Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

  • Photobucket
  • About Art Radar Asia

    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.

Archive for the ‘Manga’ Category

“Post adolescent” art on display in two Taiwanese museums – picture feast

Posted by artradar on August 5, 2010


EMERGING ARTISTS TAIWANESE ART MUSEUM SHOWS COLLECTIONS

An exhibition exploring the theme of “post adolescence” is presenting 72 works by younger generation Taiwanese artists, those between 25-35 years of age, in an effort to reveal their art creation processes and society’s influence on them.

Aptly titled “Post Adolescence“, the exhibition recently showed at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA) and is finishing up at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, an institution managed by the Taipei National University of the Arts.

A partnership between these two art institutions, “Post Adolescence” is in part a way to showcase NTMoFA’s Young Artist Collection Program, started in 2005 and which now holds nearly 500 pieces by “post-adolescent” Taiwanese artists under 35 years of age. According to the museum’s website, the program aims to “cultivate young artistic talent, elevate and develop contemporary art in Taiwan and promote cultural industries.”

“Post Adolescence” is seen by Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts as an attempt to define the characteristics shared by artists in this age group:

The highly motivated generation of younger artists demonstrates novel art works using [the] special visual language of comics, aimless/purposeful cacophony of voices, or Internet-based technological devices.

The works of those artists embody innovative and surreal themes, reflecting their generation characteristics – passionate yet rebellious – and presenting an alternative form of art in Taiwan.

Many of the artists exhibiting works in the show have won awards – this is one of the criteria for inclusion in the Young Artist Collection. Standout participants include: Cheng-ta Yu, Kuo I-Chen, Su Hui-yu, Huan Wei-min, Chen Wan-ren, Wang Pei-ying and Wang Ting-yu. Cheng-ta Yu and Kuo I-chen featured in the Taiwan Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) and Su Hui-yu was nominated for the Taishin Arts Award.

Lo Chan-Peng, 'Youth Diary of the Strawberry Cell Division 3', 2008, oil on canvas, 194 x 194 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Lo Chan-Peng, 'Youth Diary of the Strawberry Cell Division 3', 2008, oil on canvas, 194 x 194 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Wang Chung-Kun, 'sound.of.bottles #3', 2009, kinetic installation, 200 x 180 x 180 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Wang Chung-Kun, 'sound.of.bottles #3', 2009, kinetic installation, 200 x 180 x 180 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Chen Ching-Yuan, 'We Catch the Land!', 2008, screen printing and acrylic, 270 x 550 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Chen Ching-Yuan, 'We Catch the Land!', 2008, screen printing and acrylic, 270 x 550 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Hua Chien-Ciang, 'The Divine Series', 2006, gauche, 200 × 60 cm (four panels). Images courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Hua Chien-Ciang, 'The Divine Series', 2006, gauche, 200 × 60 cm (four panels). Images courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Kuo I-Chen, Survivor Project《41°N,74°W》, 2007, digital print, 87 x 240 cm. Image courtesy Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Kuo I-Chen, Survivor Project《41°N,74°W》, 2007, digital print, 87 x 240 cm. Image courtesy Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Wang Liang-Yin, 'Pudding of Consciousness', 2005, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 194 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

Wang Liang-Yin, 'Pudding of Consciousness', 2005, acrylic on canvas, 130 x 194 cm. Image courtesy of Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts.

KN

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, museum shows, museum collectors, emerging artists

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more on emerging Taiwanese artists

Bookmark  and Share

Posted in Acquisitions, Anime, Artist Nationality, Cartoon, Collectors, Computer animation software, Design, Drawing, Electronic art, Emerging artists, Events, Illustration, Installation, Kinetic, Manga, Museum collectors, Museum shows, New Media, Oil, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Taiwan, Taiwanese, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Animamix Biennial – an alternative biennial pushes aesthetic of comic art – interview curator Victoria Lu

Posted by artradar on February 16, 2010


ANIMATION ART BIENNIAL

The Animamix Biennial is unique. The first was held in 2007, organised by Victoria Lu, an experienced curator and the Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. This years show, also curated by Lu, spans four galleries: the Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei, Taiwan), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai, China), Today Art Museum (Beijing, China) and the Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou, China).

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, MOCA Shanghai

It presents art that develops or embodies the Animamix aesthetic, artwork that combines the styles of animation and comics.

The term “Animamix” was actually coined in 2004 by Lu when she became aware of the emerging stylistic trend while curating Fiction.Love at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan.

Fiction.Love, 2004, MOCA Taipei

Animamix is now entering the mainstream, pushing the artists who have developed this style into the spotlight, artists such as Takashi Murakami (Japan), mixed-media visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock (U.S.A.) and Brazilian painter Oscar Oiwa. As the style encompasses a broad range of mediums, and is often brightly coloured with bizarre narratives, it has an inherent ability to attract attention.

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, Guangdong Museum of Art, China

Always interested in exploring emerging trends, Art Radar Asia spoke briefly with curator Victoria Lu about the Biennial:

On Animamix as an artistic trend

The Animamix Biennial was inaugurated in 2007. Since then, has this art direction become more recognisable to mainstream audiences or does it still sit on the fringes?

This answer is rather difficult to define. If I judge by the growing numbers of Animamix direction artworks in the international art fairs, I can say yes. The Animamix direction is growing internationally.

Is this style popular internationally (for audiences, dealers and buyers) or is the popularity restricted to the Asian region?

