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Archive for the ‘Overviews’ Category

Indian artist Anish Kapoor’s solo at Royal Academy – what did the critics call it? Performance art and Turkish toilet

Posted by artradar on January 11, 2010


INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART SCULPTURE

Anish Kapoor’s sculpture fills London’s Royal Academy

British Indian artist Anish Kapoor’s mid-career retrospective at the Royal Academy in London, England, has just wrapped up. Two years in the making, the exhibition ran from 26 September to 11 December 2009.

It must have been at least a little daunting for the artist; he is the first living British sculptor to have a solo show occupying the entire Royal Academy gallery. Critics had lots to say. Most were positively awe-inspired. It seems that reviewers found the show at once weird, entertaining and thought-provoking.

“Kapoor’s work has always been on the edge of entertainment, even as it’s tempted to high and grand pretension,” writes Tom Lubbock for The Independent.

Among the exhibits, that filled five major galleries in the Royal Academy, there were more than a few that critics believed stood out.

Tall Tree and the Eye stood in the courtyard of the Academy. Made of 76 highly polished, 15 metre high steel spheres which reflected their surroundings, it was a newly commissioned sculpture. The Economist said, “this fine work of art, or giant-sized perceptual toy, lights up, and lightens up, its venerable surroundings.”

Shooting Into the Corner consisted of a cannon fired at 20 minute intervals, shooting red wax balls into an opposite gallery space at 30 mph.

“A crowd-pleaser and teaser, Shooting Into the Corner will be held as affectionately in popular cultural memory,” summarises Jackie Wullschlager of the Financial Times.

Unfortunately, “as this artist’s work gets bigger and more grandiose, it also gets emptier and more sterile,” she continues.

Laura Cumming, writing for Guardian.co.uk, notes, “It’s a painting in progress – and not just Pollock, but Manet’s The Execution of Emperor Maximilian. It’s a sculpture – Richard Serra’s molten lead wall spatters from the Sixties. It’s a performance and a period piece, too, invoking the history of art.”

The Economist had a high opinion of the installation entitled Snail: “Snail, another exhibit, has a fat, coiling fibreglass body which opens out into a lusciously vermilion mouth. It is terrific.”

Svayambahm was a huge truck-sized block of soft red wax trundling through all five galleries on train-style tracks, leaving a snail-like trail of red on the floor, walls and ceiling.

Adrian Searle, writing for Guardian.co.uk, says of Svayambahm, “the daftness of some of Kapoor’s art is a good counterbalance to the more ponderous pretensions the artist has always been prey to. In fact, it is the wrestling between these two tendencies that produces [this], his strongest work.”

Both Shooting Into the Corner and Svayambahm were considerably less appealing to The Economist than other exhibits: “A cannon blasts gobs of lurid red wax-plus-Vaseline; a wagon-sized contraption made up of similar stuff deposits bits of itself on floors and doors as it slowly trundles through four rooms. Both these works seem unfortunate departures from Kapoor’s admired elegance and refinement.”

Brian Sewell, in a review for The London Evening Standard, mentions that both these works have been exhibited elsewhere in Europe. Perhaps the only original piece in the exhibition was Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked. Unfortunately, this piece vividly reminded Sewell “of the floor of the public lavatory in Baskale, the highest town in eastern Turkey, after months of extreme water shortage.”

The Economist wrapped up it’s opinion of all the exhibits in this comment: “Are they, in the event, relevant to their setting? Not often. But some, such as the fine mirror sculptures, are certainly enhanced by it: seeing the gallery’s gilding and skylight reflected upside-down in these pieces adds to their enjoyment. Others are splendidly positioned…”

Not everyone had something good to say. Sewell, in his review for The London Evening Standard, described the exhibition as a “damp squib” and is of the opinion that “its two most sensational kinetic exhibits [Shooting Into the Corner and Svayambahm] are given to failing their essential functions.”

Richard Dorment, in his review for The Telegraph, says of the exhibition overall: “No other contemporary British artist has Kapoor’s range of imagination and no one else routinely works on this scale. Over the years, he’s become more of a public than a private artist – or at least one whose most effective works are intended not for private contemplation, but to inspire awe in large numbers of people.”

Dorment views Kapoor’s work as something closer to performance art than sculpture.

The exhibition was reported to be a combination of historical artistic reference and self-referential humour, part homage to 1960s artists like Richard Serra and part active, living sculpture. The artist has proven his ability to highlight both primitive and modernistic elements in his work and provoke these responses in the viewer.

“What I admire about him most…is the unwavering depth of the experiences he conjures up,” said Waldemar Januszczak, of the Times Online.

It seems Anish Kapoor has again demonstrated his exceptional ability to work with traditional materials yet blend these with aspects of performance art. He works on such a large scale at every opportunity and has a huge range of imagination. This exhibition managed to absorb the viewer, highlighting what separates Kapoor from his contemporaries.

Lucie Charkin, writing for FAD, had this to say: “On reflection, no pun intended, whilst some moments in the show seem a little too contrived it could be argued that in his clever use and misuse of the RA’s galleries Kapoor has allowed himself to edge a little closer towards his personal goal of inventing ‘a new space’ with his art.”

Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent for The London Evening Standard, reported “talks are in progress with major museums and galleries about buying some of the exhibition’s biggest pieces, including the tower of steel balls from the courtyard.”

The exhibition will move to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in March 2010.

KN/KCE

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New auction houses with new strategies open in Singapore art market

Posted by artradar on October 28, 2009


ASIAN ART MARKET TRENDS

Usually, to be a part of the bubbling Asian art market scene, buyers need to associate themselves with industry leaders Christie’s and Sotheby’s for lack of other options. In South East Asia, however, there’s a new way for collectors to discover their contemporary art. According to a recent article by the New York Times, a host of new and smaller auction houses—such as Borobudur, 33 Auction, and Larasati in Singapore—have successfully emerged to “fill in the gaps” of the market, which means they are opening their doors to a broader range of the market, from high-end collectors to first time buyers. So far, sales suggest this may be the right strategy to entice new buyers:

“Last week, sales by two auction houses in Singapore, Borobudur and 33 Auction, brought in a combined $10 million, with the larger sale, by Borobudur, easily beating its pre-sale estimate. Later this month another Singapore auctioneer, Larasati, will offer 160 lots of Asian modern and contemporary art with an estimated value of 2 million Singapore dollars, or $1.4 million.”

A.C. Andre Tananma, "Run Away" 2008. Part of Larasati's Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction in Singapore on October 25th, 2009.

A.C. Andre Tananma, "Run Away" 2008. Part of Larasati's Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Auction, Singapore, 25 October 2009.

Many of the new auctions houses have developed as off springs from established galleries, such as 33 Auction (Singapore), Maestro Auction House (Jakarta, Singapore) and Kingsley Art Auction (Beijing), as a way of broadening their offerings to current clients, while also becoming accessible to new ones:

“Like everything else, the art market is not immune from the global recession and consequently sales at most galleries have been down for the past 12 months,” said Valentine Willie of Valentine Willie Fine Art, which has galleries in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and has in the past helped Borobudur curate its auctions. “Auctions may seem a good way of clearing gallery stock and they offer the possibility for collectors of bargain hunting, especially after the boom of two years ago.”New and smaller auction houses would naturally try to fill in the gaps with more adventurous offerings and lower entry price points because, “the industry leaders, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have a somewhat limited and conservative offering of Southeast Asian art,” Mr. Willie added.”

Some auction houses are targeting the middle class crowd in particular, a demographic rarely cornered by larger and more established auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s. To entice the middle class market, Singapore’s Ziani Fine Art Auction House tactic was to award cash prizes, serve wine, and even offer whiskey tastings at their September 20 debut auction:

“‘When you launch a new business you need to attract new people,” said Frank Veyder, a banker and partner in Ziani, before the auction. “We are very conscious there is a risk that people might think it’s just a fly-by-night, gimmicky house, but we’re holding this auction in a five-star location and we’re offering quality art.

“The pieces are not of the level you would see at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, but we’re not trying to play in that space,” Mr. Veyder added. “Our marketing is targeting to a wider, middle-class crowd.”‘

Though it can be said that the competition between auction houses is good for business, there are some auctioneers that are concerned that the market may have a hard time absorbing everything on offer.  Daniel Komala, chief executive of Larasati Auctioneers, explains:

“‘The art market has bottomed out; in fact, it’s fair to say that it has picked up some speed of late,” Mr. Komala said. “Having said that, the real capacity to absorb, over all, especially in Singapore, is only going to increase by 20-30 percent maximum from its rock bottom level. So, it’s wishful thinking to expect that the market will double up in capacity compared to how it performed six months ago.”

Read more New York Times

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Events, Market watch, Overviews, Recession, Singapore | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Picasso of China or voice of dissent: Who is Ai Wei Wei? Profile

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2009


Ai Weiwei's middle finger at Tiananmen.

CHINESE ARTIST PROFILE

Ai Wei Wei is vying with Cai Guo Qiang to become the most famous contemporary Chinese artist in the world claims Artinfo in its must-read quote-dense 4 page profile produced on the occasion of  Ai Wei Wei’s first large-scale solo show world-wide (Ai Wei Wei: According to What? at Mori Art Museum July to November 2009).

Obedient or defiant? Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei who was raised in China and has lived in the U.S for 12 years, integrates his social beliefs into his artwork with audacity and temerity.  Behind the title of design consultant for the Beijing Olympics “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, Ai Wei Wei remains a mystery figure who flaunts multifarious identities:

According to Chinese authorities, he is a dissident to be watched, one whose inflammatory blog needed to be silenced. But to others, the Chinese conceptual artist, architect, photographer, and curator — loathed and loved for his human rights activism — is the courageous voice needed in today’s repressive China.

He’s been called a headline grabber, a master of borrowing from other artists, and a “scholar clown,” and he’s been denounced for criticizing symbols of elitism and authority ranging from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to the Chinese government to the Eiffel Tower.

