Films on patrons & private collections of art in Asia by Patricia Chen
The 24-Hour Art Practice
Dr. Oei Hong Djien, Indonesia
Run Time : 58 minutes
Ongoing project : 2011 to date
The film traces the journey of Dr. Oei (OHD), a whimsical godfather of Indonesian art who amassed one of the most significant collections of modern Indonesian art by adopting a round-the-clock open-door policy for sellers and visitors to his home. When he was alleged with attempting to authenticate fake works in his collection, the Indonesian art world became incensed and knotted over issues of provenance, authentication and accountability.
The 24-Hour Art Practice offers unprecedented revelations and insights on one of best-known collections of modern Indonesian art and its founder Dr. Oei Hong Djien. This independent film unveils the eccentricities of Dr Oei’s collecting strategies, including opening his residence around the clock for art visitors; it also probes the recent launch of Oei’s private museum and the reactions of the art community.
This film takes us beyond the sensational polarisation of detractors and supporters of Oei’s museum, and raises greater issues of accountability, authenticity and provenance that are crucial for Indonesian art development and legacies.
This film traces the journey of Dr. Oei Hong Djien (OHD), a whimsical 75 year old art collector from Magelang in Central Java, Indonesia. Over 30 years, he amassed one of the most important collections of modern art in Indonesia by espousing a unique open house "art sourcing" policy: his residence filled with art that is worth millions of dollars has been open to walk-in artists, art scholars, enthusiasts and visitors round-the-clock. This is not without issues. The solution came in the form of a new off-residence museum for public access. At its inauguration, a scandal alleging fake works in his collection surfaced on Facebook and resulted in a detailed “exposé” in the nation's highest circulated publication, Tempo magazine. In the name of protecting national heritage for posterity, OHD is challenged to respond to pressing calls to declare provenance and prove the authenticity of specific works by artists of national significance in his private museum.
Set in the emerging art scene of Indonesia, this is the story of a singular collector and his unique ways of collecting, curating and sharing art works in his collection. It is also a story about the challenges faced by private art collecting in Indonesia and the expectations of the larger community when a collection is perceived to be representing the nation. The film addresses and raises for thought, issues of authenticity and provenance, of responsibility and accountability, of the tensions between public legacies and private succession plans for a cultural collection, and points to the crises of a proliferation of opinions but dearth of authenticating methodologies and authoritative sources.
English & Bahasa Indonesia (English Subtitles)
Original Concept by
Producer, Director, Editor
Director of Principal Photography
Yusei Watanabe (for short film edition)
China's Art Missionary
Uli Sigg, Switzerland
Run Time : 30 minutes
Ongoing project: 2011 to date
The journey of Swiss art collector, Uli Sigg, into the heart of the Chinese cultural space, as a preserver and custodian of cultural assets which is not his own -- challenging ethical thresholds and navigating cross-cultural boundaries. Through the lens of art, it reveals that dogged determination coupled with passion can sometimes supersede cultural affinity and geographical proximity in instituting legacies.
Uli Sigg is a Swiss national whose fascination with China saw the establishment of the largest and most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art in the world.
Sigg chanced upon post-1978 China when he was sent to Beijing as a businessman and later, as Swiss Ambassador when its economy underwent sweeping changes. There, he looked to contemporary art for access to information on Chinese society and learnt that works by Chinese artists were not collected, either by private individuals or public institutions. Thus began his 20-year quest to document these productions with the express intention of donating them back to China one day. But as a Westerner, the odds were stacked against him: he did not speak the language, nor did he begin with any understanding of Chinese culture or artists.
As a media professional, Sigg is no stranger to headlines and controversies. But it is the unconventional art that he collects that has put him on the hot seat as he bears the brunt of suspicion and criticisms. In trying to mirror Chinese art productions, Sigg makes the subjective objective, putting aside personal tastes to ensure completeness of his “historical document”. Ironically, with the meteoric rise of the Chinese art market, Sigg finds himself priced out.
1,000 door-to-door studio visits and 2,200 works later, his vision was realised under a part gift/part purchase to M+ museum in Hong Kong valued at $163 million, comprising 70% of his collection. The partial donation to Hong Kong, originally conceived to deliberately avoid the fate of censorship within mainland China, met with a changed political order in Hong Kong years later.
