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Archive for the ‘Art as meditation’ Category

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 »

5 80s born contemporary Cambodian artists featured in historic show Forever Until Now

Posted by artradar on March 17, 2009


 CAMBODIAN ART SHOW REVIEWS

This post features introductory profiles of 5 Cambodian contemporary artists born in the 1980s in the 14 artist historic group show Forever Until Now curated by Cambodia-based Erin Gleeson.  The show which can be seen at Chancery Lane Gallery Hong Kong until April 29 2009, aims to document the development of Cambodian contemporary art. 

This is the third post of a three part series; see the related posts section below to read more about artists born earlier.

Chan Dany, Kback Phni Tes, pencil shavings

Chan Dany, Kback Phni Tes, pencil shavings

 

CHAN Dany (1984) – Chan Dany is one of the few emerging artists in Cambodia creating contemporary work that employs a flexible knowledge of kbach rachana or Khmer decorative forms – an ancient code of organic shapes and patterns applied in diffferent styles. In this show he exhibits part of a series of meticulous and delicate works made with pencil shavings which from a distance appear to be embroidery.

 

Ouk Sochivy, The Band, oil on canvas

Ouk Sochivy, The Band, oil on canvas

 

OUK Sochivy (1984) – It is common in Cambodia for elders to pass on their trade to the next generation. Before his death in December 2008 Say Ken commonly known as the grandfather of contemporary art in Cambodia – instructed his granddaughter how to paint with his self-taught flair.

Vandy Rattana, Fire of the Year 6, C-print photo

Vandy Rattana, Fire of the Year 6, C-print photo

VANDY Rattana (1980) In Fire of the Year 2008 photographer Vandy Rattana captures a hopeless story common in today’s Cambodia. With few fire trucks and bribes required for protection, a sense of chaos and resignation reigns in this series of photographs taken in the destroyed district called Dteuk Tlah or ”clear water’ (a site where 300 hundred families lived in stilted homes above a floating blanket of plastic waste). Vandy is a catalyst for creating community among photographers and artists in Cambodia and is the founder of Steiv Salapak, an art collective and gallery in Phnomh Penh.

Than Sok, Ktome Neak Ta, Incense sticks glue

Than Sok, Ktome Neak Ta, Incense sticks glue

THANN Sok (1984) – Thann Sok graduated from Reyum Art School in 2005. His current practice is an extension of his second year study of architecture. The work in this exhibition is called Ktome Neak Ta. It is a wall installation of 15 miniature houses made of incense sticks. Found in the majority of rural Cambodian homes and in the northeast corners of Buddhist temple grounds, the Neak Ta shrines serve as a site for communication with Neak Ta one of the most omnipresent divinities which populate the supernatural world of the Cambodian countryside. Incense and prayer is offered in a time of need but after the crisis has passed, the shrine is thrown away and a new one built representing a clearing of the old and a chance to begin anew. This is a multi-layered work which is also a comment on the political evolution of Cambodia since Pol Pot.

 

Sorn Setpheap, Naga, Wall installation paper

Sorn Setpheap, Naga, Wall installation paper

 

 

 

 

 

SORN Setpheap (1988) – As a graduate of Reyum Art School in 2005 and Reyum Workshop in 2007, Sorn has been exposed to a range of contemporary practices from visiting artists. Since 2006 this artist and dancer  has been training in the US with the New York-based Japanese dance group Eiko+Koma. In this show, Sorn exhibits a sculpture of a Naga – a serpent believe to be the mythical origin of the Khmer people – made of hundreds of pieces of folded paper creating an undulating form – a new form for a new generation.

 

Reviews and related links

A Coming of Age for Cambodian artists – IHT – March 2009 – The show 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, along with several other events, marks a turning point for Cambodian artistic life today. In December Cambodian artists will be represented for the first time at the sixth Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, Australia, and a few weeks before, the Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial in Japan will again showcase the Southeast Asian nation.

A Haunting Exhibition in Hong Kong – Asia Sentinel – 17 Feb 2009 – this review was published on the eve of the long delayed trial of Tuol Sleng prison director, Kaing Guek Eav – aka \”Duch\” – the first of four Khmer Rouge leaders to be brought before the UN-backed war crime court. 12,000 people died at Tuol Sleng, known as S-21, now the Genocide Museum. This review discusses the effect the Cambodian genocide which saw the death of 1.7 million people has had on art.

Cambodian Art: Past to Present – 17 Feb 2009 – CNN – Miranda Leitsinger – As well as reviewing the works, this piece documents the hardships and challenges of producing art in Cambodia.

After a troubled past, new expressions in Cambodian art – IHT – July 2006 – this covers the role Sopheap Pich is has played in catalysing the art scene in Cambodia

Related categories: Cambodian art, religious art, reports from Hong Kong, emerging artists

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Posted in Art as meditation, Buddhist art, Cambodian, China, Classic/Contemporary, Emerging artists, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Overviews, Painting, Photography, Profiles, Religious art, Sculpture, Surveys, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chinese ink artist Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian shows 80 works in Spain – Guardian, Int Literary Quarterly

Posted by artradar on January 18, 2009


gaoxingjian4602xingjian_the_auspices1

CHINESE INK PAINTING

This exhibition references three trends we are noticing in the art world now: a new interest in ink as a medium, a turning towards the traditional arts as a counterpoint to the recent interest in political art then new media and finally, as Melissa Chiu of the Asia Society has pointed out in the video Inside Chinese Contemporary Art, the growing influence of cultural and political refugee artists on the art practices in their birth countries.

