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Interview with Director/Founder of The Art People Gallery (Hong Kong)

Joy Ee Lum Szwarcberg has passionately embraced the role of an art collector and ambassador for artists in Southeast Asia. Although born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, her journey took her to Singapore, Tokyo, and eventually settling in Hong Kong after gaining valuable corporate experiences in these locations. With a career spanning over 20 years in financial institutions and multinational companies, Joy Ee established a dedicated team in Hong Kong in 2018 to lead The Art People Gallery and expand its presence on a regional scale. This development aims to cater to international and regional collectors, while TAPG's origin dates back to its founding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2015.

1. How would you describe The Art People Gallery's (TAPG) approach when it comes to showcasing the work of artists?

Due to the pandemic, I've shifted to online engagement, utilizing platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and partnering with Affordable Art Fair, Kooness, and Artsy, breaking away from the traditional gallery model.

To further expand their reach, I've explored the potential of maximizing spaces in airport lounges and hotels to attract more visitors, rather than relying solely on the gallery settings. This approach allows them to enhance the clients' spaces and showcase the artwork in these locations.

Collaborating with interior designers and artists, TAPG actively sources artwork for them, always seeking opportunities to support artists and help them gain visibility. This is how TAPG works towards creating a platform for artists to shine and become more accessible to the public.

In Favour Of Excess By Lisa Wong Sook Kuan

2. Explain how you would go about researching and selecting pieces for an upcoming exhibition?

At The Art People Gallery (TAPG), having meticulous planning is essential, with programming and exhibition bookings made well in advance, spanning from six (6) months to a year. When partnering with corporate companies, we seek artwork that harmonizes with their mission and values. For airport lounges, such as Plaza Premium Lounge's Kuala Lumpur International Airport Lounge, they focus on showcasing the rich culture and heritage of their respective countries, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the essence of a place without physically leaving the lounge, TAPG collaborates closely to enhance the company's brand through the support of our talented artists. With a vast repertoire of artists, each with their unique style, we source and provide clients with precisely what they require. Additionally, we actively participate in art fairs across the region, including "Art Expo Malaysia," "Art Moments Jakarta," and the "Affordable Art Fair" in Hong Kong and Singapore, further amplifying the exposure of artists' work.

Exhibition at Four Points Sheraton by Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

3. What are your impressions or thoughts on the prevailing trends in the art world today?

Collectors are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their engagement with art, delving into backstories, concepts, and styles. Notably, the younger generation is emerging as a significant force, showing keen interest in artists' work for both collection and home beautification purposes. There is a growing trend of seeking artwork that complements interior spaces, both in homes and work environments. I recognize the significant emphasis on art acquisition, with younger collectors prioritizing artwork as a collector's item over luxury goods.

4. As we’re on the topic of “impressions”, what are your thoughts on Madame Fù? How would you describe your experience at our restaurant and the impact it has made on you?

I find great delight in dining at Madame Fù for various occasions, be it celebrating family birthdays or hosting out-of-town friends. The restaurant never fails to impress me and my friends with its vibrant interior colours, and delectable cuisine. Moreover, I love Madame Fù’s attention to design, evident in the strategic placement of fresh plants and beautiful art pieces, creating a memorable dining experience.

The lunch set menu offers everything I desire, particularly your irresistibly flavourful BBQ pork, which I’d order multiple plates of. On that note, I particularly enjoy your seats The Verandahs, where I can lounge, relax, and observe the visitors of Tai Kwun from an elevated perspective.


5. What are effective strategies for promoting exhibitions and enticing new visitors to attend?

We adopt an external focus approach to showcase artists' work by collaborating with institutions, corporate clients, interior designers, architects, and participating in art fairs. Additionally, we prioritize online engagement, keeping collectors updated on new artworks, artist series, and events taking place at TAPG.

6. What strategies do you use to stay informed about the latest developments in the art world?

I believe in the continuous pursuit of knowledge; I’d keep maintaining regular communication with the artists and stay updated on their latest endeavours. I actively attend gallery shows and art events to understand the preferences of art collectors and observe the evolving direction of the art market.  Moreover, I’d keep an eye on curatorial trends and visit properties with exceptional interior designs, observing how artwork enhances and complements the spaces.

Madame Fù Grand Café Chinois

3rd Floor, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, No. 10 Hollywood Road, Central, HK


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