There is more Animamix kind of artworks available in Asia market for the moment, so I believe Animamix art is more popular in Asia. But there are more and more artists in Europe working [with an] Animamix direction.

On the Biennial

Why did you want to start this Biennial?

I am tired of the current international biennials. There are a group of curators [which have been] leading the conceptual direction for too long. You will find [that] very similar artists list no matter where you go. So I want to try something new, something different. My concept for the Animamix Biennial is an ongoing evolution of art exhibitions and activities. This kind of biennial can really reflect the local art scene.

Would it be fair to say this Biennial is an Asian-initiated event focussing on an art trend that is becoming more globalised?

International biennials were started in Europe in the early last century. Now biennials are becoming more and more popular in the Asia, starting from the beginning of this century. Many cities in Asia are competing for the exposure of their art and culture.

Generally, how has the exhibition been received by critics and museum patrons?

My Animamix shows are very well received by audiences. So far we have also been well received by the critics.

Which artists have been well received by critics and audiences? Are there any “stars” of the Biennial?

I cannot say who the stars are. They are all important to me.

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, Today Art Museum, Beijing

The final leg of the Animamix Biennial, Dazzled and Enchanted – New Age Animamix, is now showing at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou, China. The show will close on 28 February 2010.

KN

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more interviews with art professionals

Posted in Anime, Beijing, Biennials, Body, Brands, Brazilian, Cartoon, Celebrity art, China, Conceptual, Consumerism, Curators, Emerging artists, Fantasy art, Guangzhou, Illustration, International, Interviews, Japanese, Manga, Museum shows, Pop Art, Professionals, Shanghai, Taiwan, Takashi Murakami, Technology, Toys, Urban, Video game art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top 5 sites for Japanese contemporary art news by Matthew Larking

Posted by artradar on June 24, 2009


JAPAN ART READING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for tips about art resources in Asia

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

Japanese contemporary art – changes and trends – by gallerist Koyanagi

Posted by artradar on March 24, 2009


JAPANESE ART SCENE

Gallerist Atsuko Koyanagi discusses:

  • why Japanese galleries group together in different districts
  • how the opening of the Mori museum impacted the art scene
  • Japanese government’s relationship with culture
  • how Japanese and Western collectors differ
  • the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese art market
  • the future for art in Japan

Gallery Koyanagi is one of Tokyo’s top contemporary art galleries, representing major artists such as Sophie Calle, Marlene Dumas, Olafur Eliasson, Mariko Mori, Rika Noguchi, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Tabaimo.

The gallery, a regular exhibitor at Art Basel, Frieze Art Fair, Art Fair Tokyo and CIGE, started out as a contemporary ceramics gallery in 1988 but its founder and director Atsuko Koyanagi reopened the space as a contemporary art gallery in 1995. She talks here to Ashley Rawlings, an art critic based in Tokyo, about the changes in contemporary art in Japan over the last 15 years and about upcoming trends.

Atsuko Koyanagi

Atsuko Koyanagi

AR: What led you to open your gallery as a contemporary art gallery in 1995?

AK: The mid-1980s was when Cindy Sherman was becoming known and photography was starting to be appreciated as an artistic medium in its own right. Back then, with the exception of Zeit Photo Salon, Tokyo didn’t have any museums or galleries dedicated to photography. At that time I also met Hiroshi Sugimoto, and he was looking for a gallery that would represent him, but was being met with a lot of rejection. I was inspired to show his work and make the shift into contemporary art.

The advertising work I had done at Kazuko Koike’s office until then was in some respects close to photography. I felt I had an eye for this medium and that it would offer me the easiest way to enter the contemporary art world. I hadn’t studied art and I had never worked in another gallery before, so opening my own contemporary gallery was incredibly difficult at the beginning. But it was for that very reason that I felt I was open to involving myself with something new. So Gallery Koyanagi reopened as a contemporary art gallery on the first floor of this building in 1995, and then moved to the 8th floor in 2004.

AR: From the mid-1990s you became closely associated with other young gallery owners who drove the Tokyo art scene towards recovery. What was the reason for you all grouping together?

AK: Until then there had been no real talk of bringing Tokyo’s galleries together in the same space. There were, of course, a couple of old gallery associations like the Bijutsu Club and so on, but nothing equivalent for contemporary galleries. People working in the contemporary art world tend to be quite individualistic. It wasn’t like we all had to all be best friends, but given how small the market was back then, we were stronger and stood out more as a group. It would allow us to introduce each other to each other’s clients. So I started to talk to the various galleries about it, and we held a group show at Spiral Garden called ‘G9: New Direction’.

AR: Ever since then the contemporary art world in Tokyo has been characterized by various combinations of galleries grouping together in buildings around the city. What led to the Shinkawa building opening?

AK: Tomio Koyama was already occupying one of the spaces within the Sagacho Exhibit Space, as were Shugo Satani and Taro Nasu. The Sagacho Exhibit Space was doing very well and in 2001 Shugo Satani and I opened the Rice Gallery by G2 within it, but by then the building had been slated for demolition the next year.

Everyone had been working really well together, so we wanted to keep the collaboration going. Koyama-san happened to find the building in Shinkawa, and we moved there in 2003. The Shinkawa building was able to house four of us: Taka Ishii Gallery, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Shugoarts and a showroom extension of Gallery Koyanagi.

AR: At this time the Mori Art Museum was about to open. How did that impact the gallery scene?

AK: I was working with Mariko Mori, and at her wedding party, I had the opportunity to talk with Minoru Mori. I mentioned to him that abroad, the opening of a major museum tends to attract the opening of commercial galleries around it.

The Mori Corporation was buying up old buildings in the area for future redevelopment, so I suggested to him that it might be interesting to rent out those buildings at reduced rates to galleries that wouldn’t mind their condition. He was interested and straight away he introduced me to the planning division, which suggested a building on nearby Imoaraizaka. It was in a pretty run down state, so the rent was very cheap. The galleries that couldn’t fit into the Shinkawa building opened up there.

AR: With the map of Tokyo’s contemporary art galleries having diversified so much beyond the Ginza area, are you still happy to have your space in this neighborhood?

AK: I was born and raised in this neighborhood and my family business has always been here. I guess if I were starting from scratch now, I probably wouldn’t choose to run a contemporary art gallery here. But then this building belongs to my family, so there are financial incentives to be here too.

AR: What do you think the future is for Ginza?

AK: In recent years there have been more and more buildings by foreign companies going up and it’s a little sad to see Ginza losing some of its original character. Ginza is one of the most representative, internationally known parts of Japan, and so I have quite strong views on how it should be and a strong desire to protect its status as one of Japan’s most significant areas.

Areas like Daikanyama, Aoyama and Roppongi are becoming these very stylish places, so I think Ginza has to keep up. On the other hand, the people running old shops here are working really hard too, so I hope we can achieve a neighborhood with the right balance of new and old.

AR: What do you look for in an artist’s work before deciding to take them on?

AK: It’s not so much what I look for in the artist’s work as what I look for in the artist as a person. Of course, when I encounter a work, I want it to have an impact on me, but it’s who the person behind it is that’s more important. I want to know what they see, what they think, what it is they are trying to convey.

The quality of each work that an artist produces may vary, but overall it is a constant process of trial and error that they are engaged with. If I can look at the fundamentals of what they do and feel good about it, then I know I can work with them.

I also have to bear my clients in mind. I know what kind of tastes they have and what they are searching for in contemporary art, so when looking at an artist’s work, it’s incredibly important to consider how it fits in with our current stable of artists. In general if I like the artist and their work, then my clients will like them too.

AR: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese contemporary art market?

AK: One of the main reasons the art market doesn’t really grow here is due to taxation laws. In the United States, you get tax breaks if you buy an artwork and eventually donate it to a museum. This is a fantastic system that allows people with money to buy art, enjoy it and then give it to a museum for the benefit of others, and it helps museums enrich their collections.

However, there is no such system in Japan: if you buy an artwork here it becomes an asset and you have to pay tax on it.

Another problem is that there are very few big collectors of contemporary art. Perhaps that’s because the market hasn’t fully matured. There are of course serious collectors like Toshio Hara, Minoru Mori and Soichiro Fukutake, but overall there are very few compared to the number you would find abroad.

AR: Compared to other large cities in the world, does Tokyo receive enough funding from the government to support the art world?

AK: Not really. The Japanese government has absolutely no cultural strategy when it comes to contemporary art. Of course, when manga suddenly became popular, everybody in the government started to pay attention to Takashi Murakami and government officials started to make use of manga as a buzzword, but that’s not the same as having a strategy.

In other countries, like Switzerland, the government pays for the insurance of artworks. Tohaku Hasegawa’s ‘Pine Trees’ screen is a national treasure, and it was shown in Switzerland last year. The insurance costs for having that work shipped over there must be astronomical and too much for a museum to bear, but it was all covered by the Swiss government. It would be so helpful if there were a system like that in Japan, but there isn’t. If Japan could give tax breaks for donating to museums and cover the insurance costs of shipping artworks, I think the market here would be able to grow much more healthily.

AR: Broadly speaking, are there any identifiable differences in taste between Japanese and foreign collectors?

AK: A lot of artists in Europe and the US make work that really engages with the serious social issues of their time, be it war, economic problems or racism. Those kinds of problems are more immediate in Europe and the US, and the people who live there deal with them in real time. Correspondingly, there are collectors who truly comprehend their work and buy it.

 Japan, on the other hand, is more of a monoracial society; it has not been at war at all for the past sixty years and in general has had much less social instability to deal with. As Takashi Murakami put it, the Japanese suffer from ‘peace lag’ or have been infantilized; they don’t feel themselves to be very connected to the problems that affect the world.

For example, the wars going on in the Middle East are thought of as America’s problem, and the Japanese don’t feel the same anger towards President Bush as everyone else does. If an artist conveys that anger in a work, then there will certainly be American collectors who will identify with it and buy it, whereas Japanese collectors probably wouldn’t. Of course, some work speaks to everyone through technique alone, but contemporary art is about more than just that; collectors have their conceptual preferences as well.

In Japan there is also a tendency for people to rush towards easily comprehensible art. Gallery owners like Tomio Koyama and artists like Motohiko Odani and Takashi Murakami have been instrumental in making art more accessible to a greater number of people, and I think that’s really good, but equally it’s important not to go too far. I think contemporary art should relate to social issues, and I hope that Japanese collectors will also make the effort to understand the nuances that artists are trying to convey.

AR: How has Japanese contemporary art changed over the past fifteen years?

