Man and woman standing next to each other

Chong Huai Seng is one of Singapore’s most respected collectors. He and his daughter Ning Chong, a first mover in art investment advisory, speak with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about the future of art as an investment of passion

When international banker Chong Huai Seng started buying art in the 1980s, he could not have imagined growing a collection that would catalyse a forum for South East Asia’s prominent collectors, artists and experts; nor that in co-founding a gallery The Culture Story with his daughter, Ning Chong, she herself would see a gap for a specialist art investment advisory and would go on to found the Family Office for Art (FOfA). Father and daughter share their approach and insights into dealing with passion assets such as art

When did your collecting journey start?

Mr Huai Seng Chong: My collecting journey started in the mid 80’s when I was a stock broker and I used to travel to London frequently for business trips. I loved traipsing around Mayfair, dipping in and out of galleries. I started buying British sculpture and Russian paintings, very unusual because most people start buying art from their own country. I was merely responding to what I like, my daughter likes to call it “retail therapy” at a time before the internet, and all you had, was to trust your instinct and sensibilities.

Nina Chong: About seven years ago, I introduced some governance to my father’s art collection, cataloguing and art collection management and to assess the strengths of the collection and where we should focus our future acquisitions. With that, we are able to identify themes within the collection, and Dad always enjoys selecting and curating the pieces which we put up in our private gallery The Culture Story. Personally I started my own collection a mere two – three years ago. I realised I had a point of view, which was different from my father’s and there were certain artists and themes which resonated more strongly with me, as a new mother, as an entrepreneur.

Man and woman standing next to each other

Mr Huai Seng Chong and his daughter Ms Ning Chong are two of Singapore’s most respected collectors.

How did you decide a career as an art professional was for you?

CHS: Art collecting started as a hobby for me, almost forty years ago! I never thought this is something I would continue to do, and now this hobby has turned into a business venture between me and my daughter. This is something we did not plan to do, but I’m happy that we are on this adventure together.

NC: When I was young, I was surrounded by works of art and as a family we used to follow my Dad to visit galleries on the weekend. It was only after graduation, when I didn’t want to pursue banking or finance that my father nudged me to consider the art world. I did my own research, including a few internships in London before I decided that I would commit and pursue a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get to where I am, looking back it has been very rewarding to work in different areas such as art fairs, auction house, galleries to government policy work, it has given me a very comprehensive overview of the art ecosystem.

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What was the vision behind The Culture Story?

CHS: We started The Culture Story in June 2017 as a private gallery, like Gertrude Stein salon’s setting in her Paris apartment in the 1920s where artists, poets, writers, thinkers would get together and make merry. For us, we wanted to create a cosy environment where we can share works from our family collection, and encourage other collectors to collaborate with us. By organising exhibitions and hosting talks with artists, collectors and art world professionals, The Culture Story aims to promote greater understanding and discourse around art and foster connoisseurship.

How has the mission and collection evolved?

CHS: We are still very much following the mission we set out for The Culture Story at the beginning. The Singapore art scene has matured significantly and we are at a stage where other art collectors are open to collaborate with us. They are happy to share work(s) from their private collection, especially when they encounter feedback from members of the public, students or other art collectors and professionals.

Images hanging inside an art gallery

“Collecting Bodies: a short story about art and nudity in Asia” with works on loan from 10 art collectors

NC: We try to focus on a few themes amongst our family collection. Recently, we have loaned some of our works to museums for various exhibitions. One in particular is an early Kim Lim sculpture which is currently on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Later this year, the entire exhibition will travel to the National Gallery Singapore for her long-await retrospective exhibition.

We also loaned paintings by Futura and Timothy Curtis to Art Science Museum in Singapore for an exhibition called Sneakertopia, which celebrated everything related to the rise of street culture and pop art, and the phenomena of sneaker culture.

Man standing next to a sculpture

Kim Lim at Hepworth: the first major museum exhibition of Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work.

Artsworks shown in a room

Futura and Timothy Curtis at the Art Science Museum

Where has your acquisition strategy been particularly effective in nurturing innovative artists?

CHS: I like to support Singapore’s young and emerging artists. There is one artist in particular Hilmi Johandi whom I spotted almost fifteen years ago at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in 2011, today he is represented by OTA Fine Art, one of Japan’s leading contemporary art galleries who also represents Yayoi Kusama. I commissioned Hilmi to create a family portrait for us. Since then I support his practice by buying a work from every new series.

Colourful art painting

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with new media that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation and compression

What is it about the Asian art market and intergenerational wealth transfer that created demand for the Family Office for Art (FOFA)?

