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Archive for the ‘Pop Art’ Category

Comic art of Popok Tri Wahyudito portrays scenes of transport calamity

Posted by artradar on September 1, 2010


GALLERY SHOWS COMIC ART DRAWING INDONESIA

In July this year, Valentine Willie Fine Art (VWFA) partnered with Kuala Lumpur’s The Annexe Gallery to bring “BERGERak” to Malaysia. In his first Malaysian solo, Indonesian artist Popok Tri Wahyudi, uses “Jogja comic style” to create paintings which narrate the experiences of “cattle-class” airline travellers and other mass transport users. His work is accessible to a wide audience because of its familiar subject matter and simple, colorful presentation.

'Please Let Me Go', 2010, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 188 cm. Image courtesy of VWFA.

'Please Let Me Go', 2010, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 188 cm. Image courtesy of VWFA.

“Popok Tri Wahyudhi’s works in his first Malaysian solo exhibition are stories about commuting, travelling, human mobility and migration. Presented in a wide range of media, from paintings and drawings to woodblock prints, silkscreen on canvas and mini sculptures, these bittersweet and sometimes macabre narratives negate the glamorous images of the jet set…” Valentine Willie Fine Art

The artist is one of the founding members of Apotik Komik, an artist group formed in 1997 by thirteen students from Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta. The group first created mural work and then moved into printing comics, publications more visual and alternative than what was available in Indonesia at that time. Their style, influenced heavily by popular culture, is known as “playful”.

'...oops!!!', 2010, woodcut on paper, 79.5 x 54.5 cm. Image courtesy of VWFA.

'...oops!!!', 2010, woodcut on paper, 79.5 x 54.5 cm. Image courtesy of VWFA.

He is most well known for portraying Indonesian life and political situations in a sinister comic light. However he has worked with international subject matter, most notably during artist residencies at California’s 18th Street Art Center in 2001 and the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2007. In addition to making paintings in his signature comic style, he has also worked on large scale wall art and created and exhibited three-dimensional pieces.

Popok Tri Wahyudi was born in Mojokerto, East Java, in April, 1973.

KN

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Comic, Drawing, Events, Gallery shows, Indonesian, Malaysia, Painting, Political, Pop Art, Popok Tri Wahyudi, Sculpture, Southeast Asian, Urban, Vehicles, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pop culture references abound in Indonesian art: curator Eva McGovern discusses Indieguerillas’ Happy Victims and the Southeast Asian art climate

Posted by artradar on June 23, 2010


INDONESIAN CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY EXHIBITION

Indieguerillas is made up of Indonesian husband-and-wife duo Miko Bawono and Santi Ariestyowanti, whose artistic skills stem from roots in the design industry. Known for their smooth blending of pop culture aesthetics, subtle social commentary and use of traditional Javanese folklore elements, Indieguerillas presented “Happy Victims“, their latest solo exhibition, at Valentine Willie Fine Art Singapore.

The title “Happy Victims” reflects the fact that consumers have willingly but unconsciously become dominated by capitalist spending customs – people no longer spend only for pure necessity, but now spend to gain symbols of status and success. Touching on this popular subject, Indieguerillas’ renderings are colourful and uplifting. A good sense of humour and playful attitude draw the viewer in to investigate the relationships between various elements in their works: sneakers, Mao’s headshot, Astro Boy, Colonel Sanders, Javanese folklore characters.

All Hail the Choreographer, acrylic on wood, 2010. Courtesy of artists and Valentine Willie Fine Art

All Hail the Choreographer, acrylic on wood, 2010. Courtesy of artists and Valentine Willie Fine Art.

The Southeast Asian art scene is both fascinating and difficult, elements which are highlighted in “Happy Victims” and can be attributed to the area’s diversity and rich cultural history. Art Radar Asia spoke with Eva McGovern, the exhibition’s curator, to talk about Indieguerillas, the show, Southeast Asian art, and her experiences working in the region.

Can you describe the process of curating Indieguerillas’ “Happy Victims”? How did you generate the idea?

As it is a solo show by Indieguerillas, the central idea of “happy victims of the capitalism and the material world” was generated by the artists themselves. The curator provides the support structure. One of my personal interests is in urban and youth culture and street style, so I got to know the two artists about 18 months ago and visited their studio. We discussed their idea together, taking inspirations from urban culture.

What’s unique about the Miko Bawono and Santi Ariestyowanti working as a duo?

Miko and Santi have worked together since 1999 and formed Indieguerillas professionally in 2002. The husband-and-wife team usually conceptualise together for the overall big picture. Then, Miko usually makes the initial design and outlines the images while Santi creates the details. They share similar interests in urban and youth culture, which is a big part of their lives. Their works are the visual output of how they live their lives basically.

What’s the unique quality of Indieguerillas’ works compared to other contemporary Indonesian art? Is it their use of youth culture?

It is actually very popular in contemporary Indonesian art creation to incorporate urban culture elements. For example, there is a huge mural tradition in Yogyakarta [which is] common and well celebrated. Younger artists are very interested in this dimension and Indonesia is a very playful place. So lots of humour [and] social comedies can be seen in contemporary Indonesian art.

There are two striking things about Indieguerillas: first, the fact that they work as a husband-and-wife team; second, their proficient experimentation with multiple medium – paintings, installation, design, etc. They benefit from their position as designers by training. Graphic design influences the way they construct their works where there is a considerable amount of experimental energy. They do some commercial work as well, and operate between the two worlds – fine art and commercial art.

Hunter-Gatherer Society III  Javanicus Sk8erensis-Hi, mixed media, 2010. Courtesy of artists and Valentine Willie Fine Art

Hunter-Gatherer Society III Javanicus Sk8erensis-Hi, mixed media, 2010. Courtesy of artists and Valentine Willie Fine Art.

Can you elaborate more on the overlapping between fine art and design manifested in their works?

While design has an imbedded sense of usefulness and fine art is not about being useful, the line between fine art and design is a very flexible one. Indieguerillas do make merchandise and T-shirts, and customised sneakers. In terms of the show [“Happy Victim”], objects are fine art. It can be a bit dangerous trying to block down Indieguerillas in any camp. In this post-modern world, anything goes really.

Design is more acceptable in a way because it can reflect the pop culture we are in. People enjoy looking at design objects, which implies that power comes with an entertaining medium, so artists can convey their messages more effectively. Indieguerillas are not making political comments but simply observations, incorporating Javanese folklore. It is about how things meet and collide together. Even if no one gets the message behind, the beautiful design with its youth finish is pleasing to look at; viewers can just get a sense of enjoyment when looking at the execution of their works. Their works become a bit more sinister as you spend more time looking at it.