AK: Looking back at how appalling a state the economy was in when I opened my gallery thirteen years ago, I’d have to say the state of the Tokyo art world has changed a lot since then. To talk about these changes simply in terms of prices, fifteen years ago, a small work by Hiroshi Sugimoto would sell for 350,000 yen, whereas now its primary market price at this gallery would be 1.5 million yen. It would then fetch about 5 million yen at auction. A work by Marlene Dumas was worth 350,000 yen back then but now on the primary market her paintings will sell for three to 5 million yen; at auction her work would fetch close to 10 million yen. So just looking at the prices you see how much the market has grown.

I think the market will grow just as much over the next fifteen years as well. But whether it’s Murakami, Nara or Sugimoto, these price rises have largely been due to the growth of the international market, so in a sense it’s like they are being imported back into Japan. These works didn’t increase in value through Japanese auctions, but European and American ones. But their sales abroad caught people’s attention here and have encouraged Japanese people to buy.

Another thing that has changed has been the opening of a new generation of galleries here in Tokyo. I’m very happy about this, as it helps encourage young people to get involved in the art world. Before, collecting habits used to be very divided, with only young people buying work by young artists and only established collectors buying work by big name artists, but that has changed. The market has matured a lot.

AR: What about upcoming trends?

AK: In the past Western artists used to dominate everything and both female and Asian artists were a minority. That’s just not the case anymore. Now artists gain recognition simply according to their individual merits. There are also more and more chances for artists to go abroad these days. In the 1980s it used to be that an artist would have to make it big in Japan before going abroad, but now it’s possible to become popular in other places like New York and then come back to Japan, and I think there will be more artists taking that sort of route from here on.
This interview is an extract from Art Space Tokyo (Chin Music Press, 2008), an intimate guide to the Tokyo art world that features 20 interviews with the directors and curators behind some of Tokyo’s most distinctive galleries and museums, and many others. To find out more, visit Art Space Tokyo.

Related categories: Japanese art,

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for the latest trends in Asian art

Posted in Art districts, Collectors, Gallerists/dealers, Japan, Japanese, Manga, Overviews, Professionals, Profiles, Trends, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Takashi Murakami on why the War helped create Japanese pop culture

Posted by artradar on December 1, 2008


Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

 

 

 

 

 

JAPANESE ART LECTURE HONG KONG

On November 28 2008 world-renowned Japanese artist Takashi Murakami gave a lecture organised by Christie’s as an ancillary event appended to their November sales in Hong Kong. He is the only visual artist in Time’s 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in art.

Single greatest catalyst for explosion of interest in art

In the introduction to the lecture by Edward Dolman CEO of Christie’s, Dolman thanked Takashi Murakami for being the ‘single greatest catalyst’ for the ‘explosion of interest’ in the art world in the last ten years. He explained that twenty years ago art was sold to just ‘a few very privileged communities’ but today art and design have become part of the popular culture and Takashi Murakami has played a ‘huge’ part in bringing art to the people and making it accessible for them.

Murakami’s recession concerns

Murakami opened with the some comments on the current financial recession expressing concern for the market and the 130 sculptors, artists and animators employed by his Kaikai Kiki company. In all 400 peple are connected to the organisation. But he stressed these circumstances are normal to him as an artist implying that the marketing of art is always a challenge.

Murakami identifies himself as ‘otaku’

The substance of the lecture was about the main movements in Japanese popular culture principally ‘otaku’, a culture of young men isolated from mainstream society who are unmarried and often live at home spending hours on video games. Murakami clearly wants to be identified with the group mentioning a couple of times during the lecture that ‘I myself am unmarried’. It is difficult to know whether this is the disingenuous ploy of a marketing genius however he did seem at pains to explain the movement which he tried to communicate with words, images and one and a half minute videos. But in repeated asides to his audience ‘you probably won’t understand this’ there was a subtext of futility. 

Malaise in Japanese society

The sense of not being understood which pervaded the lecture prompted a question from the audience at the end: “How important is it to you that people who see your work understand your culture?” This triggered more explanations delivered with some passion. “Japanese people cannot identify themselves as Japanese so they share the ‘otaku’ culture as an alternative. To be part of community is a fundamental human need. Japanese society is now peaceful and noone is starving. Noone needs to worry about what to eat the next day but there is still a malaise, it is difficult to find satisfaction.”

So ‘Otaku’ is about filling that hole.

Otaku is like a drug

A breathy young woman said she had noticed that were lots of women in the animation asked if there was a link between this phenomenon and why  ‘otaku’ men remained unmarried and whether Murakami himself planned to stay unmarried. The translator deftly ignored the latter question. Murakami explained that the life of an ‘otaku’ male is like the life of a drug addict. Hours are spent on video games to get a dopamine like high but they need to spend more and more hours to get the same kick, like ‘hard-core junkies’. ‘Otaku’ guys find it difficult to communicate with girls, they are hard to approach.

Otaku idols

The tendency to idolatry expressed by ‘otaku’ followers was not explicitly stated by Murakami but came across strongly in the videos. Women are portrayed as inaccessible over-feminine superheroines with magical powers, flat and unreal. Oh Murakami mentioned here, in an interesting aside, that ‘otaku’ men don’t like computer-generated animation, they like their women drawn by hand. Is this as close to the physical as they can comfortably get?

But it is not just women who are idolised….the behaviour spans the genders. We were shown a curious, almost alarming  video – but then we had been warned that we probably wouldn’t understand – in which a group of guys surrounded one young man on a small stand whose dancing they were imitating. The dance disintegrated into what seemed to be genufluctions and adulation. There were no women; the men were awkward and, to use Murakami’s word, ‘uncool’.

