M+ receives new donation from collector Hallam Chow, consisting of works by Asian contemporary artists
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M+ receives new donation from collector Hallam Chow, consisting of works by Asian contemporary artists
Aida Makoto, Space Shit, 1998. Gesso and oil on wood 230 × 330 cm. M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Hallam Chow, 2019. Photo: Nagatsuka Hideto © AIDA Makoto Courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery.

HONG KONG.- M+, at the West Kowloon Cultural District, announced a significant donation by Hallam Chow, a prominent Hong Kong collector and a long-time supporter of the museum. The donation comprises seventeen works created between the 1990s and the 2010s by thirteen important artists and collectives from Asia, strengthening the profile of contemporary Asian art in the M+ Collections.

The donation includes works by seven leading Japanese artists and an artist collective: Aida Makoto (born 1965), Chim↑Pom (established 2005), Konoike Tomoko (born 1960), Odani Motohiko (born 1972), Shioyasu Tomoko (born 1981), Takamine Tadasu (born 1968), Teruya Yuken (born 1973), and Yanobe Kenji (born 1965). The donation also includes five works by internationally renowned artists from other countries, namely Montien Boonma (1953–2000, Thailand), Lee Bul (born 1964, South Korea), Liang Yuanwei (born 1977, Shaanxi), Liu Wei (born 1972, Beijing), and Adrian Wong (born 1980, United States). The donation provides valuable building blocks for M+ to develop a comprehensive framework on contemporary art practices in Japan, while the work by artists from Thailand, China, South Korea, and the United States further diversifies M+’s extensive collection of visual art.

As a grandson of Edward T. Chow (1910–1980), a collector of antiques in post-war Hong Kong, Hallam Chow began collecting art from a young age. He built a sizeable collection of Asian contemporary art and has focused on philanthropic support of Asian art and education-based initiatives, museum exhibitions, and workshops that promote cultural exchange between Asia and other parts of the world. A long-time supporter of M+, Chow has donated twenty-five works to M+ since 2016, including the donation of seventeen works in 2019–2020. Chow is also the Chairman of the M+ International Council for Visual Art.

A focus on contemporary Japanese artists

The donation includes two works by Aida Makoto, one of the most acclaimed and also one of the most provocative figures in the Japanese art world. Space Shit (1998) is a large-scale, expertly executed painting depicting a large piece of brown excrement floating against a black background dotted with small pinpoints of colour to resemble outer space. The second piece, Art and Philosophy #1 ‘Critique of Critique of Judgment’ (2008), is a room-sized installation including over five hundred drawings made by the artist on the printed pages of Immanuel Kant’s The Critique of Judgement.

The interactive work Libido-Electricity Conversion Machine ‘EROKITEL’ Third and Practical Model 'KIBOU’ (2011) by Chim↑Pom is a DIY machine designed to convert male sexual energy into a source of electricity. Chim↑Pom devised this subversively deadpan method of generating energy as an alternative to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power. With characteristic humour and wit, the group responds to the trauma of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Mimio-Odyssey (2005) is a video installation by Konoike Tomoko using moving image projected onto a large, blank book. Referring to fairy-tale narratives and open-ended storytelling and articulating Konoike’s fascination with myth-making, the hand-drawn animation centres around an imaginary character’s journey into an ancient forest.

Three works by Japanese artist Odani Motohiko are included. SP extra ‘Malformed Noh Mask Series Half Skeleton’s Twins’ (2007) is a set of two Noh masks with hauntingly deformed features that present two sides of a coin—beauty and ugliness—offering a poignant statement on nature’s dualities and incongruities. Hollow: Hydra’s Head (2009) and Hollow: A Braid (2009) are sculptures crafted from a ribbon-like fibre-reinforced plastic that appears almost weightless. The two pieces express Odani’s continued interest in gravity, bodily experience, and the visibility of unseen forces.

Root of Heaven (2006) is a large-scale three-panel work created by Shioyasu Tomoko using lightweight synthetic paper. Hanging vertically to create a four-metre-wide dynamic composition of cascading forms that resemble waves and flows of water, the piece reveals Shioyasu’s meticulous observation of natural forms and her reflections on the energy and meaning of life.