This is an excerpt of a long form documentary in production. This film was awarded the short film grant from the Media Development Authority of Singapore.
English & Chinese (in English Subtitles)
Original Concept by
Series Producer and Director
Co-Director and Director of Principal Photography
Yusei Watanabe (for short film edition)
Photo Credit : Tomas Munita for The New York Times
(To be developed)
Anupam & Lekha Poddar
Lekha & Anupam Poddar are said to have the most significant, comprehensive and avant garde art collection in India, Even art from neighbouring countries in the sub-continent such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Tibet have a growing presence. Having a collection that comprises over 2,000 works, they started the Devi Art Foundation in 2008 to house their collections. The collection was started by Lekha in the 1980’s with works from the Bengal School and the ‘Progressive Artists Group’. Anupam’s own interests lie in experimental and cutting edge art forms.
Oei Hong Djien
(Indonesian, b. 1939)
Dr. Oei Hong Djien, born and based in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, has been collecting art for more than 39 years, focusing on modern and contemporary Indonesian art. The collection has about 2500 works, partly housed in 3 museums, 2 of which are within his private residence. Dr. Oei is a tobacco grader.
He was honorary advisor to the Singapore Art Museum (2001 – 2005), served as member of the Singapore Art Museum Board (2005 – 2009), a curator of Museum H. Widayat, Magelang, Indonesia (1994 – 2009) and Advisor to National Gallery Singapore (2010-2012). A book about his collection, titled: “Exploring Modern Indonesian Art. The collection of Dr Oei Hong Djien” by Dr. Helena Spanjaard, was published in 2004.
(Swiss, b. 1946)
Dubbed one of the most influential collectors of the Chinese contemporary art scene, Uli Sigg, a Swiss national, has been collecting art for more than 30 years. 2,200 works and 1,500 studios visits later, Uli is said to own the single largest collection of contemporary Chinese art, thanks to his role as a “documenter”. He is said to be the only collector to have witnessed the development of Chinese contemporary art history since its infancy, when he was attached to China as the Ambassador of Switzerland to the People’s Republic of China, North Korea and Mongolia.
Uli is currently a member of Member of the Advisory Board, China Development Bank, Beijing, a member of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York and also of the International Advisory Council of Tate Gallery, London.
Uli Sigg In Conversation
Collecting Chinese Contemporary Art
This is the first instalment of a series titled Leading Patrons of Asian Art In Conversation.
Collecting Chinese Contemporary Art : : Uli Sigg In Conversation
Paperback, 192 pages
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The films continue to be invited for screenings and discussions in many art and educational institutions around the world.
"The Authentication in Art Congress found Patricia's film necessary to be shown at the Authentication in Art Congress in May 2016. There were some 160 experts who were present, some with the practice of collecting [art] this way. Personally, I found the documentary not only enlightening from a professional point of view, but very strong because Patricia 'grows' with the turn that also overtook her during the duration of the project. This open-mindedness makes it a strong masterpiece that transcends cultures and time periods."
Hartelijke Groet, Milko
Organiser, Authentication in Art Congress
"The 24-Hour Art Practice" by Patricia Chen. For some time I have sought for a contact with IDFA, to re-introduce this documentary, after I saw it at the "Authentication in Art" conference, this year in May. The movie made a deep impression, not only on me, but on the complete group of nearly 100 international experts on the topic of 'authentication' and provenance in Art. The topic is about a private art collector in Indonesia, whose rather famous collection was being re-framed within the western discourse on 'authentication and value' and thus became a focus of controversy.
Patricia Chen, in my opinion, was able to document this rather tragic process because she is not only a very interesting director, but also familiar with both Western and Asian ways of dealing with works that we consider to be art. Her movie is essential in two ways: not only is it an outsider’s view that enables us to reconsider the tragic way that we have fallen into traps that the art-market presents today, it has also brought Patricia Chen, as the messenger in peril herself; she has had to accept that her documentary was banned from its intended première in Singapore.
In both ways, I think, the representation of this documentary could be important for our reflection on the state of the current discourse on art in our own world, the discourse is perverted, degenerated, and even poisonous as Patricia Chen shows us by her case study.
