Art impressario Cheng brings Monet exhibit to Shanghai

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Heir to the New World Development Fortune and the Chow Tai Fook jewelry empire, Adrian Cheng has a cluster of titles in the art community.

Adrian Cheng 


He is board director of the National Museum of China Foundation, Trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts, on the Visiting Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, member of TATE's Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee and member of the International Circle of the Pompidou Center.

A man wearing this many hats may have a busy schedule, but there is not a trace of haste in his tone or the way he moves. Clad in a grey sportswear outfit, he appears more like an art house film director than an aggressive young entrepreneur.

A graduate of Harvard University, Cheng is also the founder and chairman of the KAF, a non-profit art foundation established in 2010. His foundation has already supported more than 30 promising Chinese artists, and exhibited some of their works in international art fairs such as the Shanghai Contemporary Art Exhibition.

Recently Cheng and his KAF co-organized the Master of Impressionism — Claude Monet at Shanghai K11.

Flying around the world both for his business and art empire, Cheng squeezed in enough time to sit for an interview with Shanghai Daily:

Q: Why did KAF select this Monet's exhibition as one of its projects, given that most of the exhibitions on KAF's list are contemporary rather than classical?

A: I know that many Chinese artists have been influenced by Monet and his Impressionism. But Monet's original canvas rarely comes to Shanghai, and many art lovers only see them on the album. I believe it will be a source of artistic inspiration to artists, students of art and the public.

Q: I heard that you have an artist-in-residence program. Will you talk about it?

A: The program is in Wuhan and Guiyang. K11 Art Foundation serves as the incubating springboard for young and emerging contemporary Chinese artists to create new and meaningful works. Beyond traditional art space, these art villages also serve as innovative exchange platforms between artists and the local communities, where each exhibition aims to educate and inspire new generations of aspiring visual artists, designers, musicians and other creative spirits.

Q: Can you give us some details about the cooperation with Palais de Tokyo in Paris?

A: The first edition of the co-curated exhibition will be held this October at Palais de Tokyo during the FIAC in Paris.

Q: The space design and public art inside K11 are quite impressive. Are these works part of the collection of the K11 Art Foundation?

A: If you have been to K11, you would immediately notice that the interior design is thoroughly different from the familiar shopping mall. I want to break the stereotyped image of a traditional shopping mall through the fusion of public art, frequent exhibition and space design. I call it "art museum retail." I wanted to develop an art playground, a place where culture and commerce merged in a fun and inspiring way to create a special theatrical shopping experience. Some of the works you see are commissioned with the artist, such as Sui Jianguo's big stainless butterfly and Liu Jianhua's bronze-made pillow. I am glad that most visitors are impressed.

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