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Archive for the ‘Prison’ Category

Unapologetically political Burmese artist Chaw Ei Thein discusses her country and her art: Asia Art Archive interview

Posted by artradar on June 29, 2010


MYANMAR ART BURMESE ART ASIA ART ARCHIVE ARTIST INTERVIEW

After growing up under Myanmar‘s military junta, Burmese artist Chaw Ei Thein‘s works is unapologetically political. In a recent interview with Asia Art Archive the artist speaks about the connection between her art and the politics in Myanmar as well as her hopes for the future of Burmese art.

Although she received several art awards as a child, Thein did not pursue art as a career until after graduating university with a law degree in 1994.  Thein became interested in performace art in the late 1990’s and began to create her own works with encouragement from more experienced performance artists.

Artists Chaw Ei Thein and Htein Lin at Lin's London exhibition

Artists Chaw Ei Thein and Htein Lin at Lin's London exhibition.

In 2004, Thein took part in the Nippon International Performance Art Festival (NIPAF) which she credits as opening the door for her involvement in the performance art community. During the interview with Asia Art Archive she does not hesitate to humbly thank her mentors for such opportunities.

“I did my very first street performance in Tokyo – and I still thank Seiji Shimoda and Aye Ko for giving me this great opportunity… Seiji Shimoda and NIPAF have played an important role in engaging Asian and international artists, to work together and create more networks. This was how I got the chance to network and make contacts with many Asian and western artists”

From this point, her career as a performance artist took off. She participated in several other major art festivals such as Open in Beijing in 2007. In addition to performance, Thein maintained an interest in several other mediums ranging from painting to installation.

Regardless of the medium she chooses, the political nature of her work remains a constant. At times, Thein even feels limited by her drive to reflect on the current climate in her homeland.

Thein's performance piece at NARS Open Studios event, May 15, 2010

Thein's performance piece at NARS Open Studios event in May 2010.

“Whenever I try to create something, it just appears in my mind as relating to my country’s current situation – my friends who are still in prison, and the people in Burma… I cannot get away from this issue, even today. I don’t know how to change the subject to create something else. That is my own problem, and the conflict within me”

The politcally minded Thein also elaborates on her struggles with automatic self-censorship even when working outside of Myanmar. For those artists who grew up in Myanmar and now have the chance to work abroad, concern for friends and family back home affects the kind of art they create. Fear of retaliation against loved ones living in Myanmar leads Thein to think carefully about what kind of art she she displays in public in any location.

Chaw Ei Thein, MEs, Performance, 2003

Chaw Ei Thein in a 2003 performance piece.

” I am a Burmese artist living under a military junta, I am used to being limited with what I can and cannot create inside Burma… There is a problem now whenever I want to create something: I have controlled myself already, automatically. …These “fears” and “worries” control me even when I am creating art outside of Burma.”

Being faced with the task of connecting the creative and political aspects of her art, Thein has developed ways to show subtle but powerful connections between the two. Though the artist worries that some of these connections may be lost on Western audiences, the conditions in Mayanmar are on her mind daily and show up in her art just as often.

“How can I help do something for the people who cannot speak out about what is happening in my country? I cannot escape these thoughts – that is why all of my paintings and performances are mostly about this.”

It is clear that the artist also has a passion for art education, a field that she feels is underdeveloped in Myanmar, especially in rural areas. In addition to preparing for upcoming shows, including a collaborative show with Htein Lin in November, Thein’s current activities include readying her second children’s’ book on art.

When asked by Asia Art Archive what she would improve in Myanmar’s art scene Thein’s answers reflect her desire to bring art to the people.

“Most people think about having art activities in cities like Rangoon (Yangon). I am more interested in doing it in other regions and places. It could be anywhere…”

Chaw Ei Thein, HeShe I, Acrylic on Paper, 2007

Chaw Ei Thein, 'HeShe I', acrylic on paper, 2007.

Even with all of this, Thein doesn’t take herself too seriously. She is constantly moving from city to city, still unsure of where to settle down and seemingly not too anxious to make this decision. For her, art is not about formality or rules, it is simply about making the art that she wants to create.  Whether people applaud her or not, she continues to create powerful and moving pieces on her own terms.

Read the full article on Asia Art Archive

EH/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian artistsperformance art, political artactivist art

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Posted in Collage, Human Body, Installation, Myanmar/Burmese, Oil, Painting, Performance, Political, Prison, Public art, Sculpture, Social, Southeast Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

5 60s and 70s born contemporary Cambodian artists in documentary show Forever Until Now

Posted by artradar on March 12, 2009


CAMBODIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

This post features introductory profiles of 5 Cambodian contemporary artists born in the 1960s and 1970s in the 14 artist historic group show curated by Cambodia-based curator Erin Gleeson, Forever Until Now which aims to document the development of Cambodian contemporary art.

This group of artists spent their formative years during and after the Pol Pot regime 1975 – 1979, in some cases in exile. This regime killed the majority of educated people and it is estimated that 90% of artists were lost.

Hobbled for years by political repression as a result of the Pol Pot regime, the art scene in Cambodia is only now beginning to flourish and gain attention beyond its borders. Even today there are only 50 or so practising artists in a Kingdom of 14 million people.

Rithy Panh, film maker

Rithy Panh, film maker

  • Rithy PANH (1964) – documentary film director – he has made more than 10 award-winning works which focus on the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime. In 1979 he escaped to France at age 15 having lost his parents and his sister. As a young refugee he wanted to forget the past and reject all ties with Cambodia. Eventually he found that the only way he could rebuild a life was to face what had happened to himself, his family and country. In this show his chilling 2003 documentary S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine reunites Khmer Rouge prison guards with their innocent captives. It stars S-21 survivor Vann Nath who is an artist also exhibiting in the show Forever Until Now.
Sopheap Pich, Duel, bamboo

Sopheap Pich, Duel, bamboo

  • Sopheap PICH (1971) – Sopheap Pich is another of a number of Cambodian immigrant artists who have returned to Cambodia after a period of years abroad and is probably the best known contemporary Cambodian artist outside Cambodia. He has been influential in bringing conceptual art and the practise of art criticism to Cambodia which has no history of art theory or analysis. His family fled Cambodia in 1979 when the Vietnamese army invaded the country and ousted Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. They spent 4 years in refugee camps and when Sopheap Pich was 13 his family emigrated to the US where against their wishes he studied art. In 2002 he returned to Cambodia for a visit and immediately felt he had arrived home. His art concerns itself with the complex economic and social transitions which his country is now undergoing. Originally working in paint, Pich began to feel that his work was not connecting with his people and seeking a new direction began to sculpt using rattan and cigarette packets. When he saw a picture which his girlfriend took of him working with the rattan, his happiness was evident and he realised he had discovered his medium. Many of his rattan sculptures refer to human organs such as lungs and stomachs because Cambodians have a lot of health problems, particularly stomach problems after the poor nutrition resulting from the Pol Pot repression.
Leang Seckon, Three Greens, Acrylic on canvas

Leang Seckon, Three Greens, Acrylic on canvas

  • LEANG Seckon (1974) – collage artist – Known as the Basquiat of Cambodia, he is perhaps the artist who is most well known to local Cambodians having popularized The Rubbish Project his ongoing work with communities around Cambodia to raise awareness about the environment. His most recent project Naga 2008 was a 225 meter serpent made of bamboo and reclaimed clear plastic installed in the Siem Reap River for World Water Day. Leang has four pieces of collage work in this show dealing with political and social change. In Gam Chendal he pieces together images representing periods of Cambodian history including the French Protectorate, Japanese occupation, Independence, the Civil War, the Khmer Rouge Regime, Vietnamese rule, United Nations Transitional Authority and the current constitutional monarchy. Three Greens on the other hand is a light comment on the adjustment of people to new rules: the greens refer to traffic lights which have appeared in Cambodia only in the last two years.
Khavay Samnang, Reminder, Video projection

