Ron Chang

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Director of Wrong Gallery Taipei

◆ “URBART” has become ever more popular in recent years. What does “URBART” mean to you?

To me, “URBART” contains a few elements. First of all, it’s often related to current news and trends such as fashion and clothing designs…etc. Second of all, it’s related to music, whether it’s rap or other contemporary music genres as long as it appeals to the young generation. And lastly, it has a strong connection to the street culture which is the so-called “Graffiti Art”. It serves as a different way of self-expression. Therefore, anything taps into one of these three genres or has any connection with them. It’d be seen as “URBART”.

◆ When did you get into the “URBART Collection”? What does your main art collection include?

I started my collection when I was only in junior high school. I collected many Celluloids then, and some original paintings by a few artists as well. Since I lived in Japan when I was little, compared to some art collectors in Taiwan, it’s earlier for me to be accessible to these art sorts. When I was in the US during the late 90s, it was until then that I started stepping into the domain of real art, however, the “URBART” we knew back then was completely different from what we know of today.

◆ When viewing or collecting an artwork, what are the essentials for you?

In my opinion, Firstly, an art collection is about passing on heritage. That is to say, when it comes to the art collection, I hope people have this notion that we are not the eternal protector of the artwork but its temporary owner. We are to protect it. To me, the most important thing is that you have to truly love what you own. You like it so you collect it, and after you collect it, you become its protector in this time of the universe.

◆ "URBART" (such as trendy toys, Celluloid Nitrate, and Marvel…etc) has encountered a rapid rise in the art market recently, what are your opinions on this?

Personally, I prefer calling them “Art Toys”. The artist has been more sought after recently with name brands. For example, Dior collaborated with Hajime Sorayama, and Daniel Arsham a while ago. An artist, by collaborating with name brands, they are brought to the mainstream. Another example is Hajime Sorayama. His collaboration with Dior resonates with the people of this era especially. And because of these brands, it paves the way for the emergence of these artists. So “URBART” actually finds itself in a unique position where it doesn’t fit into the high-end upper class, yet doesn’t exactly belong to the lower class. However, right now it has been widely regarded as a fast-roaring trend and an acceptable genre of art. Why? It’s because these kinds of art are adored by the young generation, in a way, they have become more conceivable to the public.

◆ From your point of view, what progress will URBART make in the field of contemporary art in the next ten years?

I think in the next ten years, there will be more young collectors. Although there exist tens of thousands of galleries, and these young collectors might have never heard of the artists, once they look at the artwork, resonate with it, it will later become their first collection, a real piece of art that truly belongs to them. Whenever they look at the artworks on the wall of their home, they are cheerful every time. Not after long, these young collectors will be introduced to the world of real collections. And as for your hotel art fair, ONE ART Taipei 2021, has no barriers. You can walk in without being recognized, and you wouldn’t feel awkward or alienated. The person standing by you could be a well-known collector but you might not even know his name. It’s a place for everyone. The trendy objects young people love nowadays are already incorporated with art. It’s easier for the young generation to understand what art is. 

Therefore, I feel that “URBART” will gain more recognition in the next ten years. I 

can’t guarantee all the “URBART” artists can make their fame. But some artworks are definitely worth collecting. I hope that “URBART” can lead the young generation to a world of deeper appreciation. It would be excellent to build a bridge between “URBART’ and real art.

◆ Your (recent) favorite artist/artwork?

I really like Hajime Sorayama. How amazingly he paints the iron and the silicon! If you have the chance to look through his works, you have to pay attention to the face and moves of each girl and you’ll find that none of them are identical. Each girl has a different look. The only thing in common is the mole on their faces. So I would say he is one of my favorite artists. Another favorite artist of mine is Mark Ryden. In terms of the “Lowbrow” and “Pop Surrealist art movement,” I consider him as the king in this genre. Regardless of cost, his art shows his extraordinary painting techniques. However, the amount of his artworks is surprisingly low. He and his wife, Marion Peck, both have very low-volume production. That’s why even the reproductions of his paintings worth tens of thousands of US dollars nowadays. The artists with reproduction worthy of this much, and who are still alive are nearly none, and Mark Ryden is definitely one of them.