Ai’s philosophies about society and his willingness to expose and explore the issues are evident in his artwork:

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236 by 165 by 165, crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236'' by 165'' by 165'', crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier, a satire of the bizarre Chinese state aesthetic in the shape of half a chandelier that hangs in the museum’s entrance lobby.

Snake Ceiling is a serpentine installation formed from hundreds of new black-and-white backpacks sized for elementary and junior high school students. The coiled snake, suspended from the museum’s ceiling, alludes to an aesthetic form, the snake as ancient monster, and the tragedy and systematic cover-up at the heart of the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project, a focus for Ai’s guerrilla investigative activism.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China (2006) is a 3D object made with intricately-assembled old wood pieces and traditional joinery that poses subtle questions and a critique about China’s perceived domination of Taiwan and regions such as Tibet.

Fairytale, premiering at the exhibition, is a 150-minute film consisting of video and images from Ai’s historic 28-day journey with 1,001 Chinese citizens to the 2007 Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany.

Not only does Ai unify art and society in his artwork, he is also an activist blogger on the net.

…the high number of school fatalities was due to local officials siphoning money from school building costs. Grieving families said the structures were badly built and collapsed easily during the quake. But officials refused to list the names of the dead students, which could be used to unveil a possible cover-up, so Ai formed the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project with researchers and volunteers who discovered the names of 5,190 students.

Is it a coincident that he’s also the son of Ai Qing, an enemy of the state?

One of China’s most esteemed poets, he was sent to labor camps in northern Heilongjiang Province and western Xinjiang Province for 20 years for criticizing the Communist regime.

A fighter for freedom of choice, Ai also expresses challenging views about the Olympics last held in China and cultural censorship.

The Olympics became a very superficial activity that didn’t lift China into another possible condition but rather created great difficulties for [Chinese] society today.

China is still culturally under strong censorship, so a state museum would certainly never invite me,” he says. “If I have a show, I don’t want to be censored. … That’s not my principle. I don’t care if I ever have a show in China.

Read full article on ARTINFO for more about Ai Wei Wei: his personality, his canon and his views which have led Artinfo to make a bold statement about the importance of Ai Wei Wei.  After this MAM exhibition and

a larger one opening at Munich’s Haus der Kunst in October, Ai may overtake Cai Guo-Qiang as China’s most famous contemporary artist. Although Cai is a skilled, popular showman famed for his spectacular fireworks display at the Beijing Olympics, his work lacks the depth that is so integral to Ai’s many projects.

-Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Ai Weiwei, Chinese, Collaborative, Identity art, Installation, Japan, Land art, Large art, Museums, New Media, Overviews, Participatory, Profiles, Shows, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Chinese art to move to conventional venue says Chairman Venice Biennale

Posted by artradar on July 9, 2009


CHINESE ART AT THE VENICE BIENNALE

This post gives an overview Chinese art on exhibit at the 53rd Venice Biennale until November 2009 with a blogs-eye round-up of images and reviews. We also take a look at how Chinese art has grown in prominence over the years and how proposals for the future, by the Chairman of the Biennale, promise further validation.

Chinese exhibiting artists

The seven contemporary Chinese artists on display in the Chinese Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale are:

  • He Jianwei
  • Liu Ding (read about his artwork at the Biennale Liu Ding’s Store)
  • He Sen
  • Fang Lijun
  • Zeng Fhanzi
  • Qiu Zhijie
  • Zeng Hao

This year, along with the seven artists who are participating at the Chinese pavilion, Chen Zhen, Chu Yun, Huang Yong Ping, Tian Tian Wang (interview with Tian Tian Wang) and Xu Tan are showing their works in the main exhibition ‘Making Words’.

He Sen, The World of Taiji

He Sen, The World of Taiji

According to AccessibleArtNY, at first glance the images in He Sen’s The World of Taiji appear to be simple with no perceivable details, but upon closer inspection, the brushstrokes are visible and Chinese characters are decipherable. The concept was to juxtapose what Sen considered a “weak” culture (China) with the strong Western cultural frames. He hoped that the viewer would take the time to look closely at the work.

He Sen The World of Taiji (detail)

He Sen The World of Taiji (detail)

Images of Chinese art at 53rd Venice Biennale

Review of the Chinese Pavilion

It has been ten years since the late Harald Szeemann’s 1999 Venice exhibition ‘APERTO Over All’ paved the way for the West’s understanding of contemporary art, aptly nicknamed the “China Biennale” due to its inclusion of nearly twenty Chinese artists, says Redbox Review

Yet the curatorial strategy behind this year’s Chinese Pavilion titled ‘What is to Come’, conceived by artist Lu Hao and curator Zhao Li, was unable to generate much buzz for China during the festival’s opening days.

The  Chinese artists provided highly individualized works. …And although each work may be considered a strong example of each artist’s conceptual prowess, the lack of immediate cohesion disengages a viewing audience that transcends the display’s symbolic ambitions. Note 1

History of Chinese art at the Venice Biennale

If this year is less successful than the past, who and what was on display in previous years? The Korean magazine Art in Asia has published a useful overview of the history of Japanese, Korean and Chinese art at the Venice Biennale. Below is an excerpt (including typos) covering Chinese art:

Harold Szeemann’s 1999 48th Venice Biennale exhibition, “dAPERTutto Over All,” included Chinese artists such as Ai Weiwei, Zhou Tiehai, Zhuang Hui, Wang Xingwei, Yang Shaobin, Fang Lijun, Qiu Shihua, Xie Nanxing, Zhang Peili, Yue Minjun, Zhao Bandi, Wang Jin, Zhang Huan, Liang Shaoji, Ma Liuming, Lu Hao, Chen Zhen, Cai Guoqiang and Wang Du.

Since the national Chinese pavilion was not yet built at the time, works by these nineteen Chinese artists chosen for the “d APERTutto” section were displayed both in the Giardini, specifically in the Italian pavilion, and in the Arsenale.

The Italian pavilion hosted no less than ten Chinese artists, and in the newly restored spaces of the Arsenale, dazzling installations by Cai Guo-Qiang were housed and shown. Szeemann, whose inclusion of Chinese artists at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2001, made a major contribution towards popularizing the Chinese avant-garde in the West.

In 2005, for the 51th Biennale, the first official Chinese pavilion was built by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, but it was temporary. Commissioners for the 2005 Chinese pavilion included Xu Jiang, the President of the China Academy of Art, Fan Di’an, the Vice President of the Central Academy of Art, Artist Cai Guo-Qiang, Wang Mingxian, the Vice Director of the Architecture Institute of China, and Pi Li, who was from the Central Academy of Art. Artists Yung Ho Chang, Liu Wei, Peng Yu & Sun Yuan, Wang Qiheng and Xu Zhen participated under the theme “Virgin Garden: Emersion.” This premier national pavilion of China marked a turning point in the cultural growth within Chinese contemporary art.

In 2007, having already curated the 2003 exhibition “Z.U.O.” in the context of the 50th Venice Biennale headed by Francesco Bonami, internationally renowned curator Hou Hanru highlighted the contributions of four women artists to Chinese contemporary art at the pavilion. These four female artists, Cao Fei, Kan Xuan, Shen Yuan and Yin Xiuzhen, created site-specific works in the building and at the Vergini Gardens, under the theme “Everyday Miracles.” Note 2

And the future for Chinese art?

According to a report in the Independent “at least one change to tradition has been signalled. The chairman of the Biennale is proposing that in future years the Chinese Pavilion moves in among the “conventional venues”. Recognition at last that the world order, even the cultural world order, has changed since 1895.” Note 3

About the Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale – the world’s oldest and most high-profile contemporary art exhibition –  opens its doors to the public from 6th June to 22nd November 2009.

It was founded in 1895 to celebrate new developments in international art.

National pavilions were built in the Giardini – or public gardens – to house exhibitions from each participating country’s chosen artists. But as more and more countries wish to take part, the Biennale has spread across the Italian city.

It has been described as the Olympic games of the art world – 77 countries from Armenia to Venezuela are showcasing the work of their leading artists. All are hoping to win the top prize – the Golden Lion. Note 4

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Collector Ciclitira, founder of Korean Eye, makes big plans for Korean art

Posted by artradar on June 30, 2009


KOREAN ART

If you have an interest in Korean contemporary art, be sure to make time for the latest 20 minute podcast from Arttactic, a London-based research house.

In it, British collector and sports promoter David Ciclitira, together with Rodman Primack, Phillip de Pury’s London chairman, discuss Korean Eye, a multi-year initiative founded by Ciclitira which aims to promote Korean contemporary art to a Western and ultimately international audience.

Hyung Koo Kang, Woman, 2009

Hyung Koo Kang, Woman, 2009

Korean Eye is holding its first 31 artist exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery in London until 5 July 2009 and the exhibition catalogue is available online. “This space in London is the iconic space right now, it has three to four thousand people a day going through the space in 20 days, so we’ll have 60 to 80 thousand people coming through, so that will be good” says Ciclitira in an interview with Art Market Monitor.

None of it’s from my collection. It’s all brand new. It’s all for sale. I’ve built up a collection of Korean contemporary art in the last two or three years. But I asked a young curator to put the show together, so it’s his choice of artists. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but when you hire a curator, you let them do it.

Later Ciclitira plans to bring a larger Korean Eye-branded show to other ‘markets’  including perhaps Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong.

Seung WookSim, black mutated ornamentation 2007, hot glue on steel frame

Seung Wook Sim, black mutated ornamentation 2007, hot glue on steel frame

‘The Korean Eye’ initiative is interesting on several fronts:

1. Bringing Korean art to the West

Korean contemporary art has, as yet, had little exposure in the West.

Chinese and Japanese contemporary art have already received academic and critical attention from universities and museums in Western cultures. However unlike Japanese art which has experienced long international exposure and Chinese art which has strong national support from economic growth, Korean art is in the shadows. note 1

Ciclitira points out in the podcast that although show catalogues produced in Korea are of a high quality, there is not yet a bilingual book on Korean contemporary art, a gap which ‘Korean Eye’ plans to address in the next 18 months.

Koreans have a 25 year history of collecting Western artists but support for local artists is burgeoning. There has been a growth spurt in the number of Korean galleries in the last 2-3 years and artists are not harnessed to individual galleries. The resulting competitive environment created keen pricing even before the recession. Now the recession is stimulating further discounts. Korean galleries are present at Asian art fairs and have set up galleries across Asia but are still rare further west.

Park Seung Mo, Contrabass

Park Seung Mo, Contrabass

2. Bank sponsorship money can still be found …in Asia

Funds available from bank sponsorship have been thin on the ground since the Lehman collapse in autumn 2008. While the Hong Kong Art Fair ’09 failed to find a replacement sponsor for Lehman, Ciclitira has had better luck:

I’ve been very fortunate to be sponsored by Standard Chartered. That’s not a bank known to many American people. It’s now Britain’s second-largest bank. It was the only bank that didn’t invest in subprime. It’s in 108 markets around the world. It’s highly profitable. It’s basically a Hong Kong-based business. But it’s the largest single foreign investor in Korea. They bought a major bank there, and it’s a really super bank which supports, locally, art. That’s one of the things that they do. And they’ve been really, really supportive of this project. I have been amazed how much traction we’ve gotten from their involvement. So in this time of recession, they’ve been very helpful and we hopefully get to work together with them in the future to build it in other markets.

3. Branded selling exhibitions – a new style of show

Finally ‘Korean Eye’ represents a new style of branded selling exhibition which brings together a collector’s passion, government support, bank sponsorship and auction house sales expertise.

Somewhat like Saatchi, Ciclitira has a background as a professional promoter and an ongoing passion for art. But whereas Saatchi has chosen to exhibit his own self-curated non-selling shows, Ciclitira makes no bones about his plans to develop ‘Korean Eye’ as a brand of selling shows. While he admits to having experienced a steep learning curve:

What I’ve found interesting in this whole learning process is how unsophisticated the art world is, because when you work in major sports events, there are more dates, so much more research, everything is television linked to media values, and art feels amateur when you look at how they do things, and it’s no small wonder that when they need to raise massive money, they find it quite hard.

David-Ciclitira-330x449

Collectors who, in the later stages of the their collecting career, want to be involved with supporting the evolution of art, come from backgrounds of all kinds. It will be fascinating to watch what kind of influence this sports promoter will bring to the democratisation of art through branding and media involvement.

I worked a long time with UBS, and I have access to all their research, and their research, number one for their clients was golf. Art came in third, I think, classic cars or wine were second. The reality is, it’s out there. I believe the art market goes beyond your top bracket. My people all started saying, “The chairman’s crazy, he’s going to do this,” and they’ve all ended up loving it. “Can I get my bonus in a piece of work?”

The problem with the art world is that they’re a bunch of snobs. The reality is that gallerists make people feel as if they’re not wanted, and I think this is part of the breaking down of what will happen in the next 10 years, more people will want to get involved.

It sounds like Ciclitira is a man with a mission to make that happen.

Note 1 Korean Eye Moon Generation catalogue Page 9, Joon Lee Deputy Director Samsung Museum of Art

Artists

Ayoung Kim, Bahk SeonGhi, Boomoon, Cho Hoon, Choi TaeHoon, Choo JongWan, Debbie Han, Han KiChang, Hong KyongTack, Jang SeungHyo, Jeon Junho, Kang Hyung Koo, Kim Inbai, Kim Joon, Koh MyungKeun, Kwon KiSoo, Lee Dongwook, Lee HyungKoo, Lee LeeNam, Lee Rim, Lee Ufan. Lee Yong Baek, Lee YongDeok. Park JungHyuk, Park SeungMo, Park SungTae, SeungMin Lee, Sim SeungWook, Whang Inkie, Yi HwanKwon, Yoon Jong Seok

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Posted in Asia expands, Corporate collectors, David Ciclitira, Democratisation of art, Galleries, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, Korean, London, Overviews, Saatchi, Yi Hwan-Kwon | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

56 artist show Iran Inside Out – Will election unrest fan the debate about Iranian contemporary art?

Posted by artradar on June 30, 2009


IRANIAN CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION US

New York’s Chelsea Art Museum is holding its “groundbreaking” exhibition Iran Inside Out (26 June to 5 September 2009) which features 35 artists living and working in Iran alongside 21 others living in the diaspora.

We are promised a “multifarious portrait of 56 contemporary Iranian artists challenging the conventional perceptions of Iran and Iranian art”. However, do not be at all surprised if unfolding events in Iran and the very art itself will result in heated debate and deep schisms about this interpretation.

Pooneh Maghazehe, Hell's Puerto Rico Performance Still, 2008 copyright artist

Pooneh Maghazehe, Hell's Puerto Rico Performance Still, 2008 copyright artist

The debate was ignited by ‘Unveiled’, a show of Middle Eastern art (half of it Iranian) at The Saatchi Gallery London in the early months of this year. The exhibition garnered plenty of critical attention but strongly divided views were expressed about the success of the organisers’ claim to overturn the cliched idea that the Middle East is synonymous with violence and intolerance.

According to Henry Chu of LA Times , “Unveiled is an exhibition which offers an alternate vision: the Middle East as a source of lively, stimulating contemporary art — informed by conflict, certainly, but not consumed by it.” Nonsense, says Dorment in The Telegraph who claims the show is replete with references to bombs, religious police and the denigration of women.

This debate will be fanned anew by recent political disturbances in Iran. Relations between foreign powers and Iran are now severely strained following the disputed re-election on 12 June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Click to browse Iran Inside Out catalogue

Click to browse Iran Inside Out catalogue

“Iran has repeatedly accused foreign powers – especially Britain and the US – of meddling after the 12 June election, which officially handed him a decisive victory” says the BBC while The New York Times gives us a specific quote:

President Obama, who made his most critical remarks of the Iranian leadership on Friday, when he called the government’s crackdown “outrageous” … said the prospects for a dialogue with Iran had been dampened.

…“Didn’t he say that he was after change?” Mr. Ahmadinejad asked. “Why did he interfere?”

Unfolding political events will challenge the New York show’s curators, artists and museum staff and test their courage. Even before the protests, in reference to Iranian art in ‘Unveiled’, the Guardian was saying:

It is still amazing how far into politics this art bravely goes and it is no overstatement to speak of bravery in this case. One of the artists represented here, who lives in Tehran, is muffled in the gallery’s publicity shot to conceal his identity. Another, the prodigiously gifted Tala Madani, has escaped Tehran for Amsterdam but still refused to have her face revealed in a photograph. Guardian

The museum’s website raises the interesting point – and this is perhaps the nub of it – that artists in the diaspora and at home in Iran choose different forms of expression:

Ironically, contrary to one’s expectations, the artists living abroad often draw more on their cultural heritage, while those on the inside focus more on issues of everyday life without much regard to what ‘the outside’ views as specifically Iranian references.

But, whereas the museum’s writers see the focus of home-based artists on the  ‘everyday’ as an act of choice, there are some who suggest it is an act of self-preservation. Time will tell whether the description of this show will be excoriated like that of the catalogue description of ‘Unveiled’:

In her catalogue introduction to .. ‘Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East’, Lisa Farjam airily dismisses European perceptions of the Middle East as a place synonymous with political oppression, religious intolerance, and terrorism as unthinking ‘clichés’ that prevent us from understanding the richness and diversity of Muslim societies.

All I can say in response is that the artists in this show profoundly disagree with her sunny take on this part of the world. The evils Westerners see from a distance are the everyday context in which many of these painters and sculptors make their work – and it was precisely to escape repression at home that so many of the best of them now live in New York or Paris.

Their art isn’t (like so much Western art) about consumerism or celebrity or art itself; it’s about suicide bombers, religious police, unending war, and the denigration of women in Islamic societies. While I admit I was surprised that those still working in Tehran feel able to treat the subjects of gender, sexuality, religion, and politics without risking imprisonment or death, among the photos of the artists displayed at the end of the show, I noticed that one, who still lives in Tehran, has taken the precaution of wearing a balaclava. Telegraph

Related links: Exhibition description on Chelsea Art Museum site

Catalogue

In a still unusual and much-appreciated move, the museum has put the show’s catalogue online. It is a glorious glimpse of a very active art scene. Text and works by artists sit alongside interviews with collectors and galleries. Buy the ‘Iran Inside Out’ catalogue here.

FEATURED ARTISTS:

Inside Iran (35)

Abbas Kowsari, Ahmad Morshedloo, Amir Mobed, Alireza Dayani, Arash Hanaei, Arash Sedaghatkish, Arman Stepanian, Barbad Golshiri, Behdad Lahooti, Behrang Samadzadegan, Bita Fayyazi, Daryoush Gharahzad, Farhad Moshiri, Farideh Lashai, Golnaz Fathi, Houman Mortazavi, Jinoos Taghizadeh, Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakher, Majid Ma’soomi Rad, Mehdi Farhadian, Nazgol Ansarinia, Newsha Tavakolian, Ramin Haerizadeh, Reza Derakshani, Reza Paydari, Rokni Haerizadeh, Sadegh Tirafkan, Saghar Daeeri, Shahab Fotouhi, Shirin Aliabadi, Shirin Fakhim, Siamak Filizadeh, Siavash Nagshbandi, Vahid Sharifian

Outside Iran (21)

Ala Ebtekar, Alireza Ghandchi, caraballo–farman, Darius Yektai, Kamran Diba, Leila Pazooki, Mitra Tabrizian, Nazanin Pouyandeh, Negar Ahkami, Nicky Nodjoumi, Parastou Forouhar, Pooneh Maghazehe, Pouran Jinchi, Roya Akhavan, Samira Abbassy, Sara Rahbar, Shahram Entekhabi, Shahram Karimi, Shirin Neshat, Shiva Ahmadi, Shoja Azari

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Posted in Activist, Identity art, Iranian, Islamic art, Middle Eastern, Museum shows, Nationalism, New York, Overviews, Performance, Political | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Top 5 sites for Japanese contemporary art news by Matthew Larking

Posted by artradar on June 24, 2009


JAPAN ART READING

What are the top sources of information about Japanese contemporary art?

