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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Archive for the ‘Celebrity art’ Category

Russian curators prosecuted for showcasing banned art: media round-up

Posted by artradar on August 2, 2010


RUSSIAN ART CURATORS BANNED ART LAW

After a two-year trial, two Russian curators, Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, were declared guilty of “inciting religious hatred,” despite massive protest. Although they escaped the three-year prison sentence demanded by the prosecution, the judge declared them guilty and each had to pay a hefty fine. Critics fear the results of this trial are proof of cultural oppression in Russia.

They had showcased art banned from other Russian museums in an exhibition entitled “Forbidden Art” at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

Strong public interest in the case

Most media leans in favor of the Russian curators and sees the verdict as a sign of cultural oppression and censorship in Russia. However protesters from both sides were present outside the courthouse on the day of the ruling. Those offended by the paintings and who initiated the prosecution were mostly fundamentalist Russian Orthodox Christians while those against the prosecution consisted generally of artists and human rights activists. Multiple blogs and news agencies have covered the trial, ranging from arts websites to Russian interest magazines and blogs about human rights.

Extreme factions from both sides have voiced their protests. The New York Times reports that radical art performance group, Voina, released cockroaches into the courtroom, an act criticized by Samodurov. According to the Associated Press, extremist members of the prosecution threatened the curators in court, reminding them of the fate of Anna Alchuk, curator of “Caution: Religion!” who was found dead in Berlin in 2008.

Artists “incited religious hatred”

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

The works in question include an icon made of caviar, a depiction of Christ with a Mickey Mouse head, and an image of Christ with the McDonald’s sign and the words “This is my body”. There were also some non-Christian symbols included in the list of offensive images such as Chechen Marilyn and the Chinese invading the Kremlin. The exhibition spurred a lot of anger amongst religious groups.

In a video interview with Russia Today, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church explains that,

Orthodox believers, as citizens of their country…have the right to protect their sacred symbols. It was not the church that initiated this prosecution, but the people who were offended. The investigation proved that the art at the exhibit was offensive towards believers, and incited religious hatred.

The New York Times also mentioned, however, that Russian Orthodox Church officials believed that while displaying the paintings was criminal and the curators should be punished, they shouldn’t be imprisoned. Furthermore, the Russian Minister of Culture was critical of the prosecution.

A fight against censorship

The defendants’ view is that this exhibition was a critique of the materialism of Russian society and a fight against censorship of the arts, and had nothing to do with religion. Ironically, critics fear that results of the trial have shown that censorship is quite powerful in Russia.

Samodurov faced similar charges for a 2003 exhibition called “Caution: Religion!” He says the Church has reacted more strongly in the “Forbidden Art” trial.

Human rights and arts activists fully disapprove of the judge’s ruling, and are alarmed not only at the guilty verdict but at the fact that this trial even took place. The BBC News reported that thirteen renowned Russian artists signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev protesting the trial. Russia Today reports that,

…much more concerning [than escaping the jail sentence] for people in their circumstances is what they’ve seen as a curb from their freedom of expression.

In addition support from other artists and curators has been prevalent. The Associated Press reports that Marat Gelman, a Moscow gallery owner, declared his support for the pair by saying he would launch his own “Forbidden Art” exhibition should the ruling be in favor of the church. One sympathizer stated for the Associated Press before the verdict was declared,

‘I am very afraid for them,’ she said. ‘The church is now younger, more energetic.’

Some fear a return to a cultural oppression similar to that of Czarist Russia. Some suspect the Kremlin may have had a role in lightening the punishment of the curators to prevent tarnishing their international image. Critics have predicted that people will be wary of displaying and producing potentially offensive art in Russia, and this will make Russian art less competitive globally.

