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Archive for the ‘Large art’ Category

Top Australian media artists introduced at Art Taipei – public lecture by Antoanetta Ivanova

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2010


MEDIA VIDEO AUSTRALIA ARTISTS CURATORS AGENCY ACQUISITION ART FAIR EXHIBITION

Ela-Video “Encoded” was a special exhibition organised as part of the broader Ela-Video exhibition held as part of this year’s Art Taipei. Guest curated by Antoanetta Ivanova, also a producer and agent for Australian media artists, “Encoded” aimed to show the diversity and sophistication of media and video art being created in Australia today. Art Radar attended a public lecture in which Ivanova introduced the eight Australian media artists we have listed below.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Antoanetta Ivanova speaking at a public lecture on Australian media art at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Ivanova manages a company called Novamedia which has been in operation since 2001. Novamedia is unique in that it is the first media arts agency to be established in Australia; their focus is on media and digital art. They provide advice to private collectors and organisations looking to acquire new media works, and also try to generate opportunities to promote Australian media art overseas. An example of this, according to Ivanova, is the “very important exhibition on art and science collaborations” they took to China in 2006.

This list, generated from those artists discussed by Ivanova in her talk, shows “the diverse range of media art” produced by leading Australian proponents in this field. Only one of the artists listed here, Jon McCormack, had work in Ela-Video “Encoded”. The other artists in the exhibition were Jonathan Duckworth, Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs, Martin Walch, Jess MacNeil and Justine Cooper. The artists are listed below in the order Ivanova spoke about them. We encourage you to visit the artists’ websites to explore their work in more depth.

Matthew Gardiner

Matthew Gardiner is most well-known for his work with origami, namely robotic origami. He has completed a number of residencies with major scientific and new media research laboratories and has exhibited his origami work worldwide in galleries and public spaces. He is also the founder and director of Airstrip, a website design company.

“The artist will design his object on the computer and make it for the printer. The final artwork is interactive. The origami has a sensor in the middle and it can sense when people approach…. As you go across it the origami opens and if you move away it will fold in…. He has been making traditional paper origami for many, many years and he lived in Japan…. He translates [a] traditional art form into a very contemporary art form.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Matthew Gardiner's "robotic origami" work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Stelarc

Since 1968, Stelarc has undertaken numerous performances during which he manipulates his body, most often in involuntary ways and using mechanical means. As described in his biography, he has “used medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, Virtual Reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to explore alternate, intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body.” In addition to his art work, he has been a research fellow and named an honorary professor for numerous Australian and international universities.

“[Stelarc’s] a performing artist. He has attached his body to various machines to show how there is a clash between the body and machinery in contemporary society.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini

“[Piccinini’s] a more traditional artist because she makes sculptures but her work raises important issues about the natural environment and artificial nature…. She uses organic … and artificial forms in her work. She’s fascinated by the modern sciences of biotechnology and genetic engineering and she says that if people are disturbed by her work it’s because [it] asks questions about fundamental aspects of our existence. With all these advances in technology, what kind of world are we really making?” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work as introduced by Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Patricia Piccinini's sculpture work, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Alex Davies

Davies graduated from The University of New South Wales in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is currently a PhD Candidate in the Media Arts department of the institution’s College of Fine Arts. He is a prolific artist who creates his interactive, installation and performance art works using various media including sound and music, video and photography.

“As you go through the exhibition space you will see a … hole to look through. Audiences line up to look through to see what’s on the other side. But all they see is their own back plus a ghost person standing behind them…. The work mixes real time video captures of us and puts another person in there. He also did another [installation with] speakers in the space and you could actually hear people standing around you.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Chris Henschke

Henschke’s most recent work with the Australian Synchrotron is an art and science collaboration that has brought about an entirely new art form – using light beams to create artworks. As explained on the artist’s website, the Synchrotron “allows one to ‘see’ the spectrum of light energy from microwaves to xrays and look at objects at scales of a millionth of a metre.” The artist is participating in a three month residency with the Synchrotron, set up by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), in which he will use the technology to create “a ‘synchrotron art’ mural commission.”

