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Outside of the City,at One With Nature

李静茹 Jelly Lee 2017-07-06 09:15

The Nanjing SiFang Lakeside Contemporary Art Area, now filled with architectural wonders, is next to the famous “Green Lung of Nanjing” - LaoShan National Forest Park. Following the Ten-Year Dream Plan of Nanjing FoShou Lake Architecture and Art Development Ltd, the construction of the Nanjing Contemporary International Practical Exhibition of Architecture is nearing completion. The square building at the entrance of the Lakeside Contemporary Art Area, inspired by China’s ancient scrolls, is a masterpiece of American architect Steven Hall. 

“Outside city, inside nature - that is SiFang.” says the owner of SiFang Art Museum when he was describing his “Art Utopia”. Ten years ago, when he first stood by Foshou Lake, the area was still a deserted land covered with wild trees and grass, without any formal walking path. So, this explorer took on the tremendous task of measuring every inch of the area. As a result, he has now not only become extremely familiar with every building in the area, but also their layout and construction details. 


The “explorer” we speak of is Lu Xun, the owner of the SiFang Art Museum. Despite a degree in Nanotechnology from Cambridge University and being the son of the CEO of SiFang Group, Lu Xun is humble and keeps a low-key presence. As a straight-A student, Lu not only demonstrates the qualities of a rigorous science student but also characteristics of a construction worker - practical and responsible. From 2006, Lu gradually started to collaborate with great domestic and foreign architects; he also started to get involved in art collecting in 2009. In a short span of less than 10 years,, Lu has rapidly grown into one of the top young art collectors in China, who also independently operates an art museum. Among his own art collections are some rare pieces such as the ‘horse’ INRI by Maurizio Cattelan and the ‘bicycle wheel’ by William Kentridge. This time, Vantage Magazine had a close dialogue with Lu about his journey as an art collector and a museum director. 



VANTAGE: In recent years, private art museums have sprung up rapidly, including Long Museum, M Woods Museum, Yuz Museum, and more. What is your opinion on this growing trend? 

LU: They are all unique in their own ways. Some art museums or galleries focus on urban development, some host large-scale art exhibits, some engage in art research, and some focus on building bridges that connect architecture and nature. All these different styles bring us a very rich combination of art museums. For SiFang Art Museum, we tend to bring out a beyond-earth sensation: the museum can be viewed as an art utopia and an amusement park - this is the market position I was aiming for at SiFang. I do not have very high goals for SiFang; for instance, using it to organize art history or to promote contemporary art development, etc. And I am not in a rush to host 100 exhibits a year. In fact, we only host two very high-quality exhibits every year. But throughout the year, we do host a variety of activities focusing on art education and research. My goal is to provide our audience a simple yet elegant place where art is restored to its original form. 


Journal of Mundane and Uncertain Days 5 Haegue Yang 

VANTAGE: Some critics say that SiFang Art Museum lacks connection with local art communities, what is your view on this? Do you have any plans to promote artworks of the local artists in Nanjing? 

LU: I personally believe that SiFang is very connected to the local art communities. For instance, we have been working on the “Geomorphology” project for two years; it is a great example. But I rarely categorize artists based on geography because nowadays as we all travel very often, no one limits him or herself to just one city, and we do have continuous collaboration with artists from Nanjing. 

VANTAGE: How do you balance your roles of art collector and museum director? Which role do you prefer? 

LU: The two roles are very similar. Many of the pieces that I collect are also artworks that were created for SiFang Museum. After all, the most important element of a contemporary art museum is to make collections; to me, exhibition and collection are interrelated. 


Muse and Museum No.2 Duan Jianyu 

VANTAGE: When we think of young collectors, naturally we think of Huang Yu, Lin Han, Zhou Dawei, and you. How do you view the collectors of your generation? What are the differences between the young and the older generation collectors? 

LU: I feel that the biggest difference comes from participation - the willingness and down-to-earth attitude of doing things that are art-related. We live in the same society, we share many ideals and feelings. When the young artists demonstrate a social phenomenon through his or her artwork, it surprises me and echoes with my beliefs. Art transformed my views about the world, it also changed the way I look at the world. Art is widely inclusive; it can inspire and help people in a variety of ways. 

VANTAGE: For your art collections, we understand that there are not only masterpieces by world renowned artists but also artworks by young homegrown artists, how do you define your collection style? Or how do you choose your collections? 

LU: To collect and exhibit excellent contemporary artworks has always been my initial drive. My selections follow a very distinctive framework: how well thought out is the artwork’s concept, its degree of excellence, my personal preference, price, whether the artwork showcases history, and opinions from other artists; these are all elements that I take into consideration when selecting an art piece. 


Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel Paul Chan 

VANTAGE: Do you have any special collection plans this year or any specific art pieces that you are interested in acquiring to share with our readers? 

LU: Sure. This year, I plan to start from exhibits, because there are so many great exhibits worth seeing this year. For instance, the Kassel Documenta Exhibit that is hosted every five years, the Skulptur Projekte Münster that is hosted every ten years, and many biennial exhibits. I will need to clear some space in my mind to focus on attending exhibits and to be inspired. 

VANTAGE: In the four years of running SiFang Art Museum, what was the most difficult thing? 

LU: I think the most difficult thing for an art museum is always the audience, but at the same time they are also the reason why art museums exist. 

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