Furniture and home decor
Contemporary art, with a focus on emerging and midcareer Chinese artists, as well as art that addresses gender and ecological issues
In 2014 Delora Xuanqiao Che attended the opening of a collaborative art exhibition between the UCCA Contemporary Arts Center in Beijing and the furniture company Red Star Macalline, of which Che is vice president. (She is also founder of the home decoration brand THE SHOUTER.) That exhibition, “M Home: Living in Space,” brought together the work of 12 contemporary artists—including Do Ho Suh, Zhang Enli, Yoshitomo Nara, and Laurie Simmons—whose works engage the aesthetics of the home. It was there that Che began making connections in the art world and slowly started buying art.
“I didn’t throw myself into art practices right away,” Che said, “but took a more diligent approach to mainly learn from other people first. After several years, my interest in art projects and performances that are open to flexible interpretation has evolved into a more collective, planned action.”
Part of that action was the founding of the Macalline Art Center, which was established in 2019, and opened in 2022 in a nearly 10,000-square-foot, two-story space in Beijing’s 798 Art District. “I hope Macalline Art Center can open up a fresh set of possibilities to enrich China’s relatively monotonous art ecology,” Che said. Since opening, the Macalline Art Center has mounted five exhibitions and launched a commissioning program of video artists. But Che isn’t necessarily focused solely on video art in her collecting: “Supporting Chinese video artists through collecting and commissioning is one way to help foster the local art ecosystem and create a collection methodology based on that ecosystem,” she said.
As a collector, Che’s first purchase was a work from Kyoto-based artist Kohei Nawa’s “Direction” series of abstract paintings in which black ink is applied to a white canvas in dynamic diagonal lines. “That piece of work made me feel that the flow of paint solidified on a flat canvas through time and direction of motion, and the idea of the ‘solidification of time’ moved me,” Che said.
With holdings numbering around 130 works, Che’s recent purchases include a mixed-medium painting by David Douard, and sculptures by Mimosa Echard and Berlin-based artist Kasia Fudakowski, whose work she learned about this past June at Art Basel.
A main focus for Che is reversing what she called “the concepts of the ‘local’ and the ‘international’ that have long haunted Chinese contemporary art history and scene, while instead exploring local values and building a perception system that is native to the Chinese context.” Above all, she wants to support the work of artists who are “engaging closely enough with our times to have more relevance and adhesion to the contemporary,” particularly when it comes to addressing pressing issues related to subjects like gender and ecology.
What might her collection look like in the next 5 to 10 years? Che doesn’t have that mapped out, but she wants it to respond to the changing times. “I expect it to be in flux, and resonate with the world,” she said. “Many large institutions collect works in order to write the future history of art, which I think is very important, but I hope I can give back to the current art ecosystem and support the creations by good artists. Great contemporary art can only be produced in a healthy art ecosystem.”
She continued, “Being a collector is like a duty to me. In this role, I can support artists and introduce them to opportunities. I would consider myself selfish if I had the ability to collect but chose not to.”
A version of this article appears in the 2023 ARTnews Top 200 Collectors issue.