MM/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, curators, venues – Moscow

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Posted in Activist, Body, Brands, Celebrity art, Censorship of art, Consumerism, Curators, Identity art, Moscow, Nationalism, Political, Religious art, Russia, Russian, Social, Themes and subjects, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rise of the celebrity artist: Vietnamese artist Trong Nguyen featured on Bravo TV reality series

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS CELEBRITIES REALITY TV

From dance competitions to rehab, it seems that no subject is left untouched by reality television producers. Even the act of finding a spouse has been successfully commercialised for audience entertainment. Now, with Bravo TV’s new series, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, viewers can get a glimpse inside of the often misunderstood world of contemporary art. But at what cost?

Reality TV and contemporary art finally meet

While some shows bank on the star appeal of celebrities and athletes, others take virtual unknowns and catapult them to instant, albeit usually shortlived, fame. Some shows evoke groans of annoyance as others reign in viewers eager for enterainment or curious about the show’s focus. Bravo TV has churned out a string of successful competitive series in several disciplines including fashion, cooking, and modeling just to name a few.

As of June 2010, Bravo branched out into art with the premiere of it’s new series, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. For executive producer Sarah Jessica Parker, the show is about making art accessible to audiences who may consider it to be a “rarefied” world. In addition to giving the fourteen featured contestants a shot at a substantial amount of cash, USD100,000 to be exact, the winner also wins an opportunity to exhibit their works at the Brooklyn Museum. Such high profile spaces are rarely made available to emerging artists.

Cast of Bravo TV's Work of Art: The Next Great Artist

The cast of Bravo TV's 'Work of Art: The Next Great Artist'.

But could all of this backfire? Some argue that reality TV oversimplifies certain disciplines or even presents a distorted idea of what it’s actually like to be a successful artist, dancer or model. There is also the question of whether critics and other artists will take the show’s contestants seriously. Even so, the series aims to show, in an entertaining manner, that art is not exclusive or elitist. It is something that everyone can experience, even on a daily basis. In an article published by Zap2It, Parker states:

I want to express that we all have art in our home, whether you save a postcard from a friend or put your son’s or daughter’s drawings up on the wall. That’s art, and you are part of it … and it shouldn’t be any less accessible to you than to anyone else.

As for contestants, there are those who view the competition as merely a starting point, regardless of whether they win or not. Reality stars are made quickly and can fizzle just as fast if their careers prove to be lackluster. Such possibilities don’t seem to daunt most of the artists on the show, many of whom seek to at least stand out and generate some buzz around their name. Most of the fourteen selected artists are in their twenties, few are experienced, and all are hoping that this chance of a lifetime is worth the risk of failure in front of thousands, if not millions, of viewers.

Profiles of the judges can be found here.

Vietnamese artist Trong eliminated in second round

Artist Trong Nguyen

Artist Trong Nguyen.

Brooklyn based artist and curator Trong Nguyen falls into the small category of contestants who have already achieved success. It was not enough, however, to guarantee him a spot in the third round. At only 38, he has had several international solo and group exhibitions, received numerous grants and is currently an editor for ArtSlant.

We’ve summarised below an interview with ARTINFO in which Trong discusses the artists’ attitudes towards the show, issues with judges and why he joined the cast.

When asked if he feels animosity towards reality programming, Trong expresses amibivalence, a sentiment that was reflected in his second-round installation, What Would Tom Freidman Do? (2010).

The piece itself was about my ambivalence … I thought that any serious artist,  when they’re talking about making a reality show about art, has to have subversive reasons for doing the show.

In regards to the anti-reality TV phrases written on the television sets, Trong states “… the truth kind of hurts sometimes”. The judges eliminated Trong in the second round; his truthful remarks may have indeed struck a nerve. That is not to say that the judges fawned over Trong from the start. Some snapped back with what Trong hinted were unhelpful critiques.

The judges are so defensive that they end up ignoring what you have to say, which I feel is so unconstructive … I think they actually dote on certain works and certain people on the show for whatever reason, and it hasn’t felt constructive to me.

As a more seasoned artist, Trong questions the usefulness of critiques especially when aimed at the younger contestants whom he “feels protective of”. Equally so, Trong questions the ability of these artists, many of whom are fresh from undergraduate studies, to make work with depth at such a young age.

