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Archive for the ‘American’ Category

Ai Weiwei and Vito Acconci wrap up major collaboration at Hong Kong’s Para/Site art space

Posted by artradar on July 6, 2010


AI WEIWEI CHINESE ART HONG KONG ART SPACES ARTIST COLLABORATIONS

With a new project, Chinese art all-rounder Ai Weiwei, in cooperation with American artist Vito Acconci, has brought fresh dialogues between the East and West to Hong Kong, a monumental event in Ai Weiwei’s career and for the Hong Kong and the Asian art scenes.

installation view at para:site art space

A view of "Acconci Studio + Ai Weiwei: A Collaborative Project", an installation work recently shown at Para/Site art space in Hong Kong.

Acconci Studio + Ai Weiwei: A Collaborative Project“, held at Hong Kong’s Para/Site art space, has provided the opportunity for Ai Weiwei to meet and work for the first time with Vito Acconci, an American artist whom he admires.

Vito Acconci

Like Ai Weiwei, Acconci shifts between performance art and architecture, and has gained a global reputation for his bold art stunts.

In his 1971 performance entitled Seedbed, Acconci engaged his visitors in restrained sexual intimacy by masturbating continuously under a wooden platform in a gallery.

recent article published on Time Out Hong Kong describes the artist as someone who “works not as a singular artist but as an architect and ‘collaborator’ for Acconci Studios. The controversial questioning of his earlier career has been replaced with an intellegent whimsy in design. Structures roam, twist and fold within their sites. Each edifice constantly contemplating the function of space and the understanding of linear time and form.”

Ai Weiwei

Having been involved in design, architecture, curating, writing and publishing, Ai Weiwei is one of the most controversial contemporary artists of his generation. Asked to describe his art by the Financial Times, Ai Weiwei gave the following reply:

“That question makes me almost speechless, because I wonder how much do I know about it, even though it was me that did it? What part is conscious and is that consciousness important? And what part has come out only because of the public’s sentiment? And is that important?”

An article recently published in the Guardian noted that Ai Weiwei’s work “has become overtly political, blurring the boundary between art and activism”, referring to the artist’s Remembering installation. This artwork was comprised of 9,000 children’s backpacks, in reminiscence of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake casualties.

In recollection of Ai Weiwei’s past performances, an article published in the Financial Times discussed both Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), “a triptych of photographs in which he is seen casually dropping a 2,000-year-old vase to shatter on the ground”, and an exhibition of 46 avant-garde artists including himself called Fuck Off (2000), which was closed down by authorities. The artwork’s Chinese title was the milder Uncooperative Approach. Despite his strong defiance against the Beijing government, Ai Weiwei was the designer of the Bird’s Nest at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

vito acconci and ai weiwei discussing their collaboration

Vito Acconci and Ai Weiwei in discussion regarding "Acconti Studio + Ai Weiwei: A Collaborative Project", an installation work recently shown at Para/Site art space in Hong Kong.

Acconci Studio + Ai Weiwei: A Collaborative Project

For “Acconci Studio + Ai Weiwei: A Collaborative Project”, Para/Site was transformed into a three-dimensional grid where Ai and Acconci developed their work “in constant mutation and accumulation during the two months that it [was] open to the public.” The end product was an unorthodox, multilayered installation with an accumulated collection of new works, models, drawings and various materials that were accumulated as a result of ongoing discussions between Ai Weiwei, Vito Acconci and their studios.

“The collaboration with Vito Acconci at Para/Site art space is an effort in figuring out ways to collaborate, ways [of] defining the actual process of working together. Through the development of a gallery project we are to think [of] the formation of a city.” Ai Weiwei (as quoted on the Para/Site website)

“I would never have imagined that today I could become active in art and have a chance to meet Vito…I was a young man just come from China. I was trying to be part of art history, but then it was impossible…Neither of us have any nostalgia towards the past, but we are both ready to think about today. That is our common ground.” Ai Weiwei (as quoted by the Financial Times)

The project is not just an interesting addition to Ai’s collection of stunning works. As Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, the Executive Director and Curator of Para/Site, told Art Radar Asia, it has also created a platform for dialogues about the arts in Hong Kong and, on a larger scale, throughout Asia.

