Curated by: Marcella Beccaria
The Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art presents the exhibition In front of the collector for the first time in Italy. Uli Sigg's collection of Chinese contemporary art, Uli Sigg's prestigious collection (Lucerne, 1946), recognized as the most important in the world.
The first entrepreneur to travel to China in 1979 for Schindler following the Open Door Policy declaration, Uli Sigg developed economic relations and drew up the business model adopted by China, opening the door to investment and essentially inventing the Chinese model of state capitalism. Creator of the first joint venture between China and the West, over the years spent in the Asian country Sigg has intertwined relationships and friendships with numerous artists, identifying art as an extraordinary tool to get to know Chinese culture in depth. In a context devoid of cultural institutions dedicated to contemporary art, Sigg made collecting an opportunity for personal study.
By frequenting private galleries and artists' studios assiduously, Sigg encouraged the creative paths of contemporary China, directly acquiring multiple works of art.
The collection, which has around 2,500 works by over 500 artists, is not limited to the collector's aesthetic taste alone but reflects an encyclopedic vision that aims to document the evolution of Chinese art from the late 1970s to today.
After the initial period as an entrepreneur in China from 1979 to 1995, Sigg returned to China as a Swiss Ambassador for China, North Korea and Mongolia from 1995 to 1998, a period in which he also had a fundamental role as a cultural ambassador, promoting knowledge of Chinese art in an international context. In 1997 he established the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), an annual award for contemporary Chinese artists who live in China and who, through the involvement of international directors and curators in the jury, contributed to the subsequent spread of Chinese art in many museums. in the world. Thanks to Sigg's favorite contacts, Harald Szeemann, who was among the jurors of the first edition, then invited nineteen Chinese artists to the 1999 Venice Biennale, exhibiting his works first in Europe.
In 2012 Sigg, with a donation of 1,450 works from his collection at the M + Museum for Visual Arts in Hong Kong, which will be partially open to the public in December 2020, returned an important part of its recent cultural history to China.
The exhibition, which welcomes visitors with works set up in the atrium of the Castle, along the staircase of honor and in the rooms on the second floor, is developed in close contact with the collector and the artists and presents a precise selection from the Sigg and M + Collection Sigg Collection, documenting some of its distinctive characters through a choice of thematic and monographic rooms. The first room is a sort of "archive" in which some of the first works purchased and usually installed at his home in Switzerland and some of the many portraits that the artists dedicated to him are set up. As evidence of the close friendships established by Sigg, the center of the room is occupied by the monumental Fragments (2005) by Ai Weiwei, one of the artists closest to him and present in the collection with numerous works, while the important work by Feng Meng Bo testifies to Sigg's contribution as the commissioner of new works.