Takamine Tadasu’s installation Water Level and Organ Sound (2004) consists of a video projected onto a transparent water tank. The footage depicts a young woman swimming naked underwater in a dreamlike sequence with eerie lighting and shifting camera angles that disorient the viewer.

In Teruya Yuken’s work Dawn Series – Knife Sets (2008), a set of Japanese chef’s knives are inserted into the wall in a seemingly random arrangement, each with a fragile insect chrysalis dangling from its handle. By combining delicate chrysalises with modern objects, Teruya points to differences between naturally formed and human-made materials and juxtaposes the cycle of life of animals with human violence and death.

Torayan Head Train (2005) by Yanobe Kenji is an impressive sculpture that resembles a cross between a steam train and an underwater vehicle. Designed for Yanobe’s City of Children project, the miniaturised vehicle is an expression of his interest in retro-futuristic aesthetics and his desire to create machines that can aid human survival in a post-atomic world.

Elsewhere in Asia and beyond

Montien Boonma was one of the most respected Thai artists of the twentieth century and among the first to gain wide recognition on the international stage. His art offers a poignant take on Thailand’s shift from a traditional belief system and an agrarian society to a modern industrial economy. The painting Temple of Chiang Mai (1993) depicts an assortment of vessels, a common trope in his work. Boonma was a devout Buddhist, and for him the vessel symbolises impermanence and the void and stands in for ideas of death and eternity.

Untitled (Infinity Partition) (2008) is part of Lee Bul’s Infinity series. The standing sculpture is comprised of fabricated panels, mirrors, and LED lights, creating a mesmerising optical illusion of an infinite space. Displaying the artist’s interest in architectural models and futurism, the work stages a collision between reality and the viewer’s perception of a boundless, endless void.

The work Early Spring – One Table, Four Stools (2010) by Liang Yuanwei departs from the artist’s singular painting practice. Painting on a set of foldable tables and stools, she repurposes these items in a spatial arrangement that riffs on the flattened perspective found in traditional Chinese landscape painting.

Untitled (2012) by Liu Wei was produced using found objects discarded during urban demolition and expansion. The totem-like structure, which stacks together steel drums, bowls, and funnels and is fastened with a metal brace and fluorescent lighting, is a critique of capitalism and consumption in contemporary China.

The installation I Love You, but I Can’t Be With You: A Play in 4 Acts (2015) by Adrian Wong is comprised of small goldfish bowls, artificial plants, and prefabricated laminate wooden shelves. It is an early example of Wong’s interest in combining the idiosyncratic behaviours of animals with the vernacular aesthetics of Hong Kong.

Hallam Chow elaborates on his donation to M+: ‘It is important to show my continuous support to a museum and to place trust in its dedicated and professional team. It has been my goal to support and encourage the important contribution of Asian artists to the overall development of contemporary art globally. With its solid footing in Asia and its global perspective, M+ is in the strongest position to research, exhibit, and promote Asian artists in ways that transcend national and geographical boundaries. My ongoing commitment to M+ over the years reaffirms my decision to donate.’

Pauline J. Yao, Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+, describes Chow’s collecting principle: ‘Hallam’s unique vision, impressive knowledge, and insights into Asian art, and the ongoing dialogues he has with the artists he collects add an invaluable layer of meaning to this group of works. The donation underscores important artistic waves and movements that took place in the 1990s and 2000s in Japan and around Asia and will help us build awareness around the ways artists respond to their various social and political contexts.’

Doryun Chong, Deputy Director, Curatorial, and Chief Curator, M+, underscores the importance of Chow’s donation: ‘The new addition of works further enhances M+’s position as the most representative as well as adventurous transnational collection of contemporary Asian art. The donation also greatly enhances the museum’s ability to create even more inventive and thought-provoking narratives about how contemporary art has made critical contributions to visual culture in Asia, which now has global resonances. We are tremendously encouraged by Hallam’s continuous support and the trust he places in M+.’

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, emphasises the importance of donations from Chow and other private collectors: ‘It is a great honour for us to receive the generous and continuous contributions from Hallam, an experienced and committed Hong Kong collector who is highly supportive of the arts. Donations from private collectors make major contributions to the diversity and geographical coverage of the M+ Collections. Hallam’s continued donations further illustrate the unique position of M+ on a global stage and affirm M+ as the first global museum of contemporary visual culture in Asia.’

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