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Archive for the ‘Shows’ Category

Rubin Museum breaks tradition to show the first Tibetan art show in New York – New York Times

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2010


TIBETAN CONTEMPORARY ART NEW YORK MUSEUM SHOWS

Until October 18, Rubin Museum, usually New York’s home for traditional art of the Himalayas, will run the first Tibetan contemporary art show in the city. Titled “Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond“, this exhibition showcases the works of nine Tibetan artists born within the period 1953 to 1982. In a review published by The New York Times, critic Ken Johnson comments on each of the artists’ works.

Kesang Lamdark from Zurich presents Johnson’s most highly recommended works. On display is a sculpture made of perforated beer cans. As one peers through the drinking hole they can see a “glowing, dotted-line image of a Tibetan deity.” He also presents O Mandala Tantric, a pin-pricked black disk of four-foot diameter.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The collages presented by Gonkar Gyatso from London are “graphically appealing,” but Johnson notes they would be more impressive if they advanced “the genre of Pop collage or ideas about spirituality and business.” One of the works on display is called Tibetan Idol 15.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

The computer-generated prints by Losang Gyatso from Washington are, according to Johnson, “technically impressive” and “optically vivid”, but should attempt to draw a clearer relationship between “Buddha-mindedness” and “digital consciousness.” Clear Light Tara is one such work.

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Ken Johnson comments on the paintings like Water 1 by Pema Rinzin from New York, stating that they are “uncomfortably close to hotel lobby decoration.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”


Penba Wangdu from Tibet presents Links of Origination while Tenzin Norbu from Nepal presents Liberation. Both painters have the greatest “potential for narrative and symbolic elaboration,” but their works are “disappointingly decorous”, says Johnson.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Tsherin Sherpa from Oakland, California, presents a large watercolor painting which features, as Johnson describes, an “angry blue giant with a vulture perched on his shoulder and flames roiling behind him.” Another of the artist’s major works, Untitled, features on the official website of the exhibition.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tenzing Rigdol from New York presents a large watercolor painting named Updating Yamantaka.

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

Dedron from Tibet is the only female artist in the show. We are Nearest to the Sun is painted to resemble to a “modern children’s book version of folk art.” It is a painting of a village “populated by little bug-eyed characters,” projecting the theme of “nostalgia for preindustrial times.”

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

Johnson sums up by stating that it is paradoxical that the “freedoms granted by modern art and culture” do not generate much imagination in the show’s artists, who still cling onto that classic Tibetan style of art that has existed “hundreds of years prior to the 20th century.” He conveys a hope that in future Rubin shows he will discover some Tibetan artists with “adventurous minds.”

CBKM/KN/HH

Related Topics: Tibetan artists, museum shows, New York venues, Buddhist art

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Xu Zhen takes on Middle Eastern identities and cultures as the new artists’ collective alias Madeln at the Ikon Gallery, UK

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


MADEIN ARTIST COLLECTIVE CHINESE ART UK GALLERY SHOW

Seeing One’s Own Eyes is the first European exhibition by MadeIn, a new artists’ collective founded in 2009 in Shanghai by Xu Zhen (b. 1977, Shanghai), often heralded as one of the most important and renowned conceptual artists to have emerged from China since the 1990s.

While the work is all made in China, Madeln impersonates a fictional group of Middle Eastern artists, creating a kind of exhibition in disguise, “an exhibition of an exhibition.”  The use of this technique enables Xu to play down his personal identity.

Derived from “Made In”, two words that refer to manufacturing (with country of origin not specified), the name Madeln also phonetically translates into Chinese for “without a roof ” (‘méi d˘ı∙ng’), suggesting an openness to the collective’s work.

Through a range of media including sculpture, video and mixed-media installation, Madeln presents clichéd images of the Middle East, as a war-torn part of the world, associated with the oil industry, death, violence, human suffering and religious conflict. By raising issues of cultural perception, the exhibition encourages us to take a clearer view of current affairs in that region of the world.

The most recent work titled Hey, are you ready? (2009–2010) comprises of three large white sculptures made from polystyrene, one of the many by-products derived from the distillation of oil. These objects form neat, crisp packaging for the protection of loaded symbols including mosques, crescents, oil barrels and Kalashnikov rifles, revealed by negative space.

