Zhang Youxu, patriarch of Harley Owners Group, mini canvas painter as well as race car driver, is well-known for his many collections, especially his watches. He has been dubbed No. 1 among Chinese watch collectors. He is an enthusiastic collector. But he is philosophical about it all, “Sometimes I look after these collections for some others. Really I just enjoy everything about the process of collecting.”
Don’t call collector Zhao Youxu “Nin” (title of honor for “You”), it makes him uncomfortable, as if he needs to bow with hands folded as a way to return a salute. He likes the title “Zhang Ye” very much. Chatting with Zhang Ye, whether it is a discussion on ancient history or current affairs, astronomy or geography, antiques and scholar’s objects, he comes across as incisive yet relaxed, regardless of how significant or mundane the topic may be.” Listening to Zhang Ye’s opinion about “collecting” is truly thought-provoking.
“Appreciating artworks brings one closer to the truth” while “Collecting can help one obtain truth”
Zhang Ye likes talking about his hobbies the most. Since Zhang Ye spends plenty of time playing with his collections, people around him think he is indulging in the collection and ignoring the important things in life. By “important things” it used to refer to the willingness to read and attend examinations. Ancient people regarded imperial competitive examination as the best way to stand out after years of hard learning. Except the sagely book, Thirteen Confucian Classics, they thought others works were diabolic tricks and nonsense, chair-warmers and heterodoxy. But now, piano, photography and painting, among other “nonsense” are roads leading to success, it is no longer “indulgence” or “nonsense” any more. Furthermore, we should see what the goal of playing is; so long as one’s hobbies are for simple enjoyment, it does no harm to society. What Zhang Ye says is impressive—I think keeping pets is a hobby, and so is painting, calligraphy and seal cutting. His playing and collecting has been connected to the idea of “appreciating artworks leads on closer to the truth” while “collecting can help one obtain truth”.