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Debut of first-ever series of publications and films on premier art patrons of Asia
Uli Sigg (left), collector of contemporary Chinese art pictured with author and filmmaker, Patricia Chen.
SINGAPORE.- Uli Sigg : In Conversation with Patricia Chen, the first in a series of publications, Leading Patrons of Asian Art In Conversation will have its debut at the Hong Kong Art Centre on Friday, May 16, 2014 at 3pm ; a screening of a short film, excerpted from a long-form documentary under pre-production and funding stages, will also be shown. The excerpted short film will then premiere in parts of Europe and Asia, including Singapore, for the rest of 2014.

Leading Patrons of Asian Art In Conversation brings together Asia’s very own Guggenheims and Rockefellers to access art patrons’ perspectives on art collecting and collective readings on the worlds of art. The publications cover pertinent topics that relate to specific ways of seeing, reading and thinking about Asian art in all its different contexts, revealing personal processes, constraints, challenges and solutions in the collecting of modern and contemporary art today - one patron, one publication, one film at a time. Through these journeys in art, it is hoped that the bigger developmental narratives and dynamics of the respective art scenes would also surface.

In this first instalment, Uli Sigg is the protagonist. In it, “there are assertions, claims, appraisals, perspectives that are pertinent to Uli Sigg as a person and collector, to art works as colectables and collections, and to proposing perspectives on the contemporary in the worlds of art – worlds that are unevenly weighted, are unevenly informed and enlightened, and are deeply prejudiced. These are said with quiet conviction in this conversation. They may not be absolutely new. This is not the point. The point is that not enough is said about these matters. So every representation on the position/non-position of the Asian contemporary in world art is useful and should be heard; and if such representations are listened to attentively and critically, then “the discourse and development of Asian art” (which is an aim in putting this project together) is appreciably advanced,“ says T K Sabapathy, a leading art historian & scholar of Southeast Asian art.

“The fact that these collectors started out in about the same time period, had similar visions of assembling historical works arising from specific circumstances particular to their localities and ended with such visually distinctive results makes the project all the more compelling. It is not their agreements but the discrepancies, and sometimes, conflicting approaches and views, that are fascinating. That is where the real conversation lies – between art patrons, my job is just set the stage,“ says Patricia Chen, the author and filmmaker who has written on the Asian art scene for Flash Art, The Art Newspaper, Financial Times, Art Market Report and C-Arts.

This is the first in a series of independent films and publications and the first time a subject such as Asian art patronage is featured across multiple platforms: in print, e-book publication and film. “The Arts Centre has been actively involved in educational efforts on contemporary art for decades. Patricia’s project is the first of its kind – an in-depth study of patrons of contemporary and modern Asian art – and I feel that it’s important to share her work and her findings with the public. The HKAC is delighted to be supporting this ongoing project and to give a voice to this lesser-understood area within the cultural ecosystem in Asia,” says Connie Lam, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the co-presenter of the launch event.

This is an independent project initiated by the author; two short films in the series have been funded by the Media Development Authority of Singapore. “Keeping funding sources independent of patrons is a deliberate move for journalistic integrity,” Patricia adds. More tan 20 art aficionados have been interviewed in Basel (Switzerland), Hong Kong, Yogjakarta (Indonesia) and Singapore to corroborate the developing Asian art story and more interviews are slated in China and various parts of Indonesia for the full-length documentary in pre-production and funding stages.

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