“This project reflects the complex production system that surrounds the creation of new works of art/projects in the 21st century. Dialogue is an important element of this project, which is as much about exchange of ideas as it is about production. Until now most exhibitions in this part of Asia focused on exhibiting a relevant Western artist or showcasing a leading artist from Asia. But the dialogue between what is happening in different parts of the world is lacking. This conversation is conducive to new ideas and it opens new paths of research. Then, there is also the challenge to put together practitioners from different generations, that also operate within different studio cultures. It proves Hong Kong can be a platform for leading international projects, and positions this city as a destination for art lovers, and not just a stopover. It is also a picture of what Hong Kong could be in the international scene if we had some rigorous planning and more opportunities to engage with current discourses around the world. This project is about taking curatorial risks, to start a journey without knowing the final destination.”

According to the art space’s website, Para/Site was chosen as the base for the project because of its autonomy from large organisations, enabling it to accommodate the innovativeness of the project.

CBKM/KN

Related topics: Ai Weiwei, collaborative art, venues – Hong Kong, Chinese artists

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Posted in Activist, Ai Weiwei, American, Art spaces, Artist Nationality, China, Chinese, Collaborative, Crossover art, Events, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Installation, Interactive art, Medium, Photography, Sound, Sound art, Styles, Themes and subjects, Trends, Venues, Z Artists | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander impresses judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10

Posted by artradar on June 29, 2010


PAKISTANI AMERICAN ARTISTS ART PRIZES AND AWARDS ART HK 10

Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander, represented by London gallery Pilar Corrias, has been brought into spotlight on the stage of contemporary art after impressing the judges of SCMP|ART FUTURES at ART HK 10 and becoming the winner of the year.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Standing out among artists from sixteen galleries that have been set up for less than five years, Sikander won a cash prize and an opportunity to design the front cover of Post Magazine, published by the South China Morning Post (SCMP). According to SCMP, she has been praised by one of the judges, Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, for being a “very special artist” and a worthy winner.

Sikander’s I am also not my own enemy (2009) was exhibited at ART HK 10. It is a decorative work on paper made with gouache, hand painting, gold leaf and silkscreen pigment on paper.

Shahzia Sikander's 'I am also not my own enemy'.

Since graduating from the National College of Arts in Lahore for undergraduate study and the Rhode Island School of Design for master study, Shahzia Sikander has been “instrumental in [the] rediscovery, re-infusion, and re-contextualization of Indo-Persian miniature painting.” She has worked within a wide range of art genres including painting, drawing, animation, installation, video and film. She was named as an honorary artist by Pakistan’s Ministry of Culture and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics: events – fairs, artist nationality – Pakistani, prizes

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Posted in American, Artist Nationality, China, Events, Fairs, Hong Kong, Miniatures, Pakistani, Prizes, Styles, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

India artist Raghava KK’s “magic carpet ride” at TED2010 – video

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


INDIAN ART ARTIST TALK TED CONFERENCE VIDEO PUBLIC SPEAKING

Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist (length of video, 17:56 mins) was recorded when Indian artist Raghava KK spoke at ideas conference TED2010 earlier this year. In the video, the artist tells an inspiring story of how art took him to new places, and talks about the different stages of experience which led him to become the artist he is today. He gives the viewer an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and into the processes of contemporary art making. Raghava is a self-taught artist and who began his career as a newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already one of India’s most celebrated emerging artists.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava starts the talk by speaking of his childhood. He started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it was abruptly stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a Michelangelo nude by a school nun. In the ninth grade, he started drawing again. Although afraid of getting caught, Raghava drew a flattering portrait of his school principal, which he gave to him as a gift. Following this, Raghava’s caricatures shot him to popularity within his school.

I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes. You know, I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her, and the nun slapped me on my face and said, ‘Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.’

I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave me a sense of identity.

As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He talks fondly of how much of an inspiration his mother was, how she taught him how to draw and how to love. Raghava also talks about his father’s holistic approach to living.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

The artist eventually quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist, which he felt gave him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose, he soon became a media star in India, and he caricatured hundreds of celebrities. For him cartooning was addictive; he was in love with the rush.

Of course, Raghava has known success and failures and he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a cartoon about 9/11, he was banished from a cartoonists’ organisation in America, and it was with this that he realized there is a responsibility that comes with art.

The next slide I’m about to show you is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of [pieces of] hate mail, hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing this. I was also asked to leave the organisation, a cartoonists’ organisation in America, that for me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful. Art comes with responsibility.

Following this “failure”, Raghava became concerned about his financial circumstances. He decided to quit his job and travel. Along the path he met an artist who inspired him to stop being a cartoonist and become a full time artist himself.

“He invited me to his studio. He said, ‘Come and visit.’ When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, ‘Oh, my God. What is that?’ And I asked him, and he said, ‘Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning, I am born again.’ I thought he was cuckoo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, ‘I am dead, so I need to be born again.'”

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

His early painted works demonstrate a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted watercolors on canvas using both his hands and feet and during his talk he shows footage of the making of several artworks. Later he moved into performance art and, wanting to make his pictures come alive, he asked his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of the paintings.

“I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on their bodies, and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity Circus. I sat like you guys there in the audience and I saw my work come alive. You know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was coming alive, and I had some other artists working with me.”

Raghava’s later artworks were darker than his previous paintings, due to his mother’s illness. In his own words, his art work “turned ugly” and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. When a friend’s sexuality was criticized in India he began to create violent and political artwork.

“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”

After witnessing what a huge impact art can have on society, Raghava made the decision to stop painting and performing. He had lost collectors and was constantly being threatened by political activists. He decided to move back to New York where his artwork changed, even hinting at street art influences.

“Everything about my work has become more whimsical. This one is called What the Fuck Was I Thinking? and it talks about mental incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. These are just different cartoons.”

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Over the years, Raghava has reinvented himself using several different mediums. He professes to having a greater sense of responsibility and a knowledge of arts’ ability to affect peoples’ lives. For him, his art is a magic carpet ride and he wants everyone to ride with him.

Watch the video, “Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist” (length of video, 17:56 mins).

JAS/KN

Related Topics: Indian artists, videos, painting

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Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist
In this video “Five lives of an artist”, Raghava KK tells
the story of being an artist, how art took him to new
places and the different stages of experiences, which
led him to what he is now. Raghava is a self-taught
artist and who started his career originally as a
newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already
one of India’s most celebrated, emerging artist.
With endearing honesty and vulnerability Raghava captured the TED audience’s attention. He did
nothing more than tell his story, a tale of several lives wrapped into one. Raghava starts his
journey by telling a little bit of his childhood. Everyone’s life starts with school seasons and with
inspiring teachers. Raghava started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it abruptly
stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a nude by Michelangelo by a school nun. In the
ninth grade, he started drawing again. Drawing a flattering portrait of the school principal that he
gave to him as a gift, Raghava soon became popular with his caricatures.
“I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by
Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet
nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes — you know,
I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her — and the nun slapped me on my face
and said, “Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.”
I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw
again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers
in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I
don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not on top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave
me a sense of identity. I got popular, but I was scared I’d get caught again. So what I did was I
quickly put together a collage of all the teachers I had drawn, glorified my school principal, put
him right on top, and gifted it to him. He had a good laugh at the other teachers and put it up on
the notice board. (Laughter) This is a part of that. And I became a school hero. All my seniors
knew me. I felt really special.”
As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He tells fondly of his mother and
how she taught him how to draw, but also how to love. About his father’s holistic approach of
living and moreover about how he quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist. Cartooning gave
him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose and surely caricatured over hundreds of celebrities. It
was addictive and being in love with the rush, he soon became a media star in India.
Raghava has known success and failures, but he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a
cartoon about the 9/11, he was banished from the cartoonists’ organization in America. It was
from that moment that he realizes the responsibility that comes with art.
“The next slide I’m about to show you, is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in
my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very
naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of hate
mails, Hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing
this. I was also asked to leave the organization, a cartoonists’ organization in America, that for
me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful, art comes
with responsibility.”
Giving us an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and processes of contemporary artmaking,
Raghava was concerned of his financial lifeline. Not only has that, but also of the works
that exposes a range of issues relating to the society and the world. The next step he takes is
quitting his job and decides to travel. Along the path he meets an artist who inspires him to
become an artist.
“He invited me to his studio. He said, “Come and visit.” When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing
ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, “Oh, my God.
What is that?” And I asked him, and he said, “Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning,
I am born again.” I thought he was koo koo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I
thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, “I am dead, so I need to be
born again.”
His early work as a painter made a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted
watercolors on canvas using only his hands and feet. Showing videos of making several art
works, the scene later changes to how he suddenly works with performing arts. Wanting the
pictures to come alive and dance, he asks his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of
the paintings.
“So I decided — I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on
their bodies. and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came
alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity
Circus. And I sat like you guys there in the audience. And I saw my work come alive. You
know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was
coming alive, and it had some other artists working with me.”
Raghava’s later art works were darker than his previous works, due to his mother’s illness. Along
the road, he decided to explore the darker side of the human mind. Because of it, his art work
turned ugly and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. It also
became more violent and political, due to a friend’s sexuality that was criticized in India.
“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not
perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”
Having experiences of how an art can have a huge impact on the society, Raghava had to stop
with his productions. Not only losing his collector, he was also banned and threatened by political
activist. He decides to do something different and thus tells us of his last steps of being reborn.
Just becoming a father, he also got the news of his mother recovering, as well of the election of
India’s new president. Upon the decision of moving back to New York, his art work changes and
becomes whimsical.
I moved back to New York, my work has changed. Everything about my work has become
more whimsical. This one is called “What the Fuck Was I Thinking?” It talks about mental
incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of
thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. (Laughter) These are just
different cartoons.
Over the years, Raghava would reinvent himself to use several different mediums. Coming back
to art, you learn of having a greater sense of responsibility and knowing its ability to affect
peoples’ lives. To that Raghava finishes his speech off with,
“For me, my art is my magic carpet ride. I hope you will join me in this magic carpet ride, and
touch children and be honest. Thank you so much. (Applause)”
Watch the Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist here. (Length of video, 17:56 mins)

Posted in American, Cartoon, Children, Drawing, Emerging artists, Family, Indian, Installation, Painting, Street art, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is globalisation of the art market slowing down? The Economist reports

Posted by artradar on June 9, 2010


GLOBALISATION CHRISTIE’S ART AUCTIONS

Globalisation in the art market may be slowing down according to an article published recently in The Economist. In spite of the growing numbers of artists and buyers from locales ranging from Africa to Asia, May sales in New York were dominated by American artists.

The article states:

“At the Christie’s sale, the first of the two main evening auctions, three-quarters of the buyers were American”.

With the prices of work by top Asian artists still lagging behind big-name American contemporaries, it may not come as a surprise that Asian artists are sometimes underrepresented in main and evening sales abroad. That is not to say that Asian artists do not fair well in Asian markets. In Artprice’s Top 100 Hammer Price List, only seven Asian artists crack the top 50. Not surprisingly, all were Chinese artists with sales in Beijing or Hong Kong. Numbers such as these suggest that there is still some preference for homegrown artists.

The Beijing sale of Chen Yifei's 'Thinking of History at My Space', 1979 landed him at #69 on Artprice's Hammer Price List

The Beijing sale of Chen Yifei's 'Thinking of History at My Space', 1979 landed him at #69 on Artprice's Hammer Price List

Even so, the unusual dominance of American artists at Christie’s New York sales this past spring did not go unnoticed.

“This is the most significant post-war and contemporary art collection ever sold at auction,” Christie’s Amy Cappellazzo said afterwards. “It was a quintessential American sale.”

We at Art Radar Asia wonder if this is really so surprising? There are few Post War Asian artists represented in these sales because Asian artists have only received attention in the last twenty years. For contemporary artists it is a different matter. While there is no doubt that some Asian artists, and those from other emerging countries, are now well known, their prices still lag behind those of top contemporary American artists. And, of course, main sales, and evening sales in particular, feature only the very best, usually most expensive, works.

Read the full article here.