Henschke is based in the Australian city of Melbourne and has been working with digital media for the past fifteen years. His main areas of research are in art and science relationships, interactive and hybrid media and experimental audio.

Lynette Wallworth

Lynette Wallworth is an Australian video installation, photography and short film artist who specialises in the creation of immersive and interactive installation environments. Her representing gallery, Forma Arts and Media Limited, describes her work as being about “the relationships between ourselves and nature, about how we are made up of our physical and biological environments, even as we re-make the world through our activities. She uses technology to reveal the hidden intricacies of human immersion in the wide, complex world.”

“People are given a glass bowl and with the glass bowl they go into a dark room and search to capture light that is beamed from the ceiling. When they capture the light, images of deep ocean and deep space are projected into the bowl and then people pass the bowl around to others to experience.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Lynette Wallworth's interactive tactile art, introduced by speaker Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Daniel Crooks

Born and educated in New Zealand, Crooks received an Australia Council Fellowship in 1997 to research motion control at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology which brought him to Australia. Since then he has participated in numerous exhibitions in Australia and abroad, working with a range of media including digital video, photography and installation. He is most well-known for his ongoing Time Slice project, begun in 1997, in which he uses the computer to manipulate video images to stretch time.

Craig Walsh

Craig Walsh works predominantly with site-specific large-scale image projection, most often in public places and always created in response to existing environments. He has, for example, projected huge faces onto trees in the Australian city of Melbourne and has projected sharks swimming in water onto the ground (first) floor windows of a corporate building.

“[Walsh’s] work takes a lot of time to develop and very powerful projectors and technology to set up. He works first of all with small block architectural models to the design the projection … and then he [conducts] many tests [to see] how the projection will work…” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack

“Jon McCormack is one of the very few artists in Australia who creates work by writing computer code. He was trained in both art and computer science – he has two degrees. For example, the work we’re showing here at Art Taipei is not an animation…. What you experience is actually the computer making the drawings…. The drawings happen before our eyes – it’s not recorded…. It never repeats…. The artwork is a programme that Jon designed.” Antoanetta Ivanova at Art Taipei 2010

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.

Jon McCormack's computer programmed interactive work as displayed at Art Taipei 2010's Ela-Video "Encoded" exhibition on Australian media art. Image courtesy Art Taipei.

KN

Related Topics: Australian artistsbiological (bio) art, new media art, technology, the human body

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Posted in Art and science collaboration, Artist Nationality, Australian, Bio (biological) art, Body, Computer animation software, Definitions, Design, Electronic art, Environment, Events, Fairs, From Art Radar, Genetic engineering, Human Body, Installation, Interactive art, Large art, Lists, Medium, Multi category, New Media, Overviews, Performance, Professionals, Public art, Research, Social, Sound, Sound art, Styles, Taiwan, Technology, Themes and subjects, Time, Urban, Venues, Video, Virtual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Anti “commercial” art, Luk Tsing Yuen comments on corporate greed: video

Posted by artradar on August 4, 2010


INTERNET TV 3D ART VIDEO

Art Radar Asia brings you yet another insightful video from Internet channel ChooChooTV’s show [art]attack. This four minute production allows Hong Kong-based social artist Luk Tsing Yuen to explain his art output and offers viewers a chance to share space in his studio.

Luk Tsing Yuen

Luk Tsing Yuen

A fairly young artist, Luk Tsing Yuen received his BA in 2005  and is currently a student of Art and Design in Education at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Tsing Yuen takes the viewer on a tour of some of his recent works explaining each with a background of his inspirations and concerns. Working with 3D objects, Tsing Yuen uses a certain plastic type known as polyurethane. Fashioning plastic into detailed objects in response to social issues like the preservation of the environment and the commercialised culture crisis, Tsing Yuen’s works combine a passionate feeling for social needs and aesthetic imagination.

