An interview with collector Hung-Hei Yung…

Collector Hung-Hei Yung alongside mural from Stella Im Hultberg
Collector Hung-Hei Yung alongside mural from Stella Im Hultberg

Hung-Hei Yung is a collector living in Southern California who has become an integral part of the new contemporary art movement in recent years via the high-traffic website Arrested Motion he is a partner in and his highly popular and active collector forum The Artchival, not to mention his own blog Sleeps To Dream. To say he’s an active player in our scene is a huge understatemet. Read on to learn more about Hung-Hei and what drives him plus check out some amazing works from his always expanding collection of new contemporary art.

How long have you had an interest in art?

Actually, I’m relatively new to the art scene. I remember I use to hang out a lot on Sawtelle St. in West LA when I was at UCLA and randomly walked into Giant Robot. They were having a show with Kozyndan at the time and I liked their work so much I impulsively bought a large canvas print from them. About the same time, I chanced upon Luke Chueh‘s show at the Black Market boutique, also on Sawtelle St. You could say that with those shows, I was hooked. I believe this was 2004.

Beautiful collection of Stella Im Hultberg originals
Beautiful collection of Stella Im Hultberg originals

Does anyone else in your family collect or create art?

My sisters are interested in art and actually, one of them majored in Art in college. I think she still creates art occasionally but nothing on a regular basis. I think they also enjoy art shows but aren’t really in the scene.

Hung's impressive Joe Ledbetter collection
Hung's impressive Joe Ledbetter collection

Besides art, is there anything else that the collector bug in you searches out regularly?

Haha, yes, I think there is a collector’s “gene” in my body as I have collected one thing or another for as long as I remember. Baseball/ Basketball Cards, Designer Toys, Rare DVDs, Signed Books, etc… I think the only thing I actively collect now besides art are the occasional Designer Toy and perhaps limited edition shoes & shirts.

Wall of works on paper including pieces from Kaws, KuKula, Sam Flores, Tim Biskup, and Dan May
Wall of works on paper including pieces from Kaws, KuKula, Sam Flores, Tim Biskup, and Dan May

With artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey and The Clayton Brothers all having major retrospective museum shows in the past year or two, the future is definitely wide open for this lil’ bubble of the art world. Where do you see this genre of art (new contemporary, urban contemporary, pop surrealism, outsider, lowbrow, etc) going over the next 5-10 years?

Yes, it’s nice to see more and more recognition in the museum world. It’s hard to tell what will happen in the future but with the excellent attendance numbers hopefully institutions will begin to take notice and begin to acquire more of these artists for their collections and schedule more exhibitions. I think it takes time for a certain genre of art to become accepted because it is not so much convincing current collectors as it is waiting for our generation to grow older and more affluent and once a critical mass is reached, there will be a mainstream acceptance. I think we are well on our way as this all started way before I was even involved in the scene…

Some of the Jeff Soto works in Hung-Hei's collection
Some of the Jeff Soto works in Hung-Hei's collection

With this genre of art gaining in popularity, price points and awareness, there’s a fear amongst some collectors that what we have held dear and close for so long, may well soon be torn wide open and new collectors and gallery players will start hunting about for ‘the next big thing’. Any feedback to that notion?

I don’t have that fear. I think for now some of the more popular artists may become more expensive, but not so expensive that the current collectors wouldn’t be able to save up and buy if they really wanted to. Do we really see any of the artists we follow in auctions, selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars (besides street art of course)? I think that is still a long ways off. It’ll be interesting to see 10-20 years from now, who from this movement will really make it. I was having an conversation with an artist recently and he named some other artists that were really popular when he was just starting out and most of them are not even showing anymore, so time will tell I guess.

First piece purchased and when/why?

A Kozyndan canvas print about five to six years ago – “Yum Cha Militia” because it spoke to me. The SARS virus was a big topic of conversation in the Asian community (which I am a part of) and I was quite taken by the humorous way they took that idea and twisted it to fit their world and imagery.

Painting and sculptures from Brendan Monroe
Painting and sculptures from Brendan Monroe

Do you have any sculpture in your collection?

I do. I have some John Casey, Brendan Monroe and Scott Radke sculptures. Hopefully, there will be more in the future.

Luke Chueh's 'Disintegration'
Luke Chueh's 'Disintegration'

Favorite piece you currently own?