EH/KN

Related Topics: business of art, collectors, market watch – auctions, market watch – globalisation

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Posted in American, Artist Nationality, Asian, Auctions, Business of art, Collectors, Globalisation, Market watch | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Debbie Han first Korean artist to be awarded Sovereign Asian Art Prize

Posted by artradar on May 10, 2010


KOREAN ART ASIAN ART PRIZE

Art Radar Asia is pleased to bring you an article by guest contributor, Kate Bryan. Her article, Hybrid Graces, presents an in depth insight into the work of Debbie Han, the first Korean artist to be awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize. Han’s work is a useful starting point for exploring the status of contemporary art and culture in Korea today.

A Sovereign Winner

Earlier this year Debbie Han became the first Korean artist to be awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the biggest accolade of its kind in the region. The presentation of the award to Han can be seen in the context of a shift away from Korean art as an enigmatic, closed world to a thriving, open and accessible contemporary art market. That said, Korean artists are yet to penetrate mainstream consciousness, but if the quality of the work being produced by Han is anything to go by, it will not be long until they do.

Seated Three Graces

Han was awarded the Sovereign Asian Art Prize for Seated Three Graces, which subsequently entered the hallowed Sovereign Art Collection. The work is part of the Graces series which combine the typical body of a Korean woman with the face of an idealised Greek sculpture.

 

 

Debbie Han, Seated Three Graces

Debbie Han, Seated Three Graces

 

The composite form is painstakingly digitally rendered to look like marble, pixel by pixel for optimum realism. Subverting the practice of figurative sculpture and portrait photography, Han navigates the boundaries between illusion and reality and between western standards of ideal beauty and the reality of contemporary Asian women. Beyond the scrupulous technique and unexpected crossbreed form, the viewer is quickly drawn into the debate which Han instigates. “Beauty is a cultural conception and has long pervaded art history, what can be a better of way of understanding a given culture than through navigating this phenomenon?” Central to Han’s work is an enduring interest in how human experience is shaped and conditioned by contemporary culture, and as such the Graces series provides a sharp insight into the specifics of the world in which they were created.

A Korean artist?

Han’s interest in culturalisation makes her practice a useful starting point for a look at the developing status of both the contemporary Korean art market and Korean culture in the twenty first century more widely. That said, Han is actually an atypical Korean artist; in fact she resists the generalised label strongly. Han emigrated to the U.S. with her family as a child and went on to complete her art major at the University of California and her MA at the Pratt Institute in New York. Having begun her career in the U.S., she returned to Korea only in 2003 for an artist residency programme. Han was a stranger to Seoul and her unique perspective as a culturally disembodied artist propelled her to document what was happening in Korea and in Asia more widely. “I had a strong desire to interrogate what my Asian identity was and became overwhelmed by the inherent westernisation at all levels in both society and art.” Despite the ‘identity crisis’ that sparked her profound creative journey of the last decade, Han could not be described as an unsure woman. She is a strong intellect with a mind that constantly questions the world around her.

The Beauty Myth

Han was effectively an ‘outsider’ to the art world when she returned to Seoul and it is this objectivity that lends her work such strength. As an American-Korean woman navigating the city, Han was immediately struck by the forcefulness of the western beauty mantra. Korean women were spending billions on cosmetics and plastic surgery to conform to an ‘ideal’ type of beauty, specifically a eurocentric beauty. “The perversity of the situation became clear to me when I learnt that women would have cosmetic surgery to make their eyes more western before their first job interview, it was a new rite of passage.” More than 60% of women in Korea have undergone cosmetic surgery and the numbers are on the increase. The act is no longer a choice made by a liberated individual, but a survival tactic. A telling indication of the seriousness of the situation is found in language – the term for having your face done in Korea is literally ‘face correction.’

Sensation with Content

Navigating what the polemic feminist author Naomi Wolf described as ‘beauty myths’, is characteristic of an artist whose raison d’être is to understand the world around her and present complex issues to the viewer in order to raise debate. Han’s work has always been characterised by the dual forces of painstaking, diverse craftsmanship and pieces which demand attention, cause shock or surprise the viewer. These tactics are combined to address questions of personal identity and larger social patterns. An early example is the Hard Condom Series (2001-2003) where small bronzes take the form of soiled condoms, an object which arouses great discomfort. Han therefore interrogates the complexities of society’s reaction to something as innate as sex.