The Japanese art scene can seem impenetrable to non-Japanese speakers and yet, despite  this, there is a growing swell of global interest in contemporary art from Japan. There are several potential reasons:

  • Takashi Murakami, who has probably done more than any other artist ever to make contemporary art accessible. He has been astonishingly effective in widening the market for and interest in contemporary art globally;
  • the maturing of the art scene in Tokyo which has seen a new group of galleries open in the last fifteen years;
  • the wave of interest in manga and video games, spawned in Japan, which has swept across the world;
  • the ‘separateness’ of Japan whose monoracial, monolinguistic island society has developed its own cultural idiosyncrasies, creating ripe ground for art with a fresh perspective.

So what is the best way to keep abreast of art news in Japan? We asked lecturer and, since 2002 Japanese Times art critic Matthew Larking, to give his recommendations about what to read to keep up to date.

1. Tokyo Art Beat –   www.tokyoartbeat.com – “gives updates and everything else on the Tokyo art scene”

From the website: “a bilingual art and design events guide which offers event listings, reviews and a shop. The site is updated daily and lists more than 500 current & upcoming art events, at any moment. Smart data organisation with events sorted by media, schedules, and location, as well as event lists like Closing soon, Most popular, Open late, and Free. Available via any PC or mobile phone.”

2. ARTiT –  http://www.art-it.jp/e_index.php – “the ARTiT site has a few good interviews and bits and pieces here and there”

From the website: “a visually oriented, all bilingual (Japanese and English) quarterly magazine introducing the latest trends in the contemporary art scenes of Japan and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. ART iT features comprehensive interviews with topical artists, in-depth articles on current art-related subjects, and detailed information on exhibitions at top museums and galleries throughout Asia-Pacific.”

3. PING MAGhttp://pingmag.jp/ – “now defunct but with some good archives is PING MAG which introduces a few artists who don’t get so much press in the usual places”

4. Japan Timeshttp://www.japantimes.co.jp/entertainment/art.html “the Japan Times does a full page dedicated to the Arts every Friday, the only newspaper in Japan to do so and many of the writers are very good”

5. Artscape Internationalhttp://www.dnp.co.jp/artscape/eng/

From the website:  “a monthly English web magazine for readers both inside and outside Japan, but especially overseas, with an interest in Japan’s art scene and artists. With one of Japan’s most comprehensive art databases, Artscape compiles up-to-date information about art events throughout Japan, presenting reviews of exhibitions and articles about art trends and artists.”

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Posted in Japan, Japanese, Manga, Overviews, Resources, Services, Takashi Murakami | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Young Chinese Artists The Next Generation – book review

Posted by artradar on June 10, 2009


EMERGING ARTISTS CHINA BOOK REVIEW

A new book called Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation was recently sent to us for review by the editors. We were a little concerned that this might be another ostensibly objective production, the real purpose of which is – yes, you guessed – the promotion of gallery artists.

Li Yu Liu Bo She follows you and sleeps in your bed naked? Who is this lady? 2006 C Print and Lightbox

Li Yu Liu Bo, She follows you and sleeps in your bed naked? Who is this lady?, 2006, C Print and Lightbox

We were, however, surprised and delighted to find that it is a book to roll around in, play with and draw inspiration from. At 300 pages long it provides an introduction to thirty artists (six of whom work as duos) born in mainland China between 1975 and 1981, roughly half a decade.

Buy here

Click to buy

This era and time frame – unusually short for a survey – are two of the factors which make this book particularly engaging.

The p0st-’70s era was selected because it marks the end of the Cultural Revolution and artists born in this period are witness to China’s continuing frenetic social and political development: a rich source for artistic inspiration and expression.

But, perhaps just as significantly for the success of the book, these artists, born no later than the seventies, have had enough time to build a body of work large enough for in-depth assessment. At the same time many are sufficiently unknown to allow us a tantalising sense of discovery.

The short time period of 1975-1981 astutely recognises the velocity of change in China in the last thirty years: a shorter time-frame allows for a more rigorous and meaningful analysis of the themes preoccupying artists which are teased out in a series of essays by experts and writers.

The team of twenty writers and editors include influential figures such as Huang Du who was curator for the Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and Philip Tinari who curated the selection of Hong Kong artists at the big-name Louis Vuitton show in Hong Kong 2009.

Xu Zhen, Fitness, 2007

Xu Zhen, Fitness, 2007

Each artist is awarded one chapter which contains an interview, eight or so images, a listing of principal exhibitions and a one-page overview of the development of the artist’s work by one of the team of writers, usually written in a somewhat academic style. This is an extract from Philip Tinari’s essay ‘The Merry Prankster’ about Xu Zhen:

“Xu Zhen’s recent work has grown more light-hearted, if predicated on the notion of elaborate fictional scenarios. In one 2007 work Fitness he rigged exercise machines with remote control technology so that the viewer can get a virtual ‘workout’ by pressing buttons.”

