Ed Tang and Jonathan Cheung On Chinese Collectors and Staging Shows in Unlikely Places

The founders of Art-Bureau art advisory recently put together an exhibition that echoes their broad range of interests rather than a type of art or artist. 

Last week was the year’s biggest in the Shanghai art scene, with the opening of the West Bund and Art021 fairs and all their attendant satellite shows. Of these, one of the most ambitious was that staged by the Art-Bureau art advisory, which presented “Yuen Yeung,” an exhibition of multi-disciplinary works by a cross-section of diverse artists presented at Shanghai K11 Art Mall, featuring the likes of Florian Krewer, Bruce Nauman, Wolfgang Tillmans and Charline Von Heyl.

Two men posing in front a green wall with English and Chinese lettering
Ed Tang and Jonathan Cheung. Courtesy Art-Bureau

Observer recently caught up with Art-Bureau’s founding partners Ed Tang and Jonathan Cheung to hear about the show, which is up until January should you swing through Shanghai sometime before then.

How did the idea for this show come about?

ET: Art-Bureau was founded in 2021 as an advisory, which is the core of our business. That said, we have always wanted to do a project in Mainland China, and this show was the perfect platform for us to introduce Art-Bureau to the audience and collectors there. We were also greatly motivated by the timing since the opening week coincided with the Shanghai Biennale and art fairs—a great convening time for the art world both local and international.

K11 has a great reputation for art, but it is still a mall. What are the challenges of programming there? Does such a unique venue carry any advantages?

JC: While being situated inside a mall, Chi K 11 Museum is a non-profit organization for art. The advantages of the space are multiple: its location is prime, and while the art audience is already familiar with its programming over the years, what excited us is that the location attracts a broad audience from the wider public.

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How do Chinese collectors differ from those in other parts of the world?

ET: Without generalizing too broadly, we would say Chinese collectors are fast to learn, absorb and react. There are many types of collectors with different interests, aims and commitments—it seems, however, that they are not shy to ‘go for it.’

The starting point of the show is Bruce Nauman’s Good Boy Bad Boy (1985). Why is this work important to you and to the show?

JC: We felt the sense of duality and contrast in this work perfectly echoed the theme of the show. We also like the sense of humor and wanted the show to be fun.

A view of an art gallery show staged with green walls
An installation view of ‘Yuen Yeung’. Courtesy Art-Bureau

You’ve paired superstars with artists at the start of their careers. What speaks to you about the work of the young artists you’re featuring?

ET: We work with collections at different stages and with different tastes. The scope of works (from the various media, price points and moments in contemporary art) creates an appealing dialogue for us. Our aim was to have an exhibition that echoes our range of interests rather than a specific type of art.

You’re showing an especially strange Andy Warhol, from his “Ladies and Gentlemen” series. Why do you think people in China are crazy about Warhol?

JC: We didn’t necessarily want to bring the most recognizable images of Warhol—this work is from a lesser-known series in China, so it’s about showing something less predictable. The ambiguity of the subject also fits well with the title of the exhibition.

The show features a large number of German artists. What do you like about artists from that country?

ET: From Wolfgang Tillmans’ photograph to Albert Oehlen’s abstraction and Martin Kippenberger’s readymade, we find those works visually and conceptually stimulating; we wanted to juxtapose these examples with other artists from Asia and Europe.



Ed Tang and Jonathan Cheung On Chinese Collectors and Staging Shows in Unlikely Places