 

 

 

Debbie Han, Hard Condom Series (2001-2003)

Debbie Han, Hard Condom Series (2001-2003)

 

Han’s work is certainly conceptual, but is in many ways a direct rebuttal of the earlier conceptual artists she encountered as a student. “For me, ideas will always be important and central to my work. You cannot create things just to cause a sensation, they have to have content. But on the other hand when I first saw conceptual pieces at college I was disappointed that they were not visually compelling or creatively unique.” Han bridges this gap between ideas and form, producing works that make us stop in our tracks for one reason or another, marvel at the craftsmanship and then engage with the issue at hand.

Beauty as Sport

In 2008 the artist created a departure in her practice by beginning to employ Korean lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl, a technique which demands over 20 processes to produce one work. Employing a medium which dates back thousands of years, Han’s challenge was to incorporate Korean inlaid lacquer into the contemporary arena, not only lending it a new relevance but having it underscore her subject matter. Sports Venus I is testament to the great success of the project. The life size lacquer bust is a rich dark brown, completely at odds with the classical white Venus.

 

 

Debbie Han, Sports Venus I, lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl

Debbie Han, Sports Venus I, lacquer on wood inlaid with mother of pearl

 

As she puts it, “the reference to ancient Asian culture almost takes over, preventing a traditional appreciation of the classical Venus.” More startling still is the mother of pearl inlay which forms the pattern of a modern football, like an aggressive tattoo, across the face. Venus has entered the arena of sports, making explicit reference to the notion of ideal beauty as a new form of sports entertainment.  Han draws attention to the futility of the ideal beauty dogma, “it is just a game – in reality no one can conform to something which is a fabrication, an illusion.”

Food and Sensuality

The illusory nature of ideal beauty is deconstructed in a global series which Han has been working on since 2005. In Food and Sensuality Han collaborates with a regular woman from a given country, refashioning her into a model garnished with food from the culture in which she lives.

 

 

Debbie Han Food and Sensuality

Debbie Han, Food and Sensuality (since 2005)

 

In choosing non-professional models, Han unravels the myths about unattainable beauty by arguing that “any woman can look like a beautiful seductress given the right tools. As an artist I work to bring out to the outmost degree the unique beauty and style in each woman.” Her point is not about the benefits of a good makeover, but more about the breaking down persuasive myths and presenting a new reality. The combination of food – which is often draped over the woman to resemble clothing or jewellery – and female beauty makes explicit reference to the long held advertising mandate that sex sells. Further, in the face of a globalised world, Han rejects the homogeny of culture by identifying its distinctiveness, “food is like language, every culture has their own version and proudly supports it. This is at odds with our notions of beauty. The photographs aim to readdress the balance.”

A New Era

In all of her work Han champions the re-unification of concept and technique. Her philosophy and quest to understand the constructs of the human condition are deeply entrenched in her practice, but she does not allow herself to fall victim to her intellect. Moving between mediums – and never choosing a simple process – Han’s work demands attention not just for its subject matter but for its craftsmanship and distinct visual appeal. Han believes we are entering a new era, a movement without a name, “art must not any longer end with a concept. When I returned to Seoul I saw very thought provoking work in the context of a rapidly changing city, but I wanted to know where the form had gone.” The gravity of the themes in her work coupled with her exquisite dedication to mastering mediums makes Han a worthy prize winner, and for an audience new to Korean contemporary art, a fascinating starting point.

Kate Bryan is a contributing Editor for Asian art News, World Sculptures News and her work has been published in Kee Magazine, The Sentinel, Essence and West East. She received her BA in Fine Art from Warwick University and subsequently worked at the British Museum in London for four years. She recently completed her master’s degree at the University of Hong Kong and is the Deputy Director of The Cat Street Gallery.

Editorial disclaimer – The opinions and views expressed by guest writers  do not necessarily reflect those of Art Radar Asia, staff, sponsors and partners.
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Posted in American, Body, Debbie Han, Eyes, Female form, Food, Human Body, Kate Bryan, Korean, Lacquer, Mythical figures, Photography, Prizes, Sculpture, Sport | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What is street art? Top 5 street artists in the art world- Part II

Posted by artradar on March 10, 2010


STREET ART CULTURE

As street art goes mainstream in Asia, Art Radar takes a look at its roots.