The Deluge to March 2009

Museo Wurth La Rioja presents the exhibition ‘After the Deluge’ which brings together 80 Chinese ink works on canvas and paper by the prestigious Chinese artist Gao Xingjian (China, 1940), 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature. Regarded as one of the most important Chinese writers at present, Gao Xingjian still is not well known as a painter in Spain, although he is recognized by the international art scene and his oeuvre was previously exhibited at the Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid, 2002) says Art Knowledge News.

His work has been presented in several solo and group exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the United States, and is included in several important art collections including the Singapore Art Museum, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Modern Art Sweden.

Although Gao Xingjian is well-known for having received the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 2000, his long, versatile professional career reveals him to be a novelist, playwright and essayist, a film and stage director as well as an artist of great international renown according to the Museum. 

Literature and painting encounter serene complicity in the figure of the artist, in which the one is the inseparable complement to the other, one is an extension of the other: “I paint when I am tired of writing. I write when I am tired of painting”.

Gao’s paintings are in Chinese ink, sometimes on small sheets of rice paper, sometimes on large format canvases. The gouache technique, which comes from the traditional Chinese technique of xieyi (literally “painting of the feelings” or “writing of the spirit”), allows him to create subtle, intuitive settings and characters who move in the limits between  figurative and abstract art.

Gao uses Chinese ink with light, fluent strokes, full of contrasts which explore the expressive possibilities of black, creating nuances, light, chiaroscuros, textures and volumes which spring from the artist’s own introspection. Gao paints from the emotions and his forms suggest sensations (Search, Nostalgia, Illusion) subtle natural phenomena (Momentary Rain, The Mist) or the artist’s vision of the presence (Alienation, The End of the World, The Flight).

 

As a refugee of the Cultural Revolution now settled in France, Gao Xinjiang’s art practice is irrevocably marked by his experiences. The Guardian says

Though he enjoys dancing, swimming in the sea and cooking seafood, Gao says he works “non-stop, 12 hours a day”, and never takes summer holidays “or even weekends, because freedom of expression is so precious to me”.

 

Though the Open Door policy operating since the eighties which allows new freedoms to Chinese people, has also brought with it difficulties

The market pressures China now shares with the west are, (Gao) believes, “harder to resist than political and social customs”. He feels lucky that his ink paintings were selling in Europe before he fled, and have been widely exhibited. “I could make a living, so I could write books that didn’t sell much. I always understood that literature can’t be a trade; it’s a choice.” Painting, he says, “begins where language fails”, and he works listening to music – often Bach.

Gao describes his experience of political control being all the harder to bear after his idyllic upbringing in the  intellectually-stimulating open-minded environment created by his parents.

Many people would remember their childhood as a painful, suffering memory. I am extremely lucky in comparison. My mother was educated in an American missionary school so she was very open-minded, and my father had been very much influenced by Western thoughts and ideals. At the same time he was learned in classical Chinese culture. In my family there was no sense of hierarchy, there was no patriarchal control of any kind. I was totally free, I could do whatever I liked, and I was also good at my studies so my parents did not try to influence me whatsoever, in any way. I was completely myself. The first ever sense of control or manipulation or power put upon me was when I first went to University; it was 1957. We had the anti-writers movements, a political campaign against writers and artists. That was the very first time I experienced opposition or some form of control over me.

Since my university years, I have been subject to all kind of politics, all kinds of political control and manipulation, and I very much want to separate myself from that, and I am now advocating or promoting art and literature which is apolitical, which is not used as a tool in politics, it actually transcends and goes beyond and is above politics, it has nothing to do with politics. That is the kind of art and literature I want to promote. So all those political discourses and political language, they are public, they are there to command. Political discourse is the discourse of power, and it is also a public discourse, it doesn’t represent an individual.

His paintings have been described as “infused with the still, reflective quality of Zen Buddhism” and it is in the spirit of xeiyi and the expression of universal feelings that we are to understand the works in this show.

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Gao Xingjiang’s book Return to Painting presents a collection of more than one hundred of the author’s paintings, created from India ink on rice paper, that span his artistic career from the 1960s to the present day.

More stories on ink, Chinese artists, museum shows, events on now, art as meditation, political art, cultural revolution

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Buddhist motifs, artist collectives in Tibetan art – Asia Art Archive

Posted by artradar on October 24, 2008


BUDDHISM, COLLECTIVES CONTEMPORARY ART TIBET OVERVIEW

The last couple of decades have seen an explosion of international interest in Tibetan contemporary art writes Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, assistant Professor of the University of Alabama in a column for Asia Art Archive.

A common theme of this art is religious iconography – including celestial beings, Buddhas, and ritual implements – being adapted to portray  ideas of identity, cultural preservation, globalization, and tensions with the perceived colonizers – the Chinese immigrants that represent the control of the Chinese state.