By lifting and restyling the Javanese folklore and wayang (shadow puppetry) and mixing them with comical and urban objects such as briefcase and sneakers, Indieguerillas display their sense of cultural pride while connecting with the younger audience.

Across contemporary Indonesian art, is it common that the traditional elements are reinvented to adapt to the new context?

The trauma of political events is still very resonating to people. Traditional culture is still very influential and you can never really escape it. The younger generation of Indonesian artists are more focused on asking themselves about their identities: what it means to be “Indonesian”, what it means to live in the 21st century…. They try to deal with these issues in an open-ended playful way. Indonesian art has many discourses around these issues, supported by solid academic writings.

The Marionette Faithful, Screen printing on teakwood, aluminum plate & digital printing on acrylic sheet, 2010, Courtesy of artists and VWFA

The Marionette Faithful, screen printing on teakwood, aluminum plate and digital printing on acrylic sheet, 2010. Courtesy of artists and Valentine Willie Fine Art.

Can you share with us your views on the art scene in Southeast Asia and any regional differences you noticed, in particular, between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore?

It can be troublesome when trying to discuss generally and authoritatively such a complex region [as] Southeast Asia. If I were to make some observations, I would say:

Indonesia:

It is much bigger and has many more artists producing a huge volume of interesting art. There are many more art centres in the country too: Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta. The nature of the communities in the country is very creative and art is well integrated into daily life. Art and creativity is celebrated here.

There is stronger international funding compared to Malaysia and the country’s link to Holland is still very productive in terms of arts funding, cross cultural dialogues, residencies and exhibitions. Overall, Indonesian artists have more confidence about being “artists”.

Malaysia:

Having gained its independence in 1957, the country is much influenced by being more multi-racial. Malaysia has a challenging funding structure for the art, because it is not appreciated or valued as much. Institutionally, the country does not have an intellectual voice guiding or analyzing contemporary art. There are not enough curators and writers. Commercial galleries are leading the way of what kind of art is being bought and seen.

Since the 1990s, artists turned their preoccupation to social commentary and released their frustration in their works. There are several camps of artists: market-friendly traditionalists who are locally inspired and interested in abstract expressionist and realist painting, and the more international groups doing conceptual, performative and installation based work.

Singapore:

There are a lot less artists but the funding stream is well established. The country has a set of well integrated resources, such as biennales and art fairs. It is facing a top-heavy situation: it has an internationally influenced strategy on top, while due to the strict censorship, art creation is much more challenging in terms of producing politically critical work.

What is often seen is some beautifully crafted installation [work] and engagement with international critical theory and conceptual practive. Artists could be more provocative in terms of social commentary, but they are unable or don’t want to do so in this slick and modern, and financially stable, country.

Can you share with us your personal experiences working in the region? How did you first start working in Malaysia?

I came to Malaysia in 2008. Prior to that, I worked in London at a major gallery for four years. I am half English, half Malaysian. Before coming back, I got interested in the burgeoning Southeast Asian art scene and was getting a sense of what is going on. In London, a lot of my time was devoted to facilitating other people’s programmes and I did not have time to research on topics I was interested in.

After I came back, I started writing for a lot of magazines, so I forced myself to think critically. Then I started to teach Malaysian art history in Singapore. I was invited to be part of a group curatorial show on Southeast Asian in February 2009 in Hong Kong. I also work as the Managing Editor of Arteri, an arts blog that looks at Malaysian and  Southeast Asian art. I was accepting a lot of opportunities coming my way in order to figure out what my true interests were. I will be joining Valentine Willie Fine Art to become their regional curator soon.

Back here, hierarchy is not as tight as in London or the US. One is able to connect with the artists and make tangible contributions. Unlike being a small fish in a huge over saturated pond, I feel I am part of a growing changing scene. I find it very inspiring and rewarding to work with people with shared experiences, who are committed to doing something great.

SXB/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian artists, curators, interviews

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Posted in Asian, Cartoon, Consumerism, Curators, Design, Gallery shows, Graffiti, Indonesia, Indonesian, Interviews, Malaysian, Overviews, Painting, Pop Art, Professionals, Singapore, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Themes and subjects, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

‘Guerilla’ gallerist on introducing Banksy to Asia, art atmosphere in Hong Kong- interview

Posted by artradar on April 14, 2010


HONG KONG ART MARKET

Two year old gallery Fabrik, known for its unique guerilla exhibitions and for bringing Western iconic artists to Asia, sets up permanent home in Hong Kong.

The Fabrik Contemporary Art Gallery is young in Hong Kong, having exploded onto the art scene about 2 years ago with its first show LOVE ART, which caused a sensation introducing works by the notorious street artist Banksy, who had never before been exhibited in Asia. Although the Fabrik Gallery is young, it stands out in Hong Kong’s Chinese-saturated art market for its rare support of Western and contemporary pop artworks and its unique practice of holding ‘guerilla exhibitions’ in temporary or borrowed spaces. In fact, 2 years into its business of promoting art, Fabrik Contemporary has just recently found itself a fixed home in the heart of Central in Hong Kong.

The gallery is a joint venture, owned and operated by Sean Coxall, Jurgen Abergas, and Mark Saunderson, and was originally intended as a platform for the art enthusiasts to share and market their ever-expanding private collections of Warhol and other iconic pop artworks.

The business partners recognized the void of popular Western artworks within the Hong Kong art market, which generally does not expose art lovers to Western phenomena.

The gallery’s flagship Banksy show in April 2008 shocked the art community with its overwhelming success, drawing unprecedented crowds and attention. This Spring, Fabrik fittingly celebrated the opening of their permanent space with another show featuring Banksy, accompanied by the likes of Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert & George in ‘The Great British Show,’ which ran February 25-March 25.

Art Radar catches up with the Fabrik Gallery’s lively co-owner and curator Jurgen Abergas, a London-educated cosmopolitan whose background includes growing up in the Philippines and living in Los Angeles and China. He shares his perspective on the Hong Kong art scene, Hong Kong’s reaction to Western pop art, and tells all about the series of serendipitous events that culminated in bringing Banksy to Hong Kong.

Was it logistically easy to have the Banksy LOVE ART show in Hong Kong?

Yes, it was actually, because there is no tax on importing art here. We were not yet even registered as a company at that time. We were just working as a private dealership. We collaborated with the Schoeni Gallery, because [the Gallery Director] Nicole Schoeni loves Banksy and wanted to bring him here too. This was also a jump starting point for Nicole’s Adapta Gallery project in Hong Kong.

The show was comprised of 3 days in the Hong Kong Art Centre, and then another 2 weeks with additional pieces for the Schoeni show.

What is the mission of the gallery?

