M+, the new museum of visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, announces a donation of five artworks by South and Southeast Asian artists to the M+ collection from Hong Kong-based collector and patron Mr Hallam Chow. These additions will further diversify the already extensive holdings of visual art at the museum, scheduled to open in 2019. The artworks will also provide an important foundation for future growth of South and Southeast Asian art in the M+ collection.

The donation includes artworks by five renowned artists of South or Southeast Asian origin: Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (b.1968, Japan), L.N. Tallur (b.1971, India), Sopheap Pich (b.1971, Cambodia), Jompet Kuswidananto (b.1976, Indonesia) and Eko Nugroho (b.1977, Indonesia). Having grown up in different locales and witness to their home countries undergoing various stages of political and social transformation, these artists have forged artistic languages that speak singularly to the condition of being both local and global. Themes in their work emerge from ongoing confrontations with post-colonial histories, negotiations of new temporalities and continued explorations of the concept of ‘Asianness’. The artists’ shared experience of a colonial past and post-independence identity struggles parallels other Southeast Asian nations as well as Hong Kong, making the donation a fitting addition to the M+ Collection.

As grandson of a Chinese antique collector in post-war Hong Kong, the late Mr Edward T. Chow (1910-1980), Hallam Chow began collecting art from a young age. In the last ten years he has been actively focused on philanthropy in support of Asian art and education-based initiatives, museum exhibitions, and workshops that promote cultural exchange between Asia and other parts of the world. Over this same period Chow has built a sizeable contemporary art collection by Asian artists that spans China, Japan and Korea as well as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia in different media and materials including painting, sculpture, installation and video.

“My donation of the selected artworks aims to help M+ build a truly diversified collection,” said Mr Hallam Chow. “I hope to also inspire other local and regional collectors to share important works by regional artists with M+. The contribution of Asian regional artists to the overall development of contemporary art in Asia is important and cannot be overlooked.” Chow’s donation was also a gesture to honour the memory of his grandfather, who likewise gifted part of his esteemed collection to institutions in the region such as the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Shanghai Museum of Art.

“Contemporary Asian art already makes up a significant part of the M+ collection,” said Ms Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art at M+, “The selection of these artists was made carefully to represent wide range of artistic traditions in the region and to help bring more awareness for South and Southeast Asian art in Hong Kong and amongst neighboring public museums. It is a donation that will form a valuable foundation for the museum to build upon.”

Mr Doryun Chong, Acting Director of M+ said, “M+ aims to house one of the world’s most diversified collections with an emphasis on visual culture. It is a great honour for us to receive the generous contribution from Mr Hallam Chow, an informed and experienced collector who has been highly supportive of the arts.”

Remarks

About the donor

Hallam Chow, born in 1969 in Hong Kong, began his involvement with Chinese art at age ten under the influence of his grandfather, the late Edward T. Chow. A U.S. trained lawyer, Chow returned to Hong Kong in 2006 and began his support and collection of contemporary Asian art. His efforts have included the establishment of the Luo Zhongli Scholarship Award, a highly respected scholarship granted to young graduates of Chinese art academies and the Mr and Mrs Edward T. Chow Memorial Teaching Assistantship at Columbia University for architecture students from Asia. Chow has lent valuable support for museum exhibitions and seminars at Shanghai MOCA, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and Asia Society, Hong Kong. Chow serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Social Services at Columbia University and is an Adjunct Professor at Peking University Law School. Chow currently resides and works as Partner at White & Case LLP in Beijing.

About the artists

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (b.1968, Japan) is a visual artist whose work has consistently reflected his transcultural Vietnamese-Japanese heritage as well as an ongoing confrontation with post-colonial histories. His artistic practice encompasses video, film, installation and project-based actions and addresses global questions pertaining to individual and collective survival amidst rampant political and environmental change. His works frequently make reference to notions of locality and emerge in part from his own experience as bi-racial, multi-cultural, nomadic artist. Conceived and designed while he was in residence in Luang Prabang, Laos, his kinetic installation piece Circus (2007) reflects on relationships between Buddhism and contemporary society.

L.N. Tallur (b.1971, India) is a conceptual artist who produces sculptures, site-specific installations and interactive works that cleverly juxtapose symbols of traditional Indian culture with ideas and materials relevant to modernisation and contemporary society. Having grown up in a rural community in southern India, Tallur often incorporates found objects and handmade craftsmanship in his work and through these offers commentaries on labor, production and consumption. Sculpted by two craftspeople with different backgrounds, Colonial Sisters (2008) is a sculptural installation that highlights the constructed nature of tradition and emphasises different artistic methods existing within the presumed singular context of Indian tradition.

In his well-recognised signature style, Sopheap Pich (b.1971, Cambodia) works primarily with thin strips of rattan and bamboo as well as other locally sourced materials to create a variety of sculptural forms.  While Pich generally eschews autobiographical interpretation of his work, his work can be seen as a sustained engagement with the recent traumatic history as well as enduring culture of Cambodia. This modestly sized figurative work, Head in Arms (2010) is an emotional piece for Pich as it was made at a time his father was ill. The Buddhist theme suggests a realisation and acceptance of the suffering of life, while the hollow form rendered in rough unfinished and surfaces speaks to both resilience and fragility.

Originally a musician, Jompet Kuswidananto (b.1976, Indonesia) began his journey as visual artist while immersed in the creative community of Yogyakarta. The Third Realm series, a series of sculptural installations involving puppet-like figures and mechanised musical instruments with digital audio playback devices epitomize his layered practice which combines elements of theatre, music, installation and digital media. The Third Realm: Venice Series #3 (2011) features a wooden rafter structure resembling a roof from which two suits of military parade uniforms and marching drums are suspended in careful positioning to create the effect of a human figure. The composition offers a commentary on the ongoing and shifting notions of Indonesian identity.

Eko Nugroho (b.1977, Indonesia) matured as an artist during a period of great political turmoil in Indonesia. His work is highly influenced by social commentaries in the form of graffiti and comic books found in the streets of Yogyakarta. His drawings frequently embrace a confrontational yet humorous tone through their comic imageries, thick outlines and bold use of text. Specially commissioned for Hallam Chow’s home, Untitled (2010) depicts a scene of an alien world in six panels. The fantastical scene is skillfully rendered in heavy black lines, and volumes and shadows are masterfully rendered by using shading techniques borrowed from comic books and shadow puppet cut-outs. Patterns on the organic forms suggest influence from indigenous Indonesian Batik technique.

About West Kowloon Cultural District

Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performing spaces and the M+ museum, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including the Art Park and a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.

About M+

Hong Kong’s museum for visual culture – encompassing twentieth and twenty-first century art, design and architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia, and beyond – M+ will be one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world. Located adjacent to the park on the waterfront, the museum building is scheduled to open in 2019.