Sara Jane Ho
Founder and Principal, Institute Sarita


Sara Jane Ho is the Founder and Principal of Institute Sarita, China’s first finishing school, based in Beijing.

A native of Hong Kong, Sara began her career an investment banker in New York and then pursued charity work in China. She is a passionate art collector and a young patron of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing. In addition, she is a professional horse rider and competed in the Longines Masters international show jumping competition in Beijing's Olympic Stadium in 2014.

Sara is youngest on the Forbes 2013 list “Future Women in the Mix in Asia: 12 to Watch” and a Global Shaper for the World Economic Forum. She holds a BA degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Feb. 26, 2015

Art is important in your life, because…

When I buy a sculpture or painting to hang in my house, it defines me in a much stronger and unique way than anything I wear or drive.

Art goes best with…

Silence.

Art is valuable, because...

It makes me look at things differently.

The three words that first come to your mind when you think about art…

New, provocative, feeling

The best museum exhibition you saw in 2014

Alex Israel at UCCA as part of “The Los Angeles Project.”

Aside from LA going through a rebirth, it was the first time you can see very trendy American artists in China. It was good to see some pieces that were not market friendly – they were really meant for a museum – not for art galleries or for sale. None of the artists felt obligated to make any pieces that had any relation whatsoever to China. They simply went out of their way to fill up the museum and made the artwork for the museum.

Your favourite museum in the world

MOMA PS1 in New York. They show younger artists, which is what I collect.

The best city to go for art

From a commercial point, New York. But because I started collecting in Beijing, I have met many more artists in Beijing and I like visiting their studios here. So from a personal viewpoint, Beijing.

An artist you would like to have lunch with

Picasso, because he was a huge womaniser.

The artwork you would like to hang in your etiquette school

Jean Antoine Watteau for his posh lunches on the grass. They look like pleasant picnics from afar but there is always a dark undertone when you look closely. I find his paintings quite fascinating.

If you were an artist, who would it be?

Picasso, because he was a huge womaniser.

Name one of your favourite artists and tell us why.

William Turner – his stormy sky landscapes are so messy it’s almost abstract. I like art that feels as though I’m looking through a window, and I like getting lost in them. He reminds me of Zao Wu-ki. Or rather, Zao Wu-ki reminds me of him.

What is the unmissable art event that you go to every year?

Art Basel Hong Kong because it’s the only Art Basel fair that has a pronounced regional focus on Asia. You see different works than in all the European or American fairs because even western galleries will push their Asian artists.

Describe one of your best art experiences. 

I hosted a cocktail at my etiquette school in Beijing for The New Circle and a number of Chinese artists came, including Chen Wenbo. Late into the night after many drinks, Chen Wenbo threw down his whiskey and said to me, “Sara, I’m going to draw something for you right now!” I handed him my company A4 stationery and a pen, and the outcome was so entertaining that I had the picture framed and it now hangs in my study.

Facts

I opened China’s first finishing school (Institute Sarita) in Beijing in 2013 and we are opening a second school in Shanghai this May 2015

I am a Sagittarius

I live by Oscar Wilde’s quote: “To become the spectator of one’s own life is to escape the suffering of life”

I’m a competitive show jumper and competed in the Longines Masters in Beijing last year

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