?
I previously came across AucArt years ago and really liked the approach to giving opportunity to emerging artists around the world. Our co-curated show features artists from London, United States, as well as Hong Kong artists. I hope to bring more attention to the artworks for younger talented artists in a more centralised business district in Central, Hong Kong. Most galleries and art programs in Central, Hong Kong focus on high end fine arts and very branded artists. For most young artists, being able to exhibit artworks in this area is difficult so we hope to bring more attention to promoting younger and emerging art talents worldwide. Our co-curated show with AucArt Latent Dreaming will bring together the artworks of 11 artists from Hong Kong, Japan, London, and the United States. We currently represent Jason Ho from Hong Kong and his development from an architectural background has been amazing. I think all the artists on this roster are great. Grace Bromley’s paints have been breath-taking. Artworks by Amber Larks and Dallas Lee have a serene and soft calmness to it. Mizuki Nishiyama’s work emits a lot of strong emotions. Corn Ho and Zena created strong figurative work while Harris and Kidd Murray have some fun and playful artworks. The ribbons of Alanna’s artwork on the wood panels also needs to be seen in person. Purple Liu’s Gala of the Dwellings creates a very comfortable and colourful composition. It’s a great collective of artists and needs to be seen if you’re around in Hong Kong this March. The show will be on display concurrently during Art Basel week and is on view till March 31st at Seefood Room, 9 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong.