A Shanghai Auntie Mame – Christopher Mason

The New York Times profiles Shanghai art and design maven Pearl Lam:

20Pearl-600Ms. Lam, a daughter of the late Lim Por-yen, a Hong Kong tycoon, has been a pioneer in the Chinese art world. With the 1993 opening of the first Contrasts, in Hong Kong, she began promoting Chinese contemporary art long before it enjoyed even a hint of its current worldwide popularity, or fetching the jaw-dropping prices it now does. (On Oct. 12, Sotheby’s sold Yue Minjun’s “Execution” for $5.9 million, a record price for Chinese contemporary art at auction; six weeks later, the record was superceded by a Christie’s sale of a set of 14 gunpowder-on-paper drawings by Cia Guo-Qiang for $9.5 million.)

She is also proving to be a major force in the emerging market for Chinese contemporary design. In September, she launched the Design Consulate, a branch of Contrasts in Shanghai, which shows work by designers who share her keen interest in cultural cross-fertilization. The gallery’s current exhibition, “The Essence of Chinese Sensibility,” includes work by XYZ, a group of four young Chinese designers that Ms. Lam said she had bullied into the profession, and by Shao Fan, a sculptor and painter whose “deconstructed” chairs merge elements of traditional Ming-style furniture with contemporary materials and styles.

Outspoken, enthusiastic and prone to shrieks of excitement, Ms. Lam is like a wound-up Chinese Auntie Mame. She stands just five feet five in high-heeled boots, but is a striking physical presence in her fuchsia-dyed chinchilla coat and her mauve-streaked hair, which resembles an unkempt chrysanthemum. [Full text]

[Image: Pearl Lam’s Shanghai loft overflows with cross-cultural art and design, via the New York Times]


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