Spread (2009), a series of wall hangings covered with cartoon imagery, deal explicitly with the geographical politics of Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Europe and the USA. Key political figures and scenarios are starkly drawn and exaggerated to billboard proportions, provoking and highlighting the often unconstructive and negative debates that are encountered in this area.

'Spread' by Madeln (2009) Mixed Media on Canvas, Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'Spread' by Madeln (2009), mixed media on canvas. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

In Perfect Volume (2009) the toe-ends of combat desert boots create a circle on the floor representing a row of absent soldiers as imagined casualties. This references the eternity and infinity of the circle, and is further depicted in the piece Machine for Perpetual Motion (2009), a model of an oil pump, constructed meccano-style but made from razor wire. The energy needed for its movement is blatantly taken from an electrical socket.

The illusionary installation Calm (2009) is made of building debris, a carpet of bits of brick and rubble that is still at first glance. Slowly it reveals itself as animated, gently moving up and down as if it were breathing like the survivor of a bomb blast, trapped and awaiting rescue. This notion of destructive power also features in the low-level floor-based installationThe Colour of Heaven (2009), where mushroom clouds from atomic bomb explosions are placed under assorted glasses.

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009) Glasses, painting Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009), glasses, painting. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

The title of this exhibition refers to a verse in the Koran, “My way, and that of my followers, is to call you to God, on evidence as clear as seeing with one’s own eyes” (Sura 12, verse 108). Freely translated it is an opportunity for to reflect, a consideration of how we see – by “seeing one’s own eyes” – as much as what we see.

Seeing One’s Own Eyes” is a collaboration with S.M.A.K. (Belgium) and is on display at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, until 11 July, 2010.

Two other articles regarding Xu Zhen’s Madeln and “Seeing One’s Own Eyes”, when the show was on display in other international locations, are:

RM/KN

Related Topics: Chinese artists, venues – UK, gallery shows

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Posted in Art as meditation, Cartoon, Chinese, Conceptual, Consumerism, Events, Fact and fiction blur, Found object, Gallery shows, Illustration, Installation, Middle Eastern, Political, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Video, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reji Arackal is new kid on contemporary Indian art block

Posted by artradar on May 19, 2010


INDIAN ART EMERGING ARTISTS

Art Radar Asia is pleased to bring you a review of new kid on the block Reji Arackal’s “Sans Divine Machines” by guest contributor and veteran Indian art writer, Deepanjana Pal.

Reji Arackal is among the promising upcoming artists in the Indian contemporary art arena. Represented by one of Mumbai’s premier galleries, Sakshi, Arackal has shown all over India and Sakshi has previously shown his works at group shows held at Sakshi Gallery Taipei. “Sans Divine Machines” is his first major solo in Mumbai and will be on display till April 30, 2010.

 

Sharing the Concept of Abortion by Reji Arackal

Sharing the Concept of Abortion by Reji Arackal

 

Mumbai-based art critic Deepanjana Pal wrote about the show:

There is little colour in Arackal’s new show “Sans Divine Machines” and, judging from the titles, a generous dose of Roger Penrose was used in the making of these charcoal drawings. Arackal seems to agree with Penrose’s theory that human intelligence doesn’t have rationale. It’s a curious combination of illogic and the absurd. And despite the apparent chaos, it all works, but according to its own curious laws.

The human body is a strange machine in Arackal’s charcoals. His figures are bloated, almost like blimps, and yet there is no slackness to them. These aren’t fleshy bodies, as seen in Lucian Freud’s paintings, but enormous masses of humanity, like in Diego Rivera’s murals. Their immensity has something very solid about them, like the mammoth statues and drawings of peasants from Russia’s Communist years. However, unlike much of Communist art, Arackal also has a sense of humour and it surfaces unexpectedly in many of his works…

Read the complete post at Deepanjana Pal’s blog What They Got Away With.

Deepanjana Pal has been writing about art since 2006 and is the author of “The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma“. In the past, she has written for Time Out Mumbai, where she edited the art section, and has also  contributed articles for publications like ArtIndia, NuktaArt, Time Out Beijing and Time Out London.

DP/KN

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Posted in Art spaces, Deepanjana Pal, Drawing, Emerging artists, Events, Gallery shows, India, Indian, Medium, Mumbai, Reviews, Shows, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Simon Birch is ringleader of artists in Hong Kong’s conceptual circus ‘Hope and Glory’

Posted by artradar on May 12, 2010


HONG KONG PUBLIC ART EXHIBITION

Galactus, by Simon Birch. Hope and Glory installation shot.