What a hard question! I would have to say my Luke Chueh – “Disintegration” piece as he was one of the very first artists I was exposed to and probably why I’m into art in the first place.

Wall of work from Audrey Kawasaki including 'Oiran' in the middle
Wall of work from Audrey Kawasaki including 'Oiran' in the middle

What was your biggest score of 2009 collecting wise? Best score to date?

Haha, sadly, I have not really purchased anything in the ‘09 as I’m saving for a wedding. Best score to date would probably have to be the Audrey Kawasaki “Oiran” piece as what seemed like a fortune for a painting at that time turned out to be a pretty good deal.

The work of Camille Rose Garcia
The work of Camille Rose Garcia

Who is at the top of your want list?

I think it changes all the time but currently it is Josh Keyes. Not because I necessarily like his work more any other artist at the top of my list but because I already own multiple works from most of my favorite artists, but I’m not completely satisfied with the pieces I have from Keyes right now.

Works from Greg 'Craola' Simkins and Scott Radke
Works from Greg 'Craola' Simkins and Scott Radke

If you could add any piece of artwork to your collection, from any time period, which work would that be?

I would say I would like a Magritte piece. I think there is something about the wit and humor he is able to convey through his pieces that is attractive to me. Also, I remember going to museums and spending time just staring at his paintings for a long, long time and that is definitely a marker of how much I like an artist’s work.

Allison Sommers' 'Highwayman'
Allison Sommers' 'Highwayman'

Please name one artist that might be off the radar of most, but that has consistently blown your mind and you feel is worth a shout out.

The artist that comes to mind right away is Allison Sommers. Her detail is amazing, characters and composition interesting, and story- telling so compelling. Also, she blows my mind by thinking up situations and imagery that no one else could come up with. Being able to make me laugh is also a plus.

Wall of Luke Chueh originals
Wall of Luke Chueh originals

My wife and I would love to donate our collection to some sort of establishment, be it a museum or otherwise, so that the vision remains intact. We’re really creating a snapshot in time. With this in mind, do you see yourself ever stopping buying art and supporting artists? Even if your walls fill up? You are so young, that it’s bound to happen soon, but this is an addiction as we all know. So just curious of other’s long term plans.

I don’t think that I would ever stop buying art unless I couldn’t afford it anymore. Even then, I would probably buy some pieces from up-and-coming artists. I think filling up the walls definitely makes you a more selective as you mature as a collector. Definitely an addiction for sure…

Wall of works from Nicoletta Ceccoli
Wall of works from Nicoletta Ceccoli

You are a big part of the current evolution of this scene, having recently launched the highly trafficked collector forum The Artchival as well as a great daily source of info from the world over in the form of Arrested Motion (along with the help of a few close friends). What led you to create and launch both?

I don’t know if I’m a big part of the scene, but definitely am proud of being able to contribute. The website and forum would not be what they are without our contributors, moderators, readers, writers, and fellow collectors. I think the initial impetus was just to create a forum that focused on the art that I loved, a place that fellow enthusiast could discuss and help each other find artists and to acquire art. If there was already something that was in existence that I was satisfied with, I probably would never have thought to do it.

Arrested Motion was just a natural extension of this as we as collectors began to look for a means to further share the art we loved with the rest of the world. Hopefully, this will lead to more artists being discovered by others, more interaction between collectors, and elevation this genre of art to the mainstream. I think from the beginning, the message has been that anyone can collect, anyone can attend art events, anyone can enjoy art.

Works from Brendan Monroe
Works from Brendan Monroe

Be sure to keep up with Hung-Hei via his site, forum and blog:

The Artchival Art Forum: http://artchival.proboards.com/index.cgi?

Arrested Motion: http://arrestedmotion.com/

Sleeps To Dream blog: http://sleepstodream.blogspot.com/

2 thoughts on “An interview with collector Hung-Hei Yung…”

  1. I don’t get it. I know this style of art is wildly popular now, but to me these are more like illustrations than “art”. Is comic book art… art… or is it illustration?

    I know, eye of the beholder, etc. But most of this current movement of big-headed humanoid animals holding quirky objects… while most of them rendered quite well technically… they just don’t move me whatsoever personally. And it’s been quite a few years now… (sigh).

    Maybe if someone showed a collection done in ballpoint pen on the front of one of those blue canvas 3-ring binders we all had in junior high school… that might be cleverly interesting…

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