The mission of the gallery is to encourage first time collectors. We try to provide known iconic pieces that accurately represent the style of an artist. For instance, if you want a piece by Hirst, you wouldn’t want a piece that is only a squiggle or a dot, because that is not a known Hirst. We show work that is more iconic and familiar.

Japanese Apricot 2, 2005, by Chiho Aoshima. 55 x 77.8 cm Lithograph. Contact Fabrik Gallery.

What type of art did you intend to share with Hong Kong?

Definitely Western contemporary art. The Japanese art was not a fluke; I’ve been into manga since I was a kid, and it was something that my two partners only got eventually.

We were at a gallery showing of Murakami and other artists, and I told them we should definitely show Murakami. I mean, we go to London, New York, Los Angeles, and we see all these [Murakami] retrospectives, but we don’t see it here. I thought it would make a difference in the Hong Kong arts scene if someone showed works of Murakami here. And also, we wanted to prove that what Murakami does is beyond just Louis Vuitton.

When we opened this gallery, it was supposed to only be a stockroom. But, I said, let’s just do it properly. We were just kind of sick and tired of showing art out of our homes. It’s not ideal, but there are many dealers in New York and London that show art out of their home. However, in Hong Kong it is so crazy outside that you really need your home to be sacred space.

So, we launched the Murakami show, and we pre-sold most of the art before hand! It was one of those shows where we were struggling because clients wanted their art immediately and not wait until the end of the show! So, we were re-hanging stuff that wasn’t even Murakami anymore, because we ran out of the pieces that were actually in demand. We didn’t see that coming at all. Nobody was specializing in Murakami in Hong Kong. However, I have to credit Nicole [Schoeni], because she had works by Chiho Aoshima, who is another artist by Murakami. Aoshima is a lady who just paints women. Nicole had an amazing Japanese apricot lithograph. It is a piece that is really stuck in my head. After seeing that, I was like, ok, let’s include other artists with Murakami.

How is the Fabrik Gallery unique among galleries in Hong Kong?

I think we’re unique because we deal with art that is not generally represented in Hong Kong, and we do not deal with Chinese art.  I love Chinese art, but in a sea of contemporary Chinese art, there is only so much you want to see. We are looking to offer something different.

We also think it’s important to educate the viewer of the message behind the piece. You can go to galleries and think a work is beautiful, but not understand the inspiration for a work. We support more people, especially students, coming into the gallery and reading about an artwork so they do not have unprocessed thoughts about art. When you have a guide to read or someone who will explain the art to you, it really makes a difference and makes a lasting impression on someone who visits the gallery.

Can you describe the Fabrik Gallery’s ‘guerilla’ approach to art sales?

Basically, we went to different venues, like the W Hotel, rented out space, painted it, put up lights, and showed our works there.

Which galleries and arts organizations do you work closely with?

We work closely with White Cube in London, Aragon Press (the publisher of Damien Hirst), Other Criteria (again, Damien Hirst.) Hirst is our specialty. Also KaiKai Kiki, which is Murakami, the Helium Foundation, and other galleries in New York for our private collections.

Do you attend art fairs? Are you participating in Art HK?

This May we will be. We’re going to Art HK. One of the reasons we did the Banksy show is because we were rejected from Art HK in 2008. We were accepted this year, but we’re still deciding whether we should go. They prioritize the international galleries and we notice that most of the galleries here in Hong Kong are not participating.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s a very weird process.

Although we were rejected the first time, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us. If we had done Art HK, the Banksy show never would have happened.

What was your impression of Art HK?

I love Art HK. It’s a great way to see art! I think it’s one of those events that can give a platform and democratize the buying of art and make international artworks accessible to a wider audience. However, I don’t approve of hard sales tactics, and showing artworks without providing the context of the artist. In art fairs in general, it is hard to create the intimacy of an actual gallery.

What was Hong Kong’s reaction to your flagship show featuring Banksy?

It was phenomenal, they loved it. No other exhibition has ever graced the front page of the City section of the South China Morning Post. The turnout was around 1,000 people, and people from Christie’s and Sotheby’s were lining up. We had to hire security because it was just too packed. It was a very well publicized event that just happened in about 3 weeks. People usually plan this sort of thing 6 to 8 months in advance, and we did it in only 3 weeks. We worked around the clock, and were so tired afterward. Before we opened the Art Centre the next day, people were already lining up to see the show.

Was the turnout local?

It was a combination of both local and expatriate people, which is good. I think people in London and Europe are more passionate about these things, though. It’s weird, because when we opened the Banksy show, Banksy-style art of monkeys appeared on the bridges, and the next day it was already erased. A lot of people thought the graffiti was actually authentic Banksy. If this was in London, they would have preserved that. If it was in New York, they would have preserved it. But here in Hong Kong, it was wiped the next day.

The government needs to promote more sensibility toward the arts, especially here in Hong Kong Island. We’re on the cusp; we’re still not there yet.  The Hong Kong crowd still has a lot to see compared to London. However, we’re never going to be London and we need to make our own niche in Hong Kong, and make a city where art and commerce blend in. It’s still a financial city; that is what we are all about. We are not exactly an art city. That is one of the disadvantages of being here in Hong Kong. We are not exposed to a lot, and important art can get erased the next day by the cleaners. Because it’s not important to them.

Has Banksy been featured in Asia prior to your first show?

We definitely wanted Banksy to be our first show. It is the first and largest show of Banksy in Asia; Tokyo rejected it, so we were glad to take it. Ironically, now Tokyo is hungry for his works.

Does the Fabrik Gallery intend to feature other street or urban artists?

Paul Insect, Icon 8, 2008. Wooden panel, gold leaf, natural powder paint, shellac, acrylic paint.

We are planning to bring Lazarides U.K. artists Antony Micallef and Paul Insect before the end of the year. We love their works and they relate well to Warhol, especially Paul Insect. He creates appropriated images that reference historical art.

How does Banksy promote his art if his identity is kept secret? Does he directly work with galleries for his shows?

He’s not with his manager Steve Lazarides anymore, since they had a falling out. They had different intentions; it’s hard when you’re turning art into a commodity. Banksy doesn’t work directly with galleries either, and doesn’t show up in exhibitions. He just wants his identity to be secret and to keep a low profile, and to continue creating smart work and churning out really good stuff.

Why do you think Banksy created the sensation in Hong Kong?

His works confront a lot of issues and are very tongue in cheek, yet also is close to the heart. Banksy’s art talks to each individual and is easy to relate to. It makes you think, but it makes you smile as well.

Do you see any major differences between the art of Banksy and the art of the other artists in the ‘Great British Show’?

His work, whether it is rendered in canvas or in print, is from the street. There is a roughness that you can see and feel, although it is a screen print. It is still raw, and there is something sinister about it. You know the artist made this on the street in the middle of the night and ran away from the police, knowing he could get caught at any time while he was painting.

