When Adrian Cheng isn’t busy working for his family businesses – conglomerate New World Development and jeweller Chow Tai Fook – he’s probably thinking about art. Cheng is well known to be amassing one of the world’s greatest private art collections, but he’s also making a name for himself as a patron through his work on the K11 Art Foundation (KAF), which he founded in 2010. Aiming to support the growth of Chinese contemporary art, KAF organises art exhibitions, funds academic research and runs residencies for artists within China. KAF is also quickly growing abroad and works with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and London’s Serpentine Galleries, which KAF partnered with on the recent exhibition Hack Space in Hong Kong. Now that Hack Space has closed its doors, we find out what’s next for the foundation.
We hear you're about to announce some new partnerships with US institutions. What can you tell us about that?
I have recently joined the Board of Directors of the Public Art Fund in New York. Public art makes the everyday better. For art to be seen outside the conventional museum environment, in a place that belongs to the people, makes it more accessible and approachable. I share the vision of Public Art Fund and have been bringing contemporary art to a broad audience via my K11 Art Foundation in an effort to let the public live and work surrounded by art. I look forward to working more closely with them in the near future.
KAF is also in discussion with another New York-based institution with regard to an artist residency project. We are at the final stage of selecting the artists, and will be able to announce details soon.
Can you explain more about your plans for a K11 kunsthalle in Beijing?
Contemporary art only started in China around 35 years ago. We have witnessed new museums opening, and the younger generation are starting artist-in-residence programmes. But audience grooming is still a problem, rooted in the fact that it is not a part of the education system. That is why we want to build a community, where people can gather together, think and be inspired by the institutions and museums. K11 kunsthalle, which is set to be unveiled Beijing in 2019, will provide monumental exhibition spaces for art with no membership fee.
What else are K11 and the K11 Art Foundation working on at the moment?
The K11 Art Foundation is proud to collaborate with the ICA London, and support them to present emerging Chinese artist Guan Xiao’s first solo institutional exhibition, Flattened Metal, in the UK. It is the second collaboration between KAF and ICA, where we seek to promote Chinese contemporary art talents on a global stage. The exhibition runs until 19 June in the Lower Gallery at the ICA.
From 22 May to 30 June, KAF will present three exhibitions at the chi K11 Art Space in Shanghai, including Tianzhuo Chen’s Solo Exhibition, which is part of KAF’s three-year collaboration with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. True to the multi-disciplinary nature of Chen's practice, this exhibition opens with what the artist describes as an "opera", performed by a cast of eclectically costumed dancers, contortionists and musicians.
KAF and ICA London, will also co-present the China iteration of Zhang Ding’s ongoing project entitled Zhang Ding: Enter the Dragon II, curated by Matt Williams. The exhibition consists of an installation that further develops the artist’s interest in the final scene from the seminal Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon. There will be six performances in total held on May 28, and June 4, 11, 18 and 25.
At the same venue, the K11 Kollection Show will also present seminal works by international artists, selected by curator Lu Mingjun to uncover cross-cultural dialogues, with works by Zhang Ding and Tianzhuo Chen. We have also announced the final residencies for the K11 Art Foundation x FUSE ISEA2016HK Residency Programme. Four international artists with diverse interdisciplinary interests have taken up residencies at the K11 Art Village in Wuhan from January to May 2016. Their artworks will be presented in a group exhibition at the chi K11 Art Space in Hong Kong starting from May 20 this year. I believe 2016 is going to be a very fruitful year for KAF.
To read an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator who worked with Cheng on Hack Space, click here.