Flown in from Italy some twenty years ago, Fabio Rossi is the owner of contemporary art gallery Rossi&Rossi located in Hong Kong’s art district of Wong Chuk Hang.
The large-scale gallery sits against a concrete jungle of industrial buildings with highland mountains in the background. The stop off is perfect respite from the summer’s heat. Here you can find an enclave of contemporary art and underground talent. Yet to be discovered.
But it wasn’t always about Moet at Basel and flying across Asia for a piece, before following in the footsteps of his mother to the fine-art world Fabio helmed grunge electronic club Tuxedo in Turino, Italy — a city once defined as a cultural hub for Europe’s experimental electronic scene in the 80s — now closed. Turino once created the best in underground Italian disco, with the likes of Fred Ventura, Chromagain, and Tommy De Chirico. A fact sometimes disputed.
It was with this passion for expression that he took to Hong Kong to discover new talent across fields, focusing on contemporary Asian art and bringing European artists to the region.
It was at one of their, famed, talked about and Instagrammed shared #SouthSideSaturday events where we met Fabio dancing to the beat of a specially curated local DJ set and live music performance by DJ ak_xy and Sonia Raphael.
The music duo — for that afternoon only — were live-streaming a set of melodic techno and Hindi-Tibetan inspired dance beats to the backdrop of the then exhibition ‘Spirits Empowered’ (Mar 6 - Apr 24, 2021). The show hosted fine works from vibrant, playful, and pop pieces by Tsherin Sherpa, with a few complimentary pieces by Gonkar Gyatso of Tibet Idols and, further North, Tsewang Tashi’s sullen portrait works. It set the scene for an immersive experience that intersected both Hong Kong’s underground music scene and the contemporary art world.
Read on for a quick conversation with Fabio Rossi on Hong Kong's place in the art world, its transformation from the 2000s to the intersections of club, culture, music, and, lastly, art.
Tsherin Sherpa, Tiger Milkweed (2019-20), Acrylic and ink on canvas, 183 x 122 cm (72 x 48 in), pictured left, Painted Lady (2019-2020), Acrylic and ink on canvas, 183 x 122 cm (72 x 48 in), pictured right.
How have you seen Asia's Art Market transform since you landed here in the early 2000s?
The transformation has been quite radical. There were probably five contemporary galleries at the time, there are now over fifty.
There are more public spaces where you can see art, such as Tai Kwun, and the HK Art Museum has gone through an extensive renovation. The much-anticipated opening of M+ this forthcoming November will be a changer for the city and for the region.
Hong Kong can now truly call itself one of the top three art centres of the world.
What was the European club culture like growing up?
It was very lively and diverse. There was great creativity both in terms of the music and the visuals.
Are there any intersectionalities between the music and art scene?
Music and art have been interconnected for a long time. You can go back, for example, to the futurist movement in Italy in the 20s or the 1950s New York Jazz scene and abstract expressionism, Pop Culture in the 1960s in USA and UK. More recently Britpop and YBA in the UK.
What do you hope arts impact on the world is?
Art is about opening people’s mind and facilitating dialogue.
What values as a collector and gallery owner do you hold?
Integrity is crucial. Respecting art and artists.
Gonkar Gyatso, Tibetan Idol No. 16 (2007), Stickers and pencil on treated paper, 100 x 66 cm (39 x 26 in)
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