Vision and Mission
The Mao Jihong Arts Foundation is a new, private initiative by a Chinese entrepreneur from the contemporary generation, a generation sensitive to culture and open to the modern world. Its purpose is to promote research, debate and the understanding of the complexities of arts creation in a variety of social and geographical contexts, as well as the relations between traditions and modernity.
Through various forms of pluridisciplinary and interdisciplinary activities, the Mao Ji Hong Arts Foundation endeavors to explore the path to modernity in a non-western environment, in addition to the impact of Chinese values and traditions to the XXI° century art practice. The Chinese art scene has experienced vast transformations in the past decades as China was developing its economy, its urbanization and its opening to the world. Whilst this was happening, there remained a deficit of understanding, experiment and research on the process of the transformation.
MJHAF encourages and supports research, debate and experimentation of new esthetic practices in China and other parts of the world. Furthermore, this had led to cultural exchange, publications, conferences, exhibitions and other activities related to deepening the understanding of the dynamics behind arts creation and its impact on society.
The activities of MJHAF will be developed through partnerships with Chinese and international institutions and actors, both public and private and additionally on their own, in cooperation with or beyond the support of the Fang Suo network throughout China. They will be pursued both in China and in other parts of the world, including countries which are similar to China and have explored their own unique way to a non-western modernity. This research and experimentation will be to the benefit and success of all parties.
Mao Jihong was born in 1969 in China’s southern Hunan province, he is gifted in drawing and painting and graduated from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (BIFT) in 1991, Mao Jihong proceeded to be one of the pioneers of independent designing in the Chinese fashion industry. As he moved from the south to the capital for his university studies in the late 80s, he associated himself with experimental artists’ creations, music and performances. Furthermore, he spent a considerable amount of time in the library, where a selection of international arts and design catalogues and translated books became available in a period of fast social changes in China. As a member of the post cultural revolution generation, he eagerly wished to connect to the world and also with the rich Chinese cultural heritage which had been marginalized.
Returning to the south, he co-founded in 1996 the brand Exception, with a desire to create an environment that had disregarded mainstream dress code or the previously installed western fashion brands. Customers quickly gathered around a brand which encouraged women to be different, independently minded and cultivated. The brand Exception is dedicated to transcend oriental philosophy and aesthetic into a contemporary cause which cares for durability and environmental, ecological issues. It was among the first in China to travel to the Paris and London Fashion weeks. In present day, Exception has over one hundred shops in China.
Sensitive to the idea that growing globalization and urbanization should not destroy certain traditional values and cultural diversity, Mao Jihong proceeded to in 2011, create the first Fang Suo Commune in Guangdong: a bookstore, an experimental cultural space and a sustainable development oriented, lifestyle concept store. Adapting each time to local communities, Fang Suo has already successfully opened up in five cities, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai (known as Mix Place) and Qingdao. Moreover, in 2015, more than 300 cultural and arts programs, talks, projections and exhibitions have been organized in Fang Suo spaces across China.
Mao Jihong regularly takes part in international dialogues, forums and events, including London’s international Retailing Conference and Hyères (France) Fashion and photography festival, alongside being a member of Friends of Centre Pompidou in Paris. While he has been actively promoting Chinese designer’s brand abroad, he wishes to work with young designers with the ambition to empower them. Therefore, in 2012, he has created a new platform, YMOYNOT, together with Hong Kong based artist Stanley Wong, this is an open platform for Asia’s young designers as well as international designers.
Finally, in 2016, Mao Jihong established the Mao Jihong Arts Foundation, a new model of non-collecting and non-for profit private foundation in China. He hopes to continue to create an international multi-disciplinary platform to reflect, encourage and circulate research and new thinking about arts practice in our time.