Ryan Su used to think of the art world as “the intimidating kind of mysterious.” But it’s no longer the case. Living in Paris for the past year, while pursuing his Masters of Law, has allowed a greater immersion in the world of art. Now back in Singapore, he shares his art journey and what works he looks out for to add to his collection
Words Rossara Jamil, photos: Ryan Su
Tell us more about your journey to art
I began collecting in the UK when I studied there as a student. I went to auction houses to learn and to look at art. After some time, I made friends there and started to become more interested in art and collecting. I also worked in the Art and Cultural Property department in a London law firm where I dealt exclusively with art-related cases. That increased my enthusiasm for art. From then on, I have been attending art shows, fairs and exhibitions to expose myself to more artists and their work. It is only through this that you can improve your eye for art, and learn to appreciate art in a wider context.
Any works that are especially interested in?
Wow. I have too many. Although the artists I particularly like, and who most people know I particularly like, are Warhol, Basquiat, Frankenthaler, and Rothko. There are also other Asian, European and American artists whom I am gradually learning more about.
Any particular styles and movements that you are drawn to?
I am drawn to abstract expressionism – something that in my opinion has not really caught on with Asian collectors but is very big in the west. These paintings, to me, are very clever, but at the same time so soothing to look at. I like Warhol, although I am not into pop art at all. I also like things from the Modern period as I love to imagine life as it was then.
Share with us an anecdote about buying art
Art buying is an experience in itself. Most of the time, it is not easy. Most of my purchases have involved sweat and tears – including driving back and forth from Miami Beach multiple times a day, to getting frustrated when work that was promised was threatened to be unavailable. Both had happy endings although the process was not that much fun.
What do you look for in a piece of art?
I always look for ideas, beauty and if the piece of art “sings” to me, in the sense that it is speaking to me, or that I could relate to it. Again, I only buy what I like, and think it is best to be guided by this, instead of other motives.