Modern graffiti art originated as an underworld activity and coincided with the hip hop movement in the late 1960’s and early 70’s in New York City [Associated Content], but many artists who started as ‘taggers’ have been recognized by the art world and achieved commercial success. This post will provide an outline of the humble beginnings of street art culture and the artists who have emerged from this culture and into the international art scene.

The common unsanctioned art visible in urban areas is the work of graffiti ‘writers’, who compete for recognition and respect (‘fame’) by having the most pervasive street art in a community. Each artist has his or her own graffiti name (‘tag’), which is creatively written as a signature or autograph and repeated throughout an area. Walls within an area that are sites for expressions of an artist’s or group’s dominance are known as ‘Walls of Fame.’

A strict hierarchy, visible through imagery

Although the graffiti art community may seem unstructured, it adheres to a strict hierarchy among its writers. The most visible or skilled artists are known as ‘kings’, and iconography of crowns within their work is a reference to the writer’s status. Lesser artists can only gain status by impressing a ‘king’.

Unfortunately, part of the reason these writers create graffiti is because it is illicit, and it helps the artist gain notoriety. Lady Pink, a socially conscious veteran street artist whose work is on display at The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Queens Museum of Art, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Museum of the City of New York, says:

“You can’t give them a legal wall. They’re not interested. They’re more interested in the aspect of breaking the law, being vandals and being rebellious. They don’t have the skills for it or the desire to paint something in the daytime.” [Queens Tribune]

From street to chic

In past years street art has progressed beyond its gang related origins and is now appreciated among the highest contemporary art, with a matching price tag. Ralph Taylor of Sotheby’s, who has organized contemporary street art sales for auction in London, says:

“There is a natural progression from the young artists collected by Charles Saatchi in the 1990s to the street artists of today. People used to be looking for the next Damien Hirst; now they are after the next Banksy.” [Telegraph]

The artist Banksy, whose identity is kept secret for fear of the legal consequences for his art, is perhaps the best known street artist today. Banksy’s You Told That Joke Twice surpassed price estimates to sell for $266,000 at Christie’s on February 11, 2010, in a sale among pieces by Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor. Another piece by Banksy, titled I Fought the Law is scheduled for auction at Christie’s on March 23, 2010, with an estimated price of $15,020-$22,530. Another two works by Banksy, titled Bomb Hugger and Armoured Car, sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale on February 11, 2010, selling for $88,396 and $73,976, respectively.

Works by the American graffiti artist Barry Mcgee, also known as ‘Ray Fong’ and ‘Twist’ (and variations of the word twist, including Twister and Twisty) have also frequented  the Christie’s auction, commanding prices up to $113,525.

Art Radar’s Top 5 Street Artists who have achieved success in the art world

Banksy – Possibly the best known street artist and an icon of the street art movement. He began his career creating street artworks in and around London, but has been legitimately accepted into the higher realms of the art world. He has been a regular at art auctions fetching high prices, and is presented with the most exclusive contemporary artists at gallery shows. Banksy will be on display in Hong Kong at Fabrick Contemporary Art in the company of artists Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert and George, in The Great British Show, running Feb 25- March 25, 2010.

Banksy’s Asian museum exhibition debut was the show ‘Love Art 08‘, which ran April 30-May 13, 2008 at the Hong Kong Art Center, and featured other contemporary and pop art heavy weights like Damien Hirst and Robert Indiana.

He has also recently completed a film titled Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is touted to be a ‘street art disaster movie’, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan 24, 2010.

Here you can view some works on display at the Bristol Museum’s Banksy Exhibition 2009.


Shepard Fairey–  Educated over 20 years ago at the Rhode Island School of Design, he began his career making guerilla street art in Los Angeles, but has since expanded his concept, which revolves around the image of Andre the Giant, into an entire product line branded  ‘OBEY’. Canvas artworks have also been developed from this iconography, including his Peace Goddess, which sold at Sotheby’s for $80,500 in the company of works by Banksy and Andy Warhol. His first museum exhibition, titled Supply and Demand, was at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, from Febuary 16-August 16, 2009, and included his iconic Obama Poster, which now hangs in the United State’s National Portrait Gallery.

