Cover (Image: Jae-An Lee)

The Brown University graduate has always had a love for contemporary art

Step into the weekend home of Evan Chow in Sai Kung, Hong Kong and you will feel like you just walked into a well-curated contemporary art museum. The vibrance and electrifying energy that fills the well-proportioned, high-ceilinged space isn’t what you’d normally experience in a typical home. 

This is the place where Evan hosts parties and gives talks on contemporary art collecting—and it was one of the most sought after invites during Art Basel Hong Kong. Evan is also known for being a charming and intelligent traveller who has the ability to identify up-and-coming artists. His collection includes names like Izumi Kato, Alicja Kwade, Peter Halley, Shara Huges, Katherine Bernhardt, Jin Meyerson, Sanya Kantarovsky, Meilike Kara, Yuri Yasuda, Chris Huen Sin Kan, and Frog King to name a few. 

In the second instalment of the Collector’s Circle series for Tatler, Evan tells us what sparked his interest in collecting art and the challenges he thinks new collectors might face.

When did your interest in art begin? Do you remember the first piece of art you bought? 

Evan Chow (EC) My interest in art was inspired by my family. My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents were great collectors of Chinese ink art, antiques and ceramics. As such, I have always enjoyed contemporary art and design from a very young age. I started visiting ArtHK before it became Art Basel in 2013, and developed a keen interest from there. The first piece I purchased was a Zhang Xiaogang print.

How do you acquire most of your works and what do you look out for? Do you travel overseas to attend art fairs and auctions?

EC I enjoy taking trips to biennials and fairs. Every year I try to add a new fair or schedule visits around my work travels. In 2017, I went to Art Basel, Documenta 14, Project Munster and the Venice Biennale in 10 days and it was extremely rewarding. In 2018, I travelled mostly to London and other European cities such as Berlin to visit galleries.

I tend to be drawn to emerging or mid-career artists whom I feel will make art history and be influential in their respective fields, form and peer groups. For me, acquisitions go way beyond the visual attraction, but is more about the history, methodology, inspiration and therefore significance of the artist and the subject piece.

What was the last major art event that you visited?

EC This September, I attended Istanbul Bienniale curated by Nicolas Bourriaud as part of the New Museum Patron study tour. I also travelled as a member of the board of trustees of the New Museum to prominent Greek collector Dakis Joannou and his wife Lietta Marousi’s art-filled home.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a young art collector?

EC I think it is challenging for new collectors to develop trusted relationships with galleries, trusted advisors and other professionals in the art world. These people and their advice are extremely important for young collectors wishing to cultivate their own collection.

How do you curate your art and what do you put in your weekend home in Sai Kung? 

EC A portion of my art collection rotates regularly throughout the year. While I respect the opinion and input of my family members, I try to curate a selection that embodies diversity. I want to stay true to the artists’ practices while expressing different ways of living and thinking in a contemporary society. The way pieces are chosen often has to do with colours and the art histories behind colour. 

How important is it for you to meet the artists who created the artworks?

EC Human contact with the artists, especially in their own studios allows a collector to be totally immersed in their universe, better comprehend the creative intentions and processes of the one who gives birth the pieces. There’s also the excitement of knowing what the artist is going to take as the next step.

Is there any particular work by an artist that inspires you? 

EC Peter Halley, founder of the ‘80s Neo-Geo energises me every time I lay my eyes on his works, through his visionary analogue between the geometric forms of networks composed of cells, circuits and squares, and the era of hyper-connection. Not to mention his use of vibrant colours.

What was the last artwork that you acquired? 

EC A drawing of Mika Rottenberg who has just had a critically acclaimed show at the New Museum of New York.

What is the next piece that you have in mind? 

EC Shaped canvases from Peter Halley, whom I have met at his studio in New York City, and Sarah Crowner—the first American founder and pioneer of Neo-Geo, the latter a younger American artist that reinterprets and revitalises Modernism's forms and colours. I am also in love with Shara Hughes' breath-taking landscape paintings.