Liu Gang: "It makes life more interesting." | Story of the Collection

Early Collection

Catch the Train by Gao Xiaohua

For collectors, such a work is rare


Catch the Train, Gao Xiaohua, Oil on Canvas

In the 2003 Guardian Spring Auction, I bought Catch the Train, which was an oil painting created by Gao Xiaohua in 1981. This auction was originally scheduled for April, but the sudden outbreak of SARS forced it to be postponed until mid-July. 

Before the auction, I felt that SARS would not only impact the economy, but also dampen collectors’ desire to buy artworks. However, the auction result came as a complete surprise. Dozens of collectors had participated in previous Guardian oil painting auctions, but this one had more than 300 attendees. 

According to the estimates and the way the market had gone in the past, I felt that I had enough money to win five fine works: Gao Xiaohua's Catch the Train, Ai Xuan and He Duoling's The Third Generation, Chen Danqing's Tibetan Paintings Ⅰ, Wu Zuoren's The Yellow Blooms on the Battlefield Smell Sweeter, Chen Yifei's Meeting in Duse, and Wei Ershen's Father and Son. 

However, in the end I only got Catch the Train and Father and Son. The auction price of Catch the Train was 3.63 million RMB, which was the highest transaction price in that auction.

After the auction, there were rumors that 
Catch the Train was not worth so much money. I don’t think so, because I know that Catch the Train is a classic of 1980s Chinese painting. It initiated the concept of art facing the reality and life of the post-Cultural Revolution era, and was praised by art critics as the Along the River During the Qingming Festival of oil painting. For collectors, such a work is rare.

Tips for New Collectors

The most precious thing for collectors is not to own the work, but to own the taste

I started collecting in 1993, and now more than 27 years have passed. These years of collecting have given me the following insights:

1. First, the greatest benefit of an art collection is that it makes life more interesting. Therefore, you must choose works that you can understand and appreciate.

2. Second, the most precious thing for collectors is not to own the work, but to own the taste. Taste is not innate, it can only be gradually accumulated through reading, seeing and communicating. Third, it is necessary to select artists who have (or will have) a place in art history, and collect the works from their best period.

3. Finally, try to hang your collections in your home or office, so that you can enjoy the artworks every day, and also compare them. Comparing a collection is a key part of appreciating it.