In a work called Art becoming merchandise, Tsing Yuen shows us what looks like a display box within which rows of decorative objects are stuck to the wall. Referring to the theme of assembly line production of culture and art, he places each “art” object as a product like any other – mass produced. He  goes on to say,

I want to express the fact that businessmen are destroying our history and artwork.

Another artwork features multiple slabs of transparent plastic within which one sees fossilized butterflies that have retained their colorfulness. Tsing Yuen says that the inspiration for this work was derived from a recent construction site at the Fung Yuen butterfly reserve where in the name of a better environment, the dust and grime from the construction was killing a great number of protected butterflies.

Luk Tsing Yuen has participated in several local solo and group exhibitions including “Fotanian” (2003), “A Person A [ ]” (2004), “Local East-Kowloon Art In Progress” (2006), “Industry and Silence” (2007), and “Passionate Objects” (2008) and is currently based in Hong Kong.

Watch the video on the ChooChooTV show [art]attack (length of video, 4:03 minutes).

AM/KN

Related Topics: Hong Kong artists , biological art, consumerism

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Posted in 3D Max, Activist, Art and internet, Artists as celebrities, Bio (biological) art, Consumerism, Design, Emerging artists, Environment, Fragile art, Hong Kong Artists, Installation, Large art, Luk Tsing Yuen, Sculpture, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A common man uncommonly direct – Indian contemporary sculptor Subodh Gupta in conversation in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on December 6, 2009


CONVERSATION SUBODH GUPTA INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

New Delhi-based contemporary artist Subodh Gupta is not backward in coming forward with his views. Smiling firmly, he chose not to respond to introductory remarks made by moderator William Pym, Managing Editor of Art Asia Pacific magazine at a talk hosted as a side-event of the Christie’s Hong Kong autumn 2009 auctions .

Instead he turned to face the audience: “Let me tell you all clearly why I am here today. Originally this was supposed to be a one-on-one talk with Art Asia Pacific. I was happy about that. But then it turned into a group talk hosted by Christies. I prefer to work with curators, writers and critics rather than auction houses”. Christie’s Hugo Weihe, International Director of Asian Art who was sitting in the front row looked slightly startled.

So Subodh Gupta is a man who is not afraid to say what he thinks….this talk was shaping up to be interesting.

Subodh Gupta

Subodh Gupta

Moving attention swiftly to the art, Pym invited Gupta to discuss a series of slides of his works many of which were featured in his Hauser and Wirth solo show “Common Man” which ended October 2009.

Subodh Gupta, A Penny for Belief II

One set of works comprised three over-sized thalis (thali is a Hindi word meaning plate on which a series of small bowls of food are placed) each featuring its own grouping of like items: used sandals, kitchen utensils and coins in oil.
Gupta explained that a primary source of inspiration is what he sees and has seen in his everyday environment, the objects which surround him. His trademark references to Indian kitchen utensils reference his earliest experiences:

He was born (one of six children) in the northeastern state of Bihar, which he describes as the Wild West of India. His father, a railway guard, was a drinker and died in his early forties, when Gupta was 12. His mother, who came from a farming family, sent him off to live with her brother for a few years in a remote village — “Not a single school kid wore shoes, and there is no road to go to school. Sometimes we stop in the field and we sit down and eat green chickpea before we go to school. (Times)

Today however Gupta sporting international urban grunge-style clothing complete with goatee, only haltingly accepted the  proposal suggested by Pym that he might be a cultural ambassador for India, someone who plays a role in teaching the world about his native country. “My inspiration comes from everyday life. Yes I suppose you can say I am an ambassador but only by chance because I am from India. Every artist reflects their own cultural environment. Nowadays I live in the world, I see more of the world. My art expresses that.”

The assemblage of local and global influences is evident in Penny for Belief II in which a large thali is filled with oil and coins. He explained that his globe-trotting lifestyle led him to notice that many cultures share behaviourse for expample the belief in the value of throwing coins for blessings. Local rites have underlying universal themes.  “In the United Kingdom, China and India, they throw coins into different things: oil, water and empty pots. But they all believe in throwing coins”.

Observant pattern-seeking Gupta is an artist who believes that art is a conceptual endeavour. Ever direct, he looked straight at the audience as he said: “If you still believe  that artists today make art themselves, you are romanticising.   My job as an artist is to think, conceive the ideas. My art is made up for me by expert artisans all over the world, the thali works were made in America. The Jeff Koons boxes were cast in Zurich.”

After leaving school, Gupta joined a small theatre group in Khagaul and worked as an actor for five years. This has informed his view of his role as an artist. “As an artist I have to adapt myself to the subject of my art. An artist is like an actor, he also has to adapt himself”.

Gupta clearly relishes art-making as a participatory and flexible endeavour and  he is comfortable allowing viewers of his work to join in too. He explained that he let visitors throw their own coins into his thali artwork. “Didn’t the guards at the Hauser and Wirth gallery stop people from doing that, they are usually very protective of the art” asked Pym looking surprised. “No we told the guards to let visitors throw their own coins. It is part of the art and, you know what, we had coins from all over the world”.

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Subodh Gupta, I Believe You

Despite his willingness to farm out the manual process of art-making, Gupta’s has a deep respect for labour and hard toil. He described how the sandals in “I Believe You” were sourced: “I noticed that  the labourers in India wear sandals and each bears the mark, the footprint of its owner. Unique marks, like fingerprints. I bought some new sandals and swapped them for the workers’ used slippers. They symbolise these people in India – and of course all over the world – who work day to day for their bread and butter. These hard-working honest labourers. In this piece I am saying: I honour you, worship you, believe you. It is almost like a prayer. Thalis have associations not only with food but also with prayer.”

Subodh Gupta

Labourers and travel remained the focus of the conversation as it turned to slides of his renowned luggage trolley series which included one of Subodh Gupta’s sculpture of a gilded bronze luggage trolley and three pieces of aluminium luggage called Vehicle for the Seven Seas (2004). According to Artcurial, this work posted an auction record price for the Indian artist when it fetched €502,330 ($785,243), more than triple its €140,000-180,000 estimate, under the gavel on April 3 2008.

Though he must have recounted the story behind this series many times before, Gupta’s explanation was engaging and articulate. “I had not travelled outside India until 1993. After that I often flew between Europe and India and because I bought cheap tickets, there was usually a stopover in Dubai or Kuwait. I noticed that on the return journey to India the plane was often empty for the first leg of the journey and then in the Middle East stopover the plane was filled with Indians, my people, migrant workers from India.”

He noticed that they had a particular and unique way of wrapping up their belongings for the journey. He became more and more intrigued by these packages and pieces of luggage which were so tightly and securely wrapped. ” I began to get talking to the passengers who were tailors and taxi drivers and construction labourers … I asked them what was inside. It turned out that the contents were quite ordinary, their everyday belongings plus a few clothes for their children, perhaps a little jewellery for their wives. But these parcels seemed to me to be themselves like jewellery and so I started working on them”.

Wrappings as a source of inspiration and of value in their own right is a motif which recurs in his work. In his ‘Jeff the Koons’ installation, Gupta has cast in aluminum copies of the cardboard boxes that Koons’ mailorder ‘Puppy’ sculptures come in.

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

Subodh Gupta, Jeff The Koons, installation Hauser and Wirth

In this work, Gupta shows us his playful side. Packaging materials rather than the contents become the focus of attention, the new and greater source of interest. And Gupta is not afraid to have a little fun, be a little cheeky: he distracts us and leads our attention away from the art (even though this art is made by world-famous artist Jeff Koons) and towards the packaging of it as if it were just as or more important. But Gupta’s irony is only employed with permission. “I first saw the boxes in Saint Tropez. When I was told that they were the boxes in which Koons’ sculptures had travelled there I was inspired. I wanted to cast them. I was told that maybe Jeff Koons would sue me unless I asked permission. So I waited 3 years until mutual friends finally introduced us and Koons gave me permission.”

