William Lim, a world-famous architect, has designed art specialized building such as ‘H Queen’s’, Art Hotel ‘East Hong Kong’, ‘Marina Bay Sands’ in Singapore, and ‘Banyan Tree Anji’ in China’. Lim is also a collector who patronizes young artists whose works include ‘Hong Kong’ portrayed in diverse styles.
WRITE Anna Gye PHOTOGRAPHY Woo Chan
HONG KONG is Our Museum, William Lim
His personal studio is a place where we can explore William Lim’s collecting history
including books about arts and antiques which he has been collecting since
he was an international student in the US.
Architect William Lim, who designed art specialized building including ‘H Queens’s’, Art Hotel ‘East Hong Kong’, “Marina Bay Sands’ in Singapore, is the one person who has boosted Hong Kong Art for many years. Apart from his regular work as an architect, William has also been doing various activities focused more on the word ‘Hong Kong’ as an art collector, art planner and artist. The keyword that penetrates his collection is ‘Hong Kong Local Artist’. He places considerable importance on the works by new artists who have just graduated from college. In 2014, he published the book <The No Colors> in which he includes his own collecting stories focusing on Hong Kong artists. The title of this book comes from the judgment by the past generation in Hong Kong that artists are far from successful as a profession, which means living in Hong Kong as an artist is economically and socially tough. In a calm and orderly way, William Lim introduces artists in this book who still have passion in spite of the hardships. In addition, he opened a private studio in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong to show his collection to the public and to hold exhibitions. He also held <Following the Imagined> by the artist Tung Wing Hong during the Art Basel this year.
Even the studio bathroom is filled with art works. The table and bench work in the picture is a work by William Lim in collaboration with another artist.
William also has a deep connection with Korean artists. He has collected Koran art works for about 15 years, and has been in Seoul several times. Along with Seoul Auction, he planned an exhibition with 24 artists and 40 works from Korea and Hong Kong including Hwang Ran, So-young Choi, Junsik Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Tsang Kin Wah, and Lee Kit. It is the exhibition <物 (Mul) matter> held in Hong Kong SA+ from August 1st to September 18th.
I met William Lim in his private studio where the neon work ‘Hong Kong is Our Museum 2014)’ by the artist group Map Office shines. He picked the work scrawled with this words by comparing it to Hong Kong, which has become the center stage of the world art market at high speed since the Art Basel in Hong Kong was born in May 2013. The scale of the collection filling the studio is enough to call this a museum. His studio was packed with about 100 works including Lee Kit, Wilson Shieh, Pak Sheng-Chuen Tozer, Firenze Lai, the representative artist at the Hong Kong Pavilion of the Venice Biennale Tsang Kin Wah, and Haegue Yang and Lee Bul.
The exhibition '物 (Mul) Matter' planned by William Lim was an exhibition with a total of 24 Hong Kong and Korean artists.
Also, the work by artist Jung-woo Ha, which he recently purchased, was also exhibited.
I have been holding exhibitions to sponsor young artists centered at my private studio for a long time. I collect art works to study artists and watch them grow. I met artists at their ateliers from the beginning, and I was fascinated by their ‘soul’. I think the best way to sponsor artists is to show their works to more collectors. When SA+ gave me an offer, I was glad as it was going to be a good opportunity to introduce good artists, and what’s more I could do a fusion exhibition with Korean artists. The title of exhibition <物 (mul) matter> refers to a condition of material and emotion-free, but the main message is to show beyond materials and artist’s inside as well as things we can see. I displayed a total 40 works by 24 artists including my own collection.
It is like a novel. It even starts with a basic story, but it subjoins new things during the course of time and adds more exciting stories. In the beginning my collection was simple and normal, but I am building a solid framework while continuing to change the relationship with new artists every day.
(left) The entrance of the studio. The neon work ‘Hong Kong is our museum’ by Map Office is hanging on the wall.
(right) Tang Kwok-Hin, The Lovely island, 2013, A student table, a student chair, models, a compass, and The Lovely Island book, 95.5cmx60,66cm.
Contemporary arts often have effect through dramatic scenes. Magnificent and gigantic or strange and weird. The arts from mainland China are very faithful to this art type. However, the art works by Hong Kong artists are generally small scale and have lots of personal messages. People in Hong Kong still tend to look down on artists as a career. In this physical environment and social atmosphere, artists transmit ‘keen obsession and will’ into their works in order to continue their work. I can strongly feel this power especially in the works by Hong Kong artists.
It was artist Ding Yi’s works. I used to collect Chinese antiques from my 20s when I studied in the US, and I totally devoted myself to art works after I bought Ding Yi’s works. I collected several artists’ works including Liu Ye and Yue Minjun. When I was swept by the current at the height of browsing Chinese artists works, I got to know Hong Kong artist Wilson Shieh through the Grotto Gallery in Hong Kong. His work was a strange overlap of traditional Chinese paintings and Western paintings. It was also the work that opened my mind to Hong Kong artists. After that, I have been intentionally looking for artists from Hong Kong. At the time, I met Johnson Chang, the representative of Hanart TZ Gallery, and he showed me works by new artists who graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong including Chow Chun Fai, Lam Tung Pang, Fiona Wong. They were labor-intensive and academic works not easily seen in Chinese contemporary works. After that, I met Tobias Berger who is currently in charge of art contents at the Arts of Tai Kwun Contemporary as a German curator, and I could understand the qualities and abilities of Hong Kong artists from a foreigner’s perspective. I was also able to meet many artists through him. The non-profit art organization Para Site actively introduced Hong Kong artists who were hidden in the shade.
(left) A pleasant sculpture in the shape of a chicken by artist Duan Jiany.
(right) A work by Morgan Wong who works with performance and video installation works. It is a work on the subject of perseverance and meditation.| Morgan Wong, Performance and Sculpture, 2013, Artist’s Left Hand, 24-Hour-Held Concrete in Plastic Cup
William Lim | architect, art collector
William Lim is an art collector who, among other things, pushed forward with collecting art works and holding exhibitions for young artists in Hong Kong. He has been holding several exhibitions based on his collection at his private studio in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong. He also participated in Venice Biennale of Architecture as an artist in 2006 and 2010. William Lim is a trustee for Cornell University in the US and received an honorary doctorate from Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong (SCAD) in 2018. He also serves as an committee member for Tate Research Centre: Asia-Pacific Society. His architecture firm CL3’s large scale projects are famous for fusing the arts. The CL3’s projects include the gallery building H Queen’s (2017) which is located in central Hong Kong, and H Code (2018), Gaysorn Plaza (Bangkok, 2017), The Hemispheres (2015), East Hong Kong (2010), Hotel ICON (2011), Marina Bay Sands (Singapore, 2010). www.cl3.com
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PHOTO © ARTMINING – magazine ARTMINE / Woo Chan