Initially drawn to KAWS' toys and prints, collector Ding Yixiao bought one of the artist's original works at Christie's Hong Kong Spring Auction in 2019.
From there, his collection began to expand its focus, from Pop Art to work by younger artists, 'partly because I was born in the 1990s and can resonate more with what artists around my age have to say,' he explains. 'I love having conversations with artists, to understand the world from their perspectives. It's a process I greatly enjoy.'
In September 2021, Ding Yixiao founded Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art—a two-storey art space in Rizhao, a city in China's southeastern Shandong province. Born in 1994, Ding Yixiao is one of the youngest owners of a private museum in the country, and has major plans for his hometown's art scene.
This entails bringing modern and contemporary masters to public audiences, with dream acquisitions including artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Picasso, Mark Rothko, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 'But collecting one's dream pieces may be more a matter of fate,' Ding Yixiao notes.
Having most recently acquired a painting by Barbara Kruger, such dreams may not be so unrealistic, paired with the desire to create a platform 'for a community that transforms and produces knowledge, and that can have an impact on the cultural and art ecosystem.'
A fourth-tier city, Ding Yixiao expresses the challenges that came with establishing an operating team at Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art, when resources are primarily concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai, and the Guangdong region. But he is hopeful for the museum's future as an approachable platform for contemporary art.
In his selections from Ocula below, Ding Yixiao highlights painting with dreamlike, uncanny features, as with Alejandro Cardenas, Josh Smith, and powerful and poetic figuration, as in the case of Chase Hall, Michael Hilsman, and Otis Kwame Quaicoe.
Main image: Courtesy Ding Yixiao.