re: view

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 June, 2002, 12:00am

I recently ran into Alice King, who is known on the social circuit as the younger sister of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and in the art world as the owner of Alisan Fine Arts. King is taking a breather after co-ordinating two major art shows for Le French May - by painter Tung Lo and sculptor Wang Keping.

For more than 20 years King has been known as the dealer to see in Hong Kong for some of the most-established (not to mention pricey) Chinese artists, including Zao Wuki, Walasse Ting and Li Shan.

Her next show in August will feature younger artists, whom she's keen to support. Let's face it, there is nothing like seeing the masters at work but no one's around forever. I told King I have almost saved enough money for an original Ting (they can cost anything from $100,000 to $300,000) and she told me to come on down and do the picking quickly, for Ting is in a coma in the Netherlands and probably won't be producing any more.

I remember meeting Ting for the first time five years ago. He had a girlfriend young enough to be his daughter and sported an outrageous blazer of his own design (he admitted fashion wasn't his forte). Most people like Ting's brightly coloured works (right) but his black-and-white ink paintings are just as sensual and are more scholarly.

Speaking of old acquaintances, maverick painter Marzo To, having been out of action in Hong Kong for more than two years, called to say he's been organising an exhibition in London. He shows up every now and then but you can never tell exactly what he is doing.

Several years ago, he was living on a former pig farm in the New Territories. I am also told by a friend he's been on the mainland all this time, trading in antiques to make a living and painting at the same time.

To has always gone against the grain. No gallery in Hong Kong represents him and he once told me he declined a commission because he didn't want to paint what his client requested. He was trained in Paris and produces large canvases full of fantasy and emotion. One of his works, a tribute to Van Gogh that stands more than two metres tall, is unforgettable. It has a bloody ear at the bottom of it and when To asked if he could store a work or two at my house, I thought about the Van Gogh ear and told him frankly his paintings aren't 'happy' enough for my house. I regret that now. After all, art isn't always destined for someone's living room.