The various collectives of Tibetan artists that exist both within the PRC and also abroad in exile have distinct philosophies regarding their art. However, all of them include artists who consciously use Buddhist themes and iconography to convey very different concepts of identity, cultural preservation and globalization.

Interestingly, some contemporary artists originally studied under a traditional Tibetan system of artisan apprenticeship (for example, Karma Phunstok) before becoming a ‘contemporary artist’, while others have chosen to do so as a means of developing their contemporary practice (for example, Gonkar Gyatso).

Certainly, many contemporary artists do not associate their work with Buddhism; some resist associations explicitly to avoid stereotypes of the Shangri-La image of Tibet, whereas others such as the prominent artist Gade (b. Lhasa, 1971) use Buddhist images in a playful way to explore contemporary issues in Tibet.

Others consciously identify their motivation in undertaking particular pieces as being connected to their Buddhist faith and practice. The artists mentioned below are individuals who use Buddhist terminology in describing their art, and cite their motivations as being similar to traditional artisans – as a form of meditation, or an offering.

Artist statements often deflect attempts to politicize their work through the incorporation of traditional forms of vocabulary. Despite growing up during the Cultural Revolution when religious was suppressed many artists strongly self-identify as Buddhist and depict this identity in their work.

Several different artistic collectives reflect some of the different motivations of contemporary Tibetan artists.

Sweet Tea House

Sweet Tea originally started in Lhasa in the late 1980s with the intention of portraying and exploring contemporary Tibetan life through art, though was short lived due to government interference. However, one of its members, Gonkar Gyatso (b. Lhasa, 1961) revived the name in 2003 when he opened a gallery in London.

Gongkar Gyatso portrays some of the ambivalence felt among Tibetan artists about the connection of Tibetan identity with Buddhism. In an interview, he discussed how in traditional Tibetan art as well as in Maoist ideology the ‘assertion of individualism … [is] outlawed.’ Gyatso’s incorporation in his work of Buddhist motifs and the body of the Buddha, in particular, is used as a signifer of Tibetan identity, as well as commenting on contemporary images and political images surrounding Tibet.

Disney Plus 3 (2004), for example, includes an image of the Buddha along with images of Mickey Mouse. Both of these images are instantly recognizable as cultural markers, but the depiction of them together subverts expectations of their traditional uses.

Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild

The Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild is based in Lhasa, and artists from the group often collaborate and exhibit in Gyatso’s Sweet Tea House gallery. One of its most prominent members, Gade, like Gyatso, has grown up without a traditional Buddhist education. His work is a commentary on contemporary Tibetan issues yet often incorporates traditional motifs. Railway Train (2006) is an example of a piece that depicts this contrast which includes images of traditional Tibet, such as monks and nomads, alongside Coca-cola signs and the train that dominates the landscape,

Mechak

Mechak is a more recently formed initiative that encompasses other collectives through the use of the internet and by including artists from within the PRC as well as those in exile. The term ‘Mechak’ itself conveys the ideas of the group: me (me) meaning fire and chak (lcags) meaning iron refers to a traditional Tibetan iron-edged tool used for creating sparks. Mechak states that its mission is to ‘ignite a renewal of Tibetan culture’ through the inclusion of Tibetan artists from around the world. One of the group’s intentions is to explore new forms of expression while maintaining ‘a spiritual centre’. Indeed, many of the artists involved, including one of the founders, Losang Gyatso, use Buddhist imagery and themes.

Ang Sang (b. Lhasa, 1962) is one artist who incorporates traditional themes, particularly Buddhist ones, in his art for example in ‘White Tara’, a modern image of the goddess Tara. In his artist statement Ang declares that, ‘Painting to Ang Sang is the Buddha Nature in his heart; his works express faith and devotion. Through the exploration of the artistic language of Tibetan spirituality, he tries to find common characteristics between ancient and traditional Tibetan art and Western avant-garde art.’

Other young artists also incorporate Buddhist themes in their work, although their subject matter may not appear as explicitly to be Buddhist.

Palden Weinreb (b. 1982, ) born in and still living in New York City was educated in a western artistic tradition. His work incorporates mixed media and also refers to Buddhism. In his artist statement, he describes how, frustrated on one occasion, he began to recite mantra (symbols recited as a form of spiritual practice), reached a meditative state and found his pencil moving of its own accord. Fascinated by the results, Palden continued to use this method, explaining that through doing so, ‘I discovered a new sensibility in approach and aesthetics. I possessed a new appreciation for the illusion and deception held within a mark, creating ambiguous passages and environments … There was a beauty and a depth in the relation between systematic and unconscious patterns.’

Tibetan artists incorporate Buddhist motifs in their work for different reasons. Some reflexively use them as signifiers of ‘Tibetan-ness’; others as social or political commentaries. However, some artists have also consciously used them in a manner similar to traditional artists: as a form of spiritual practice.

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Posted in Art as meditation, Buddhist art, Cultural Revolution, Identity art, Overviews, Pop Art, Religious art, Tibetan | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »