From figurative paintings to conceptually driven video art, the tastes of Hong Kong’s top art collectors know no bounds. We bring you up to speed to the city’s most passionate – and powerful – collectors.
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Combining a nose for cultural trends, penchant for cross-pollination and an indefatigable spirit, the entrepreneur and business innovator has for years been a powerful figure in the art world. In 2009, he launched K11 in Hong Kong, the world’s first museum-retail concept that combines art and commerce, followed by a Shanghai outpost in 2013 and Wuhan in 2017. Under the same brand, he has also set up the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) in 2010, the first private non-profit in China that nurtures local artists and curators. KAF has since held scores of cross-cultural exhibitions and talks, artist residency programmes, and forged international collaborations with the likes of Paris’ Centre Pompidou and Palais de Tokyo, New York’s New Museum and MoMA PS1. It was with MoMA PS1 that Cheng’s KAF co-presented the highly popular .com/.cn last year, an exhibition that showcased the way artists are responding to the ‘digital eco-system’. Sitting on various boards, including the West Kowloon Cultural District, New York’s Public Art Fund and Tate’s Asia-Pacific acquisitions committee, Cheng is a key figure in bridging the Eastern and Western art, design and fashion scenes. To top it off, and in recognition of his contribution to the global art and cultural scene, he was bestowed the prestigious Officier de l’Order des Arts et des Lettres last December by the French Ministry of Culture.
While contemporary art and haute cuisine seems like a match made in heaven, it hasn’t always been this way – at least not in Hong Kong. Alan Lo, the art collector and restauranteur who is synonymous with all things hip and cool, was one of the first to do fuse the two. Lo’s vast portfolio includes The Pawn, which boasts a permanent Hong Kong art exhibition curated by anothermontainman, Potato Head, a restaurant-bar that features a rainforest-like interior designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, and Duddell’s, whose enviable collection of modern ink on the 3rd floor is matched by the rich programme of contemporary art exhibitions and panels on the 4th floor. Lo also chairs Design Trust, a non profit organisation that doles out grants and fellowships to design talents and sits on the boards of Para Site and Art Basel’s Global Patrons Council. With Duddell’s opening its London outpost late last year, art buffs from both sides of the ocean can expect plenty of cross-pollination.
Few is as permanent a fixture at local art openings as William Lim. The architect-artist-collector is well known as a supporter of Hong Kong art. Names amongst his vast collection include Lam Tung Pang, Tozer Pak, Tsang kin-wah, Lee Kit and Kacey Wong. In 2014, he published The No Colours: Living Collection in Hong Kong, a tome that documents his collection of works by more than 50 contemporary Hong Kong artists. Two years later, he partnered with Sotheby’s Hong Kong for a solo exhibition. 2018 looks to be one of Lim’s busiest yet – aside from the long-awaited HQueen’s, a project that combines his passions into one, he is also going back to his roots, with the William Lim: The Architect and His Collection exhibition at his alma mater, Cornell University. Lim sits on the board of Para Site, Asia Art Archive and Tate’s Asia-Pacific acquisitions committee.
Hong Kong-born Alan Lau is a passionate collector as well as keen instigator. Aside from art that have a strong underlying concept, his main interest include works that lie at the intersection of art and technology. Having started off his acquisition with Tsang ‘King of Graffiti’ Tsou Chou many years ago, his collection includes Kwan Sheung Chi, Wong Wai Yin, Tozer Pak, Firenze Lai. He has worked with Cao Fei for the RMB City exhibition, and helped bring Xu Bing’s Forest Project to Hong Kong. As well as being one of the first collectors to donate to M+ Museum, he sits on the board of M+, chairs Para Site, and co-chairs Tate’s Asia-Pacific acquisitions committee.
Hong Kong-based lawyer comes from a long line of collectors – he is the grandson of the late Edward T. Chow, a prominent Chinese antiques collector who has donated to the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Shanghai Museum of Art. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Chow, who started collecting since 2006, donated five works to M+, including Japanese artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Indian artist L.N. Tallur, Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich, and Indonesian artists Jompet Kuswidananto and Eko Nugroho. A major collector of Southeast Asian Art, Chow supports various art initiatives, including the Luo Zhongli Scholarship Award.
Lawrence Chu is a huge supporter of Asian art; among his vast collection include Lui Shou Kwan, Firenze Lai, Richard Lin and Danh Vo. The managing partner of BlackPine Zheng He Capital is also a patron of the Ullens Center for Chinese Art in Beijing.
As managing partner at MCL Financial Group, Evan Chow is well-regarded as a financier, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an artsy side. His weekend home in Sai Kung is chock full of art by the likes of Chris Huen, Cui Jie, Jin Meyerson, Alicja Kwade and Tianzhuo Chen. Poised to make his mark on the international scene, he was recently appointed to the International Council of the New Museum and the Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon 2018 committee.
Monique and Max Burger
The Burgers started collecting in the 1990s, and have since amassed more than 1000 works of contemporary art by 120 artists. Based in Hong Kong since 2005 – Max is CEO of Hong Kong-based investment company Golien – the Burgers are huge supporters of various institutions including Para Site, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Asia Art Archive and Asia Society. Spanning three continents and a variety of mediums, the Burger collection has been shown at Cattle Depot in 2013. The famously private couple also funds various projects, including Nadia Kaabi-Linke’s solo exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary in Texas, and Nalini Malani’s In Search of Vanished Blood during Documenta (13).
Businessman and art collector Patrick Sun is the founder of Sunpride Foundation, which promotes the creative history of LGBTQ communities through art. In 2017, the foundation hosted Spectrosynthesis – Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Taipei – a few months after Taiwan’s top court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. Featuring artists from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Taiwan, United States and Canada, highlights from the show include Jimmy Ong’s Heart Sons and Heart Daughters, Samson Young’s Muted Situation, Hou Chun-ming’s Man Hole and an array of paintings by Martin Wong.
Amna and Ali Naqvi
You might not be familiar with the name, but you would have likely visited one of the many exhibitions that Amna and Ali Naqvi supported. It might have been Pakistani artist Shahzia Sikander’s Authority as Approximation at Para Site, or Acconci Studio + Ai Wei Wei’s A Collaborative Project at the same space in 2010. In 2012, it was Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi at the Asia Society Museum in New York. A year later, the couple played an instrumental role in bringing Song Dong’s 36 Calendars to Asia Art Archive. As collectors, the Naqvis started on humble grounds – with one single painting – 17 years ago but has since amassed over 800 works spanning the entire Asian continent, from India to China and Japan. Pakistan contemporary art remains close to the couple’s heart, with acquisitions from the likes of Rashid Rana, Imran Qureshi, Khadim Ali and Aisha Khalid. To further their support of Asian art, the AAN Foundation was set up to support, exhibit and disseminate information about art from the region.