“Jeff the Koons” is a work reminiscent of Warhol’s pivotal 1964 work Brillo Boxes too. These days Gupta likes to riff on iconic Western artworks. This has earned him well-worn monikers such as the “Damien Hirst of Delhi” and “Marcel Duchamp of the Subcontinent”.  What does he think of these tags wondered Pym. “These titles seem to follow you from one press article to another. How do you feel about that?” “Well I find that it is usually the journalists who know the least about art who like to use them. I like Damien Hirst as an artist but I don’t see myself as him. Anyway what is written about me is not in my control. I just make art”

The son of a railway guard who arrived penniless in Delhi in 1988, Gupta who produced conventional canvases for many years before making sculpture,  has clearly come a long way. Now Gupta’s everyday, his immediate sphere, his source of inspiration is no longer a rural world of steel buckets and tiffin boxes. Instead his environment is one of international travel, world-class art and well-deserved prominence.

Yet despite all this, Subodh Gupta is a man who remembers and honours the “common man”. Pym recounted how Gupta’s bronze sculpture of hand-painted mangos Aam Aadmi was his mother’s favourite work in the show. Gupta laughed. “I am glad about that because it is my favourite work too. I named the show after this work. Aam is a reference to mango fruit and to the common man. It is the King of Fruit in India. It is grown everywhere unlike other fruit so everyone can eat mango.”

Subodh Gupta Aam Aadmi

Subodh Gupta, Aam Aadmi, 2009

Although he can be disconcertingly direct, sometimes to the point of being dismissive, it is hard not to like Subodh Gupta for his integrity, his humility and his fearlessness. Gupta may not be happy with Christie’s but the audience was thrilled by their up-close encounter with this complex engaging artist which Christie’s helped to host and promote.

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Posted in China, Collaborative, Conceptual, Hong Kong, Indian, Interviews, Journey art, Large art, Migration, Participatory, Subodh Gupta | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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 »

Thai Chinese artist Nipan Oranniwesna shows installation art made of baby powder in Hong Kong – review

Posted by artradar on August 25, 2009


THAI CONTEMPORARY ART IN HONG KONG

Is national identity still relevant within our globalized world, which is more interdependent than ever before? Where do we get our identity, and what does baby powder have to do with it? Art Radar talks with the renowned Thai contemporary artist Nipan Oranniwesna at the Osage Gallery in Kowloon, Hong Kong before the opening of his latest exhibition Being….. at homE.

Napin

Storytelling through sight, smell, and unexpected mediums

Nipan Oranniwesna had a big job ahead of him when he arrived in Hong Kong for his exhibition at the Osage Gallery, perhaps the most respected experimental art gallery in Hong Kong. In only 4 days, he would create 2 massive installation exhibits that sprawl across the floor of Osage’s Kwun Tong gallery space in Kowloon, which are sculpted out of only baby powder. Not just any baby powder either, mind you. Nipan’s baby powder installations require the signature scent of a product by Johnson & Johnson that is only available in Thailand, and countless packages needed to be flown into Hong Kong for the artist’s materials. The exhibition is essentially a story, and is complete with 3 narrative installation works that consider identity and the idea of home on a global scale, a national scale, and ends considering the idea of home and connectedness to one’s personal space.

Napin_2

Powder cities demonstrate fragility

The result of Nipan’s labor is astounding. The exhibition, titled Being….. At HomE questions the validity of nation-based identity within modern society. The first piece of the show, City of Ghost, is a massive cityscape made of baby powder that depicts 13 major metropolitan cities of the world as interconnected. A similar work of his was also on display at the 2007 Venice Biennale for 6 months, and other sprawling works of sculpted baby powder cities have sold to private collectors, fetching up to $20,000 USD. Nipan explains the meaning of this work:

“Every country is nationalistic, but is it real, or does it just manipulate our thinking? This piece challenges personal and national identity. We think we are Thai, but the interconnectedness of this work demonstrates a question… I used baby powder because global society is both beautiful and fragile. The smell of the specific brand was important, as I wanted this to be a full sensory experience, with a stronger, more serious scent.”

Napin_3

Chinese National Anthem in powder suggests vulnerability

The next piece, titled ...with our flesh and blood, examines the idea of home and identity at the national level, depicting the Chinese national anthem written in baby powder. Accompanying framed works also show the Chinese anthem created from small pierced holes on paper, creating a braille-like version of the lyrics. Through these works, Nipan was subtly suggesting the vulnerability of basing personal identity on one’s nationality or ethnicity.

Nipan_4

Come home, take off your shoes.

The last piece of the show, Narrative Floor, brings the audience to the most intimate interpretation of place and identity, the home. The piece invites viewers to get involved, take off their shoes and walk on the work, which resembles a hard wood floor inlaid with photographic ‘rain drops’. Upon closer inspection, these raindrops are revealed to be small scenes from Hong Kong, China, and Thailand. Nipan admits this piece reflects his heritage; he is ethnically Chinese, but native to Thailand. The work begs the question, when a person is connected to different places, where is home? Nipan suggests everywhere that touches someone becomes a part of him, and all of those places are his home. The piece invites viewers to take off their shoes, sit down, and even lie down, demonstrating home is a feeling that can be felt anywhere one happens to be.

It’s easy to miss the meaning

The last work, Narrative Floor, is decidedly different from the other pieces, most notably because it does not use baby powder. Nipan explains:

“I wanted to use a new language. Baby powder is just one language….. I deal with the perception of the viewer, especially using distance, the space between people and artwork, the space between people and other people. This is what I access in my work. In this piece you come inside…

The exhibition is also full of clues of meaning that could be easily missed. Nipan reveals:

Every piece and work is like a sign. The way to read the exhibition is to look for the signs, issues, even though they are almost hidden, very subtle… The red in this room suggests the color of the Chinese flag. The 5 dots that are present in the exhibition title are a reference to the 5 stars on the Chinese flag. The capital letters in the exhibition title Being….. at homE are a reference to the space between the word ‘be.’ I am concerned with what lies between. Of course my work can be read in other ways, and that is okay. But I want to deal with this triangle of me, Hong Kong, and China.

Problem: Fragile art gets harmed

The delicate nature of the work is part of the art’s significance, and also leads to inevitable mishaps. Staff at the Osage Gallery mentioned they considered turning down the air conditioning to prevent air flow from disturbing the powdery surface, and Nipan cheerfully recalled the footprint he discovered in the Venice Biennale’s installation.

Solution: That’s OK.

He explains that damaging the artwork is not encouraged, but minor accidents are natural and ultimately contribute to the participatory quality of the work, relating it to viewers. Such an attitude is wise, considering the tours of school children that parade through the gallery. Furthermore, upsetting the fragile medium reinforces the essence of the work. Nipan proves although something is not meant to be broken, it may still be far too easy to destroy.

Nipan’s exhibition is among 2 others on display at the Osage Gallery in Hong Kong. Other exhibited artists include Cheo Chai-Hiang from Singapore, and Sun Yuan & Peng Yu (China). The exhibition runs from August 21-October 4, 2009.

-contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Biennials, Chinese, Hong Kong, Installation, Large art, Nationalism, New Media, Nipan Oranniwesna, Participatory, Political, Reviews, Shows, Space, Thai, Uncategorised, Venice | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Altered States video – what inspires Zhang Huan and why he is taking a break from performance art

Posted by artradar on February 20, 2009


CHINESE ARTIST VIDEO

Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan

Zhang Huan, a leading performing artist from China  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This 2007 video covers:

Ash Head series

Ash Head series

 

 

  • how museums are studios for Zhang Huan
  • why Zhang Huan stopped his performance art and his plan to return to it
  • how his prints are inspired by martial arts books and astrology
  • how  giant sawn off body parts of Tibetan Buddhist relics destroyed during the Cultural Revolution inspire him
  • what makes a good artist “A good artist is illogical”