Otaku has roots in defeat of Japan in World War II

So where does this intriguing culture of geeky rites, addictions and fantasy characters come from? Murakami has a surprising theory. He believes that the defeat of the Japanese in World War II led to a rejection of the Japanese identity, a turning away from Japanese culture. “Winning countries were able to maintain their culture but we had to break the link with our past, we had to create something completely new”. That the War is even offered as an explanation of a movement which arose 50 years after the event is startling. National shame is still an issue for Murakami and, so he claims, for all of Japan. This is an interesting theory but not altogether convincing: after all why is ‘otaku’ and Japanese culture becoming such a popular export to the rest of the world including the World War II winners?

What will we see next from Japan and otaku?

And what can the rest of the world expect to see as the next export? Well some of the ‘otaku’ fads Murakami mentions are ‘itasha’ (car sticker art) and ‘itansha’ (bicycle and motorbike art). ‘Otaku’ males who are unmarried have plenty of spare money and they spend it on the latest ‘otaku’ fad. Giant car stickers of cartoon cute manga and video game heroines adorn vehicles. There are ‘otaku’ spots with shops dedicated to ‘otaku’ gear.

‘Otaku’ girls are developing their own culture in which they experience unreal love for male fantasy characters which they express by dressing up as the object of their desire. In the female version of the ‘otaku’ culture, again alarmingly but we won’t go into that further here, there are elements of masochism and pain.

Art is a bloodless revolution for Murakami

So what is art to do in this culture? How is art responding? These questions haunt Murakami who says they have made him question the purpose of art. He keeps a sticker on the wall of his office setting out defintions of art. In sum he says  “Art is a bloodless revolution – that is the most important thing for me”.

So war, blood and fighting are never far from Murakam’s mind it seems. He showed us another video created by MR. a member of Kai Kai Ki Ki in which cute schoolgirl-aged females played with cuddly toys and then appeared dressed up as fantasy characters shooting eachother in survival games. “Japanese perceive war as unreal”, explained Murakami, “they play at war games they are just playing, war is just a sport. Japanese people don’t link war with death and pain.”

takashi-murakami-book

Click to buy Murakami book

Murakami embraces Japanese identity

While it is more of a stretch to accept Murakami’s self-proclaimed identity as an ‘otaku’ male – after all how can you spend hours playing video games alone in your bedroom if you run a multi-million dollar art factory – there can be no doubt that Murakami’s identity as Japanese is keenly felt. On more than one occasion he came to the defense of Japan. That the Japanese treat war as a fantasy game “is not good or bad” he says” it is just the situation”. In defense of criticism – raised by himself a propos of nothing obvious – that the Japanese do not donate to charities he says that the Japanese prefer to contribute their time not money.

Takashi Murakami is a complex man. Speaking quietly, he is articulate but, in true ‘otaku’ style, somewhat uncomfortable in himself-  at the beginning of the lecture to the organisers “I am sitting here, what do you want me to do”. Dressed in grungy artist clothes surrounded by Christie’s suits, speaking slickly and acting awkwardly: who is Takashi Murakami? Many things:  a businessman, an ‘otaku’ nerd, a Japanese national, an artist but most important of all he is a phenomenon who is having a profound influence on the course of global culture.

Related posts

Related links: Takashi Murakami in wikipedia

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia now for up to date news about contemporary artists

Posted in Cartoon, China, Fantasy art, Hong Kong, Identity art, Japanese, Manga, Pop Art, Profiles, Recession, Takashi Murakami, Utopian art, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Internationally renowned Hong Kong fashion and film photographer Wing Shya returns to art – Saatchi

Posted by artradar on November 9, 2008


 

Wing Shya Angel

Wing Shya Angel

PHOTOGRAPHY HONG KONG

Clad in jeans and a faded T-shirt, Wing Shya crunches on a taco and pushes his long black hair behind his shoulders. He thinks about my question. “My style? I don’t know what my style is..” Then grinning he looks at me through his thick-rimmed spectacles. “One night I was partying with friends but I had to get up early for a shoot so I told them I was leaving. They said no, no …stay…don’t worry about being tired tomorrow, your work will be even better …. it’s your style”. He chuckles gently. “They say it is cinematic”.

And his friends aren’t wrong. Think wet stone, dark corners, moody, woozy, languorous images with dramatic spots of light. Wing Shya creates a universe where forties movie glamour collides with a contemporary urban aesthetic and the resulting images tremble with unresolved tension. Like film stills, his static shots, taut with possibilities titillate us with the promise of significant encounters and epic struggles.

Internationally renowned for his award-winning work which spans commercial design, fashion and film, Hong Kong born photographer Wing Shya trained at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Canada. Initially he wanted to be a fine artist and, after winning the photography section of the Hong Kong Biennale, was selected to exhibit in Hong Kong’s Museum of Art. Shocked by poor attendance at the museum, he soon decided commercial work held more promise. His work as a graphic designer in the music business and running a radio station resulted in a life-changing meeting with the world famous film director Wong Kar Wai for whom he went on to serve as a graphic designer and photographer on several acclaimed films from In the Mood For Love to 2046. “After that everyone wanted me, the phone was always ringing”.

Since then his genius has been recognized with prestigious awards and numerous commissions by top brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nike. His evocative “Pearls of the Orient” series of couture fashion shots was featured in the Victoria and Albert’s 2008 China Design Now show and he has been profiled by the Independent newspaper as a member of the ‘Hot List: China’s cultural movers and shakers’.

