Hubert Burda Media

Wong Ai Ai’s Passion for Art

Top corporate lawyer Wong Ai Ai opens her (he)art to us.

You handpicked the very eclectic collection of art in your office, ranging from Lee Wen’s yellow man curled in a tub to a few Chen Wen Hsi and Cheong Soo Pieng artworks. Which are your favourite babies?

They all are! When we first moved into the office which is very modern and streamlined, not everything I had was suitable. I visited Art Basel Hong Kong, and another fair in Shanghai, China to find a few more pieces. The pieces in the office are more avant garde and edgy.

My home is more traditional, and the art, though called modern, is from the 1960s, 70s, with some old Chinese masters. I have a bigger Gibbons by Chen Wen Hsi. I like gibbons; my son is a monkey. My latest acquisition is a Jane Lee sculpture. I recently commissioned, through STPI (Singapore Tyler Print Institute), a sculpture by Han Sai Por. Her work is very organic. The white marble sits very nicely in the garden.

I collect mostly Asian artists.

Tell us about the Singapore Tyler Print Institute, where you’re a board member.

That is fun. The STPI as it is now known is a hidden gem of the art world, but its name is getting more known. It is very contemporary, and experiments with all kinds of paper forms. When artists comes to work with them, it forces artists to think differently. Sometimes it sets for artists a whole new genre of work. We have an artists in residence programme; they come in and create conceptually things with the team. Famous artists use it as a research lab so to speak for new genre of work

What is your biggest regret when it comes to art.

The year my husband and I got married, 1990, we visited Bali, where we spent most of our time in a van with a driver whose mandate was to take us into all the artists homes. That was the year Affandi died. We got so frightened because there were so many Affandis over Bali asking for $1,000 a piece, we didn’t buy. We should have bought the whole village.

How do you indulge in your love for art with your busy schedule?

When I’m overseas on business trips and I if I have time, I book a car and take two hours to visit a show that’s going on. Recently, in London, there was Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern and David Hockney at Tate Britain. If the calendar suits, I may hop over to Miami this year end to take a look at Art Basel.

Do you paint?

You need to have to be in the right frame of mind to paint. One day I will. It will be something abstract, where you don’t need too much training to put your emotions down on the canvas. I love colours and the play of light. What’s stopping me from painting now? Time. In life, one must prioritise.


Wong Ai Ai is the first Singaporean on the governing body of international law firm Baker McKenzie, and the chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Read about her and her teams’ successes in the May 2017 issue of Prestige.