At that age, no matter how talented you are, you just haven’t experienced life enough to really make art that has substance to it … An art career is such a long thing — you have emerging artists out there who are still in their 50s, it’s not like any other profession.

Not only does Trong feel that many of the artists are too young, but they are also putting themselves in a vulnerable position too early. The possibility of ruining ones’ career before it starts is all too real for these young unknowns, although Trong has the immunity of experience and reputation.

One of my main things I said to myself: ‘There’s no way this is going to affect my career negatively.’

Trong's piece from his eliminating round, "What Would Tom Friedman Do?", 2010, Installation

Trong's piece from his eliminating round, 'What Would Tom Friedman Do?' (2010, installation).

With all this, one may wonder why join the cast in the first place? But for Trong, the answer is simple.

If someone asked you to do the show, would you do it? … you have this great opportunity to experience this, why wouldn’t you do it? It’s the difference between living an active life and living a passive life. So I always go for the route of active.

Seems like an easy choice but becoming a great artist is never that simple.  Mega-artists and art superstars are nothing new, but can one be made on television? The show’s intentions of giving aspiring artists a chance while exposing audiences to the art world are noble, yet using reality TV as a medium could be problematic.

Do you think the series can live up to its name and purpose or will it fall flat? Post your comments below.

EH/KN

Related Topics: celebrity art, crossover art, Vietnamese artists

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Posted in Artists as celebrities, Asian, Celebrity art, Crossover art, Emerging artists, Installation, New York, USA, Vietnamese | 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 »

Trends and opportunities in the contemporary photography market

Posted by artradar on October 7, 2009


PHOTOGRAPHY MARKET TRENDS

At a seminar held in London in September 2009 organised by ArtInsight three London-based photography market experts from a fund, a gallery and a major auction house shared their views on the most promising opportunities and interesting trends in photography today.

We attended the seminar and have teased out surprising facts and intriguing assertions for you to mull.

Background to the photography market

  • First photography auction was held in 1971 initiated by Sotheby’s.
  • Over the past 15 years, this medium has out-performed every other major medium including sculpture, prints, painting and sculpture.

In its early history this sector of the art market encountered resistance with buyers concerned that the works were not unique and therefore were not a viable investment. The development of controlled limited editioning in the seventies helped allay fears and the market saw steady but modest growth.

This all changed in 1989/1990 which marked the 150th anniversary of the introduction of photography and the market experienced a 45% leap in sales. Further steady growth marked the next 15 years until 2005 after which sales took off. 2006 saw the highest price ever paid for a photograph …US$2.6m.

  • Today photography accounts for 2% of total auction sales compared with 75% for painting and 11% for drawing and watercolour.
  • Photography has proved to be one of the least volatile sectors in the art market.
  • 9 photographs have broken the US$1m level including work by Japanese-American Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Why has interest in and sales of photography increased?

Nobody know for sure but various reasons have been offered including relative affordability, the introduction of controlled editioning, a loyal customer base and increased market transparency.

Photography trends

There is growing interest and, arguably, opportunities in the following four subsectors of photography:

  • fashion and celebrity photography
  • reportage-style photography
  • phot0graphs recording ephemeral art forms such as performance art and land art
  • “slice of life” photography – a vernacular style dealing the everyday real life as its subject

Brett Rogers of the Photographers Gallery noted the development of a sub-genre she called “constructive fiction” which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction crossing the techniques of the photo-journalist and fine artist.

In an interesting twist she forsees gains for collectors of photography books and advises buying first editions and examples of rare, early books. Explaining that books usually feature the very best of an artist’s work, photography books can deliver enormous joy as well as potential financial dividends.

Matt Carey-Williams, Director of Christies Post-War and Contemporary Art recommended photographs from the 1930s to 1950s – a seminal period in the development of photography as an art form – and which he believes are “massively undervalued”.

Global opportunities in photography

During question time, the panel was asked where they saw opportunities in emerging countries and the following recommendations were made.

