Michael Xufu Huang’s Dedication to China’s Art Sector Is Electric

Key Takeaways:

  • Beijing’s X Museum has announced an ongoing partnership with Swedish electric car company Polestar.

  • The Polestar Art Car project will invite creatives to collaborate on the Polestar 1 model, encouraging and supporting the multidimensional talent of emerging artists from around the world.

  • Co-founder of the X Museum, Michael Xufu Huang talks to Jing Collabs and Drops about how vital partnerships are for progressing as a cultural institution in China.

To most people in the West, visiting an art exhibition is just another idea for a date, a school field trip, or a Saturday activity that even those who are totally unfamiliar with Van Gogh or Picasso indulge in. But over in China, according to millennial art collector and co-founder of Beijing art museum the X Museum, Michael Xufu Huang, exhibitions are not a mainstream public interest: “People are still very new to the concept of going to see art on the weekend, and the amount of people who appreciate it is still growing. So, working with different industries can help bring a new audience to see us.”

Huang explained that due to their reliance on ticket sales, most museums in China have to adhere to popular public taste. Therefore, in order for the X Museum to develop a “more revolutionary” program with boundary-pushing content, it has to receive financial support, such as via partnerships. Thus, on this quest to innovate China’s art scene, Huang has chosen to partner with the Swedish electric performance car brand Polestar on the Polestar Art Car project announced on October 29, 2021.

The X Museum launched in March 2020 and is already known as an emerging cultural innovator to global players. Photo: X Museum

“We’re hoping to make a very groundbreaking art car that can go viral,” said Huang, describing the aim of the project. “The X Museum is currently at the stage of inviting artists who we think will be really interesting for this collaboration. The proposals that we’re receiving right now are very cool and haven’t been done before.”

From BMW’s art cars being painted by the likes of Andy Warhol, David Hockney, and Kenny Scharf, art is habitually seen on cars but Huang wants to evolve that marriage of the two industries into new forms, inviting artists to experimentally reimagine the Polestar 1 model.

He acknowledges that most creatives of 2021 are multidimensional in their practice, frequently jumping from painting to sculpture to fashion design, so the Polestar Art Car project plans to celebrate that. “Painting the surface of a car is not friendly to artists nowadays, they’re very multidisciplinary. Polestar can give the opportunity to those who usually have less because of the medium in which they work. Both of our brands celebrate the new and unconventional; that’s the nature of this collaboration.” He noted that the partnership will be ongoing, as a platform that will support and foster young artists.

As part of the new X Museum x Polestar partnership, emerging artists will be invited to reimagine the Polestar 1 model.

Since Huang founded the X Museum at age 26 alongside fellow Chinese millennial Theresa Tse in March 2020, it has become recognized as a progressive cultural institution that prioritizes new creatives, with exhibited works including Amalia Ulman’s Instagram-project Excellences & Perfections (2014) and other contemporary names such as Julie Curtiss and Wang Xiaoqu (王晓曲).

Just like the X Museum, Polestar shows promise about the future as a sustainable company producing cars that are 100 percent electric, and they publicly show support of the design industry too. “Polestar are younger compared to a lot of other old car brands,” said Huang, “In China, there are a lot of electronic car companies but they’re all kind of the same. Both the X Museum and Polestar are very particular about what we want to do; we don’t want to give into public taste.”

He continued, “I like to work with brands that are in it for the long run, who care about their initiatives and the environment. We’re not here for a quick thing, we’re here to build a legacy that can last for longer and educate more people, and to influence more people.”

Collaboration is a crucial component of the X Museum’s strategy, as the core of the brand is about bringing art to wider audiences via like-minded, forward-thinking companies. “A lot of successful artists in the art industry are very open minded now when collaborating with brands,” Huang said, adding, as advice to young artists, that partnerships also tend to come when you’re excelling in your field: “When you’re acing your industry, collaborations come in and then opportunities come after.”

Huang refers to the X Museum as a place of “infinite possibilities,” devoted to creating a generation of ambitious thinkers; crossing into external industries is proving the perfect route to recontextualize art in this way, with the Polestar partnership pushing creatives to think beyond conventions and the aged definition of what an artist should be. After all, for Huang, it’s all about, “thinking outside the box.”

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Art & Design, Collabs and Drops, Global