Heroines Behind Galleries (VIII): Shasha Tittmann, Director of Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong

Shasha Tittmann at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong (Photo by Fizen Yuen)
Shasha Tittmann with artist Zhao Zhao in Beijing. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin & Shasha Tittmann.
Shasha Tittmann with collector and museum founder Haryanto Adikoesoemo at Museum MACAN. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin & Shasha Tittmann.
Teresita Fernández on Twitter: “Rise and Fall opens Thurs 6-8 @LehmannMaupin Hong Kong
ALEX PRAGER, Hawkins Street, 2017. Archival pigment print. 12.97 x 24 inches, 32.9 x 61 cm.
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KUKJE GALLERY | ART BASEL HONG KONG 2019

A new lady has come to the helm of Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong, Shasha Tittmann, joining Li Yan to form a duo of female directors. Compared to Li, Shasha seems a bit more reserved. Shasha, who always dresses in black, laughs, “I always wear black when I’m in a good mood. If I’m not wearing black, there’s something wrong with me that day.” This is a habit she formed in childhood, because her mother loved black as well, and became something of a role model for her. The more important influence was that “Mother had a bit of an artistic side. When I was little, she would find art students to teach me ceramics and Chinese painting.” As her interest grew, “By the time I was 18, I was already thinking about working in galleries.”

TEXT: TL Ling
IMAGES: Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin & Shasha Tittmann
Translation: Jeff Crosby

Shasha Tittmann at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong (Photo by Fizen Yuen)

 

Working from the Bottom Up

Shasha, who was born in Taipei, loved drawing as a child. “My parents knew the importance of fostering my creativity, and would sign me up for art classes.” Because of her father’s job, they ended up moving around a lot, which itself became a form of childhood training. “We moved a lot when I was a child. We lived in Shanghai for a while in the 90s. I was fortunate that I could go to a number of international schools, and I was always the new girl.” Wasn’t it tough to keep changing schools as a child? “It was, but I am very thankful, because I became highly adaptable. It was very character-building.” Always the art lover, Shasha thought she would grow up to be an artist. “I had a lot of ideas. I thought I would be a doctor too. Ha-ha!” Then, when she studied art history at university in Canada, she learned how the great artists were molded: “I realized I shouldn’t be an artist as a career, but I could work with artists. My time interning in galleries and non-profits in Los Angeles and Hong Kong allowed me to have real contact with galleries and the business side of art. At the time, the school had no classes on the business of art, so I took a marketing minor.”

Now fully equipped, was she sure she wanted to work in a gallery? “I had no idea. I was just trying out a few internships. I was very shy at the time, so I was challenging myself. This was a crucial period for me, but I also loved doing the work. I like project management, putting exhibitions together, seeing everything behind the scenes that goes into the production. It’s always so rewarding to meet the artist, to be so close to the artwork, and to be able to share that with the public.” This was the work she enjoyed at the time, which, to summarize, amounted to a lot of experience. Before joining Lehmann Maupin, she worked at other galleries in Beijing and Hong Kong, holding various positions. “I worked from the bottom up. I’m always interested in working in small teams, because you have to do most of the work yourself. It means learning everything from logistics to sales to PR and marketing… really learning how to work with people, so you become good at problem solving.”

 

Shasha Tittmann with artist Zhao Zhao in Beijing. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin & Shasha Tittmann.

 

Crisis Management

Working in galleries, sometimes crises come in adrenalin-inducing numbers. Shasha recalls, “We’ve had late shipments before, due to unforeseen circumstances, and then, the works arrive three hours before the opening. We had a Plan B the night before, but once we knew the works were coming, we had all hands on deck and pulled together just in time.” Technical problems can be difficult, and communication between people is another challenge. That’s especially the case with artists. They’re all perfectionists, aren’t they? “Exactly. I think artworks are very delicate things. You have to respect the artist in curating, and know how they planned initially; it’s never fixed. Oftentimes, you have to be on site and change everything in the gallery in person, to see it physically.

Shasha joined Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong as director this September, only a few months ago. She laughs, “I joined the gallery in the busy season. We’ve already held two exhibitions.” This includes Floating in the Air in the Vicinity of a Convenience Store by Japanese artist Mr., and the Teresita Fernández solo show Rise and Fall, which is currently on view. Shasha speaks in a measured tone, and when answering a question, just needs to stop and think for a moment. It seems she’s never in a rush. Is she able to remain this calm when the pressure is on? “I usually step back, and go for a walk or coffee, just for a second. I’m very good at that. My past work experience has taught me that there’s always crisis management to be done, and I believe most things can be fixed.” Is it stressful working in the gallery field, especially now as a gallery director? Of course. I would not say running a gallery is easy, but there’s a reason we all do it—we love the art.” Shasha says she’s really looking forward to working with Alex Prager, the artist in their next exhibition. “She’s one of my favorite photographers. She plays director, choreographer, and has these really grand visions, so surreal, dramatic and raw, but everything is staged. I’d love to step in her shoes and see how she works, and be part of these enormous productions she puts on.”

 

Shasha Tittmann with collector and museum founder Haryanto Adikoesoemo at Museum MACAN. Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin & Shasha Tittmann.

 

Teresita Fernández on Twitter: "Rise and Fall opens Thurs 6-8 @LehmannMaupin Hong Kong
Teresita Fernández on Twitter: “Rise and Fall opens Thurs 6-8 @LehmannMaupin Hong Kong

Teresita Fernández, Rise and Fall
On view until December 30

 

ALEX PRAGER, Hawkins Street, 2017. Archival pigment print. 12.97 x 24 inches, 32.9 x 61 cm.

Alex Prager
January 18–March 17, 2018

 

Lehmann Maupin
407 Peddar Building, 12 Peddar Street, Hong Kong Central

 

 


凌梓鎏,香港傳媒人,前《號外》雜誌執行編輯。在報章雜誌寫字逾十年,包括人物訪問、文化及設計等題目,著有《帽子‧作家 Get a Hat Life》一書。

lingtzelau@gmail.com

 

 

 
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