  • Visit Sharjah and Biennial and Art Dubai to see interesting work from the Middle East and Iran.
  • Explore Central Asian countries.
  • Korea has huge potential.
  • Female Indian artists are producing some interesting work.

It was agreed that Chinese photography seemed “a little old” though Matt Carey-Williams said that it would look “remarkably fresh again in twenty years”.

Current challenges facing the market

Conservation of photographs– One of the most pressing challenges today is developing guidelines for acceptable conservation work. Colour photographs fade and some artists and galleries will ”refresh” (reprint) the works and some refuse. As museums are beginning to collect contemporary photography on a large scale, panellists felt that it was likely that this issue would be resolved

Is photography a separate genre? – Recognising that artists now work in many media. there are questions about whether it is appropriate or useful to dedicate parts of the market such as galleries or funds exclusively to photography. Matt Carey-Williams explained that as an auctioneer he regards artists as artists first and photographers second. Brett Rogers noted that this trend away from a specialisation in photography is due to a change in the way art schools teach. A consequence of a broadening of focus though is that less attention is given to technique. Image is more important than technique for young photographers today.

(Editor’s note: It is may also be a sign of market maturity – specialist focus marketing and promotion is necessary for an emerging section of the market. Today many if not most contemporary art galleries show photography as a matter of course. Just as photography is integral to and fully-accepted in today’s art world on equal terms with other media we at Art Radar are looking forward to the day Asian art is given equal weight with other geographies in art media and we can drop Asia from our name).

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Posted in Celebrity art, Documentary, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Land art, Market watch, Middle Eastern, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia picked as one to watch – Canvas

Posted by artradar on September 24, 2008


Farhad Ahrarnia

Farhad Ahrarnia

EMERGING ARTIST IRAN
Following his recent exhibition ‘Stitched’ in London, Iranian artist Farhad Ahrarnia is featured by Middle East specialist art magazine Canvas as ‘one to watch’. Born in 1971 in Shiraz, Iran and educated at the Northern Media School Sheffield UK, Ahrarnia divides his time between the two cities and “it is perhaps by being both “here and there” that he is able to reflect on his own identity and look at life as an observer” says Canvas. “For Ahrarnia nothing is quite what it seems and everything merits a closer look”.
Working in a range of media from photography and video to embroidery, Ahrarnia’s choice of technique (craft versus technology) and his subject matter (domestic versus international) are in his own words: “A reflection and testimony to the complexities of contemporary experience rooted in the hybrid, fragmented and diverse Middle Eastern ‘reality’ where tradition and modernity fuse”.
With exhibitions throughout the north of England under his belt, this summer Ahrarnia exhibited his recent work ‘Stitched’ at the Leighton House Museum in London. Featuring images of celebrities and Iranian ex-royalty taken from print and online media, Ahrarnia digitally prints the image onto canvas and then painstakingly embroiders part of the surface with colourful silk threads.
“In doing so” says Canvas “it is the relationship between what lies on the surface and what may lie underneath that piques his interest. Influenced by the ordered and geometric structures of late Mondrian paintings, Iris Murdoch’s novel ‘Under the Net’ and even the philospohical work of Wittgenstein it is the act of pulling thread through fabric that for Ahrarnia pulls hidden meanings from within the images”.
The subjects of his work include US soldiers who have died in Iraq, former empress of Iran Farah Diba Pahlavi and one of Iran’s most legendary women the stage and screen icon Googoosh.
In his brilliant video work ‘Mr Singer’ he responds to the fictional character Seargent Zinger based on a real story of a salesman and spy who sold Singer sewing machines to affluent Iranian families in the 1930s and 1940s meanwhile collecting information on the people and areas he visited.
Related:
If you enjoy reading about emerging artists you can follow Art Radar Asia’s Beam series which takes an in depth look at the art practice, career highlights and auction history of up and coming artists.

Posted in Activist, Celebrity art, Emerging artists, Handicraft art, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Museum shows, New Media, Political, Slow art, Thread, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »