Monthly Highlights
Talking Art : Leo Kung Lin-cheng  
The WKCDA Board member and Deputy Chairman of Ocean Park recommends ‘an open and enquiring mind’.

Q: What was your first encounter with the arts?

A: I received a kiddie’s record player with a collection of children’s records on my 6th birthday. It wasn’t long before I got tired of listening to these and began to raid my father’s record collection. I guess that’s how I developed an early interest in music.

Q: Did you subsequently learn to play any instruments yourself?

A: Well, like many children at school, I took piano lessons for several years, though, again like many, I found all the practising a real chore. However, the experience has given me an enormous respect for the dedication of professional musicians who have truly mastered their instruments.

Q: Having begun with classical music, so to speak, do you prefer it still?

A: Oh no. I like all types from classical to jazz and many forms of pop music. It depends on my mood, really. And of course, over the years my taste has changed. I hesitate to say ‘matured’ because that suggests you become ‘set in your ways’ and I think it’s very important to keep an open and enquiring mind in all aspects of the arts.

Q: So you have no particular preferences within the visual arts, like painting for instance?

A: Well, as I implied, it’s important to expose yourself to the great variety out there, which helps you develop your own taste. And that’s why what we’re doing with WKCDA is so important. For example, I spent a few years working in New York in the 80s and I frequently visited the ‘Met’ and ‘MOMA’. These are great institutions housing a wealth of diverse art. And I for one, would spend many happy hours lost in contemplation…

Q: And this ‘open mind’ attitude applies to the performing arts too?

A: Well of course, yes. In fact, to give you a couple of examples: as a child, when my father took me to a live performance of Swan Lake, I was unimpressed! It wasn’t until decades later when I took my eldest son, to watch ‘The Nutcracker’ — I absolutely loved it — as I did Swan Lake, when I saw it again later.

And also for years, I avoided Cantonese Opera. I simply couldn’t stand it – or so I thought. Watching it on TV as a child, I found it very uninteresting. There was one occasion several years back. I was invited to attend a charity function. It was a Cantonese opera performance at the Sunbeam Theatre. I was convinced I would have to leave as soon as ‘politely possible’. How wrong I was! I stayed for hours and was riveted throughout!

Q: So what are your expectations of WKCD?

A: High! We are charged with providing the comprehensive infrastructure to support a whole wealth of cultural activities across the broadest range of the arts. This involves not merely the creation of the physical venues with state-of-the-art equipment, but the fostering, the inculcation, if you will, of the arts as a key well-spring within our society as a whole. This is not something which the Hong Kong arts community alone needs and desires — but something which will benefit us all.

Q: Finally, would you describe yourself as an art collector?

A: I’m afraid not. Private collectors of course play a vital role in the art world, but it’s not everyone who can afford it. Making art available to all is what WKCD is all about.