London·Mayfair| Elsa Wang FLOLodon Interview

In conversation with Elsa Wang

Elsa Wang

I believe art must return to its essence, to the emotional moment it has on people, that intangible spiritual value, which is the true meaning of art, without it art is nothing.”  - Elsa Wang

Bluerider ART, a progressive gallery at the intersection of art and technology, was founded in 2013 by Taipei-based IT entrepreneur Elsa Wang. Starting first in Taipei, then expanding to a second, additional space in the same city before branching out to Shanghai, it most recently put down roots in London, setting its sights on the vibrant art scene of Mayfair. The new space, located at 47 Albemarle Street, is positioned as a cultural hub that resonates with art enthusiasts, collectors, and international visitors. The expansion marks a significant milestone for Bluerider ART, known for its commitment to fostering artists' self-expression across various art forms, with a distinct focus on the convergence of technology and art.

Its impressive 2024 programme for its first European outpost has launched with MARCK’s Playground, a solo exhibition of work by multidisciplinary Swiss artist Marck. This will be the artist’s first solo show in the UK in over a decade. Elsa Wang’s approach to the gallery and its artists is unique – a combination of free thinking and a passion for art in all its forms, along with understanding of the dedication and hard work that goes into both creativity and business. Having sold her IT company over ten years ago, she threw herself into photography before finding herself more and more drawn to the work of other artists, eventually setting up the Bluerider ART. The London shows so far and those planned for 2024 are diverse, playful, and inviting. As the title of Marck’s show suggests, Elsa wants you to peer through the window…and come in and play.

How did you begin your journey into art? Did you grow up in a creative environment?

I grew up in a very traditional two-story Japanese restaurant, surrounded by the aroma of rice in the kitchen, the abacus on the counter, the interactions with customers, and the presentation of dishes... It was like a playground for me during my childhood. Also, I've always loved dancing since I was born. I think it's a combination of certain talents and a free-growing environment that nurtured my creativity.  

Was it natural for you to go first into the world of technology and entrepreneurship?

I enthusiastically joined a modern dance company but felt disappointed with the development of the art scene at the time. So, I shifted my passion to another entrepreneurial venture. At that time, the IT industry was booming, so I hopped on that trend.

Bluerider ART Gallery Mayfair

At what point did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in the art world and open the first Bluerider ART gallery?

felt drained inside in the IT field, so when I had the financial ability, I wanted to reclaim my dream as an artist. After receiving international professional photography training, I organised a solo exhibition, and published an photo essay book Dance, Formosa. It was a difficult environment, and I soon realised the incredible sacrifices female artists have to make, including family, reputation, and status, which I couldn't do. So, I decided to open an art gallery instead.

What draws you to the artists you work with at Bluerider ART?

Although I gave up being an artist myself, I admire the talent of artists and also their bravery in wanting to promote their work. I understand the immense talent, loneliness, and hardships involved in their efforts.

Why did you want to set up a gallery in London in addition to Taipei and Shanghai?

Over the past decade, Bluerider ART has represented over 50 artists, mostly European. But being based in Asia, it was essential for us to make sure of having deeper connections with our artists and having a hub a little closer. Therefore, London holds significance for us. London is a vital contemporary art hub for Europe.

MARCK’s Playground installation view. MARCK’s Playground is on show at Bluerider ART gallery in Mayfair until 26 May 2024.

Your London exhibitions so far are exciting and very different from what many galleries in Mayfair show. What do you hope to bring to the London audiences?

We've been exhibiting our represented artists for a long time, mainly because, as mentioned earlier, regardless of whatever unique style, I admire these incredible artists. With this admiration, our team pushes forward. I believe art must return to its essence, to the emotional moment it has on people, that intangible spiritual value, which is the true meaning of art, without it art is nothing. I hope people walking past the gallery in Mayfair will be stopped in their tracks by something new, and that they feel excited and welcome to come in.

Can you tell us a bit about the current show, MARCK’s Playground?

We've had a solid and trusting relationship with MARCK for many years. Initially, we introduced traditional works, but last year, we had the idea to invite MARCK for a residency program, moving his studio into the gallery in Taipei. Besides exhibiting his works, he also interacted with the audience and created art in the gallery. Audiences were able to get to know what kind of artist he is. During the three-month-long show in Taipei, we had an unbelievable 6,500 visitors to the gallery. So now, this project extends to London, where he worked in the exhibition space for a week. It's also his first exhibition in the UK in over a decade. Marck is renowned for his experimental works in video sculpture, which combine artistic innovation and sensory delight while presenting a variety of psychological scenarios. Many of the works are interactive, and many are amusing, hence why we called the exhibition MARCK’s Playground. We also installed a site-specific studio within the gallery space, so that audiences could see Marck at work during the first week, while he was in London. He drew inspiration from his observations of local life, and these new works are also exhibited in the gallery.

And a quick fire 5:

Any upcoming projects of note that you can discuss?

In June, we'll be launching a solo exhibition featuring a French artist, Pascal Dombis, exploring whether text is dead in the world of AI. In the second half of the year, we have a solo show for a senior Chinese artist, Cao Jigang, combining egg tempera techniques with Chinese Shan-Shui, through which he strives to express the unity of heaven and humanity, the philosophical "Daoism". We are very excited about both of these upcoming shows.

What have been the most rewarding moments of your career thus far?

I don't have any in particular. If I had to say, it would be every time I stand at this point, looking back at the ups and downs of my journey, feeling accomplished to have made it to today.

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Trust your instincts.

Who are you outside of the ‘office’?

I'm still a naughty little girl at heart—curious, smiling, imaginative, and humorous, always looking around.

What do you love about London?

The acceptance and inclusivity of different cultures.

MARCK’s Playground is on show at Bluerider ART gallery in Mayfair until 26 May 2024.

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