The late real-estate mogul George Wong, who died last December at 65, left quite a lofty legacy behind. Before his passing, the chairman of Parkview Group and well-rounded art patron established The Parkview Museum at the Group’s Parkview “Gotham Building” Square in Singapore.
The free private museum presents the first exhibition following Wong’s death, called Challenging Beauty—Insights into Italian Contemporary Art, open to the public tomorrow and will run until August 19, 2018.
All the Italian artworks on display at The Parkview Museum are from Wong’s private collection. During the preview of the new exhibition, Vicky Hwang, Wong’s niece and managing director of Parkview Group Singapore, said, “As a family, we are dedicated to carry on Uncle George’s legacy and will continue with the programme of exhibitions we’ve set forth before his passing. We already have the next two years of exhibitions lined up, along with this show.”
The museum brought in renowned art historian Lorand Hegyi to help curate the Italian art exhibition. He’s managed to fluidly split the space into four important Italian artistic periods: Arte Povera, an evolving and evoking epoch of modern art in early 1970s; Transavantgarde, a legendary time of conceptual abstraction in early 1980s; Scuola Romana, an important 20th-century cultural period, and finally, the latest era of young Italian artists we see today.
Wong’s choices of art pieces are the result of a long fascination and relationship with Italy — the history and culture, the new and the old, and architecture of the country, according to Hegyi. “[Wong became] friends with several Italian artist and cultural personalities, visiting artist studios, collections and museums… amassing a large, complex and coherent collection of Italian art from the late 1960s to the present,” said the former director of Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Saint-Étienne — one of the most important for collections of contemporary art in France and the world.
Some standout pieces to catch at Challenging Beauty—Insights into Italian Contemporary Art include Florence-based sculptor Roberto Bani’s four full-sized bronze figures, approaching but never entering an empty cage; and Marina Paris’ photographic works in her Underconstruction series, letting viewers uncover their own realities that fill the empty, abandoned spaces she captures.
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But it is the late Michelangelo Pistoletto that manages to capture the all-consuming and never-ending representations of the artificial universe we call art, specifically contemporary art. The Arte Povera artist’s mirror painting of hanging clothes (a form of material things) reinterprets the story of Narcissus and his reflection in the river as it fades due to ripples in the water.
Hegyi summed it up well. “Art is done to replace something that we love that we cannot keep.” And by viewing Challenging Beauty—Insights into Italian Contemporary Art, it is clear that Wong’s collection of truly complex and curious art was driven by something he loved and kept dearly.
“Art is done to replace something that we love that we cannot keep.” — Lorand Hegyi, art historian and curator
Hwang also concluded, “It is our hope that by continuing to provide a local and international platform for artistic expression and greater education on contemporary art, The Parkview Museum will be able to enrich the local art scene and fulfill our late founder’s desire to democratise the arts and make contemporary art accessible to all.”