Sandra Walters, an art dealer and consultant who helped spur on artistic growth in Hong Kong, has died at 76. ArtAsiaPacific reported that she died in Paris following complications resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage.
In 1973, Walters founded the Arts Promotion gallery, which, during the ’80s, became one of the first galleries to set up shop in Hong Kong’s Central district. Today, that neighborhood is now dense with art galleries, including Edouard Malingue, Perrotin, and the Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art.
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Walters, who arrived in Hong Kong in 1969 with her husband Richard, focused on selling lithographs by American and European artists, periodically curating works into thematic group shows. “We did not necessarily sell a lot of the work, but they were very well received,” Walters told the Asian Art Archive in 2013 oral history.
Later on, with dealer and curator Alice King, Walters opened the gallery Alisan Fine Arts in the Central district in 1984. That gallery, which is still in operation, has been credited with bringing work by under-recognized Chinese artists to Hong Kong and thus to wider attention outside the country. In 1987, the gallery organized what has been considered the first major work of art by mainland Chinese artists in Hong Kong, with works by Han Tianheng, Hong Jijie, and Li Hou represented.
Walters departed Alisan Fine Arts in 1990. After that, she worked at Mandarin Oriental Fine Arts and then became a consultant for Hongkong Land. In 2015, she relocated to Paris, with which she had long held an affinity. France awarded her the status of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1989 and that of Chevalier de l’Order National du Merite in 2016.