Links: Zhang Huan website, Zhang Huan on wikipedia

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Posted in Art spaces, Ash, Buddhist art, Chinese, Conceptual, Cultural Revolution, Human Body, Large art, Museums, Performance, Photography, Public art, Religious art, Sculpture, Videos, Zhang Huan | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Renowned African contemporary artist El Anatsui says African art now receiving attention again – Art Interview

Posted by artradar on December 20, 2008


anatsui_009

AFRICAN ARTIST INTERVIEW

For the past 30 years, El Anatsui has been known within Africa as one of the continent’s most influential sculptors and today he is now also recognized as one of the foremost contemporary artists of his generation.Description of his work

Up to 20 assistants help Anatsui flatten aluminum seals taken from thousands of liquor bottles. They then fold them into strips that are woven together with copper wire, resulting in draping cloth-like pieces that often reach sizes of 30 feet or more. Anatsui’s sculptures not only transform common materials and impart new meaning to them, they also continuously evolve undergoing transformations themselves each time they are shown.

About El Anatsui

El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, Ghana. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sculpture and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. Much of Anatsui’s early work made use of scorching wood with fire. Before venturing into his current “cloth series” he worked with the concept of fragility through ceramics and created sculptures with a chainsaw and wood.

Exhibitions

Many major institutions throughout the world have exhibited Anatsui’s work. He received an honorable mention at the 44th Venice Biennale. In 2007 El Anatsui exhibited at the 52nd Venice Biennale with a site-specific installation, transforming one of Venice’s most celebrated Gothic landmarks by wrapping the façade of the Palazzo Fortuny in a vast metal cloth.

El Anatsui collectors

Works by Anatsui can be seen in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; The British Museum, London and the Pompidou Center, Paris, France, as well as many other institutions.

Anatsui lives and works in Nigeria where he is a Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. October Gallery, London and David Krut Fine Art, New York represents El Anatsui. This is an extract from Art Interview’s talk with El Anatsui:

El Anatsui Dusasa II Venice Biennale 2007

El Anatsui Dusasa II Venice Biennale 2007

Art Interview: You are renowned as one of the most influential African artists in the world. Does this surprise you? El Anatsui: Yes, it does surprise me. (Laughs) I live in a very simple village, nothing glamorous or extraordinary. I think that probably makes for little distraction, so I can concentrate on my work more than if I were living in a busy metropolitan setting. When my works are shown in cities like New York I am surprised to see people are able to deeply relate to them but at the same time it is gratifying to see that others in different circumstances and locations are able to connect and make meaning of one’s little efforts.

Art Interview: Would you say that African art is making an impact on the international contemporary art market?

El Anatsui: Yes, I should say it’s receiving attention again. I’ve been watching the trends over the years. There was an interest in the 1970’s in contemporary art from Africa but it subsided in the 80’s. It was resurrected again in the 1990’s. Now cultural production is receiving more critical attention in Africa as well as abroad. I think its impact on the international art scene and eventually, the market is accumulating.

Art Interview: Where do you originally come from?

El Anatsui: I was born in the colonial Gold Coast in 1944, which became Ghana. I saw a transition period between the end of the Colonial era and the beginning of independence. I can remember that with our independence came feelings of nationalism. People proclaimed they were citizens of a country, not of a colony. We were trying to review what existed before colonialism in order to see what could still be used to foster a whole new society.

Art Interview: What were your parents doing at that time?

El Anatsui: I lost my mother when I was a baby and grew up with an uncle who was a protestant church reverend. My father was a head fisherman as well as a master weaver. I remember he presented one of the Kente he wove to me when I was going to the university.

 Art Interview: Did your family teach you how to weave?El Anatsui: Because I did not live with my father, I was not exposed to it. But most of my brothers who grew up at home are able to weave. I consider my current sculptural work to have several attributes of fabric, but I am not interested in textiles. Even when we were introduced to them in art school textiles did not attract me at all.

Art Interview: How did the opportunity for you to attend a university arise?

