The Art Newspaper’s Christina Ruiz talked to Baron Ullens to find out the story behind the sale of Chinese Contemporary art at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong this April. She found out that Ullens is divesting his collection in stages and handing over the management of his Ullens Center for Contempoary Art to partners:
Ullens said he had originally hoped to use UCCA to show his extensive holdings of Chinese contemporary art. “That idea was very quickly shot down … so we [moved] very quickly to promoting Chinese art by doing special exhibitions and temporary shows.”
At first, UCCA struggled to find its feet. Six months after its launch, four out of the five senior staff members who had been introduced to the press at the launch had resigned or had been replaced.
The gallery was criticised for employing too many Europeans—its director is the French curator Jérôme Sans—amid suggestions that the Chinese resented a foreigner opening an ambitious and important institution like UCCA. Ullens admitted those suggestions were partly true. “The Chinese have been nice, we’ve had very nice relationships, we’ve never had censorship. The problem is they have structures and you need to have Chinese partners to navigate the structures. So it’s true, to some extent it’s true.”
A year ago, Ullens formed a partnership with the Minsheng Art Museum run by a bank of the same name. That collaboration is now “dead”, says Ullens.
For Guy Ullens, the dream of a Chinese art museum “is over” (The Art Newspaper)