The Living Collection, installation view in William and Lavina Lim’s studio in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong, 2020.
Courtesy of M+ and William and Lavina Lim. Photo: Winnie Yeung @ VISUAL VOICES
M+, at the West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce a major donation from the Living Collection from William Lim, a renowned Hong Kong architect, collector, and artist, and his wife Lavina. The donation comprises ninety works by fifty-three artists from Hong Kong and beyond, as well as PAWN SHOP, a historic artistic project that involves work by forty-six international artists. The collection is widely regarded as one of the most significant private collections of emerging and established Hong Kong art practices since the 2000s.
William and Lavina Lim started to systematically collect artworks in the 2000s, and the collection documents a crucial period during which the art landscape in Hong Kong began to flourish, and artists from the city gained recognition on the international stage. The donation from the Living Collection—a name given by William and Lavina Lim—was installed and shown in their studio in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong. In the spirit of this unique mode of display, the donation will be placed on public view in the M+ building.
The donation includes artworks by twenty-six Hong Kong artists, over twenty of whom are now represented in the M+ Collections for the first time. Yeung Tong Lung (born 1956, Fujian) was an important figure in the avant-garde of 1990s Hong Kong. His diptych painting Wong Chuk Hang – Industrial Building and a Portrait (2015), commissioned by William Lim, depicts a canteen inside an industrial building, a lift lobby, and a corner of Lim’s studio in the artist’s signature surrealist style of composition. Au Hoi Lam (born 1978, Hong Kong) is known for her delicate use of materials drawn from her life and imbued with personal memories and a sense of melancholy. The installation Sixty Questions for My Father (or for Myself) (2012–2013) expresses the guilt, gratitude, and love the artist felt in relation to her late father. Lam Tung Pang (born 1978, Hong Kong) is known for allegorical landscapes that bridge distances of culture and time. The Huge Mountain (2011) is a large-scale painting of a mountainscape in which Lam adopted, rearranged, and transferred images from books of paintings from the Tang, Yuan, and Qing dynasties. Processes of observation are crucial to the work of Tang Kwok-hin (born 1983, Hong Kong) and this is apparent in The Lonely Island (2013), part of a larger project that began with markings written by a flight attendant on the artist’s airline ticket. Nicole Wong (born 1990, Hong Kong) investigates relationships between opposing elements, often interlacing them with wordplay and humour. In two early works from 2013, Acrylic on Canvas (Pink Checks) and Acrylic on Canvas (Yellow Checks), Wong challenges assumptions of the nature of the medium of painting. Morgan Wong (born 1984, Hong Kong) often reflects on time through durational performance. For I Got Time (2013), Wong held a plastic cup filled with concrete in his left hand for twenty-four hours over a period of twenty days. The resulting installation of twenty cups is a visualisation of banality and the passage of time. Works by the collector himself are also included in the donation. In his art as in his architectural practice, William Lim (born 1957, Hong Kong) is inspired by shifting urban environments and cultural landscapes between the East and the West. 54:10: Artist’s Table (2011), consisting of utensils and their painted counterparts left on a tabletop, examines the relationship between the three-dimensional and two-dimensional, as well as between objects and mediations.
The donation also includes artworks by important artists from elsewhere in Asia. Lee Bul (born 1964, South Korea) is widely considered to be one of the leading Asian artists of the last two decades. Untitled Sculpture W6-2 (2010) belongs to a group of sculptures she began in the 2010s, which grew out of her exploration of the legacy of utopian architecture and its inextricable relationship with human aspirations and political failures. Underwater Ventilation (2011) by Haegue Yang (born 1971, South Korea), who is one of the most celebrated contemporary artists working today, is a three-dimensional composition of incongruous items woven together with lightbulbs and electrical cables and presented on a display stand on casters. In Yang’s internationally acclaimed oeuvre, the investigation of narrative and abstraction and intellectual concerns including historical biographies, diaspora, and exile find constantly shifting, evolving, and recalibrating relationships.
William Lim, collector, discusses his donation: ‘I consider the donation a time capsule where artworks by Hong Kong artists can be preserved and assume an important role in the future history of the city. With the donation to M+ from the Living Collection, which has been installed in our studio in Wong Chuk Hang for years, more people will be able to discover the art created by some very exceptional artists, and learn more about Hong Kong contemporary art.’
Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, highlights William Lim’s significant contribution to Hong Kong’s art development: ‘The Living Collection reflects the collector’s resolve to record the unique evolutionary trajectory of Hong Kong art in the twenty-first century. As Hong Kong’s local art scene started to take shape in the 2000s, private collectors have been an important pillar in the local artist community, especially in a young and emerging scene with an unestablished structure. William Lim excelled in this role by expanding his commitment from pure collecting to being actively engaged with art institutions, as well as advocating for Hong Kong artists on the international stage.’
Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, underscores the importance of this donation to M+: ‘From the inception of M+’s collecting efforts, Hong Kong visual culture has been a core area of acquisition and currently constitutes an important part of the M+ Collections. The donation both deepens and broadens M+’s holdings in Hong Kong art, and as a result significantly bolsters the museum’s commitment to this area. The addition of these works supports M+’s ambition to enrich Hong Kong’s cultural landscape and reinforces M+’s position as the first global museum of contemporary visual culture in Asia. We express our deep gratitude to William and Lavina Lim.’
M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.
About the West Kowloon Cultural District
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.