NC: The South East Asian art market is still a young one, over the two decades we have seen significant progress with the emergence of galleries, art fairs, biennales, dealers and private museums etc.

Two years ago, I identified a gap in the industry, and I felt there were many things I could offer and help other collectors, the same way I used my skills and experience to maintain my father’s art collection. Most wealthy families have their financial assets and businesses handled by their private banker or family office, more often than not, the soft assets such as art and collectibles are overlooked or neglected. However these “passion assets” are very much part of the principle’s estate and his/her legacy. I’ve been studying this space for some time and I’ve learnt that with a proper system in place, it is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing the art collection’s commercial and cultural value.

At FOFA, we understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Read more: Yulia Iosilzon’s groundbreaking new show in London

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.

 

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Reading time: 6 min

You can find his works on the back of mass-market cereal packets, in leading museums and on sneakers. Some change hands for millions, and others are made in their millions. More than any other living artist, Brian Donnelly, known as KAWS, carries the Andy Warhol mantle of blending high and low art. Darius Sanai meets him in his New York studio

For someone who became a global celebrity out of a kind of exhibitionism, Brian Donnelly seems very discreet when I first come across him. We have arranged to meet in his Brooklyn studio when I am in the city for Frieze New York. I escape the Large Hadron Collider atmosphere of meetings, walk along the green escape of the High Line, New York’s elevated urban park, and catch an L Train Subway from the Meatpacking District, under the East River to Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

The neighbourhood is bristling with young men in moustaches and shorts, and women in black skinny jeans and camel suede boots. Past a matcha bar, a Pho cafe and a vegan ice-cream joint, I work my way onto a boulevard and a few turns later find myself at a big door leading into a warehouse, unmarked except for a buzzer carrying the door number. The door opens and I walk into a studio space that has Long Island light pouring in through a skylight. Huge canvasses line either side. I have arrived just a few seconds ahead of our appointed time, and a few seconds later a door in the wall opens and Brian Donnelly, or KAWS, says a quiet “Hi” and asks if I would like to follow him upstairs. He is wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, in contrast to my white shirt and white linen trousers. His sneakers are white, his cap black, glasses black- framed. He is polite and welcoming, very correct, quite reserved. He becomes animated when speaking about the art on his walls (mostly by 20th-century artists), but isn’t one for small talk.

A large sculpture of a standing elephant in an entrance

SHARE, 2021, by KAWS, Rockefeller Center, New York

If that is a bit of a surprise, it is because there can be few things more “out there” than making your name as an artist by redecorating, without permission, walls and other public spaces as a spray-painting street artist, as Donnelly did in the 1990s. That’s where his tag, KAWS, came from. A skateboarding guy from Jersey City, New Jersey, he went to art school in New York and found that his distinctive characters and slightly bleak, subversive style quickly gained a following.

Today, Donnelly’s trademark figures, sculptures and paintings, with Xs for eyes, pervade all areas of public consciousness. Donnelly quickly started collaborating with brands: he has worked with Dior, Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Nike and dozens more, He is also consciously democratic about his collaborations: in 2021 he created cereal boxes for Reese’s Puffs, one of the best-selling cereals in the US. In 2019, his work, THE KAWS ALBUM, commissioned and sold by Japanese polymath NIGO, sold at auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for US$14.8m.

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Speaking with him for few hours, Donnelly came across as calm, thoughtful, private – even reticent, but with a geek passion for the artists and artistic styles he loves. It would take many more meetings to unfurl someone like him, and I never resolved one riddle to my satisfaction. KAWS is an artist, but he is also, like Andy Warhol, to whom he has been compared, something else. It is just hard to say exactly what.

A large pink fluffy toy elephant with big white eyes sitting on a window sill

KAWS at his studio

LUX: Your works are now in art institutions around the world. How does that feel?
KAWS: Of course it’s an honour to have work shown, whether it’s in an institution or public art. The reason I make work is communication, to create a dialogue with the audience, and to know that works are on display in different places and contexts is amazing for me.

LUX: When you visit the works, do you observe the audience and their reaction?
KAWS: I don’t often get to visit, but when I see that someone’s interacting with the work it’s a treat. I try to make work that is engaging, and when people stop to have a moment with it I feel like my goal is accomplished.

LUX: When you are creating a work, do you have a reaction in mind?
KAWS: Not at all. For me, I just use the work as a way to get my insights or points of view or feelings in that moment out into the world. I get into different bodies of work in different ways.

A sculpture of a pink standing elephant in a black suit with models walking around it

KAWS for Dior Homme SS19, 2018, Paris

LUX: When you started, consciously or not, you created work anyone can see. Now you also make works you can sell for private collections. Does it matter who sees the work?
KAWS: I don’t make work according to who I think might see it. If there’s a sculpture in a public setting, it will of course be different than a small canvas I paint. I want to make something that will engage a wider audience, so I’m conscious of creating things that are very inviting.

LUX: When you were a kid growing up in New Jersey, how did you start doing art?
KAWS: I think it’s always been a crutch for me. It was really since I was a child that I leaned into art, not just for communicating, but for having relations within school. I wasn’t really strong academically, I don’t think, and I saw art as a place I just went to. I loved that you could do it in a solitary kind of way, and bring it out into the world when you wanted. It just seems something like that could go on forever, until the end.

LUX: The art you created, even from an early age, was not traditional – it was your own original thing. Was that a conscious decision?
KAWS: When I was younger, I didn’t know a single person who was an artist for a living. It just seemed like something I did – similar to whatever sport might occupy a young person’s time. Obviously, I put a lot more energy into art-making than other things. I never imagined it could be something that you could make a living from. I didn’t have any examples of that as a child. So I thought it was something I would always be doing but I would have to find other ways to subsidise it.

painting underneath a window with the light shining through

KAWS artworks at the light-filled studio

LUX: You’re at the confluence of art and luxury, streetwear brands and many other things. If someone came from Mars and asked what you do, would you just say you’re an artist?
KAWS: I would just say I’m an artist. I think that’s the simplest term. I think that communicates what I do. As far as working in different mediums, or different fields, I’ve always been open to exploring any of my interests. If I’m interested in streetwear or fashion or shoes, I dive in. There are so many interesting people doing interesting things, it would be a shame to limit myself from any opportunities to learn.

LUX: You must have noticed that the art world is a bit snobbish about artists working with brands: “It’s not real art, you’re selling out…”
KAWS: Definitely. Especially in the 90s. At first when I was younger, I thought, “Oh man, this is something I have to think about.” I soon learnt that the only thing I need to do is exactly what I want to do and let the chips fall where they may. When I opened my OriginalFake store in Japan in 2006, I said, “I really don’t care if I don’t show in galleries. This is something I want to do and if that’s a conflict so be it.”

LUX: People have written that there’s a parallel with Andy Warhol, with a mix of ‘high art’ and commercial art, reflected in your works.
KAWS: Honestly, the more you learn about artists and history, the more you realise there are so many artists who delved into commercial opportunities and things that stimulated them creatively – Andy Warhol being a very large part of that. But you know there’s a lot more, it wasn’t just Warhol and Haring… Everyone kind of has their moments, whether they’re widely acknowledged or not.

A colourful painting of a blue hand on a pink wall

artwork and neatly arranged materials at the KAWS studio

LUX: Do you think that with a new wave of millennial art collectors, people are more accepting that you can do brand collaborations as well as sell artworks through galleries?
KAWS: I think it’s become a lot more natural. Kids who grew up in my generation and younger, this is a language they’re familiar with. This was a big part of why I loved Japan so early on; it felt like there was a focus on making good stuff no matter the “category” it fell under, and that was the only real structure to it – if you’re going to do it, do it well. A sort of openness between design, art, furniture and fashion. I think the generation coming up now have grown up on this and many don’t give it a second thought. The world has become a smaller place, because of social media and the internet and whatnot. From your house, you can definitely have a view of what’s going on globally and I think that a lot of the barriers that were existing in the 90s have been broken through. Things shift, so it could turn back in the other direction, but I can’t imagine that.

LUX: It sounds like you wouldn’t be too bothered, if things shifted, as long as you were doing what you were doing?
KAWS: My goal as an artist is to bring the things in my mind to fruition. If I can find ways of doing that, then I feel like it’s successful.

LUX: Were collaborations and creations in design and fashion something that you started doing back when you were very young?
KAWS: I grew up skating and really loving that graphic culture: skateboards, T-shirts and stickers and everything that comes with it. When I’m making work, I always think about what reached me when I was young. What got me on this path? What did I enjoy? I try to make work that is true to that feeling and can reach people in those ways. It’s this sort of casual channel that introduced me to art and got me interested in the first place.

