Cover Hallam Chow makes a significant art donation to M+ (Photo: Courtesy of M+ and Hallam Chow)

The donation includes works by important Asian contemporary artists, including Aida Makoto, Lee Bul and Liu Wei

Following William and Lavina Lim's donation of nearly 100 artworks to M+, the museum has received another significant donation—this time by Hallam Chow, a prominent Hong Kong collector and long-time supporter of the museum. The donation comprises of 17 works created between the 1990s and the 2010s by 13 important artists and collectives from Asia, further strengthening the M+'s contemporary Asian art collection.

The donation includes works by seven leading Japanese artists and one artist collective, namely Aida Makoto, Chim↑Pom, Konoike Tomoko, Odani Motohiko, Shioyasu Tomoko, Takamine Tadasu, Teruya Yuken and Yanobe Kenji. Also included are five artworks by internationally renowned artists from outside of Japan, including Montien Boonma from Thailand, Lee Bul from South Korea, Liang Yuanwei and Liu Wei from China and Adrian Wong from the United States.

"My hope for M+ is for it to become an international art institution that respects, nurtures and cultivates inter-collaboration and exchange between and among the Asian countries including regions that may have been overlooked and under-represented in the global art scene including South East Asia and Japan (beyond Gutai artists, Murakami, Nara and Kusama)," says Chow.

The donations will be a valuable building block for M+ to develop a comprehensive framework on contemporary art practices in Japan, while the work by artists from Thailand, China, South Korea and the United States further diversifies M+ extensive collection of visual art.

See also: Art Collectors William And Lavina Lim On Donating Nearly 100 Artworks To M+

Of the number of artworks he donated, Chow says one of the most significant is Chim↑Pom’s work as it "depicts the irrational side of lust and sex" and is also a response to the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan, which remains a major trauma in the country's collective memory. "Chim↑Pom created this work 'Erokitel' to explore a potential alternate source of energy – human’s libido." And while it may seem sensual, the artwork actually transforms people's sexual energy—after they call the number for the mock 'call-girl' ad—into a source of energy. The vision behind the work is to illustrate an alternative to Japan's reliance on nuclear power and a response to the trauma of the nuclear disaster.

Having studied philosophy at the University of Oxford and Georgetown University, Chow also thinks Mokoto's Critique of Critique of Judgement is a "masterpiece that poses critical questions on Kant's rational view of post-modern aestheticism" similar to Immanuel Kant, one of his favourite philosophers.

Chow—the grandson of Edward T. Chow, a collector of antiques in post-war Hong Kong—has been collecting art from a young age. His love for collecting art, or as he prefers to call it, the "psychology" behind it is to "fill an emotional void". He has an affinity for works that "touch upon the human emotions and in particular, fear—fear of loss, fear of nature, fear of the unknown, and among all emotions, I find fear to be the most truthful and difficult to hide."

See also: How Artist Ernest Chang Blends Traditional Chinese Art and Contemporary Culture

He built a sizable collection of Asian contemporary art and has since been focusing on philanthropically supporting Asian art and education-based initiatives, museum exhibitions and workshops that promote cultural exchange between Asia and other parts of the world. Chow has donated 25 works to M+ since 2016, including 17 artworks in 2019–2020. He also serves as the chairman of the M+ International Council for Visual Art.

Talking to Tatler about his donation, Chow says he hopes that it will "help M+ anchor and broaden its collection in important and less commercial Japanese contemporary art and critical South East Asian artists" and allow "Hong Kong to value M+ as a global and independent art institution that brings a different cultural perspective".

See also: Artist Rosamond Brown And Ben Brown Reflect On Hong Kong's Growing Art Scene