The Pop Sensation exhibition in Hong Kong.
HONG KONG - Among private banks, UBS’s art collection ranks as one of the best. In conjunction with the Hong Kong Arts Centre, UBS recently brought over thirty Pop Art pieces to Hong Kong from their collection, which was built over forty years. The exhibition in Hong Kong included iconic works by two of the masters of Pop Art, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, including Warhol’s most popular Campbell's Soup Cans series.
What made this exhibition unique was that it went beyond showcasing capitalist Pop Art from the 1950’s and 60’s and extended its scope to include artists from around the world, embodying the full influence of Pop Art on artists globally. At the same time, it reflected on how far-reaching the effect of capitalism and consumerism were on work by Asian artists under the force of globalization, as illustrated in the exhibition, with Thai artist Navin Rawanchaikul’s large-scale oil painting, and work by Chinese artists, the Luo Brothers.
The most compelling piece on view was the video artwork Whose Utopia by Guangzhou artist Cai Fei. By using the setting of a factory as its subject matter, this work has no seeming relation to the American Pop Art movement; rather the artist attempts to look at the world from the origins of consumerism. This piece provides a critical view directed at the very heart of Pop Art and its inclusion in the exhibition by curator Stephen McCoubrey serves as a perfect footnote to the whole curatorial approach.
It is rare to see contemporary art pieces from the U.S. in Hong Kong and this was a great chance for art lovers to understand the development of Pop Art and its influence on art. In the forty years that UBS has been collecting art the number of works focused on contemporary art have grown into an impressive collection. It has been exhibited frequently in well-known international museums, including London’s Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, establishing a unique cultural position for the bank. UBS’s enthusiasm for art collection has direct cultural associations with the Swiss tradition of art collection, and distinguishes them from the numerous other private banks. Their collection also affords opportunities for the bank to hold art events and meet new clients. The example set by UBS vividly illustrates the feasibility and potential possibilities of a corporate art collection.