Simon Birch, Hong Kong’s celebrated Englishman artist of Armenian heritage, becomes the ringleader of artists in his conceptual circus ‘Hope and Glory,’ which features a bevy of artists as creative collaborators.

The exhibition, curated by Valerie Doran in Hong Kong, is comprised of 20 interlinked multi-media installations and takes on enormous proportions with a force of 16 credited arts professionals and organizations supporting Birch’s efforts.

Under Birch’s artistic direction, the creative team successfully realizes a space of wonder, effectually filling a 20,000 square foot facility with a visual reinterpretation of the sensory experience of a traditional circus in the middle of urban Hong Kong.

Installation and sculpture

The exhibition’s installation and sculpture works dominate the sprawling art space to create a fantasy atmosphere. Viewers wander throughout the space, which has been turned into a surreal labyrinth and enter interactive video pods, where they individually experience custom-made video works complete with meticulously crafted costume production, sound design, and film editing.

Themes: art as a spectacle, as circus

The monumental show explores various major themes, including the idea of art as a spectacle; a fascination with circuses and sideshows, science fiction and ‘hero’ mythologies, all while maintaining an acute awareness of traditional craftsmanship and the labour involved in art production.

The nature of the exhibition required extraordinary measures to properly express Birch’s vision. Curator Valerie Doran writes:

“Collaborating with artists, designers, actors, filmmakers, technicians, curators, educators, costumers, photographers, to bring this world into being, was necessary. And locating this world in a centralized space in Hong Kong was also necessary.”

All 20 works comprising Hope and Glory can be viewed online here, courtesy of the 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong, which represents Birch.

The creative collaborators who were an integral part of expressing Simon Birch’s vision of Hope and Glory include:

Zero Contact Point, by Cang Xin. Hope and Glory installation shot.

Valerie Doran (Hong Kong)- Curator

Paul Kember and Kplusk Architects (Hong Kong) – Exhibition Technical Design

Anothermoutainman (aka Stanley Wong, Hong Kong) – Graphic Design

James Lavelle and UNKLE (London) – Composition and performance of soundtracks for films: ‘All Heads Turn As the Hunt Goes By’,’Juggernaut’, and ‘Clear Air Turbulence’

Gary Gunn (New York) – Composition and production of soundtracks for films: ‘The Arrival Vengeance’,’I used to think I was the Blade Runner, now I know I’m the replicant’, ‘Tannhauser’, and ‘Azhanti High Lightning’

LucyAndBart (Amsterdam) – Designers for ‘Crystallized’ hologram, and design consultant for ‘Twilight Shadows of the Bright Face’ costumes

Florian Ma (Hong Kong)- Film editing and graphic design

Alvina Lee Chui Ping (Hong Kong) – Costume production for ‘Twilight Shadows of the Bright Face’

Robert Peckham (Hong Kong) –  Concept and educational consultant

Prodip (Hong Kong) – Production of paintings re-interpreting ‘Twilight Shadows of the Bright Face’

Bamboo Star (Hong Kong) – Production of Film ‘The Heaven 17’

Douglas Young (Hong Kong) – Co-design and production of ‘Crawling from the Wreckage’ living room environment

Cang Xin (PRC) – Creation and production of ‘Zero Point Contact’ Sculpture

Wing Shya (Hong Kong) – Photography and production of ‘Hutton’ film

Eric Hu (Hong Kong) – Co-production and filming of ‘Kho Virap’ film

Eddie Cheung (Hong Kong) – Composition and production of soundtracks for ‘Kho Virap’ film and ‘Crystalised’ hologram film

Non-profit public art with Hong Kong government support

Hope and Glory runs from April 8- May 30, 2010, and is presented by the non-profit Birch Foundation with generous support from the Hong Kong government as a cultural enrichment for the Hong Kong public. The exhibition event is held in an ideal location which was made available to the Birch Foundation free of charge. Entry into the exhibition is free, and a series of innovative forums and interactive educational events exploring topics and questions generated by the artworks will be held throughout the exhibition period.

Twilight Shadows Of The Bright Face, opening performance, by Simon Birch. Hope and Glory video installation shot.

