Hong Kong; London
As a child growing up outside Beijing, Yan Du studied traditional Chinese painting. Art, she has said, has always been a part of her life, but it wasn’t until she moved to London as a college student that she decided to live among it. More than a decade later, the art patron and collector lives between Hong Kong and London, and has amassed a collection of some 300 works.
Following the birth of her daughter, Yan redoubled her commitment to buying the work of female artists, leading to the acquisitions of pieces by the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Shirin Neshat, Georgia O’Keefe, Lee Krasner, and Louise Bourgeois, a particular favorite of hers.
More recently, she has began focusing on not just supporting the work of contemporary Asian artists but also cultivating an understanding of Asian art outside China. In 2019, she founded the nonprofit Asymmetry Art Foundation with the aim of fostering transnational cultural exchange and supporting the research of contemporary art in Asia through academic scholarships and curatorial placements, including connecting their fellows with postings and residencies at London’s Chisenhale Gallery. Planning for the a post-pandemic world, the foundation will launch a program that welcomes international curators and museum directors to visit cultural centers throughout China.
“I have a strong sense of social responsibility for the art world and society in general that my role as a patron and philanthropist allows me to fulfill,” Yan told Artnet News in 2021. “However, creating opportunities for the continuous promotion of knowledge is an ongoing endeavor.”
Meanwhile, she is committed to her growing her collection. Recent acquisitions include an Eva Hesse sculpture, a kinetic sculpture by the artist-duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu that feature at the Venice Biennale in 2019, and a sculptural installation by artist Sydney Shen. Titled Thirst is the Mother of Corvid Ingenuity (2020), the work combines a black patent leather high-heeled boot atop three white buckets with stones engraved with names of rocks on Mars that are strewn about near the shoe.