At the height of Frieze Seoul on September 8 2023, non-profit organization K11 Art Foundation, with founder and cultural entrepreneur Adrian Cheng, announced the establishment of the International Council, an initiative to empower and support the next generation of Chinese artists in line with its mission to incubate talent and champion Asian contemporary art.
Committed to promoting dialogue and collaborations to foster a global art community where diverse perspectives converge and inspire one another, the Council has appointed cultural strategist, patron and academic Alia Al-Senussi as Founding Chairperson. With her roles as Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Culture, Saudi Arabia, Senior Advisor for International Outreach at Art Basel, and positions on the advisory councils at the Delfina Foundation and Tate Modern in London just to name a few, Al-Senussi hopes to bring people together to further the K11 mission statement.
“I am delighted and honored to be the Founding Chairperson of the Council. I’ve had the distinct privilege to see the advancement and evolution of K11 as a friend to Adrian. What’s been so gratifying to see is that, at its core, K11 is an educational foundation that aims to teach the local and international public about Chinese contemporary art, and about what art means to society. That is very much at the heart of what I believe.” — Alia Al-Senussi
Amongst those joining Al-Senussi on the Council are Basma Al Sulaiman, Founder BASMOCA; Sarah Arison, President of the Arison Arts Foundation; Eugenio Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Olga Re Rebaudengo, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, President Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.
Speaking on the importance of art and culture in society, Al-Senussi calls back on her own upbringing, referencing her time spent traveling and walking through museums to understand what art meant to those communities. “Being exposed to art and culture at a young age teaches people, in immeasurable ways, to be better. A community becomes more intelligent — intellectually, emotionally, even physically — when you bring them into a cultural space and give them tools that they can use in other aspects of their life.”
The multi-hyphenate hopes to draw on the vast points of knowledge and experience from her fellow Council members to bring Chinese contemporary art into the sphere of internationally recognised contemporary art. “It’s about having these works of art in conversation with each other so we can then better understand who we are in the context of the world.”
Fellow Council member Sarah Arison shares similar sentiments. Being from a family of collectors who were dedicated patrons of the arts, Arison recognizes the importance of support early in an artist’s life. “What is often overlooked is that artworks are created by artists — people often think about supporting The Arts, but not about supporting artists. These individuals are incredibly responsive to what’s going on in the world around us, and poignantly chronicle the social changes of our times. They are our historians, and should be supported as such.”
Drawing from her personal experience in working with YoungArts, Arison firmly believes in the power of partnerships to drive change. With the International Council, she sees a resource to connect artists with patrons, and a platform to discover community and opportunities. “Through partnerships, organizations are able to become stronger and sustainable, as well as offer much greater support and visibility for artists. One of the great things that K11 Art Foundation is poised to do is to bring together artists, curators, patrons and organizations from around the world to facilitate conversations, projects, residencies and more in service of creating an ecosystem that breaks down barriers, and supports and values artists and the arts.”
K11 Art Foundation’s International Council will hold its inaugural meeting on September 15. Among their initial objectives is the establishment of an art award that recognizes emerging artists in Asia, celebrating the rich diversity of contemporary art across the region.