Art Market

Art Keeps Collectors Going: Kylie Ying

Artsy Editors
May 14, 2020 8:18PM

Portrait of Kylie Ying with Cong Cong, Dionysus, 2019. Courtesy of Kylie Ying.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we’re reaching out to collectors to hear how art is enriching their lives during this time. As part of our Art Keeps Going campaign, we’re featuring their stories in “Art Keeps Collectors Going,” a series of editorial articles and videos on Instagram.

Collector Kylie Ying is a vigorous supporter of contemporary art in China. With her husband, David Chau, Ying co-founded the ART021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair in 2013, which has become one of Asia’s major art events each year. She is also a co-founder of the Beijing art fair Jingart, which was forced to cancel its most recent edition due to COVID-19.

Now quarantining at her home in Shanghai, Ying has found comfort through living with art and staying connected to friends in the art world. While her collection includes works by prominent Chinese artists like Zhang Enli and Huang Yuxing, she’s currently focused on young and emerging artists, particularly women. Works by Christina Quarles, Cui Jie, Ding Yi, and Cong Cong, among others, hang in her home. Other pieces from her enviable collection have been included in exhibitions at major international art institutions, like the New Museum and the Venice Biennale.

Recently, we caught up with Ying to hear about how she’s continued to build her collection and support artists.

Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses 2017-15, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Kylie Ying.

Portrait of Kylie Ying with Ding Yi, Appearance of Crosses 2017-15, 2017. Courtesy of Kylie Ying.


Artsy: During this period when we’ve been spending more time at home, have you discovered new things about your art collection?

Kylie Ying: In the past few months, I’ve definitely had a lot more time to spend at home and I’ve been rethinking my life, my work, and also my collection. I feel very lucky to have art in my life—not only artworks, but artists, collectors, and friends from the art world. It’s such a blessing that we’ve remained connected during the pandemic.

One thing that I discovered recently is that there are a lot of elements of the healing power of art in my collection. I like having these kinds of artworks at home—for example, the colorful Ding Yi piece in my dining room. These works make me relax during busy workdays; they comfort me during the pandemic. I didn’t realize this until recently, but maybe it could be a new direction to explore after the pandemic.

Portrait of Kylie Ying with Christina Quarles, All the Stars Man—the Stars Look Beautiful Tonite, 2016. Courtesy of Kylie Ying.

Christina Quarles, All the Stars Man—the Stars Look Beautiful Tonite, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Kylie Ying.

Artsy: Are there specific artworks you’re thinking about a lot?

K.Y.: One of the works that I keep coming back to is a painting by Christina Quarles, All the Stars Man—the Stars Look Beautiful Tonite (2016). I first discovered Quarles at Made in L.A., the Hammer Museum’s biennial, in 2018. The exhibition showcased many interesting works by emerging female artists—which is also one of the main focuses of my collection. I was intentionally looking for artworks by female artists during that trip to L.A.

I put Quarles’s work in my small reading room. This has been my favorite spot during my quarantine. Sunshine comes in, I can sit there and have a cup of coffee; it makes me feel very peaceful. The painting depicts two ambiguous figures unhinged from the physical limitation of our bodies; their arms and legs are akimbo and entwined. The piece overflows with colors, textures, and patterns, providing visual pleasure. The strong sense of intimacy and the contradictory elements of the painting are quite thought-provoking.

Artsy: Have you discovered new artists during this time?

K.Y.: While I’ve been home, I’ve had plenty of time to discover artists, not only in China but also abroad. I recently discovered Cong Cong, an emerging female artist from China who I really like. I first saw her painting on Antenna Space’s Instagram, and then talked with the gallery director to learn more about her and her artworks. I love to learn about art through Instagram Stories. It’s very efficient.

Cong Cong, Dionysus, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Kylie Ying.

Artsy: Have you found ways to support artists recently?

K.Y.: We’ve been supporting artists and galleries through various means through the years. In ART021, we have two sections, Detour and Approach, to support emerging galleries all over the world. We also waived all the ART021 application fees for participating galleries this year.

Our nonprofit, CC Foundation, has been holding exhibitions for young artists over the past few years. We just had an exhibition of the young artist Chen Zhou, and we also acquired his works. Additionally, we are planning to open a new museum this year, so we can devote more to support artists in the future.

During this period, I’ve been participating in online auctions and browsing galleries’ online viewing rooms. I’ve had a lot more time to spend online and actually found many interesting works. I’ve acquired a cute balloon by Takashi Murakami that I’m planning to install in our new museum’s public education section. I also acquired pieces by Fay Ray and Emily Mae Smith.

Artsy Editors