Are you familiar with the street art scene and artists in Hong Kong?  If so, who would you consider important artists?

I am familiar with Hong Kong street artists, like the ST/ART Collective… However, in general the street scene in Hong Kong is not very prolific. Funnily enough, I saw a tagging by the U.K. artist Word to Mother on a wooden board in the market. I am sure that it’s his authentic tag, since no one else can really do that. Someone just used the board to cover the fruits they were selling.

Do you view Hong Kong as an international art hub?

With Art HK, the success of ArtWalk, and the international galleries— The Gagosian Gallery is coming, Ben Brown is here, and the Malborough Gallery is opening here. Obviously people are looking at the potential of Hong Kong, and there is a big market here.

Tsang Kin-Wah, 2006. Untitled wallpaper detail for Shu Uemura in California.

What is great about the local art scene?

There are particularly 2 artists that I really like. One is Tsang Kin-wah. He was commissioned to create the wallpaper of The Pawn restaurant in Wan Chai. He made repetitions of words to create a flock wallpaper pattern. He has had exhibitions in New York, Paris and Norway. He’s really a major artist, but he’s very humble.

Nadim Abbas is another Hong Kong artist who used to work for Plum Blossoms, and is now showing his art at Para/Site. He’s a very conceptual artist, and was featured in the [Hong Kong Museum of Art] Louis Vuitton show representing Hong Kong artists. I love artists who work from their stream of consciousness, and he obviously does this.

I also like the illustration style of Carrie Chau, [featured at the Wun Yin Collection Gallery] at the Homeless boutique on Gough Street.

What news sources do you read to stay informed about the art world?

Art Observed.com is my number one resource. The Art Newspaper is good too, although I’ve noticed that not all their stories are up to date. Sometimes their news seems to be relevant to say, 1o months ago.  I also read Frieze MagazineThe Art ReviewThe Guardian, blogs, anything!

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a dealer gallery in Hong Kong?

Show only the artists that you love and the artists that you’re passionate about. Art is a very personal thing, and the general public may come in and hate it. Be prepared to be judged.

Is there any particular information, news, or advice you would like to share with our readers?

Start collecting now.  If you like something, save your money and make it your goal. In the next few years you will probably regret not getting it.

What is your next show at Fabrik Contemporary Art?

In the Name of Pop, featuring Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring will run May 6-June 10, 2010.

Visit Fabrik Contemporary Art’s new and permanent home at 412, 4F, Yip Fung Building, 2 – 18 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong.

EW/KCE

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Posted in Art spaces, Business of art, Curators, Galleries, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, Graffiti, Hong Kong, International, Interviews, Pop Art, Profiles, Street art | 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

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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 »

Overview Indonesian art – Only 5 of 50 auctionable artists today will have lasting value

Posted by artradar on March 2, 2009


INDONESIAN CONTEMPORARY ART HISTORY

This long – save it for lunch-time! –  informative reportage piece written in 2008 is about the history of Indonesian contemporary art up to and including the 2008 art boom. Michael Vatikiotis employs anecdotes, artist interviews and on the ground research to describe  key influences and players. A surprising finding is that dealers and collectors are saying that only five artists will have lasting value which Vatikiotis points out ” is not a legacy in a country of more than two hundred and thirty million people”.

Putu Sutawijaya

Putu Sutawijaya

Riding the Indonesian art boom

Jogjakarta a city of artists

Jogjakarta is a city of artists. On every corner of Central Java’s ancient royal city there is an aspiring painter with good reasons to be hopeful. A handful of painters have sold their work at auction for tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Used to Being Stripped, a painting by Nyoman Masriadi, a native of Bali who lives in the city, fetched US$538,000 at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong in May 2008. ‘It used to be that parents cried when their children said they wanted to be artists, well not anymore,’ says Agus Suwage, a local artist whose works have been shown internationally and now command hundred thousand dollar prices at auction.

Indonesian art holds its value

Jogjakarta’s art boom is part of an Asia-wide trend that has seen the value of contemporary art from countries like India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines as well as Indonesia soar to phenomenal heights on the back of fears
about inflation and the security of more liquid assets. In May last year, the hammer went down on a painting by the popular Chinese artist Zheng Fanzhi for US$9.7 million at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong. The global financial crisis
that set in towards the end of 2008 has badly affected the Chinese art boom, but dealers in South-East Asia say that so far prices for Indonesian art have held up well because art remains a refuge for investors fleeing stocks.

Jogja’s bizarre political landscape

Jogja is a sprawling medium-sized Indonesian city of three million people steeped in the tradition of Javanese kingship. Sultan Hamengkubuwono X rules the city and its immediate area in one of the more bizarre autonomy
arrangements – a feudal king holds sway over a tiny part of a modern republic. Indonesians don’t see a contradiction; the current Sultan’s father, Hamengkubuwono IX, played a central role in the anti-colonial struggle and was briefly
vice president of the republic. The current Sultan has presidential aspirations.

Jogja produces avant-garde art alongside traditional

Although a thoroughly modern ruler in many ways – he is very fond of square dancing – the Sultan presides over a culture that resists change. The people of Jogja revere him, wearing traditional long batik sarongs with delicately decorated daggers placed in the small of their backs on formal occasions. They believe in the dark mysteries of Javanese mythology – that the Sultan communes with the Goddess of the Southern Seas to keep the forces of nature in
balance. Yet this exquisitely preserved-in-aspic city produces some of the more avant-garde modern artists of South-East Asia and has turned some into relative millionaires.

Colonial past sustains Indonesian artisanship

Jogja is more than a relic. The city is one of the very few cities in the region with a heritage that is preserved – under royal patronage – with tourism in mind, of course. Restored Dutch colonial era buildings and old royal residences
have become offices and hotels. This has helped sustain a lively artisan community.
Mas Sugeng, who has meticulously created wayang kulit shadow puppets out of buffalo hide since he learnt the art from his father as a child, considers himself ‘a craftsmen rather than an artist’ as I admire the breathtaking handpainted colour and carved detail on his delicately created images of Rama and Sita.

The modern artists reflect a transition from the talent of artisans like Mas Sugeng to the modern art the world seems to want to buy – at ridiculous prices.

Ten years ago, Jogja visitors were led down narrow alleyways to view stacks of unspectacular batik paintings gathering dust in disorderly garrets hugging the whitewashed palace walls. The motifs veered wildly from the earthy traditional to lurid pop; Hanuman and Arjuna rubbed shoulders with Bob Marley and Che Guevara. Serious painting was something young people went to Bali to pursue. Today, Balinese artists flock to Jogja, where artists’ studios are now on the tourist map.