Asia Now, Paris Oct 2019
Patricia with Martin Kemp (right), Expert on the works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Marc Trapman (left) May 2016
Twitter Singapore June 2017
Straits Clan, Singapore April 2021
American Club, February 2017
The Authentication in Art Congress 2016, The Hague, May 2016
hosted by Cheo Chai Hiang and Cecily Cheo, involving the arts community, April 2015
Screening at Hong Kong Arts Centre, March 2015
Screening at IVAA Yogjakarta, Indonesia, Nov 2015
Patricia is series producer-cum-director and author of Leading Patrons of Asian Art In Conversation series of films and publications. Prior to working on this, Patricia contributed to Flash Art, The Art Newspaper, Financial Times and Art Market Report on the Asian art market and scene. Patricia created Southeast Asia’s first modern and contemporary art indices. Her published articles and public lectures on the Southeast Asian art market inaugurated ways of advancing the study of art and market via quantitative data analyses and primary field work. She presented her findings through public lectures in Singapore, Indonesia, Korea and the United Kingdom and in columns that she penned : Asian Insider (Flash Art) and Collectors’ Guide to the Southeast Asian art market (C-Arts). In recent years, her research interests have broadened to include private museums in Southeast Asia.
Patricia’s foray into the world of visual arts started with her involvement as the Founding General Manager of Sculpture Square, a contemporary art space in Singapore. Apart from her art involvement, Patricia also has extensive experience in the communications industry, having headed the regional corporate communications function in publicly-listed WingTai Asia.
Patricia first embarked on filmmaking as a way of archiving conversations. Since then, she has focused on producing independent, process-driven films, directing her gaze at patrons of art with strong social footprints. Her publication, Uli Sigg In Conversation : Collecting Chinese Contemporary Art and films, The 24-Hour Art Practice (2015) and China’s Art Missionary (ongoing) that started in 2011, came out of that. The former was also referenced in Georgina Adam’s publication, Dark Side of the Boom. Her films have been screened in France, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore and the Netherlands, including a solo film presentation at the Authentication in Art Congress 2016 in the Hague. Patricia personally undertakes all camera, research and editing work.
Patricia graduated summa cum laude from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art with a Master’s degree (Distinction) in Art Business. Her projects have been funded by public grants from the Media Development Authority, Singapore Tourism Board and the National Arts Council. Patricia has been involved in the acquisition of works of art and public commissions and as members of jury and advisory board attached to art prizes and art fairs.
The writer can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org
SPEAKING & MODERATING ENGAGEMENTS
Film screening of The 24-Hour Art Practice (ed. 2021) and China’s Art Missionary (ed. 2021) @Straits Clan, Singapore.
Moderator, online discussion on the late Kim Lim and the exhibition of her works at Tate Britain. Panelists: Bianca Chu (Independent Curator & Represenative of the Kim Lim Estate), Johnny Turnbull (CEO, Kim Lim estate), Hammad Nasar (Curator, Researcher & Strategic Advisor) organised by ArtSG.
Film screening of The 24-Hour Art Practice and China’s Art Missionary @Asia Now, Paris
Moderator, S.E.A. Focus, Singapore : Patronage Today and Beyond: A System of Support and Friendship. Panelists: Jam Acuzar, Founder and Director of Bellas Artes Projects (BAP); Alan Lo is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Classified Group, Design Trust Chair; Alain Servais, Art Collector
Moderator, Patricia Chen in Conversation with Richard Koh, on what it means to present the private in public as a gallerist-collector, in the first public exhibition of his personal collection in Southeast Asia. In this talk, Patricia Chen shares a conversation with Richard Koh on how his observations of the art world translate into what he collects, presents and sells, addressing questions about the realms between the private and the public.
Film screening: Uli Sigg: China’s Art Missionary (ed. 2017) & China’s Art Missionary (ed. 2017), American Club, Singapore
Special screening of "The 24-Hour Art Practice" at Authentication in Art Congress 2016, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Special Screening of "Uli Sigg : China's Art Missionary" and "The 24-Hour Art Practice" at Hong Kong University.
Screening of "Uli Sigg: China's Art Missionary" at Indonesia Visual Arts Archive, Yogjakarta.
May - Nov 2015
Screenings in educational institutions eg. La Salle and School of the Arts, Singapore
Private screening of "The 24-Hour Art Practice", Singapore, organisefd by Cecily Cheo and Cheo Chai Hiang.
Special Screening of "The 24-Hour Art Practice" at Hong Kong Arts Centre.
Book launch of "Uli Sigg in Conversation : Collecting Chinese Contemporary Art and short film premiere of "Uli Sigg : China's Art Missionary" At Hong Kong Arts Centre.
Lecture and panel discussion at G-Seoul and public lecture at Art Council of Korea, Seoul.
Led VIP tour on Southeast Asia for Art Basel Hong Kong.
Speaker : Singapore and The” Southeast Asian Art Ecosystem”
Singapore has since 1990′s stated its intention to position itself as a “global city for the arts”. However, discussions, published writings and specific decisions have, more often than not, been Singapore-centric, even though neither Singapore nor its arts scene exists in silo. The presentation proposed an alternative, outside-in approach in advancing this discourse. It framed the discussion by weaving in a broader framework that involves Indonesia and Hong Kong, through an overview of the Southeast Asian art market and comparative developments in the art scenes of Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Patricia took the audience through specific and detailed components that make up the Southeast Asian art scenes and markets, the workings of the validation and distribution centres before moving on to examine Singapore’s stated ambition and the issues that are associated with that aspiration – including that of education, mentality and attitudes as well as creative leadership. Perspectives from different individuals from within and outside the Southeast Asian art scene were also brought in to enrich the discourse and five filmed interviews were screened for the first time : T K Sabapathy, Art Historian (Singapore), Helena Spanjaard, Art Historian, (Amsterdam), Lorenzo Rudolf, Art Stage Singapore, Sylvain Levy, Collector, DSL Collection (Paris). A trailer for Leading Patrons of Asian Art also premiered that evening.
Moderator, Panel Discussion on the occasion of the opening of new OHD museum, Magelang, Yogjakarta : Pitching Indonesian art to International Museums : Issues, pitfalls and strategies and Charting Indonesian art for growth in the international art market : issues, pitfalls and strategies
Panelists : Magnus Renfrew, Director, Art Hong Kong; Lorenzo Rudolf, Director, Art Stage Singapore; Pearl Lam, Director, Contrasts Gallery, Shanghai & Hong Kong; Helena Spanyaard, Art Historian, The Netherlands; Kwok Kian Chow, Special Advisor to National Art Gallery, Singapore; Dr. Oei Hong Djien, Collector, Indonesia
Lecture to Master’s students and faculty of Sotheby’s Institute, London “An Introduction to the Southeast Asian Art Market”
Nov 2010 Moderator, Panel Discussion : “If I had to start over”. Dr. Oei Hong Djien, Collector, Indonesia; Deddy Kusuma, Collector, Indonesia; Marjorie Chu, Dealer, Singapore
Presenter, Public Lecture – C-Arts Talk in collaboration with Singapore Art Museum @ Grand Indonesia, Jakarta : “The Southeast Asian art market and the global financial crisis”.
Presenter, Public Lecture @ Art Singapore :”Southeast Asian art through the financial lens” to incorporate content of Master’s thesis, “Is the Southeast Asian art market riding on a bubble?”.
Patricia Chen, Producer, Leading Patrons of Asian Art
Leading Patrons of Asian Art
This is the first dedicated project on significant patrons of Asian art, initiated to advance discourse on Asian art via the lens of art patronage. Through a series of films and publications that detail “closed-door conversations” with the personalities behind some of the world’s finest contemporary Asian contemporary and modern art collections, it is hoped that comparative accounts of Asia and Asian art can be brought on to a single ‘virtual’ platform.
Core attributes of patrons for the project are as follows:
a. those who are forerunners of the art scene and preferably collected before the start of the art market;
b. those who have a predominantly Asian collection, preferably from a single scene;
c. those who were there preferably at the turn of the contemporary;
d. those whose collections have social values – the collections follow the historical development of the scene, and better still, if they can be accessible to the public;
e. those who are still active in supporting artists and defending the healthy development of the art scene today by organised activities and/or by implied attitudes in their actions or non-actions.
This is an independent project that started in 2011. The films received support from the Media Development Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board. No collector funding has been received or utilised.
Discussion during shoot in Switzerland
Production shot, China's Art Missionary, Uli Sigg with Patricia Chen, June 2012
Production shot, The 24-Hour Art Practice, Oei Hong Djien with Patricia Chen
Patricia Chen briefing crew, Leading Patrons of Asian Art