Han Bing’s 10th arr
(2018, acrylic and oil on linen, 60 x 80 in.)
© Han Bing. Image courtesy of the artist and Night Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo by Dawn Blackman.
The artists in our Collection are a reflection of the communities East West Bank serves—a rich tapestry of diverse voices and distinct perspectives whose cultural, political, and social insights remind us of what connects us and our shared potential to reach further.
Although separated by generations, geographies, genders, and genealogies, these contemporary artists are linked by a common bond—they have tapped into a growing global appetite for their still-too-often marginalized artistic voices and creative visions to challenge entrenched stereotypes and urge us to celebrate our shared sense of wonder and humanity.
“Connecting communities and amplifying the rich spectrum of voices within them lies at the core of East West Bank’s DNA,” said Agnes Lew, Senior Vice President and Head of Private Banking at East West. “The artists in the East West Bank Collection show us how art can inspire and inform, transcend borders, and nurture greater cultural understanding and appreciation.
At first, East West acquired and showcased works from contemporary Chinese artists to expand global perceptions of Chinese art and culture. Today, the East West Bank Collection features 79 major contemporary works from 38 artists who bridge gender, culture, and ethnic backgrounds and mirror the diverse customers and communities we serve.
Han Bing is a groundbreaking contemporary abstract artist who finds inspiration and creation in the everyday objects and fleeting moments that surround her. She has emerged as one of the most dynamic, influential, creative and cultural voices on the global contemporary art scene over the last decade, and the fabric and rhythm of her immediate community becomes the content for her greater creative canvas. Her works have been exhibited at galleries including Antenna space (Shanghai); Night Gallery (Los Angeles); UCCA (Beijing); Tilton Gallery (New York); and Gallery Exit (Hong Kong).
Her “10th arr” composition is an example of how her ephemeral images of urban landscapes serve as metaphors for the nature of cities themselves.
“I've always been very taken by the fragility and ephemerality of certain compositions that I encounter on the streets,” Bing said. “They are there, available and invisible to some; but the moment I discover them, they are mine.”
Although a generation apart, Zhang Enli, whose striking abstract painting, “Hairdresser,” is prominently featured in the East West Collection, shares Han Bing’s passion for showcasing the diverse fabric of community. Zhang Enli – whose exhibition, Faces, debuts at Hauser & Wirth’s new Hong Kong headquarters January 2024 – frequently works with everyday objects he is instinctively drawn to, like a piece of string, a hose, or even a marble on the floor. He then magnifies these until a specific fragment is depicted and enlarged as if through a camera viewfinder.
“I pay attention to the subtle things that you might usually ignore,” he says. “When I look at a wall, or sky, it is full of traces, and then I name these traces after someone; it becomes very interesting, it is visible yet invisible.”
Zhang Enli’s Hairdresser
(2021, oil on canvas, 87 x 71 1/4 x 2 1/8 in.)
© Zhang Enli. Courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth and ShanghART Gallery.
Photo by Birdhead.
Cai Guo-Qiang has always pushed boundaries to move us out of comfort zones and force us to confront the cross-cultural history that shapes our current worldview.
Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Peach Period” and “Sweet Briar” artworks—two cornerstones of our Collection—are part of his provocative gunpowder series in which he spreads gunpowder—a substance steeped in historical significance—onto paper, guided by fuses, cardboard stencils, and natural elements like leaves and rocks, ignited with a flash, to create searing patterns marked by power and spontaneity.
“When confronted with challenges, it is important to have both change and permanence,” said Cai Guo-Qiang. “When artists create their works, they always seek change, but at the same time, they also cherish what is eternal and unchanging.”
Cai Guo-Qiang’s Peach Period
(2022, gunpowder on glass and mirror, 72 x 80 in.)
In recent years, the East West Bank Collection has expanded beyond contemporary Chinese artists to amplify voices from a broad range of cultures and communities.
One of these artists who pulls from the threads of her community is Lauren Halsey, who is represented by the Gagosian gallery and David Kordansky gallery. Halsey is celebrated worldwide for her authentic depictions of people and places from her neighborhood. Halsey is as passionate about creating art as she is about empowering youth. With support from East West Bank, Halsey recently opened the Summaeverything Community Center in South Los Angeles which distributes food and provides homework help as well as basketball and art programs for neighborhood youth.
“I’m documenting intersections that I need to return to or follow up on,” Halsey said. “I’ve got to archive this thing or this person or this place or this spirit. Some days are easier than others. I find a business card; other days I find a whole sphinx, or I find a figurine that rocks my world.
Lauren Halsey’s Untitled
(2023, hand-carved gypsum and acrylic on wood, 93 5/8 x 46 5/8 x 3 in.)
© Lauren Halsey. Image courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery.
Photo by Allen Chen.
Like Halsey, artist Rick Lowe’s work is shaped by his African-American culture, history, and surroundings. Rick (also represented by the Gagosian gallery) describes his extensive body of paintings and drawings as “social sculpture,” deeply rooted in the experience of what he calls “domino culture” that viscerally explores inequity and injustice through touch and sound.
Rick Lowe’s Untitled #071421
(2021, acrylic and paper collage on canvas, 60 x 84 in.)
© Rick Lowe Studio. Image courtesy of the artist and 2023 Christie’s Images Limited.
“Dominos is part chess, part checkers, and part contact sport,” Lowe says. “It has the contemplative element of chess, the rapid maneuvering of checkers. And dominos often times are slammed to the table with great force. For me, the culture is informed by the sounds of the dominos clacking on the table, the boisterous bluffing to gain advantage, and most important to me, the beautiful shapes that form as the dominos are laid out.”
Los Angeles-based artist Alfonso Gonzalez Jr. is another emerging talent in our Collection whose work developed from close observation of his father’s skillful trade in commercial sign painting. He draws inspiration in the permanence of hand-painted signage and the physical weathering remnants of Los Angeles to narrate his own familial histories of labor and image-making.
Alfonso Gonzalez’s Prunos Market
(2022, enamel, latex, gel medium, dirt, mixed media on canvas, 52 x 73 in.)
In his paintings and sculptures, the Los Angeles landscape is depicted with breathtaking realism: a bus stop bench replete with etchings; a palm tree-encircled apartment building; a cherry-red car, sans tires. His paintings excavate the sedimented interactions that happen on everyday public surfaces. His multi-layered works function as contemporary palimpsests, surfaces in which the original facade has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain.
“I’m fascinated by how a wall, or a small square, can feel like a certain place...you get all these hands and layers that went into making something look the way it does, the community’s relationship to public space,” Gonzalez says.
To showcase the work of these and other artists in our Collection, East West Bank has published an annual calendar every year since 2017. The Collection is part of a larger Art Program which was launched in 2005 to build bridges of understanding through arts and culture. This sparked collaborations over the years with esteemed museums including LACMA, The Broad, MOCA, the Getty Museum, Huntington Library, Bowers Art Museum, Asian Art Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and others. East West’s engagement with the arts community also extends to our banking services for artists, galleries, art advisers and museums.
Our passion for the arts community and our efforts to share world-class art with global audiences further cultural exchange and foster understanding.
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