A sculpture of a bubble elephant

COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH), 2010, by KAWS;

LUX: There’s such an array of mediums that you work in. How do you know what you want to use, whether VR, a sculpture, work on paper? How do you make up your mind?
KAWS: I’m not methodical in any way. It just depends on what my interests are at the moment,
and what opportunities I see available for the medium I’m working in. So I might get heavily into VR, and then turn back to painting and drawing. If sculpture is on my mind, I may put that mask on and get into that work. A lot of the stuff I do happens organically, especially with collaborative work or working with musicians.

LUX: You’ve talked about what your work communicates to people. But you haven’t told me about what you would like to communicate.
KAWS: I don’t tell people what they need to see when they’re looking at the work. I think that would be impossible. They all approach it through their own lens, and have their own experience to add. I make work for myself, and the way it’s interpreted by someone else is out of my grasp.

LUX: Is there something therapeutic about making your work?
KAWS: Yes, making work is completely therapeutic to me. It’s sort of the way I navigate life. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t making work.

A man sitting on a stool next to his paints and a colourful wall

the artist, art and materials at the studio;

LUX: What would you say to a young person who wants to become an artist but doesn’t know how?
KAWS: I don’t think any artist knows how to become an artist when they’re younger. It’s just something you’re driven toward or not. If you’re going to be an artist, I don’t think it’s a choice; you realise it’s what you have to do.

LUX: Has anything changed?
KAWS: It’s a long path in being an artist and the interesting part is how you form this body of work over a long period of time. How do you change as a person, how do you bring that work into play with your new thoughts? I don’t grow tired of it. I’m taking a visual language and moulding it over time. I think this little process is great.

LUX: Is it very different working with a Nike than with a Dior?
KAWS: No, it’s just different people, it’s just case by case. It really depends on the project and the people. Similarly, larger companies can be just as easy if not easier than a little boutique collaboration. Dior was really simple because I was working with Kim Jones, and he and I are pretty friendly. It was fun. It was just us asking how we can do this and we did it all under an intense timeline.

Read more: A tasting of Bond, California’s new luxury wine

LUX: Is there anyone still looking down at an artist who does cereal boxes as well as high art?
KAWS: Of course, I’m sure there are probably tons of people who look down on it. The world is full of opinions and you really can’t worry about it or you’ll just sit on your hands and make nothing. If you were to weigh in the opinions of every stranger, what would you get done? The cereal project was a blast. I want to do more of that. I love knowing that you can walk into a convenience store, on the corner of your block, which you’ve walked into every day of your life, and suddenly, my work’s in there and you can buy it for a few dollars. That’s priceless to me. I understand, a lot of people get to see stuff online, but most people never get to a gallery or museum, and the thought of them owning it is beyond them. Doing projects like that puts you in contact with people in a very candid way. When I’m working on something like that, I’m thinking it’s no different to a print edition, or anything else.

A sculpture of a bubble elephant holding a baby elephant

KAWS (HOLIDAY), 2022, by KAWS, China

LUX: You said last year that NFTs were not for you right now. What’s your view of NFTs now?
KAWS: They weren’t for me at the time. I haven’t made any. I find it fascinating – it’s great to see so many people so excited about making work, but I think a lot of the interest is commercial interest, and that’s kind of a buzzkill. With the recent decline in the crypto and NFT markets, I think it’s actually going to get more exciting; people who are doing it are going to do it because they feel the need to make it, not because they’re interested in financial gain. It’s been a rough few months for that world, but I think the good stuff will start to come.

LUX: Is it important to you that big collectors are treasuring your works and they are exchanging hands for big prices at auctions?
KAWS: The price of something is not going to change the work. Once the artwork goes into the world, it’s going to take on different lives and you can’t control that. I don’t know, I don’t spend too much time thinking about it or worrying about it. In my mind, when a work is finished, that is the moment of success for me.

LUX: Should we call you an artist? Or, with everything you have done with brands, are you something else?
KAWS: I would just keep it as artist.

Find out more: kawsone.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 14 min
A large coral in the dessert
A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat

Portrait of artist Shezad Dawood at the sea’s edge in East Sussex

Shezad Dawood is seven years into ‘Leviathan’, a mammoth multidisciplinary project centred around our changing oceans. Maisie Skidmore visits the artist in his Hackney Wick studio to learn more about this monumental undertaking

Shezad Dawood is not one to back down from a big idea. “When I first called the project ‘Leviathan’, my partner asked, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’” the artist says.