Early interest in Indonesian contemporary art dates to beginning of 90s

The boom came suddenly. Early interest in contemporary Indonesian art dates back to the go-go capitalism in the early 1990s. Indonesia was just opening up and a new class of wealthy private entrepreneurs had cash to spend. Many of the wealthiest people in Indonesia are ethnic Chinese. Buying Indonesian art was a way of demonstrating national loyalty. Galleries in Jakarta did brisk business; the art was mostly relatively conservative expressionists drawing on
traditional themes – the whirling Balinese dancers of Srihadi Soedarsono, the demure Javanese maidens of Jiehan Sukmantara – decorative living room art, not the stuff of fortunes.

Effect of economic crisis 1997 and  fall of Suharto 1998

The local art market collapsed with the 1997 economic crisis. So did the political order. The seeds of the current art boom were sown in the political chaos and mayhem that accompanied the fall of Indonesia’s strongman President
Suharto in May 1998. Tastes in art changed, almost overnight. A fondness for decoration and curios was replaced by gritty, hard-edged socially engaged art.

Birth of hard-edged social art during transition to democracy

The movement reflected the profound changes in society unleashed by reformasi, Indonesia’s transition to democracy. ‘What reformasi actually gave Indonesians was access to intellectual thinking,’ Farah Wardani, a Jogja-based curator, told me as we sat in the forecourt of Indonesian Visual Art Archive, a foundation set up to document the development of fine art.

Cemeti Art House set up 1998

Jogja’s artists were already socially engaged but no one took them seriously enough to buy their work, which was considered risky and troubling before Suharto fell. Many of the artists were part of the student movement pushing for political change. Cemeti Art House, established in 1998 by Dutch artist Mella Jaarsma and her Javanese husband and collaborator Nindityo Adipurnomo, played a critical role in fostering these politically engaged artists.

Mella,a practising artist who specialises in installations and performance art, and Nindityo encouraged many of the artists who are major names today with exhibitions from the late 1980s. Their ability to fly under the official radar for
performances and exhibitions that were plainly subversive can be attributed, Mella says, to poorly educated intelligence operatives who didn’t understand what they were looking at.

Political art broke with traditional
Their politically engaged art broke with the decorative and traditional past. Art was no longer for tourists. It drew inspiration from the angry graffiti scrawled on city walls, was transferred to gritty comic books, circulated
in crudely stapled photocopied editions of a thousand or so and finally ended up on the canvases of students at Jogja’s prestigious Indonesian Institute of Art (ISI).

Popok Triwahyudi

Popok Triwahyudi

Popok Triwahyudi – cartoon style

Popok Triwahyudi is typical of the socially engaged Jogja artists. Many started out on the streets sketching for a living, touting tourists and singing themselves hoarse in rowdy late-night gatherings over a shared bowl of noodles and endless cups of insipid Javanese tea. Popok still looks like the street artist he once was. His tangle of curly black hair hasn’t been brushed in days and he sleeps on a bed that he folds up and puts away. Popok studied painting
at ISI in the 1990s. His first solo exhibition, Shut Up, was held at Cemeti in 1997. His cartoon-like figures depict grim and unrelenting repression. There is something Breugel-esque in the way Popok conveys the darkness and despair
in people’s lives – and then, with a touch of Roy Lichtenstein, he draws speech bubbles and his characters express this despair.
When I met Popok he was at work in his studio on a cartoon series on intercultural misunderstanding developed in collaboration with a German art house. Before he sold his first painting in the boom market, he rented a single
room; today he has taken over the premises and installed a heavy press so he can roll off graphic prints. A new Powerbook is perched on a desk in his studio, bought by the Germans. Popok looks perpetually surprised, as if he simply can’t believe that he can now indulge his creative urges and make a living.

Eko Nugroho

Eko Nugroho

Eko Nugroho
A little further out of the city, near the old Dutch sugar factory, Eko Nugroho’s modest little home in the middle of a farming village is hardly evidence of his remarkable success. Like Popok, Eko studied at ISI in the late 1990s. His
father was a newspaper delivery man for Jogja’s daily newspaper, Kedaulatan Rakyat. Eko’s first drawings were published as cartoons in the paper. His family was so poor he only found the money to pay for his first year at ISI by
winning a local cartoon contest.
Eko’s style is distinctive. Like Popok, he draws inspiration from cartoons. His characters, usually etched in black on coloured backdrops, are disembodied creatures, part-machine, part-animal, rarely unambiguously human ‘People lost in freedom,’ his website declares.

Like Popok, Eko also got his break at Cemeti. ‘There used to be a lot of galleries, but they only catered to traditional art and weren’t interested in what I had to say through my paintings,’ Eko says. ‘Cemeti did the avant-garde stuff.’ By 2005, his highly original caricatures were selling for upwards of US$2,000. By the beginning of 2008, quite modest-sized canvases were selling for more than US$30,000. Eko, who is thirty-one, has been invited to art fairs and residencies in Europe, China, the United States and Singapore.

Indonesian-Chinese art collectors

Most of the buyers of this modern art, by comparatively young and inexperienced artists, are still Indonesian – especially wealthy Indonesian-Chinese business people. Many are not Jakarta based, but from East and Central Java, home to some of the richest Indonesian-Chinese families. One major collector is Dr Oei Hong Djin, whose family owns the profi table Djarum Group – producers of a variety of consumer goods like clove cigarettes, televisions and spectacle frames, and owners of a major retail chain. Oei Hong Djin has been collecting Jogja artists for years – a sizable caricature at a major city intersection honours his continued patronage.

Soaring art prices

In part because Indonesian-Chinese interest in contemporary Indonesian art was the principal driver of the boom, there is a suspicion that what lay behind the soaring prices was not the intrinsic value of the art. Farah Wardani, who trained at Goldsmith’s College at the University of London, is frankly appalled at the prices. ‘Look, I don’t mind poppish eye candy, but not for US$20,000. It’s becoming more expensive than Prada.’ Old Indonesian masters like Affandi and Hendra Gunawan fetched high prices at auctions, but some of the young Jogja artists are selling for more. ‘It’s scary,’ says Farah.

Odeck Ariawan, a Balinese friend of mine who collects art and was also spooked by the boom. ‘I have no way of telling
whether what I am buying is going to be worth anything in the future.’ Farah’s frustration as a curator and Odeck’s caution as a buyer are driven by Indonesia’s paucity of established art criticism. Most curators work for private
galleries where commercial, not critical, considerations prevail. ‘It used to take an artist twenty years to reach an established level,’ Farah says. ‘Today you have young artists selling their first paintings for thousands of dollars.’