El Anatsui: In those days universities would go around looking for prospective students by sending out teams to the secondary schools, to talk about the courses they offer and their prospects. In secondary school I did well in several subjects, but the most consistent one was art, so when the team visited our school several of us completed the admission forms. I chose fine art, which the school’s guidance team thought was apt. At that time being an artist wasn’t an attractive choice because there were no visible role models like you have in architecture, engineering, pharmacy, etc. I didn’t know anyone who was a professional artist or exactly what it meant to be one. So, it was a really risky decision for me to choose this field based on the feeling it was something I would truly enjoy doing.

 Art Interview: Which University did you attend?El Anatsui: I worked for a bachelor’s degree in sculpture and a postgraduate diploma in art education at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. After that I taught for about five years at the Specialist Training College, (now the University of Education) Winneba, which is about an hour ‘s drive from Accra westwards on the coast of Ghana.

Art Interview: While you were attending college were there any professors who influenced the building of your career?

El Anatsui: In sculpture, we started with Von Stokar, who is German, and finished with the Ghanaian, Azii Akator. They would give us a challenge at a time and leave us to grapple with it, which with hindsight I think was very helpful. It was good because we had to search for our own paths. Because we had to discover what to do ourselves, the solution became a part of us.In drawing, I took courses from a British professor named Armistead, whose approach was almost scientific. He methodically took us through exercises in how to make visual judgments. He taught us how to see. The two approaches do come in here and there in the way I work.

Art Interview: You left Ghana to teach at the University of Nigeria. What made you decide to move to another country?El Anatsui: Well, a lot of things, among them I wouldn’t leave out adventure. I was very young then and I wanted to explore, to broaden my horizon. So I took the opportunity to apply at the University of Nigeria and after a year I received an appointment with them. Luckily when I got there I met one of the prominent African artists that I had read about in the few books on modern art in Africa that exited at that time. His name is Uche Okeke and he happened to be heading the department of fine arts. We had a great time getting to know each other and we learned from each other; probably more of me from him than him from me… (Laughs) We would talk about art until 2 or 3 in the morning. There were very talented and inspiring faculty in the department as well, like Obiora Udechukwu a painter and poet with whom one shared ideas and Chike Aniakor, an art historian and painter. The company was one that made for growth.

Art Interview: At what point were you able to survive financially as an artist?

 El Anatsui: About two years after finishing art school in Ghana. While teaching at Winneba, I began to work with wooden trays that are used in the markets to display wares. I would burn graphic signs onto each of them that had a saying or message associated. I tried to locate each within a border designed to enhance the meaning and message. People could relate to both the trays and the signs so they were eagerly collected at our exhibitions. That was the first point that I saw my work having the capacity to generate financial rewards. Ironically, I was generating more income this way than with my regular employment, which occupied most of my time. My students were assisting me on weekends and during holidays I would have several young relatives, boys in secondary school, work with me. Their efforts helped generate enough funds that I was easily able to pay for their school fees and also give them good pocket money to go back with!

El Anatsui Installation of Sasa Pompidou

El Anatsui Installation of Sasa Pompidou

Art Interview: Were you exhibiting in commercial galleries at that point?

El Anatsui: I appeared in group-shows in Ghana at venues like the National Art Centre until 1975. Afterwards I exhibited in Nigeria at cultural centers. The British, Italian and French cultural institutes were outfits that provided opportunities for artist to exhibit at in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Art Interview: Did you ever have to approach commercial galleries? 

 El Anatsui: During my earlier visits to New York in the 1980’s, I did go to a couple of galleries, which mostly told me they were scheduled for next two to three years. Ordinarily they kept my slides for future attention but I guess at the time they did not see any commercial prospect in the works. I then decided to just focus on the practice and forget about galleries. I began showing in museums and other non-commercial spaces and I traveled to participate in projects and residencies in Germany, the UK and the USA. In the mid 1990’s, a gallery that had seen a documentary film in which I was featured approached me for a show in the UK.

ArtInterview for more questions and images

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