Manfred Schoeni's daughter carries on the family tradition

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am

Just as her father brought numerous mainland artists to attention before they became famous, Nicole Schoeni (below) is now doing the same with the next generation. A new exhibition, Niubi Newbie Kids, features five young Chinese artists with a decidedly edgy perspective. At Thursday's opening, Manfred's daughter's curatorial choices might have shocked and surprised some guests, but the younger aesthetics proved she is her own fearless gallery owner.

'They are all the 1980s babies,' Nichole said of the artists. At 27, she is one herself. 'We all grew up with cartoons, magazines, violence and swearing. I think it's all reflected in the artworks. Some people found the humour in it but some mature clients were a bit unsure. Still, many encouraged me to continue.'

Forced to take over the business when her father was mysteriously murdered four years ago (while she was still at university), the struggle has been more than just to keep the gallery afloat. That's why her current success is even more rewarding.

'We still don't know why he was killed,' Nicole said. 'But he was one of the first pioneers to expose the big artist names of today like the 'smiley face' Yue Minjun and Zhang Xiaogang in the early 1990s.

'This [exhibit] is very much my style and personality. I think [my dad] would appreciate that I am taking risks and trying out different things. My father did so much for Chinese contemporary art that I have big shoes to fill.'

Niubi Newbie Kids runs until October 13 at 21-31 Old Bailey Street, Central.