Indonesian art market manipulation
There is a lot more than art appreciation involved. One theory is that the buyers were looking for a safe place to park their money in an inflationary environment, another that paying cash for art requires less scrutiny than buying
property. There are stories of buyers who arrange for a painting to be put in an auction, and bid up the price to raise the value of the artist – having first bought up the rest of the artist’s production. The process is called goreng goreng
– Indonesian for ‘to fry’. ‘This is moving in the direction of becoming an industry,’ Farah complains. ‘Artists are being asked to produce on demand.’

Putu Sutawijaya – one of top 5 artists
The way the market works outrages many curators, who like to think they are the arbiters of fine art. Even artists are discomfited. Putu Sutawijaya was one of the first young artists to see his work reach phenomenal prices at auction.
Putu has the friendly nonchalance of the Balinese. He struggled for a decade after finishing his studies at ISI. By 2003, he recalls, he was selling paintings for two thousand dollars at most. Then in April 2008 one of his paintings sold
at an auction in Singapore for fifteen times its expected price. Looking for Wings was bid up from a reserve price of eight thousand Singapore dollars to reach one hundred and twenty thousand. Putu responded to his sudden wealth by
rolling up his paintings and hiding them. ‘I was worried. I felt all this pressure to sell for the same high price but what if my work is no good? That’s why I put away some paintings, just in case.’ Success has brought new opportunities
undreamed of in the local context. He spent two weeks in Beijing last year with his own booth at a major art fair and has secured a residency there. He is one of the top five painters in Jogja but fame and status have brought stress.
‘Before, I dreamed of being a well-known artist. Now I’m afraid of disappointment and failure.’

Impact of Valentine Willie, Malaysian art dealer

Valentine Willie, a Malaysian art dealer whose auctions in Singapore helped spark the boom, echoes these concerns. ‘When these artists were unknown they could experiment. They were free to make mistakes. Now they can’t afford to disappoint their buyers and this means they cannot change their style. It puts limits on their creative spirit.’
The art is losing its political edge. Popok’s social tableaux seem more optimistic and Eko’s fantastic automatons are becoming less menacing and cuddlier, set against warm pastel shades.

Art losing its political edge

Agus Suwage’s early work was intended to shock,like his inspiring installation The Final Journey which featured pigs’ skulls on roller skates. Today his themes seem almost sensual: a foot-sucking self-portrait in pink. A lot of the large Masriadi canvases going for high prices tend to be more or less variations on a standard theme – a procession of muscular bodies, male and female, in lurid outfits and provocative poses – a distant cry from his earlier socially engaged work.

The art is also growing in size. Collectors like to buy big and the painters are obliging, with Masriadi‘s, Agus Suwage’s and Putu‘s canvases often more than four square metres. The once socially-engaged artists are slowly becoming financially engaged to their buyers. There is a downside.

New art spaces supporting young artists

If you ask Agung Kurniawan, an artist who is emulating Cemeti with his own art space supporting young artists, the boom was bad, creating as many bankrupts as it did millionaires. ‘I have known many people suddenly get very rich and then just as suddenly they are poor again,’ he tells me as he prepares for his own solo exhibition in The Netherlands. But while I failed to meet any victims of the boom, most of the beneficiaries expressed concern about the future and humility that is characteristic of mainstream Javanese culture.
Putu believes in giving back to the local community. He and his Malaysian-Chinese wife Jenny have established an Art Space in the Nitiprayan district of the city where young artists can exhibit. ‘People struggle to find wall space in this city,’ says Putu, who has bought another piece of land nearby to expand.

Eko Nugroho takes his modesty to absurd lengths, but then his poor boy roots taught him to start sharing the wealth as soon as he earned it. One of the first things he did was to rebuild his neighbour’s house. Eko’s fondness for large, elaborately embroidered tapestries means he now employs dozens of skilled weavers. He has several assistants who help him with sculptures and installations. ‘They are not just helpers, I train them too,’ he says with an honest
smile. ‘I like working as a team; I find painting is too solitary.’ Eko is also the founder of a photocopied biannual art journal called Daging Tumbuh, which offers struggling young artists a chance to have their work showcased for free.
He distributes the journal to galleries and dealers in Jakarta as well as Jogja.

Art turns away from Islam

Flipping through Daging Tumbuh brings home another stark reality of the art boom: in a country regarded by most outsiders as sliding inexorably towards Islamic conservative rule, the young artists of Jogja are moving in the other direction. Agus Purnomo’s abstract canvases use all sorts of numeric and alphabetic symbols but he is reluctant to use Arabic calligraphy. They are catering to a non-Muslim market, but to be among them and see their art and how it has progressed is more of a challenge to one’s knowledge of Japanese and Western pop culture than the finer points of Muslim culture – more Ultraman than Mohammad.

Then there are those artists on the way up. I arrive at Stefan Buana’s modest home on the outskirts of the city. Canvases litter every room and an assistant is busy stretching fresh canvas on wooden frames. Stefan has a show in a month and is feverishly finishing a new collection of paintings. The West Sumatraborn painter has spent a long time toiling for success. Now his paintings fetch enough to pay for his collection of antique Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Yet Stefan isn’t so popular that he is a prisoner of the style that sells. He experiments with texture and material, plastering his canvases with sawdust, creating relief images with staples, cotton thread and even heavy pieces of scrap iron. Politics is an enduring theme for artists like Stefan, whose studio is littered with the broadly smiling visage of former Indonesian President Abdurahhman Wahid, who is fondly known as Gus Dur. Stefan beats old frying woks into the former president’s round faced image because, as he puts it, ‘Gus Dur believed in equality and welfare for all’.

Suharto as a theme
Former President Suharto is another surprising theme. Putu Sutawijaya is planning a series on the late dictator, who died in February 2008. Stefan Buana has created a two metre high stencilled image of Suharto by punching through an inch-thick iron sheet with a blow torch. The image is oddly flattering and recalls the contemporary Chinese love affair with pictures of Mao. This fascination with political leaders is a by-product of the politicised student activism these artists experienced. Perhaps in the new era of genuine democracy, they miss having someone to pillory.


Pop art culture collides with anti-Americanism

Young artists like Lugas Syllabus make success look easy. This fresh-faced native of Palembang who turned twenty-one in 2008 was about to embark on his first solo show in Singapore and looked forward to participating in the Brisbane Art Expo ‘Exist in 08′ that took place in October 2008. He is drawn to performance art and talks excitedly about his installation ‘Pinky and the Bush’. The pop culture Lugas grew up with infuses his imagery but then collides head on with the anti-Americanism spawned by the Bush administration’s war on terror. Fibreglass models of Pinky the white rat, from the cartoon series, and a smaller rat with a Bush-like visage are packed in Styrofoam and
ready to be shipped for his show. On his brand-new laptop, Lugas excitedly describes how the Bush-faced figure dances around a lit globe to the original Pinky and the Brain’s soundtrack. A series of images flash on to his laptop
screen: a killer whale in the desert, an ostrich in a snow drift. The images are edgy and expressive; the colours vivid, almost fluorescent. Nothing is meticulously drawn or detailed. There is something hallucinatory about them. ‘I like
contradictions,’ Lugas says simply, toggling between the laptop and a brand new mobile phone.

