At home with Ode to Art Gallery Owner, Jazz Chong

Art isn't just about the visuals or the emotional appeal, but the connections it helps to make

Jazz Chong, Founder & Owner of Ode to Art Gallery

If you’re passionate about something, turn it into a business. That’s what Jazz Chong, Owner and Founder of Ode to Art Gallery did. She turned her love of art into something she could share with other art lovers with her gallery in Raffles City in Singapore.

Jazz sees art as a way to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures. “I experience [this connection] first-hand in my line of work, as I come into contact with people from all over the world, who are drawn to the gallery by a shared love of art,” she shares.

As art consultant to her clients, Jazz works to introduce them to up and coming artists and to help them find pieces that complement the space they are decorating or add to their collection. “Art can make such a difference to the living spaces we inhabit. It can completely change the mood and atmosphere of an area and can bring added vibrancy and energy to our lives through its style and form.”

At her gallery, Jazz’s curated art pieces bridge consumers to distinguished names in contemporary art like Fernando Botero, Chen Wenling and Lim Tze Peng. “I am always focused on developing a special relationship with the artist. It helps me understand them and their vision more holistically,” she says. Jazz frequently flies the artists she works with to Singapore for her clients to get to know them. In this way, her clients also develop a relationship that helps drive a deeper meaning into the artwork they purchase.

Jazz speaks more to Jetgala on the burgeoning art scene and the trends she’s seeing in art.

What are the demographics of your clients?
We have an international range of emerging and established artists that appeals to a wide range of collectors, both seasoned and first-time collectors. We are very honoured to be trusted by local collectors, hospitality and corporate clients, as well as developers looking for works to adorn their show flats or to expand their art collections.

Our previous corporate clients have included overseas organisations, such as Ascott Tokyo Marunouchi, for whom we were the art consultant and supplier. We were also honoured to work with local developer Far East Organisation on a consultancy project for 1 Holland Village. Our clients span across different industries, and we are always delighted to provide a range of services to cater to their every art and design requirement.

Jazz’s home, designed by her husband Edmund Ng, proudly displays works by Fernando Botero

Do you see many young art collectors these days? What are their tastes like?
With the creative industries increasingly thriving, I definitely have seen a recent increase in younger collectors, who are highly informed about art. In terms of their tastes, some younger collectors are more attracted to traditional styles of art, exploring and honouring their heritage, while others prefer more contemporary styles, with a more urban or pop art feel.

What are some trends you see in art collecting in the future?
With the internet making information readily available, people from all around the world are increasingly looking to collect art from cultures that are different to theirs, which creates very interesting and rich collections.

As people become more informed about art, I think families from more diverse backgrounds will realise they can collect art.

Women in art is a demographic that in the past were given lesser focus in the art world, yet now are increasingly gaining prominence and recognition for their craft. I think it is likely that we’ll be seeing a lot more interest in works by female artists in the future.

Quietness by Hong Zhu An.“His works are very special; they are incredibly poetic and soothing, while his exploration of his Chinese identity and heritage is something I deeply relate to,” comments Jazz.

What are some misconceptions people have about collecting art?
People often think that to collect art, one has to be very well versed in art, or has to have a degree in art history, but this is far from the truth! Artworks can be collected by anyone, regardless of educational background or experience; all you need is an open mind.

People also commonly assume that all artworks are expensive and can only be collected by those with deep pockets, but collecting young, emerging artists can be quite affordable, and may end up to be a very good investment too.

Another common misconception is that it is very hard to maintain an artwork. However, this truly depends on the specific work; some are easier to maintain, while some may take more effort. When clients come to me, I am always happy to offer them advice and tips on the best hassle-free ways that they can maintain their art.

What do you think of the Singapore art scene?
With Singapore being a unique place as the intersection of numerous cultures, our art scene is naturally one that is diverse and fascinating. I personally feel that we are growing in our appreciation of art, and that people are increasingly showing an interest in local artists. Art festivals and international art fairs contribute to increase the public awareness about art, which is very exciting!

You’ve mentioned that Singaporean artist Lim Tze Peng is one of your favourite artists. What about his work draws you in as a collector?
Lim Tze Peng has seen Singapore radically change over the past 100 years and his scenes of old Singapore beautifully capture our evolution as a country. He is an incredibly innovative artist; his abstract calligraphy is quite avant-garde and his skilful brushwork brings dynamism to a traditional style of art.

On a more personal level, I am highly inspired by his work ethic. He is turning 100 this year but still maintains a very strong self-discipline. He goes to his studio to paint several hours a day, every day, which is a moving tribute to his dedication as an artist and his true love for his craft.