Real estate developer Patrick Sun is a pioneering Hong Kong collector who champions art in Asia with the LGBTQ theme. Open discussions about gay rights, as well as diversity of sexual orientation and gender, can still be challenging in some parts of Asia.
Art, however, can be a key to open these dialogues, according to Sun, and he has been putting this into practice. Since establishing his Sunpride Foundation nearly a decade ago, the collector mounted major exhibitions in Taipei and Bangkok in 2017 and 2019, respectively, and he has noticed the changes in Asia.
“Since the first exhibition of ‘Spectrosynthesis’ [exhibition series] in Taipei, I have seen positive changes in the region’s acceptance towards LGBTQ+ art and artists, such as queer-themed exhibition in galleries and public spaces, availability of more work that fall into our collection focus, and institutional efforts in building a more inclusive portfolio with works by artists who identify themselves as LGBTQ+,” Sun told Artnet News.
His effort continues with the recent opening of “Myth Makers—Spectrosynthesis,” the third iteration of the “Spectrosynthesis” exhibition series, at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun Contemporary running through to April 10. The exhibition, curated by Inti Guerrero and Chantal Wong, is the largest art show with the LGBTQ+ theme the city has ever seen. Featuring some 50 artists from Asia and its diaspora, the show presents more than 100 works, with a third on loan from Sunpride’s collection.
Sun said that the history of Tai Kwun, which was a prison compound during British colonial times, gave an extra layer of context to explore the history of criminalization toward the LGBTQ+ community. “The show goes beyond a survey of past and present art to delve into ‘queer futurities’ by imagining a world where people are no longer bound by bodily constraints or binary pre-conceptions,” he noted.
And the exhibition series will continue. Sun has already started planning for the next show in another yet-to-be announced Asian city, with a new curatorial team, artists, and local context. “The greatest challenges of staging exhibitions of this them in the region? Franky, I think the law, the religions of the populace, and the time and effort needed all pose a challenge to our work. Again, I am optimistic,” the collector said. “I believe everyone has a role to play.”
We caught up with Patrick Sun to talk about what he has been collecting lately.
What was your first purchase (and how much did you pay for it)?
I started collecting contemporary art after I founded Sunpride Foundation in 2014. The first artwork I purchased was Eikoh Hosoe’s silver gelatin photograph (1961), and the price I paid was $35,500.
What was your most recent purchase?
It was Salman Toor’s (2020). I bought it at the inaugural Paris+ fair in 2022.
Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?
I hope to get a good oil on canvas painting by David Hockney.
What is the most expensive work of art that you own?
Bhupen Khakhar‘s oil on canvas, (1998).
Where do you buy art most frequently?
From galleries and art fairs.
Is there a work you regret purchasing?
Luckily, no. I guess the reason that I haven’t regretted any of my acquisitions has a lot to do with the fact that my collection has a clear focus—they are acquired for exhibitions. Every purchase is well-consulted beforehand.
What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?
I have Tseng Kwong Chi’s photographs and Félix González-Torres’ jigsaw work hanging right next to where I sit in my office. In the bathroom, I have a photograph picturing a pair of urinals by our art advisor Michael Chen, which reminds me of Félix González-Torres’ coupling idea.
What is the most impractical work of art you own?
Practicality implies function, and to me, function in this context equals exhibition. So, an artwork that’s “impractical” means it cannot be exhibited in our exhibitions. I have a work by the late David Medalla which I love very much, an iteration of his , which was created for our exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in 2019. It was a participatory installation and when we wrapped up the exhibition, its life also ended. It is an invaluable piece to me personally, but I cannot exhibit it again. It now sits in my warehouse.
What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?
Adrian Ghenie’s oil paintings. When I saw them in a solo exhibition in Venice back in 2017, I had a chance to buy but I didn’t. Since then his price has skyrocketed.
If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?
Francis Bacon’s triptych (1971).