Arts management challenges

There is more, much more to see in Jogja; daily exhibitions and performances are announced on notice boards at Cemeti or Kedai Kebun, where Agung Kurniawan has his space. All this activity has generated a need for management. Most of the artists are either too young or too overwhelmed by rapid success to figure out the complexities of commissions and handling their collectors or dealers. Heri Pamed, a Jogja-based dealer, says that one of the artists
he helps, a stick-thin character covered in tattoos who calls himself Bob Sick, isn’t much of a help. ‘Bob Sick sells everything and then gives a lot of his work to friends, so his prices are coming down.’

Help is on the way. In a back room of a spacious house in the south of the city, several young boys are attaching brightly coloured lace brocade to small fibreglass replicas of Michelangelo’s David. It is laborious work and for Titarubi the Bandung-born artist who calls her show ‘Surrounding David’ it appears to represent a significant statement on manhood. When not wrapping David in coloured fabric, Titarubi – who is married to Agus Suwage – is setting up iCan, Jogya’s first arts management company. iCan has only been operating for
a month, so only two artists have signed up but Titarubi hopes to attract the younger talent eager to cash in on the boom more efficiently.

By now I am feeling a little bit like Farah Wardani: I’m not sure all this art is going to make it and is worth the asking price. The real test will be how many of these artists will we be hanging in national galleries and museums in a few
years. Until Indonesia acquires a more respected track record of critical appreciation and better museums and galleries, it is unlikely that any of them will be revered and remembered – some of the best works by Raden Saleh, Indonesia’s nineteenth century virtuoso portrait painter, hang to this day in The Netherlands.

Only 5 Indonesian artists will survive

The dealers and collectors I meet suggest that only a handful, no more than five of the fifty or so currently enjoying success at auction or through gallery sales, stand out as artists of lasting value. Jogjakarta may be a city of ten thousand artists, but five is not a legacy in a country of more than two hundred and thirty million people. Back in his little house behind the palace, I ask Mas Sugeng the puppet maker whether he sees his craft surviving. ‘Oh yes,’ he answers quite emphatically, ‘but not at quite the same level of skill. People simply aren’t willing to pay as much anymore for handicrafts.’

Michael Vatikiotis spent a week in Jogjakarta in 2008 to research this article. His story ‘In pursuit of faith’ appeared in Griffith REVIEW 18: In the Neighbourhood and is reproduced with permission.

Related categories: Indonesian artists

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New York’s first major show of Anime, Manga and Video Games KRAZY! Japan Society

Posted by artradar on February 15, 2009


Takashi Okzaki, Afro Samurai, Film Still

Takashi Okzaki, Afro Samurai, Film Still

 

JAPANESE CONTEMPORARY ART MANGA ANIME

KRAZY! The delirious world of Anime, Manga and Video Games March – June 14 2009 New York

The influence of these three forms of Japanese contemporary art and popular culture has been sweeping across Asia and around the world.  This unique traveling survey of contemporary Japanese culture was organised by Vancouver Art Gallery.

“The Vancouver Art Gallery is committed to fostering new and dynamic understandings of visual culture. With the exhibition KRAZY!, we seized a tremendous opportunity to forward the study of some of the world’s fastest growing art forms,” said Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Despite the pervasive presence of these media, little has been done to assess the ties that bind them. By offering an interdisciplinary account in a major survey exhibition for the first time, we will illuminate their importance as a sustained cultural force.”

From the Japan Society website:

cosplay_party_21KRAZY! will be New York’s first major show dedicated to the Japanese phenomenon of Anime, Manga, and Video Games-three forms of contemporary visual art that are exercising a huge influence on an entire generation of American youth.

The exhibition, organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, will be presented in an environment designed by cutting-edge architectural practice Atelier Bow-Wow, featuring life-size blowups of popular figures from the worlds of anime and manga within an intriguing sequence of spaces that evoke Tokyo’s clamorous cityscape.

 Co-curated by leading North American and Japanese specialists, KRAZY! will give visitors a direct experience of new forms of cultural production and offers fresh insight into the interdependence of three art forms of the future.

Source: Japan Society website

  • Event details
  • Video  – Brief trailer describing how visitors can interact with the show – 6 movie theatres, a sound room, games consoles etc.
  • Krazy! Cosplay party event details  March 28 2009 – dress up as characters

Artists:

Anime:

Ichiro Itano (Super Dimension Fortress Macross), Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf’s Rain), Satoshi Kon (Paprika), Mamoru Oshii (Patlabor 2: The Movie), Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Makoto Shinkai (The Place Promised in Our Early Days), and Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game).

Manga:

Moyoco Anno (Sakuran), Hisashi Eguchi (Stop!! Hibari-kun!), Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White), Junko Mizuno (Pure Trance), Mamoru Nagano (The Five Star Stories), Hitoshi Odajima (Mu: For Sale), Takashi Okazaki (Afro Samurai), and Yuichi Yokoyama (New Engineering).

Video Games:

Toru Iwatani (Pac-Man) and Shigeru Miyamoto (Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)

Review links:

  • Popcultureshock.com – appears to be full press release for original Vancouver show May 2008, details of exhibits which have ‘shaped the history of contemporary visual culture’ and bios of 7 participating curators
  • Anime Today – preview of New York show, listen to Joe Earle director of Japan Society talk about it
  • Krazy! at Vancouver Art Gallery stretches visual vocabulary – May 2008 – Straight.com – comment on cross over of high art and pop culture, interviews Vancouver Art Gallery about their art mandate and how this show fits within it
  • Canadian Art – May 2008 – asks ‘is it art?’, information about artworks and several images
Click to buy catalogue of show

Click to buy catalogue of show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top price for Oliver Stone’s Zhang Xiaogang, half lots unsold at Christies Hong Kong sale – Bloomberg

Posted by artradar on December 1, 2008


Zhang Xiaogang

Zhang Xiaogang

ASIAN ART AUCTIONS

A painting by Chinese contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang offered by Hollywood director Oliver Stone fetched HK$26.4 million ($3.4 million) at a Hong Kong art sale where half the lots were unsold, reflecting the prevailing gloom.

Zhang’s “Bloodline: Big Family, No. 2,” from 1995, was the most-expensive lot sold at Christie’s International’s evening sale yesterday. There was less enthusiasm for most other lots: buyers shunned 44 percent of Asian contemporary works and more than half of 20th-century Chinese paintings for a sale that tallied HK$140.6 million.

“You could sense the caution; no one wants to make a rash move,” said Tian Kai, a Beijing-based art dealer who flew in to attend the sale. “It’s a sign of the times.”

Hong Kong’s art market remains in the throes of a slump it heralded in October when Sotheby’s auction in the city missed its target by half. Subsequent major auctions in New York, London and Dubai fell short of estimates, spelling an art-world rout sparked by the Sept. 15 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and the ensuing global credit and stock-market crisis.

Zhang’s 1.8 meter-by-2.3 meter work shows a pursed-lipped couple with a tuft-haired toddler painted yellow. It went to an anonymous buyer after a 2-minute tussle between phone and salesroom bidders.

Last night’s sale was the most-glamorous part of Christie’s five-day Hong Kong auction (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) of 2,500 antiques, gems and art that the company expects to raise HK$1.75 billion. At least 500 people, some decked in their evening best of chiffon, silks and gems, packed the standing-room-only auction- hall at the Exhibition Center which overlooks the harbor.

‘Price Readjustment’

“Overall, there’s clearly been a price readjustment,” said Jonathan Stone, Christie’s Hong Kong-based international business director, in an interview after the sale. Stone, not related to Oliver, said the company is pleased that it set several artist records at the sale, “economic circumstances notwithstanding.”

Artist record for Zao Wou-ki

“Hommage a Tou-Fou,” a painting by China-born, Paris-based Zao Wou-ki sold for an artist record of HK$45.5 million. Chinese artist Sanyu’s “Potted Chrysanthemums” fetched HK$8.4 million, against the presale top forecast of HK$5 million.

Biggest upset Zeng Fanzhi’s Mao

Last evening’s biggest upset was a 1993 painting of Mao Zedong by China’s most-expensive contemporary artist Zeng Fanzhi, which failed to sell against a presale estimate of HK$30 million.

Bidding on Zeng’s oil-on-canvas “Mao I: From the Masses, to the Masses” was labored, even with auctioneer Andrea Fiuczynskic’s effort at coaxing more bids. The last offer of HK$28 million wasn’t good enough for Fiuczynskic, who rapped the gavel and called in the lot.

“Mao I,” is the twin of a like-sized painting “Chairman Mao II,” also dated 1993, that fetched 2.17 million pounds ($3.3 million) at Phillips de Pury & Co.’s London auction on June 29.

Other Oliver Stone owned works sold at near low estimates

Oliver Stone had consigned five Chinese contemporary paintings at this sale, three of which featured at last night’s event. The other two, both Liu Weis, sold for a combined HK$7.5 million, near the low end of estimates. Two last paintings will be offered at Christie’s day sale this afternoon.

“These are challenging times,” said Tian. “Both sellers and buyers are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.”

Southeast Asian art prices eased

Demand for Southeast Asian art, whose prices defied the demand weakness at Sotheby’s October auction, eased at this sale.

A mixed-media painting by the region’s most-expensive painter I Nyoman Masriadi fetched HK$2.1 million, against the work’s top estimate of HK$1.6 million. The priciest lot sold at the Southeast Asian auction was Filipina Juan Luna’s “Roman Maidens,” which fetched HK$4.7 million, against the painting’s low estimate of HK$8 million.

Except for wines, Christie’s charges buyers 25 percent on the first HK$400,000 of the hammer price, 20 percent of the amount above that, up to and including HK$8 million, and 12 percent of subsequent sums.

Posted in Auctions, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, I Nyoman Masriadi, Indonesian, Market watch, Pop Art, Zeng Fanzhi | 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.

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Takashi Murakami lecture in Hong Kong – Christies

Posted by artradar on November 18, 2008


Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

 

 

 

ARTIST TALK JAPANESE

Asia’s Contemporary Market: The Superflat Market’s Risks and Possibilities
Takashi Murakami, Artist
Friday 28 November 2008, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue: Grand Hall, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Language: Japanese with English and Putonghua simultaneous interpretation

SYNOPSIS


“Now, we’re seeing cracks develop in the global economic structure. A structure built by rich people for the benefit of rich people.

For many years, art has been thought of mainly as a luxury for these same privileged few. Those who seek to understand the history of museums would do best to look at the Louvre Museum as a guide. In other words, during the French Revolution, the conventional hierarchy of rich and privileged people on the top and less privileged people on the bottom was overturned, and forms of entertainment once thought of only as a luxury for royal consumption became open for all people to enjoy.

I, too, as a Japanese, began my work as an artist with the belief that making works accessible to the general public was an idea at the very core of art itself. But the fact is that my work as well has largely served as a luxury for those who find themselves ahead in our capitalist system, for the rich.

In Japan, it is very difficult for artists to grow and thrive. The reason lies in the country’s post-war tax system. Before WW II, a great number of our wealthy could be relied on as collectors of Japanese art but after the war, the powerful conglomerates were broken up and it became nearly impossible to retain expensive works for more than a generation. Foundations, as well, began to lose their merit and it became harder and harder for them to function. It was under these circumstances that Manga, Anime, Games and the entire Otaku world that surrounds them came to be.

Not a luxury made for the consumption of those who can afford it, but something made for everyone. That’s otaku culture. The Superflat concept that I refer to is simply the setting aside of economic considerations in order to preserve the context provided by that culture.

But now, even Superflat has gradually become a luxury. However, I would remind you of the example that the Louvre provides. Art may travel a long road but it always returns eventually to the hands of the people.

Now I would like to explain a little bit more about Otaku-culture, in the hopes that it will help you understand what the Superflat concept is all about.”

Takashi Murakami

Murakami

Murakami

Biography


TAKASHI MURAKAMI was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his B.F.A., M.F.A. and Ph.D from the Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly known as Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music). He founded the Hiropon Factory in Tokyo in 1996, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., a large-scale art production and art management corporation. Murakami is also a curator, entrepreneur, and a critical observer of contemporary Japanese society. His own work has been shown extensively in group and solo exhibitions at leading institutions around the world, most recently at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst where his 2008 exhibition, “© MURAKAMI,” was the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date. © MURAKAMI is currently in the midst of a four-city, three-country tour. Murakami is also internationally recognized for his collaboration with designer Marc Jacobs for the Louis Vuitton fashion house, as well as for his design of the cover art for Kanye West’s double-platinum, 3-time Grammy Award-winning album, Graduation.

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

Posted by artradar on October 24, 2008


BUDDHISM, COLLECTIVES CONTEMPORARY ART TIBET OVERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet Tea House

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

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

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

Gedun Choephel Artists’ Guild

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

Mechak

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

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

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

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

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

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