Forums

Fri 07 May 2010 . Forum 1 ‘Art as Place’
Fri 14 May 2010 . Forum 2 ‘Re-Generation, De-Generation’
Fri 28 May 2010 . Forum 3 ‘HOPE & GLORY : The Making’

Exhibition and Forum Location:

ArtisTree

1/F Cornwall House

TaiKoo Place, Island East

Hong Kong (MTR: Quarry bay, Exit A)

Open Daily from 10 am – 8 pm  (Free Entrance)


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Posted in Art spaces, Cang Xin, Conceptual, Curators, Events, Fantasy art, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Installation, Interactive art, Nonprofit, Painting, Performance, Public art, Sculpture, Shows, Simon Birch, Sound, Sound art, Stanley Wong, Stanley Wong Anothermountainman, Surrealist, Valerie Doran, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“The Empire Strikes Back – Indian art Today” at Saatchi Gallery: critics’ review roundup

Posted by artradar on February 24, 2010


INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

“The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today” opened on 28 January 2010 at Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London. It has received attention from critics interested in both the cultural implications of contemporary Indian art in British society and the exhibition’s impact on the art market.

Intensity and violence are found in some stand out works but the consensus suggests an uneven show.

According to the Business Standard, over 100 works of 26 Indian artists are being displayed. Price estimates are included for some works.

Also concerned with the art market, Colin Gleadell of The Daily Telegraph contemplates the impact of “The Empire Strikes Back” on the value of Saatchi’s investment in Indian contemporary art. He also summarises the fluctuations in the Indian contemporary art market.

Generally, critics’ reviews have been mixed: though they support the concept of showing contemporary Indian artists, many claim that there are only a few standouts.

The Financial Times‘s Peter Aspden is intrigued by “contrast between the work’s wholesome message and the gruesome imagery used to deliver it” in Jitish Kallat’s Public Notice 2, the first work in the show.

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

He then interviews Rebecca Wilson, the associate director of Saatchi Gallery. She explains Saatchi Gallery’s reasons for organising the show, focusing on global trends regarding Indian and Pakistani contemporary art and the sheer volume of new artists from the region.

The Guardian’s Adrian Searle begins with “One might expect Charles Saatchi to show just the sorts of things that are presented,” listing works like Huma Mulji’s Arabian Delight and Atul Dodiya’s Fool’s House as expected works. He concludes “A lot of the work looks exoticised for the gallery, the artists playing their post-colonial otherness as a gimmick, rather than making art of substance.”

JJ Charlesworth of Time Out London also concedes that there are works of “bog-obviousness,” but especially praises Chitra Ganesh’s Tales of Amnesia, consisting of 21 comic-inspired prints that question the role of femininity in society.

Husband-and-wife Subdoh Gupta and Bharti Kher impress Ben Luke of London’s Evening Standard, though he mentions the “collection’s unevenness.”

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Luke is especially interested in Bharti Kher’s An Absence of Assignable Cause, which is her conception of a sperm whale’s heart covered in bindis.

The Times’ Joanna Pitman is fascinated by the artists who “push their media into almost illegible territories, as if to say that art could not possibly be adequate to record what really matters.”

Probir Gupta’s painting Anxiety of the Unfamiliar and Tallur L.N.’s Untitled both depict what she describes as “bleary fragments, the chance events, and barely registered perceptions of this imbalanced, disturbed country.”

However, Pitman also comments on the unevenness of the show: “Many works resemble the outpourings of pained and confused undergraduate minds.”

Mark Sheerin of Culture 24 is also struck by the intensity present throughout the works. He  claims that, “At best, such high impact work can astound and violently re-orient you” and cites Tushar Joag’s The Enlightening Army of the Empire’s “skeletal, spectral band of robotic figures” as a prime example.

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

He encourages the reader to “come and let the works do violence to you. They should be resisted, if at all.”

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Posted in Asia expands, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Consumerism, Gallery shows, Heart art, Indian, Jitish Kallat, Light, London, Overviews, Political, Rashid Rana, Reviews, Robot, Saatchi, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A perspective on Viewpoints and Viewing Points – 2009 Asian Art Biennale

Posted by artradar on January 27, 2010


Writer for Art Radar Asia reflects on the exhibition

Kate Nicholson, a Taiwan-based contributor to Art Radar Asia, writes about her favourite picks from Viewpoints and Viewing Points , the 2009 Asian Art Biennale exhibition, currently on show at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Viewpoints and Viewing Points, 2009 Asian Art Biennale exhibition, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

“It was just wonderful to start my day knowing that I would soon be surrounded by artwork spanning three galleries, created by 56 of Asia’s best artists. And what a show it was. Every sense was stimulated as there was every kind of art form on display, from painting and sculpture to film and photography and everything in between.

My favourite pieces, in no particular order, included: Takehito Koganezawa’s Propagation of Electric Current, all the works by Mia Wen-Hsuan Liu, a Taiwanese artist, and Bloated City and Skinny Language by Hung Keung.

The latter struck me with its beauty when I first entered the space and looked across to see what I assume to be stylised Chinese characters floating across the wall via projection equipment.

However, it became a whole new experience when a man and his very small daughter realised that if you stand at a certain point in the room the characters gently swarm around you and move with you as you move. It was beautiful to watch them interacting with the piece…”

Read the complete article at Kate Nicholson’s blog, jar of buttons.

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{Inter}Viewing Possession with Leung Chi Wo, Hong Kong artist at Asia Art Archive – interview

Posted by artradar on January 19, 2010


HONG KONG ARTIST INTERVIEW

A viewing station of Leung Chi Wo's video work exhibition at the Asia Art Archive, entitled {Inter}Viewing Possession

The remarkable Hong Kong artist Leung Chi Wo explores the idea of possession and value in his fascinating installation exhibiton entitled {Inter}Viewing Possession, curated by Carl Cheng Chi-Ming and Livia Garcia.

Leung Chi Wo is a highly active artist in the Hong Kong community,  a co-founder of the internationally significant Para-Site Art Space, who graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with an MFA in 1997.

He represented Hong Kong in the Venice Biennale in 2001, and has worked in the arts abroad in both New York and Italy.

Despite this, he says, “When I was young I never thought about becoming an artist, and even after studying art, I didn’t think I would become one.” He describes his art as a “contradiction of ideas,” and that he “likes to explore things that are not meant to be.”

Watch a video interview of Leung Chi Wo here on ChoochooTV Media Entertainment, which posts arts related video programs on [art]attack, Hong Kong web television.

His installation exhibit at the Asia Art Archive is comprised of 8 viewing stations, each similar in outward appearance to a telescope.

Regarding his process and intentions for {Inter}Viewing Possession, he says:

I want to express the idea of viewing, and possession is an association to the location we are at. We are situated on Possession Street, and close to here is Possession Point where the first Colonials arrived. Possession is also something we can all associate with. We interviewed people around this area regarding their possessions, objects that they treasure. During the interview, you are actually exercising your thinking about what you learn from the interview. I transcribed the interviews into a monologue. Then I interviewed the interviewers about their point of view when conducting the interviews, turning it into the second set of monologues, and combined it into the audio for this set of works. During the process, I want to explore what ‘value’ is and how to describe it. In my artwork, I want to put more thought into the context, when the artwork is exhibited, it should be very closely related to the environment. I hope the presentation of the installation can work with the situation it is in. The environment should also involve the audience, what you are showing the audience. What I meant by the environment doesn’t necessarily mean physical space, we must also consider the historical or cultural space and also the habitation of the people in that area.

The video works from this exhibition are also available for viewing on Youtube, and can be accessed through the links below.

{Inter}Viewing Possession- Video Channel 1 (Cantonese)

{Inter}Viewing Possession- Video Channel 2 (English)

{Inter}Viewing Possession- Video Channel 3 (English)

{Inter}Viewing Possession- Video Channel 4 (Cantonese)

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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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Why do critics like Zhang Huan but not his show? Live pigs installation at White Cube 2009 – review roundup

Posted by artradar on October 20, 2009


CHINESE ANIMAL INSTALLATION ART REVIEW

Zhang Huan is known for his performance acts of physical and psychological endurance. This time, however, he left that act up to a couple of pigs.

Zhang Huan’s first show at White Cube

Zhang’s first exhibition Zhu Gangqiang at the White Cube Gallery in London (to October 3rd 2009) featured two live pigs in a make shift pigpen. The pig duo were intended by Zhang to stand in for a remarkable pig in China that survived for 49 days under debris after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed more than 60,000 people.  Now known as the “Zhu Gangqiang” or “Cast-Iron Pig”, the rescued pig has subsequently achieved celebrity status in China for its miraculous tale of survival.  

Zhang’s exhibition was to pay homage to the remarkable Cast-Iron Pig; critics, however, found the exhibition wanting.  For some, the live pig production was far less impressive than Zhang’s portraits of human skulls and the Cast-Iron Pig that comprised the rest of the exhibition. Here is a selection of their reviews:

Zhang Huan "Zhu Gangqiang", 2009 (installation view)

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang, 2009 (installation view) Two Oxford Sandy and Black gilts, straw, wood, plants, soil, DVD projection, DVD, plasma screen, sound and vinyl

Just a headline grabber

Mark Hudson, writing in The London Daily Telegraph, speaking on behalf of London audiences, declared that large-scale ‘playful’ exhibitions like Zhang’s are no longer inspiring to local audiences:  “We’ve grown so used to headline-grabbing fun-art installations,” he writes, “that Zhang’s pigs feel like just another addition to a list that includes Carsten Holler’s slides in Tate Modern and Antony Gormley’s plinth project in Trafalgar Square.”  

For Hudson, the highlight of the show was Zhang’s depictions of the rescued pig made out of burnt incense rather than the live pigs in the pigpen-utopia (where the pigs appear to have plenty of straw, a football and tire to play with, and exotic plants to eat).

The pig portraits demonstrate the most interesting aspect of Zhang’s work to the Western audience, which is, according to Hudson, his “ambivalence with which he blurs Eastern and Western traditions. The way he offsets strategies borrowed — apparently — from Western operator-artists such as Joseph Beuys and Jeff Koons with scarcely fathomable Oriental philosophy is refreshing in a contemporary art scene in which much has become painfully predictable.” 

Hudson concludes the review by cautioning Zhang not to fall into the trend of artists who have exhibited at the White Cube (such as artist Damien Hirst) and have since become “brand over content.”  According to Hudson, the current prices and high profile of Zhang’s exhibition demonstrates that he “may already be in danger of losing his value as a voice from elsewhere.”

Zhang Huan "Zhu Gangzing", 2009

Zhang Huan, Zhu Gangqiang, 2009- Ash on linen

 

The London Evening Standard’s Brian Sewell, however, disagrees: “I think him [Zhang Huan] a better, wiser and more contemplative artist than…these Western models.”

Tate Modern berated

Sewell’s review describes Zhang’s remarkable and prolific history of performance art works and details the symbolic force they have had on audiences.  He emphasizes Zhang’s mystical mastery of his work and goes so far as to berate the Tate Modern for not yet having acquired any of Zhang’s work for their permanent collection.

Unfortunately, the glowing description of Zhang’s oeuvre to date ends with his exhibition at the White Cube Gallery.  Sewell highlights the element of the exhibition that troubled most critics: the insincere relationship between the live pigs and their audience. “Visitors are invited to lean on the fence,” he writes, “and like Lord Emsworth in the PG Wodehouse novels and Jay Jopling’s father (once Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), admire these little Blandings beauties and contemplate. But contemplate what? The leap from the amusing comforts of the urban farm to the tragedy of Sichuan is far too great for me to see in it pathetic fallacy.”

Zhang Huan Felicity no.3, 2008

Zhang Huan, Felicity no. 3, 2008- Ash on linen

For the London Times art critic, Waldemar Januszczak, it is a similar story of incongruity. He admits that Zhang’s live pigs were “lovely,” but continues that they were, in fact, “too lovely.”

Trite “Greenpeace story”?

After looking at the exhibition in its entirety, Januszczak found himself troubled by how trite and shallow the exhibition’s “contemporary Greenpeace story” seemed to be: “How dare this pampered modern artist, showing in the plushest gallery in the plushest corner of London’s Mayfair, toy so glibly with Buddhism and death, with human survival and the real meaning of the Sichuan earthquake? Even the accompanying video, in which Zhang retells the pig’s story, is so badly shot that it constitutes a disgrace.”

Human skulls better than live pigs

Zhang’s portraits of human skulls were more favourably received.  Januszczak described them as “just about haunting enough to survive their awful familiarity…Zhang’s skulls…are particularly bare and vulnerable.” This positive reaction to the portraits led Januszczak to conclude that Zhang “is a better artist than this show suggests.”

Links: Zhang Huan website

RM/KE

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Posted in Activist, Art spaces, Ash, Chinese, Critic, Death, Gallery shows, Installation, Interactive art, London, Painting, Participatory, Performance, Political, Reviews, Sculpture, Shows, Zhang Huan | 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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