But now Wing Shya wants to take his work in a new direction. “I want to do more pure work. I want to do fine art again”. As a step towards his goal he is exhibiting a series of photographic works in his first solo Hong Kong show “Prevation: A Manga Story” at the newly-opened Ooi Botos Gallery.

The show was conceived in Japan in 2006 when Wing Shya came across the comics of the manga artist Tatsuyuki Tanaka, well known for his work on the anime classic Akira. “I was excited by cartoon drawing because there are no technical limits, it is free …you can use any angle. Photographers get into a habit of shooting from certain angles because technically it is easier.” Wing Shya’s passion for his work surfaces as his soft voice becomes more fervent. “I wanted my photographic images to be like a cartoon strip, the same angles. I want to stretch the boundaries of photography.”

He tracked Tanaka down and persuaded him to collaborate on a storyboard which Wing Shya has used as inspiration for a series of 38 pigment print images edited down to 17 for the show. “It is a simple story” he explains “it is about right versus wrong”. But don’t be taken in by his humility: behind the fun contemporary cultural references – the manga goddess-style superheroine, her kitsch fairy lights and feathers in Angel for example – there is a complex layering of unexpected elements.

The plot may be playfully B movie worthy but stand back and notice how- thanks to his long-time collaborator and former Wong Kar Wai film lighting gaffer- his work is lit like a full budget Hollywood blockbuster. Dissonances and surprises abound. The Bear and the Beauty reminds us of a cartoon strip …but without speech bubbles. Angel in Black recalls a fashion shoot in which fancy dress replaces couture. Emotional Wounds and Good Evening bring to mind movie stills which, though inert, seem to pulsate with suspended tension.

Thanks to his work off the set and before the shot Wing Shya transforms his simple story into a cipher for the heroic battle between the vigorous forces of good and evil, a grand drama of love and hate played out in a surreal urban world by absurdly-costumed yet archetypal misfit lovers.

See

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia

Posted in Cartoon, China, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Manga, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Third Guangzhou Triennial reviews and highlights – South China Morning Post, Shanghai Eye

Posted by artradar on October 6, 2008


TRIENNIAL GUANGZHOU CHINA

Art highlights, Chinese censorship and a list of Asian artists and curators.

Farewell to Post Colonialism, Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China: 6 September to 16 November 2008

Hong Kong based art critic John Batten in the South China Morning Post gives a thumbs up to the “mostly excellent” art at the Third Guangzhou Triennial, an exhibition of over 300 works by 180 artists in Guangdong Musuem of Art, but is less enthusiastic about the “elaborate explanations” of the curators whose “theoretical notions should simply be ignored”. His thoughtful review discusses the work of Hong Kong artist Tozer Pak Sheung-chuen whose conceptual project Page 22 (Half Folded Library) consists of secretly folding page 22 in 15,500 books in the Ottendorfer Branch Public Library in New York. Other pieces Batten favours included ‘fascinating’ video works in The Tea Pavilion and Middle East Channel:

  • Corazon Amaya-Canete and Moira Zoitl’s collaborative work on foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong
  • Rania Stephan’s interviews with children in Lebanon
  • Tomoko Konoike’s manga video installation Knifer Forest
  • Archana Hande’s spoof of marriage and dating websites www dot arrange ur own marriage dot com

Shanghai-based blogger Shanghai Eye has less to say about the art  – “the strength of the triennial was its very interesting mix of international and local flavours” – and instead gives a hilarious account of the washout “anarchic opening press conference” and the antics of the Chinese censors. “Cultural bureau officials descended en masse the day before the show opened, offended by a preview which appeared in the local newspaper “Southern Weekend.” The curators and museum director said this was par for the course, and after some negotiation a work by Zhu Yu, a discourse entitled “192 proposals for members of the united Nations” had some of the texts blurred. “If you squinted you could still read the text, so I didn’t quite see the point,” said Nigel Prince, a visiting curator from Ikon gallery in the UK.”

 

Asian artists:

(Group) Lin and Lam, Hui ZHANG, Wei LIU(b.1972 China), Gang ZHAO ( b.1954 China), Sopawan BOONNIMITRA, Corazon AMAYA-CANETE (Philippines), Jaishri ABICHANDANI, Haegue YANG(b.1971), Doris Waiyin WONG, Masahiro WADA, Nana Seo EUNA, Arin RUNGJANG, Warren Chiwo LEUNG, Kit LEE, Michael Honghwee LEE, Ade Darmawan, Sreshta PREMNATH, Jeuno KIM, Jesal KAPADIA, Apichatpong WEERASETHAKUL, Minleong CHAI, Matyn SEE, Riri RIZA, Amir MUHAMMAD, Chihyin LIN, Minjie ZHONG, Anding ZHANG, Yan MA, Tao JIANG, Kaiyu XIAO, Yin WANG(王音 b.1964), Qin QI, Xiaodong LIU, Jianyu DUAN, Yi ZHOU( b.1961), Duanxiang ZHENG, Fang YE, Jiechang YANG( b.1956), Zhen XU( b.1977), Junyong WU, Jiahao WANG( b.1975), Kaisyng TAN( b.1975), Muchen, Yinong SHAO(b.1961 China), Dalkh OCHIR, Jun NGUYEN-HATSUSHIBA, Huma MULJI, Heungshing LIU, Simon LEUNG, Kesang LAMDARK, Tomoko KONOIKE (Japan), Jitish KALLAT (India), Aili JIA, Xiaopeng HUANG, Archana HANDE, Soonmin YONG, Ran CHENG, Hamra ABBAS, Yu ZHU( b.1970), Shanzhuan WU, Jianwei WANG, Inga Svala THORSDITTIR, Shiming QIU, Anxiong QIU( b.1972), Tozer Sheungchuen PAK, KOOSIL-JA, Yongping HUANG, Ping LUO, Xiangcheng HU, Emily CHENG, Tong CHEN, Guogu ZHENG(b.1970), Bo ZHENG, Yuxing WU( b.1976), Weili YEH, Fudong YANG( b.1971), Total Art Group, Zhijie QIU( b.1969), Bundith PHUNSOMBATLERT, T. Minh Ha TRINH, Xiong XIAO, Jie LU, Dahong LIU, Mengbo FENG, Amy CHEUNG, Chiehjen CHEN, Dalia Al-Kury (Jordan), Yasmina Ben Ari (Egypt), Mireille AstorE (Libanon), Reem Bader (Jordan), Kaya Behkalam (Iran), Alia El Bialy (Egypt), Hisham Bizri (Libanon), Shahram Entekhabi (Iran), Lamia Joreige (Libanon), Khaled Kafez (Egypt),  Nadine Khan (Egypt),
Shula Lipski (Libanon), Waheeda Malullah (Bahrain), WaëL Noureddine (Libanon), Ayman Ramadana (Egypt), Hamed Sahihi (Iran), Larissa Sansour ( Palestine / USA), Akram Zaatari (Libanon), Rania Stephan (Libanon),

Curators: Sarat MAHARAJ, Shiming GAO (b.1976), Johnson Tsongzung CHANG

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia

Posted in Biennials, China, Chinese, Conceptual, Egyptian, Events, Filipino, Hong Kong Artists, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, Manga, Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Palestinian, Southeast Asian, Thai, West Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Artist to watch Cao Fei

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2008


ARTIST TO WATCH

As we scan the news every day, some new artists and new trends emerge out of the cloud of informaton bigger bolder and brighter than the rest. This is the first in an occasional series in which we beam in and take an in depth look at one artist or art trend.

CAO FEI

Cao Fei  is a female artist who was born in 1978 in Guangzhou China and is now based in Beijing.

What people are saying

Red Mansion Foundation, London: “Cao Fei is no doubt one of the most remarkable and powerful artists of this generation.”

Serpentine Gallery London: “Cao Fei is one of the pre-eminent Chinese artists of her generation”

About the art

Photographs, videos and installations.

Influences include superheros, avatars, electronic entertainment, pop music, TV drama, computer games and new subcultures such as Japanese Manga, American Rap, and Hong Kong films.

Why her work is interesting

Cao Fei fearlessly experiments with new media, in particular virtual media such as Second Life. She is fascinated by the contrast between urban reality and fantasy-perfect etopia and how it is possible to move between the two at the flick of a switch. Her art presents the issues and zeitgeist of her generation.

I am interested in “the premise that people can choose characters that are very different from their real selves. They can use their character to create a “second life,” to change their friends, family, and lifestyle — like switching a TV channel “says Cao Fei in an interview with Artkrush.

“I started to confuse my two lives, and so I compared them. The younger generation, like 15-18 year olds, I don’t think they ask as many of these questions; that kind of lifestyle is their real life — they belong to a technological world — but for my generation, we will always compare virtual and real”

Her work

 

Cosplayers: King Kong at home

 

She first attracted international attention in 2004 with COSplayers, a video and photo series about Guangzhou teens dressing up as Japanese manga characters.

At the 52nd Venice Biennale 2007, she premiered China Tracy Pavilion, a project exploring the virtual worlds of Second Life that merged role-playing, ethnographic documentary, and animation.

After discovering Second Life, Fei embarked on a six-month journey through the wonders of the digital realm, as China Tracy, and many came across her through a YouTube stream in which she introduced herself in machinima footage with Chinese subtitles.

According to Fei, all sorts of typical activities occurred during that period: ‘Fly, chat, build, teleport, buy, sex, add friends, snapshot…’

 

I.Mirror Documentary Video 2007

 

These experiences were documented and generated the three-part, thirty-minute epic, ‘i.Mirror’ that Fei exhibited at Venice’s Arsenale back garden as well as on YouTube.

A recent project RMB City, an online art community in the virtual world of Second Life is on show at the Serpentine Gallery and on-line.

Institutions and collectors are invited to buy buildings in RMB City and programme events and activities in them. The project is an experiment exploring the creative relationship between real and virtual space.

Career highlights

Cao Fei has exhibited around the world in premier institutions such as Ullens Center for Contemporary Art Beijing, Mori Museum Tokyo, San Francisco Art Instute, Serpentine Gallery and Red Mansion Foundation.

She has been shown at the Venice Biennale, Istanbul Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Biennale of Sydney and her work has been included in important survey exhibitions such as “Between Past and Future – New Photography andVideo from China” Asia Society New York.

Collectors of her work include Guy Ullens, Carnegie Museum of Art, The Israel Museum, Uli Sigg, Guan Yi amongst others.The famous Chinese collector Guan Yi names Cao Fei along with a handful of other artists as an important artist of her generation.

 

Cao Fei Siemens project

Cao Fei Siemens project

 

In the Siemens sponsored art project “What are you doing here?”, the artist Cao Fei worked with employees from subsidiary OSRAM China Lighting to turn their individual ideas, hopes and expectations into art.

Auction history

As at September 1 2008, Cao Fei is still much under-appreciated at auction. She has only had 3 photographs at auction, one at China Guardian May 2007 which sold for US$21,890 including premium (over double the estimate) and two at Sotheby’s New York 2007 which were bought in.

Where to buy

Dealers:

See (in new window)

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia now

Posted in Acquisitions, Cao Fei, Cartoon, Chinese, Collectors, Manga, Market watch, New Media, Photography, Video, Virtual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Takashi Murakami’s one-of-a-kind Japanese art fair Gesai grows in size – Saatchi Online

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2008


ART FAIR JAPAN

Saatchi Online Magazine reports that art fair GEISAI #11 to be held in Tokyo on September 14 “will be significantly larger than all previous editions, offering space for one thousand exhibitors in individual booths”. Founded by the prolific rule-breaking contemporary artist Takashi Murakami in 2001, Gesai art fair usually takes place in Tokyo twice a year and  “differs from typical art fairs in that it allows artists to represent themselves and present their work directly to an audience of collectors, art professionals and art enthusiasts in a professional art fair setting”. Gesai had its American debut in Miami last December to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach.

On the day of the event, art works will be awarded medals by a jury of international art professionals. Judges include Jack Bankowsky, Editor-at-Large, Artforum; Alison Gingeras, Chief Curator, the Pinault Collection; Carol Yinghua Lu, Independent curator and art writer; Philippe Segalot, Art Advisor, Giraud.Pissarro.Ségalot; and Marc-Olivier Wahler, Director, Palais de Tokyo, Site de Creation Contemporaine, Paris.

GEISAI #11 will also feature a special celebration of the unique anime and otaku subcultures that grew from southern Tokyo’s electronic and computer shopping district Akihabara and are now taking the world by storm. As part of this celebration, GEISAI #11 will debut a special festival space featuring working shops inspired by those in Akihabara, and special surprise performances.

GEISAI #11 will be followed by the second edition of GEISAI Miami, which will once again be hosted by PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, and take place in the Wynwood Art District, December 2008, coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach.

See (in new window)

Posted in Anime, Cartoon, Fairs, Japanese, Manga, Market watch, Southeast Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Niubi kids and American art – Top ten shows in Hong Kong September 2008 part 2 – Saatchi Online

Posted by artradar on September 7, 2008


 EXHIBITIONS HONG KONG

Top ten shows in Hong Kong this September part 2 published in Saatchi Online Magazine and written by Art Radar Asia’s editor Kate Evans.

Lee Waisler: Portraits and Abstractions
11 September to 11 October
Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Sundaram Tagore’s first solo show in its new gallery in Hong Kong features the eminent American artist Lee Waisler whose works are in permanent collections of prestigious institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Lee Waisler presents two series of works: portraits of iconic figures and abstracts, both in a trademark style in which he loads the canvas with layers of paints and organic materials to create thick sweeps of pigment separated by knife-sharp ridges. His portrait series includes the stylized over-bold faces of, amongst others, Marilyn Monroe, Mahatma Gandhi, Kafka and Albert Einstein. Their textured planes draw our hands to hover over the surface, curious, wanting to touch but not quite daring: a potent echo of the real life lure of iconic idols and our visceral compulsion to draw near, look closely and touch. For this show Waisler has created an interesting new body of work incorporating Chinese culture and imagery including a portrait of Anna May Wong, a famous Chinese-American actress of the 1930s and 1940s and Doctor Ho, a renowned healer from China.

 

Larry Yung: Desire – Loss

Amelia Johnson Contemporary
4 September to 27 September 2008

In the works of this much anticipated show two years in the making, Chinese American artist Larry Yung places idealized images of American and Chinese people alongside material objects of desire and cultural icons such as Mickey Mouse. Smiling characters are painted with a flatness reminiscent of the iconography of Chinese propaganda posters and 1950’s US advertisements of the American Dream. This juxtaposition invites us to examine the complex relationship between the demise of the American Dream and the rise of Chinese aspirations. His stiff stylized figures appear artificial and remind us material prosperity is impermanent and illusory: part of a fleeting cycle of lack, desire, success and loss. His work has been commissioned by Proctor & Gamble, Pierre Cardin and Nordstroms and is held in various private collections including those of Marvel Comics, Esquire Magazine and Microsoft.

 

Niubi Newbie Kids
Mixed media group exhibition: Chen Fei, Chen Ke, Zhou Jin Hua, Zhang Ye Xing, Zhou Yi Qian, Feng Wei
19 September to 13 October 2008
Schoeni Gallery

Schoeni was pivotal in the nineties in promoting the art of then unknown Chinese political pop artists such as Yue Min Jun, Zeng Fan Zhi and Zhang Xiaogang, many of whom have since gone on to achieve iconic status and high auction prices. This September the gallery is showing the next generation of 80s born unknowns, the rebellious Niubi Kids. Untranslatable and a play on Chinese slang curse words, the word ‘Niubi’ is used by young people to identify the new wave of rebellious cool young Chinese. Also termed China’s ‘Me’ generation, a product of China’s One Child policy, they are less concerned with politics than with themselves, issues of identity and alternative worlds. This provoking not-to-be missed show of mixed media works, replete with influences from the internet, comics, video games and Japanese culture, is the result of two years work by the gallery and is the first in a biannual series.

Posted in Acquisitions, Anime, Cartoon, Chinese, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Emerging artists, Manga, New Media, Painting, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »