From stamps and coins to comic books and sports cards, David Chau began collecting at a young age—and he hasn’t been able to get enough since. Though he took an early interest in the art of collecting, David only made the leap to fine art in 2003—an endeavor that would change his life drastically.
An entrepreneur and founder of Metropolis International Leasing Co., Ltd, one of China’s largest fleet management companies, David is also one of Shanghai’s most prominent art-world figures—and it was the purchase of a work on paper by Modernist master Wu Dayu that set David on his path. He has since devoted himself to enriching the contemporary Chinese art market and growing his remarkable personal collection.
After noticing a lack of quality contemporary art fairs in China, Chau co-founded ART021 in 2013, a fair that aims to bring the top galleries, artists, and institutions from around the world to Shanghai. ART021 focuses on local resources, artists, and collectors while taking a global perspective. Because of his expertise and passion for the Asian art market, we invited David to choose his favorite works from our current Contemporary Asian Art Sale, live now through April 8 on Artnet Auctions.
China II-4, 2006
One of the most influential multimedia artists of his generation, Liu Wei has created paintings, sculptures, massive installations, and video art. China II-4 is a porcelain sculpture that plays with socio-political concepts and the ongoing competitiveness around global space exploration.
“Liu Wei is definitely one of my favorite artists from China,” David said. “I think this ceramic series has always been overlooked.”
Two Thousand Years Embroidery No. 43, 2007
According to David, the Chinese postmodernist artist Zheng Guogu is another overlooked artist. This work highlights Zheng’s exploration of local culture and Western consumerism in China, with advertising language and English slang from Hong Kong magazines and television embroidered on felt.
“His credentials and resume speak for themselves,” David remarked. “I have a couple of pieces from Zheng.”
Seeds of Hamburg, 2002
Zhang Huan is one of China’s most influential and provocative artists, and this series of photographs sequentially depicts one of the artist’s notable performance pieces.
“I am not a big fan of Zhang Huan’s newer paintings,” David said. “But his older performance pieces are some of the most important works of Chinese contemporary art. Every good Chinese contemporary art collection needs one of his early works.”
A Sketch of Anywhere Door (Dokodemo Door) and an Excellent Day, 2020
Takashi Murakami’s vibrant and chaotic compositions are recognizable beyond the art world due to their use of pop-culture figures. This work, which features the two main characters of the Japanese anime series Doraemon, brings up a sense of nostalgia for David.
“I love Takashi’s Doraemon pieces. Maybe it has something to do with my childhood dream of having a great friend like Doraemon,” David said. “Although this work is a print, it is still a good piece considering the fact that you simply cannot get an original work anywhere, as they are all snatched up by collectors in the primary market.”
Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki is known for his controversial and erotic photography. Much of his work is influenced by Shunga, the erotic art of the Edo period in Japan. Araki has been known to clash with Japanese authorities for breaking obscenity laws by displaying his work publicly or in exhibitions.
According to David, this work from a series of meticulously staged erotic images “is….just funny.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.