Talking art: Ronald Arculli

exhibitionHis name is usually associated with stock and horse because both are the passion of Ronald Arculli, chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Limited and former chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Now, what about art? We are happy to have our board member Mr Ronald Arculli as our first guest in this "Talking Art" series, unveiling the artistic side of him.



Q: What was the first art program you saw?

Ron: I actually didn't see one but played one when I was 8 years old. It was a school play at St Paul's Convent, but we didn't win the competition. That was the time when I realised that I didn't have talent for singing or acting. I was more a sports guy - the first art performance I watched was probably the Swan Lake ballet when I was 16.

Q: So what happened after the Swan Lake?

Ron: In my first few years of work, I saved up hundreds every month to buy water ink paintings by local artist and teacher Lui Shou-kwan, whom I met through fellow lawyer Sir Oswald Cheung back in the 60s, when Lui was still a Diocesan Boys' School art teacher. I still keep over a dozen of his paintings – for more than 40 years now.

Q: Tell us about your art collection.

It is very modest. My collection stays mainly in the United States, where my friend, an art expert, runs an investment fund for me and his father. We like two types of art works: local and contemporary Chinese paintings; and more recently international old master drawings from the 17-19th century which are mainly drawn with chalks, pencils and crayons. Recently I have also bought some contemporary Asian and British art.
Of course those art pieces I really like stay at my home. I have paintings, not many sculptures but some photos for collection.

Q: What was the last performance you saw?

Ron: It was Cecilia Bartoli at this year's opening of the HK Arts Festival. I have been a loyal supporter of the Festival for years.

Q: Is this the only staple on your art and cultural event calendar?

Ron: Apart from the HK Arts Festival, I spend four to five days in the Salzburg Music Festival with my wife every year. I am going there in August. I like opera and concert, Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic, to name a few.

Q: What is your favorite opera?

Ron: I enjoy both extremes. On one hand I really like Wagner, but quite a lot of Mozart which is relaxing and entertaining.

Q: When you go to an opera, do you feel relaxed or intense?

Ron: Often relaxed, sometimes cry.

Q: Cry?

Ron: Motivated. I cry not because I felt sad or tragic, but because I was happy and deeply-touched.

Q: Who is your favorite conductor?

Ron: My recent favorite is the 30-year-old conductor Gustavo Dudamel whom I first saw conducting the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra. Gustavo has the magic to make a very entertaining performance. I bumped into him after the show and asked when he would come to perform in HK but he replied "not in the next 5 years as we're fully booked". I also like Simon Rattle when he was the Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – last time he allowed no intermission for a straight three-hour show in HK which I utterly enjoyed. He is now leading the Berlin Philharmonic and we have seen him for the past several years in Salzburg.

Q: Is there any cultural program that you wish you could see but you didn't?

Ron: Yes, "The Ring of the Nibelung" by Richard Wagner. I couldn't get a ticket!

Q: Even you?

Ron: Yes, maybe the only way is to bring them to HK.

Q: So, all art performances are really enjoyable?

Ron: Sadly, not always! I went to a show of a world-famous tenor singing but felt sorry about his voice probably because he was not at his best. Likewise I had been to a concert by a famous European rock singing legend with a full-house standing ovation which I didn't know why.

Q: By the way, how did you become a WKCDA board member?

Ron: A colleague of mine was appointed as a member of the Finance Committee under the Consultative Committee of the WKCD but he stood down because he became ill. I was his replacement. That is how I started – I always say he owes me a big time.

Q: So this is really a coincidence?

Ron: A good coincidence indeed. I think people now understand art is not a waste of time but even a bonus in life. Arts and culture have become a vital part of international financial hubs like New York, Paris, London or Frankfurt. I believe WKCD could help HK people of all ages and backgrounds develop an interest in arts and creativity, and more importantly something they will enjoy.



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