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Sunpride Foundation Founder Patrick Sun: Art as a Medium for LGBTQ+ Dialogue and Social Change

In a conversation at ART SG 2024, Patrick Sun, a prominent figure in promoting LGBTQ+ topics and equality in Asia advocacy through art, delved into the profound impact of contemporary art on societal discourse. His journey intertwines the pursuit of artistic expression with the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights, marking him as a significant figure in both arenas.


COURTESY OF SUNPRIDE FOUNDATION


Background:

Patrick Sun's impact is evident from his inclusion in Artnet’s 2020 Power 100 list and his role in the M+ Council for New Art (2021). His brainchild, Sunpride Foundation, has been instrumental in hosting queer-focused exhibitions across Asia: at MOCA Taipei (2017), BACC Bangkok (2019-20), and Tai Kwun Hong Kong (2022-2023). The latest, "Myth Makers—Spectrosynthesis III," was ranked second in ARTnews’ Top Exhibitions in Asia (2023).

                      

How do you perceive the role of contemporary art in engaging with social issues?

Patrick Sun: Art, for me, is a gentle yet impactful tool for social dialogue. It's less about confrontation and more about opening minds and hearts. I love engaging with our diverse audiences in our exhibitions. Art isn't just about making a statement; it’s about sparking a conversation, a crucial step towards understanding and acceptance.


Patrick Sun

COURTESY OF SUNPRIDE FOUNDATION

 

Can you recall specific instances where art influenced societal views on LGBTQ+ issues?

Patrick Sun: Singaporean artist Jimmy Ong's artwork, particularly in our Taiwan exhibition, stands out for its profound societal impact. His work depicted gay parenthood with such honesty and tenderness, portraying same-sex couples with their children. This artwork became a focal point for discussions around the concept of family in the LGBTQ+ community.

 

I recall a touching moment when a young mother, while viewing Jimmy Ong's work, was asked by her son about the depiction of two men with a baby. She knelt down and explained that love and family come in various forms - men loving men, women loving women, and men loving women. This interaction, facilitated by Ong's art, was a beautiful example of art's power to educate and foster understanding in a simple, yet profound way.

 

What future trends do you anticipate for Asian art?

Patrick Sun: Asian art is gaining momentum on the international stage. The factors driving this are multifaceted: economic growth, cultural exchanges, and a growing recognition of the region's rich artistic traditions. Institutions like M+ are redefining the narrative of Asian art globally. I foresee a trend towards more diverse representation, bringing previously marginalized artists and stories into the spotlight.


What can be done to further promote Asian artists?

Patrick Sun: Community involvement is essential. In places like Singapore, art collectors and enthusiasts play a pivotal role in creating vibrant art scenes. Museums, too, are critical in this regard, acting as cultural hubs and showcasing a diverse array of artistic expressions.

 

Patrick Sun

COURTESY OF SUNPRIDE FOUNDATION

 

What are your future plans with the Sunpride Foundation?

Patrick Sun: The foundation will continue to focus on exhibitions that resonate with Asian audiences. We've been invited to exhibit in Western countries, but our primary goal focus remains in Asia, where the conversation on LGBTQ+ rights is most needed. We aim to challenge stereotypes and promote a more varied understanding of the LGBTQ+ experience through staging exhibitions in Asia.

 

Each exhibition is a journey, a learning experience. Conversing with visitors, addressing their questions, even misconceptions, is enriching. For instance, an elderly lady once asked if being gay was just a trend. Such interactions underline our mission: to use art as a medium for education and enlightenment, making the unfamiliar familiar and giving voice to the marginalized.


Patrick Sun’s endeavors in using art as a conduit for social change, particularly in championing for the LGBTQ+ community, stand as a beacon of hope and progress. His work with Sunpride Foundation has enriched the Asian art scene and initiated vital conversations on acceptance, diversity, and human rights. His continued efforts aim to foster a more inclusive and empathetic society, using art as the universal language that unites and educates.

 

Sunpride Foundation

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