See Shepard Fairey explain why he created the Obama Hope poster and his OBEY campaign here:


Adam Neate– This UK graffiti artist has been recognized by the London National Gallery, the Tate, and the London National Portrait Gallery. He has been shown by the Elms Lesters Gallery in London, and in 2007 his painting Suicide Bomber sold for £78,500 at Sotheby’s. On November 14, 2008, in an event The London Show, he and helpers left 1,000 prints, worth a total of £1 million, around London streets for anyone to pick up and keep. He says: “The whole concept of the free art thing was challenging the notion of art as a commodity and its worth in society. Now I’m taking that to another level, testing the viability of separating art from commerce.” [Skyarts]

Adam’s Neate’s Asian debut was at the Schoeni Gallery in Hong Kong on June 19-July 18, 2009.

See Adam Neate speak on his London Show:


Swoon, whose real name is Caledonia ‘Callie’ Currry, is a New York City street artist, and has been recognized by the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Art Basel Miami, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Museum.  She crashed the 2009 Venice Biennale with a 30-person ‘Swimming Cities’ performance project, titled The Clutches of Cuckoo. She and her ‘pirate’ crew sailed from Slovenia to dock off the Grand Canal of Certosa Island in a ship made of New York City garbage, to make an extraordinary entrance.

See Swoon speak on her works at the MoMA in a two part interview series:


Barry McGee, also known as Ray Fong, Twist, or Twisty, is a San Francisco, California based street artist and cult figure whose work was included in the Venice Biennale in 2001, and the 2009-2010 Biennale de Lyon, France. He has been exhibited at the Watari-um Museum in Tokyo, the 2008 Carnegie International, the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, Maryland, and the BALTIC Centre in UK. His work has also sold at Christie’s, commanding high prices.

See some of his work in this interview video with Art 21 for PBS.

EW/KCE

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Posted in American, Business of art, Graffiti, Lists, Public art, Research, Street art, Uncategorised | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Abu Dhabi Art – a major new art calendar event just announced

Posted by artradar on July 16, 2009


MIDDLE EAST CONTEMPORARY ART

What promises to be an important new art date to add to your art calendar has just been announced in Abu Dhabi: the first Abu Dhabi Art event, “a major new annual event featuring international contemporary art and design” is to be held from 19-22 November. Here is the press release:

Presented under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Art will take place 19-22 November and will celebrate its inaugural edition with an art fair, exhibitions, multi-media performances, presentations, and exclusive tours and gala events at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Art will include galleries from the Middle East, Europe and the United States, many of which have never before exhibited in the UAE. Internationally renowned galleries will present works of contemporary art and design by international and Middle Eastern artists, with galleries presenting a selection of masterpieces of contemporary European, American and Asian art.

Adding to the vitality of Abu Dhabi Art will be special exhibitions, including a design programme and a monumental installation of large-scale works by Arab artists; an innovative series of performances, discussions and presentations; educational offerings and lectures; private tours of Abu Dhabi Art and of cultural landmarks; and a host of gala receptions and events.

Supported by the Abu Dhabi government, the new Abu Dhabi Art will be a fresh and strongly independent platform, initiated and organised by TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company) and ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage). Abu Dhabi Art will provide a new perspective on contemporary art and design from the standpoint of the Middle East, while offering visitors and art collectors from elsewhere in the Gulf region and from the world the gracious hospitality of the UAE’s capital city.

“Abu Dhabi Art adds a major new component to the schedule of world-class exhibitions, public programmes, performing arts events and more that are already happening in the Emirate, encouraging the growth of our burgeoning arts scene and building Abu Dhabi’s capacity to be a cultural capital for one of the world’s most dynamic regions,” stated His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC and ADACH. “Even as we prepare to welcome the world to the institutions now in development in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District — the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, and more — we extend a warm invitation to the art world to join us in November, for the first presentation of the new and distinctive Abu Dhabi Art.”

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Posted in American, Art districts, Asian, European, Fairs, Globalisation, Middle Eastern, UAE | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »