He loves fossils and artworks that have dynamism to them, while she loves conceptual art. Together, Cliff Hartono and Christina J Chua, the co-founders of Metis Art, show how the different styles of art can co-exist harmoniously in their two-storey black and white terrace house in Chip Bee Gardens.
The couple started Metis Art, an art education and consultancy firm, in 2019. It runs a curriculum, The Tetrad, which covers art history; the who’s who and how to navigate art galleries, fairs, and museums; how to price, evaluate and invest in art, and sniffing out art trends and mastering art lingo. Its participants are mostly working professionals such as bankers, doctors and lawyers.
The couple met a few years ago at an art gallery. With no background in art, Hartono admits that visiting galleries and museums can be intimidating and those experiences left him confused.
Seeing how there could be others like him, who have an interest in art but don’t know where to start, he and Chua, an art dealer who has also managed art galleries, launched Metis Art.
“As the business didn’t require a conventional gallery space, the house provided the opportunity for us to make it a dual-use space – a home for us, as well as a cosy gallery where visitors can see and purchase art.”Christina J Chua
Chua is director of education and consultancy while Hartono handles business development. Hartono quips that since he underwent The Tetrad, he is no longer as lost as before.
Home to other creatives, Chip Bee Gardens is naturally the couple’s neighbourhood of choice.
“As the business didn’t require a conventional gallery space, the house provided the opportunity for us to make it a dual-use space – a home for us, as well as a cosy gallery where visitors can see and purchase art,” says Chua, who is also chief editor of so-far, a web publication and hybrid platform for experimental art practices. “As a home/gallery, visitors enjoy the casual vibe of the space.”
The couple kept renovation works to a minimum since they are renting the house. They did, however, invest in the same lighting system that museums and galleries use. “We felt it was important to best show the artworks,” she says.
The house is filled with both pieces from their own collections as well as some pieces that are consigned to Metis. There are works by South-east Asian artists as well as young and emerging ones.
There are almost no bare walls in the house. On the first floor where the dining and living rooms are, the pieces have been selected by Hartono.
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