It was 2015, and London-based Dawood had begun to draw connections between the perilous journeys migrants were making across the Mediterranean, dominating the news at the time, and the environmental changes taking place under that same sea’s surface. He started speaking to environmentalists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, bringing together elements of their research on climate change, marine ecosystems, migration and mental health into the beginnings of what would become ‘Leviathan’ – a 10-part film cycle that also encompasses virtual-reality works, paintings, sculptures, textile pieces, talks and symposia featuring scientists and other thinkers. Inaugurated at the Venice Biennale in 2017, seven years on, ‘Leviathan’, the title taken from Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work and the biblical sea monster of the same name, continues to gather momentum.

colourful cut outs with red dolphins on top

Disposable Mementoes (Dolphins), 2018

As an artist who is drawn to examine huge systems – language, history and legend being a few – the ocean had an irresistible draw for Dawood. “I make the slightly glib comment that calling this planet ‘Earth’ is a mistake, because it’s predominantly water,” he explains. “All life originates in water. Our human bodies are largely composed of it. We’re missing an important trick in thinking about who we are and where we come from.” With so many years in research, ‘Leviathan’ is still growing. “There is a universe of material.”

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Some of the pieces become universes in and of themselves. Take The Terrarium, the 2020 virtual-reality experience mapped out by evolutionary geneticists and marine biologists. It allows participants to step 300 years into a speculative future of the Baltic Sea, which runs from an eroded Kent coastline to the peninsula of Tallinn, on an Earth that is 90 per cent water. This “sci-fi, operatic” world sees the participant become a hybrid cephalopod released from a laboratory to the open seas to explore their surroundings. The immersive soundtrack, Shifter, by British composer Graham Fitkin, explores shifting baseline syndrome (the theory that each generation unconsciously shifts its expectation of what defines a healthy ecosystem). The Terrarium shows both the breadth of Dawood’s vision and the attention to detail in its execution.

A bronze coral structure on a rock in the dessert

Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris), 2022

Other works seek to make visible the effects of climate change that are shrouded by the depths of oceans, bringing the present- day underwater world to ground level. ‘Coral Alchemy’ is a series of giant coral sculptures created for the exhibition Desert X AlUla 2022 in Saudi Arabia, where they were placed in a canyon that, some 10 million years ago, would have been the delta of what became the Red Sea. The colour of the sculptures changes to simulate the impact of rising temperatures on coral, transforming from carbon black in the morning, through their natural colour range, before bleaching fully in the midday sun. “People have become much more aware of coral reefs in terms of biodiversity,” Dawood explains, “but one thing that could be better communicated is their role as a membrane. Coral reefs act as a protective barrier in extreme weather events, such as tsunamis. They are nature’s barrier. If we keep seeing the same drop-off in reef ecosystems, coastal erosion will accelerate, and extreme weather events will have a much greater impact on coastal communities.”

A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat with his arms spread out

Portraits by Jonathan Glynn-Smith

Other works focus on the intersection of climate change, migration and trauma. ‘Labanof Cycle’ is a series of large-scale textile works created in collaboration with Labanof (the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology) at the University of Milan, whose team recovers and documents lost possessions – even human remains – of migrants attempting the Lampedusa crossing from North Africa to Sicily. Dawood’s images, painted and screen- printed onto textiles, feature images of cigarette packets, Spider-Man gloves, batteries and tiny bags of earth taken from homelands. In immortalising what is lost at sea from boats that have capsized or sunk, Labanof creates a record of lives lost. It is a programme designed to serve both grieving families and legal and humanitarian protocol.

cut outs on a board

Disposable Mementoes (Crayfish), 2018

The subject matter is alarming. Yet, from enormous tactile images and immersive VR experiences, to the ghostly iridescent sheen of coral sculptures, Dawood’s work remains wondrous, enticing, empathetic. He is quick to mention the many scientists and thinkers who have contributed to it, sharing time and research to help him understand their specialisms.

A large coral in the dessert

Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastraea Speciosa), 2022

As well as communicating these issues of our time, Dawood has become determined to “close the virtuous cycle”. This is done, in part, through sharing information. “There is a web platform for ‘Leviathan’, and I have invited scientific informers to write short, accessible papers for it, bringing the science back to the forefront,” he explains. “We’re also upping the ambition.”

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

In collaboration with Professor Madeleine van Oppen at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Dawood is in the process of creating two grants, to be awarded annually to individuals working in coral research.

A whale sculpture in brown

Leviathan, 2017. All artworks are part of Dawood’s ongoing ‘Leviathan’ project

It is both a chance to pay it forwards, he says, and an exercise in interdisciplinary collaboration. “I believe, increasingly, in an idea of convergence. How do we find ways to coexist, and take the broadest number of people along with us, into a more constructive set of notions of the future? How do we start having those conversations? We need new, fresh ways to think about how people can come together.” He smiles. “I’m an optimist, in spite of it all.”

Shezad Dawood is the official artist for the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze London

Find out more: shezaddawood.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 5 min
Abstract painting with geometric patterns
Abstract painting with pink and black

Punta Norte (2008), Ruben Alterio

Argentinian artist Ruben Alterio is known for his large-scale abstract paintings, created in his Parisian studio, two floors up from the one once inhabited by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We speak to the artist ahead of his upcoming exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence in London
Artist portrait

Artist Ruben Alterio

1. Do you need a particular atmosphere or environment in which to create?

Yes, I do. To work properly, I need to be in my studio in Paris. I have been working there for decades now and have created, over these years, an atmosphere that allows my mind to fully focused, a set up that inspires me a lot.

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2. What inspires you to start a new painting?

My working space is filled with objects, sculptures, photographs, paintings, images that I have created or gathered. I get my inspiration from these shapes and colours that surround me. I must have created that environment with that intention I guess…I collect these images and artefacts because they bear some formal and historical aspects that I can use in my paintings.

Artist studio filled with artefacts and paintings

Alterio’s studio is located in the same building that Renoir once worked from

3. Can you tell us about the concept for your upcoming exhibition?

It is the gallery, the space in itself that gave me the idea for the exhibition. I wanted to create a crowd of paintings, a group of 21 paintings to be precise. This is to be seen as an installation, a stage occupied by 21 painted-beings welcoming the viewer into their personal journey.

Read more: Why responsible travel means authenticity

4. As well as painting, you’ve worked on set and costume design, and collaborated with major fashion brands. How does your creative process change when you’re making commercial work?

I’ve had the chance to collaborate with amazing, creative people all along my career. It has always been a pleasure to share and work with such people that trust you and your vision. My creative process doesn’t change that much, it’s mainly a matter of adaptation. Whether it’s in my personal work or in collaboration, the goal is always to create a window for me, and I hope the viewers, [through which] to escape.

 

Abstract artwork

Flores (2016), Ruben Alterio

5. How often do you throw away works?

I throw sometimes, yes, but I usually prefer to consider these works as part of a work in progress, which, as a matter of fact they are. I keep them because it’s always interesting to let time do its magic and look at them [again] after a while. Time can bring many surprising elements to my work.

6. Which artists from the past or present do you admire the most?

Velázquez, Piero Della Francesca, Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Ruben Alterio’s exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence runs from 4-8 November 2019, 49 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QZ. Entrance by appointment only. rubenalterio.com

Ruben Alterio is represented in the UK by Laurence Bet-Mansour of Art in Style. For all enquiries, please contact: [email protected]

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Reading time: 2 min
Watercolour drawing of a nude woman in bridge pose by French artist and sculptor Rodin
Watercolour nude drawing by French sculptor Rodin

Vulcain. Courtesy Musée Rodin. Photo by Jean de Calan

Auguste Rodin is best known for his sensual, turbulent sculptures, but he was one of those rare artists, like Picasso, who transcended category or definition. He created tirelessly, favouring realist depictions of the human body, which celebrated individuality and emotion – a distinct departure from dominant traditions of decorative, thematic artworks.

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The latest exhibition at Musée Rodin in Paris presents a collection of the artist’s cut-outs and drawings, providing a glimpse into Rodin’s experiments and artistic processes. On display are some 250 drawings (the museum retains over 7,500), 90 of which contain cut-out silhouettes.

Drawing of two female nude figures by French sculptor Rodin

Deux femmes nues de profil dont l’une est agenouillée. Courtesy Musée Rodin. Photo by Jean de Calan

In Rodin’s own words, his drawings are,  “the key to my work”, but whether or not they provide an enlightened perspective on his sculptures, they are powerful, energised artworks in their own right. Figures appear twisted, contorted, writhing against watery red backgrounds, whilst elsewhere paint seems to leave a ghostly trail of movements from the past.

Watercolour drawing of a nude woman in bridge pose by French artist and sculptor Rodin

Ariane. Courtesy Musée Rodin. Photo by Jean de Calan

Sculptural painting of a winged figure standing on a stone with arms reaching upwards by artist Rodin

La prière s’élève de l’âme du croyant, 1883-1889. Courtesy of Musée Rodin. Photo by Jean de Calan

“Rodin: Draw, Cut” runs until 24 February 2019. For more information visit: musee-rodin.fr

 

 

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