Perhaps the least successful sections are the promising-sounding artist interviews where responses turn out to be  perfunctory. “Do you believe in true love?” “Yes”. Perhaps the fault lies in the skills of the interviewers who use closed-ended questions without follow up. But then again the snappy style was ubiquitous across the responses and could in fact be a telling reflection of the essential culture of this generation of artists: a time-starved, light-chat-as-snack culture propagated by the internet social media.

What we liked most was the sense that the editors had tried to reflect the real art scene as they experience it on the ground, even though their take may be viewed as controversial.

“In the past several years outside of China a number of contemporary art exhibitions featuring young Chinese artists showcased artistic forms such as video, multimedia and installation which gave the impression that painting was passe… while we have observed that the employment of these ‘new media’ is widespread (quite a few artists work in more than one discipline), painting is very much a driving force in the contemporary art scene.”

Find below more facts about the how the artists have been selected and their names.

Further criteria used for selection:

  • representative of the generation – themes which reflect the mindset of the generation
  • origins in mainland China – born and raised there
  • the variety of media actually used by artists – while ” new media is widespread, painting is still a driving force in contemporary art scene”
  • local/international exposure
  • body of work showing discernable artistic development
  • independence of thought and
  • authenticity

No account was given of the market value of the works.

Artists are:

Birdhead, Cao Fei, Chen Ke, Chen Quilin, Chi Peng, Gong Jian, Han Yajuan, Li Hui, Li Jikai, Li Qing, Li Yu and Liu Bo, Liang Yue, Liu Ding, Liu Ren, Liu Weijian, Ma Yanhong, Qiu Xiaofei, Ta Men (THEY), Tang Maohong, Wang Guangle, Wei Jia, Wen Ling, Wu Junyong, Xu Zhen, Yang Yong, Zhang Ding, Zhou Jinhua.

To buy Young Chinese Artists: The Next Generation click here

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Posted in Books, Chinese, Emerging artists, Generation art, Overviews, Profiles, Research, Resources, Reviews, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistani contemporary miniature art – overview on video

Posted by artradar on June 4, 2009


PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY MINIATURE ART

Aisha Khalid

Aisha Khalid

Keep hearing about contemporary Pakistani art and want to know a bit more? Here is a great little introductory video.

RTHK, a Hong Kong media organisation, has produced a brief but powerful  video which, in just 6 minutes, manages to  include:

  • a look at the historical development of the genre which has roots in the Mughal empire;
  • the tools – shell mixing pallettes and squirrel hair brushes so fine that only 2-3 hairs are used;
Imran Qureshi

Imran Qureshi

  • demonstration of artists at work;
  • interviews with 2 renowned artists, Imran Qureshi and Aisha Khalid, who talk about the sources of their inspiration: nuclear warheads and curtains in the Red Light District of Amsterdam;
  • a contextual interview with Professor Salimi Hashmi, a respected expert who explains that the development of this hallowed aesthetic into a contemporary form has spurred vigorous debate.

Watch the Pakistani contemporary art video here

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Posted in Classic/Contemporary, Feminist art, Interviews, Islamic art, Miniatures, Overviews, Painting, Pakistani, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chinese artist-run spaces rise up again?

Posted by artradar on May 18, 2009


ARTIST RUN SPACES BEIJING CHINA

Eflux writer Carol Linghua Yu has written an interesting piece on the recent sprouting of independent artist-run spaces ‘born as a response to a specific situation in China’.

Event flyer - Small Productions

Event flyer - Small Productions

Obsessed with constructing physical infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities she notes that ‘there is a staggering shortage of context-specific artistic experiments at all levels’.

The fundamental drives to make and work with art have somehow become lost in the glamour and power bestowed by the market on its active players. Such a loss has become especially glaring amidst the recent collapse of the art market. The market has stopped providing artists with a constant affirmation of their success. It’s real: it has become harder to sell work and the number of studio visits has dropped significantly; many are confused and anxious. What now?

She takes a  look at the response by artists who have developed  HomeShop in Beijing, Small Productions in Hangzhou, and the Observers’ Association in Guangzhou which are all self-sufficient, independent, conceptually ambitious, low-budget, and flexible. ‘They are immune to the commercial uncertainty of the art system and empowered by new artistic visions and achievements.’

Home Shop street party celebrating Olympic losers

Home Shop street party celebrating Olympic losers

She cautions that:

The market remains very much the primary site for the production and contemplation of art in China at the moment, and this obscures initiatives that fail to generate any immediate commercial activity or profit.

Most curators and critics here are unable to engage with such practices, and tend to dismiss them as too marginalized and vernacular for their rejection of mainstream forms.

but ends with optimism.  Passionate artist-initiated endeavours are not new in China and were particularly evident before the famed 1989 China Avant Garde exhibtion which brought Chinese art to the attention of the international art scene. She looks forward to their re-emergence:

After all, this is only the beginning. We hope that it doesn’t stop here.

Take a look at the full piece Doing art potluck style – Eflux – Carol Linghua Yu

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist-run, Beijing, Chinese, Guangzhou, Overviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »