One of the most influential personalities in the Hong Kong art scene, Alan Lo discusses the importance of nurturing creative talent.
Hong Kong’s Alan Lo is probably best known as a co-founder and executive director of the Classified Group, which owns and operates successful restaurants in the city such as Classified, The Pawn, and Tom Aiken’s The Fat Pig. He’s also the creative mind behind Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant and art space Duddell’s, but food and beverage is not Alan’s only passion.
A leading advocate for art and design in Hong Kong, Lo was named one of “30 rising power players in the eastern art scene” by premier global art authority Blouin Artinfo. He has served on a number of government and private art organisations, including Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Para Site and Art Basel’s Global Patrons Council, and is the Chairman of Design Trust, a platform that supports art and design in Hong Kong and internationally through grants, creative collaborations, and public forums.
Growing up in a household of art collectors and having spent time studying architecture at Princeton, Lo believes that art and design are essential to humanity. “Without art and design, a place would be soul-less. Just think about Hong Kong and how it has evolved in the past decade from an art and design standpoint. I’m proud to say Hong Kong is finally entering a very interesting creative era,” says Lo, who first started collecting art in 2004 when he became involved with Design Trust.
“Eventually I was invited by the founding director of Art HK Magnus Renfrew to join the advisory council of an art fair that became the Hong Kong edition of Art Basel. I was exposed to the world of contemporary art, I started to visit more fairs and biennales globally, and was absolutely hooked.”
However, he admits that he isn’t particularly disciplined in his approach to collecting. “My collection has artists from all over the place, but there is an overall theme – I like to collect works by artists who are game changers and who push the boundaries.”
Lo believes that in order to develop a society rich in artistic talent, good creative education is crucial. “Education is key, and this a big problem in Hong Kong. Creative education here is really not very good. We need to have the right platforms to nurture young, emerging artists, and designers. Thankfully, in recent years, there have been changes happening across all fronts in Hong Kong’s creative sectors, so I’m hopeful.”
At Design Trust and some of the other organisations he works with, Lo creates platforms to help the creative community grow and offers artists more opportunities to showcase their works. “For example, we sponsor ‘Things That Can Happen’, an artist-driven non-profit space co-founded by Lee Kit and Chantal Wong that focuses on residencies and exhibitions where artists take a certain stance on the social condition of our city. At Duddell’s we also have the tradition of appointing a young Hong Kong-based curator for our summer exhibition,” he says.
Because Lo is constantly busy in his roles as a restaurateur, cultural enable, husband and father, he confesses that he doesn’t have much time for his own creative pursuits. However, he feels that he is already manifesting his creative ideals through his efforts at encouraging and promoting local talents in Hong Kong and the region.
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