Khavay Samnang, Reminder, Video projection

  • KHVAY Samnang (1977)  – photography, video – Khvay is a teacher in a rural province who is acutely aware of the information gap about the Khmer Rouge era in the Ministry of Education certified history books.  The youngest generation learns about this time only through the ubiquitous iconic black and white mug shots of prisoners at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison where fourteen thousand people died. While performing the task of photographing nearly 1,000 school children for their diplomas he noted 2 dominant reactions: shyness typical of youth and a more culturally specific repsonse, resistance to being portrayed as a prisoner. His video projection ‘Reminder’ shows shot after shot of identically-dressed school children in a comment on how in an individual photograph, a person can retain his or her identity but if there is more than one image of a person ie a repeated image,  this becomes a reference to and reminder of prison mugshots and Cambodia’s suffering during the Khmer Rouge repression.

denis-vantha-min-kim-duel-1

  • Denis Vantha MIN-KIM (1978) – Min-Kim studied art at various schools in France and in 2001 moved to Phnom Penh where he worked on a large scale in black Chinese ink on canvas for two years. Min-Kim’s new series ‘Duel’ is an exploration of his interest in the fight of the Reamker, a Khmer story based on the Indian Hindu epic Ramayana. By painting multiple fighters and stances in the same ring, he references the ancient art form of Pradal Serey – a unique form of Southeast Asian martial arts characterised by shifting fight stances. At the same time it portrays Min-Kim’s personal experience adjusting to the complexities of modern day Cambodia.

This is the second post in a 3 part series covering the historic documentary show Forever Until Now at Chancery Lane Gallery.

Related categories: political art, collage

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Posted in Cambodian, China, Emerging artists, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Identity art, Overviews, Political, Prison, Profiles, Social, Surveys | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review round up – Saatchi Middle East art show Unveiled – which artists are critic favourites?

Posted by artradar on February 26, 2009


Kader Attia, Ghost, Installation

Kader Attia, Ghost, Installation

 

 

SAATCHI MIDDLE EAST ART SHOW

Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East, Saatchi Gallery, London to 6 May 2009

Advertising mogul and art patron Saatchi is a master at generating extensive high profile media coverage for his shows giving us an uncommon opportunity to synthesise the critics’ views of individual Middle Eastern artists and the show overall.  Here are the highlights:

  • critics were kind: Saatchi is “back on form” in a show which is “impressive” , “extraordinarily good”
  • Tala Madani received rave reviews: “I haven’t come across a young artist this original witty and talented in twenty years”
  • Kader Attia’s installation Ghost was the show stopper artwork for most critics
  • painting section of the show was weaker than works in other media
  • sculpture and installations garnered most critical attention receiving mixed reviews
  • varying views were expressed about the success of the organisers’  claim to overturn the cliched idea that the Middle East is synonymous with violence and intolerance   

Ranking of artists by number of  mentions (positive or neutral unless stated)

  1. Kader Attia – (5) – Independent, Reuters, Telegraph, Standard (thumbs down), Bloomberg
  2. Tala Madani – (5) – Time Out, Independent, Guardian/Observer, Telegraph, Standard
  3. Marwan Rechmaoui – (4) – Time Out, Independent, Guardian/Observer, Standard
  4. Sara Rahbar – (3) – Time Out, Independent, Reuters
  5. Rokni Haerizadeh – (3) – Reuters, LA Times, Standard
  6. Ramin Haerizadeh – (3) – Guardian/Observer, LA Times, Telegraph
  7. Wafa Hourani – (3) – Time Out, LA Times, Standard
  8. Ahmed Alsoudani – (3) – Time Out, Standard, Independent
  9. Halim al-Karim – (3) Reuters, Telegraph, Standard (thumbs down)
  10. Shirin Fakhim’s – (3) Reuters, Telegraph, Bloomberg
  11. Diana Al-Hadid – (2) Time Out, Telegraph
  12. Shadi Ghadirian – (1) Bloomberg
  13. Hayv Kahraman – (1) Independent

 

‘Unveiled: New Art From the Middle East’ at London’s Saatchi Gallery – LA Times – Henry Chu – Feb 11 2009

The usual Middle East-related topics of religion and war are not to be seen in this exhibition which is instead dominated by themes of sexuality, gender and religion says Chu. His story focuses on the struggles of the artists with censorship and the threat of officialbacklash. Despite this a thriving art scene is developing in some cities and – surprisingly – Tehran now has over 100 commercial galleries. Artists mentioned include the Haerizadeh brothers Rokni and Ramin (Men of Allah) and Palestinian Wafa Hourani’s whose  Qalandia 2067 is a ‘striking’ small-scale model of a refugee camp half a century in the future.

Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East at the Saatchi Gallery Telegraph– Richard Dorment – Feb 4 2009

Dorment pooh-poohs the ‘sunny’ assertion by Lisa Farjam in the exhibition catalogue that it is a cliche to associate the Middle East with political oppression, religious intolerance and terrorism. He ‘profoundly disagrees’ saying this show is replete with references to bombs, religious police and the denigration of women. The most ‘remarkable’ artists are Kader Attia, Halim Al-Karim (Hidden War)  and Diana Al-Hadid (Tower of Infinite Problems) because their work transcends the political. However Dorment finds himself most interested in some of the other artists. Ramin Haerizadeh’s strutting pouting Men of Allahis not the strongest work he says but one of the bravest and suggests the psychosexual motivation of fundamentalism. He mentions work by Shirin Fakhim and refers to Tala Madani (Tower Reflections) ” I haven’t come across a young artist this original witty or talented in 20 years”. Despite the weakness of the painted works, overall the show is much stronger for being ‘less slick and commercial’ than its predecessor, a show of Chinese art.

Unveiled: New Art From The Middle East – Time Out– Ossian Ward – Feb 3 2009

Saatchi has no truck with the high-minded concerns of the academics and curators which is a good thing says Ossian Ward. It means he does not try to provide an explanation  for his unapologetic grouping of artists who come from lands which are bewildering in their diversity. 

“The sculptural works shine but the paintings disappoint” as does some of the works which border on “gross-out territory” reminiscent of YBA (Young British Artists). Artists discussed include Marwan Rechmaoui (Spectre), Diana Al-Hadid, Wafa Hourani, Ahmed Alsoudani and Tala Madani. 

Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East, Saatchi Gallery, LondonIndependent– Charles Darwent – Feb 1 2009

An ‘impressive’ and ‘extraordinarily good’ show says Darwent in which the united and divided cultures of the West and Middle East are laid bare. Rich with historical and art references, Darwent gives thoughtful reviews of works by Sara Rahbar, Hayv Kahraman, Ahmed Alsoudani, Tala Madani, Kader Attia, and Marwan Rechamoui. Sara Rahbar’s work  Flag #19 is singled out.

Noting the interplay of West and Middle East evident across the works, Darwent comments that thartists are Middle Eastern but ‘not quite’  and in fact only 11 of the 19 – and only 2 of the 7 women – artists now live  in the region.

The veil is lifted on hidden talent Guardian/Observer – Laura Cumming – Feb 1 2009

At its best says Cumming this ‘candid collection from the Islamic world is inventive and truly fearless’ though some of the work is a ‘shambolic hybrid of eastern content and western style’ which ‘plays hard to the international art fair and biennale market’. But no matter there are some independent minds: among them are Ramin Haerizadeh- whose satirical sexually-charged photo works are ‘gleefully savage’ – Marwan Rechmanoui and the ‘prodigiously gifted’ and ‘original’  Tala Madani (Holy Light, Elastic Pink). Overall says Cummings it is amazing how far into politics this art goes and points out that the publicity shot of TalaMadini has been treated to conceal her identity despite making her home in Amsterdam.

 Subversive Beauty in UnveiledStandard (This is London) – Ben Lewis – Jan 30 2009

London’s great art entrepreneur is back on form says Lewis and the works by artists from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq are “thrillingly topical and often brilliantly executed”. There is an excitement in seeing politics through the language of contemporary art rather than the familiar TV images. Highlights are paintings by 3 artists Ahmed Alsoudani, Rokni Haerizadeh and Tala Madani. Marwan Richmaoui and Wafa Hourani are mentioned. Kader Attia is slammed for being “excessively shiny and large” and Halim Al-Karim is also given a thumbs down.

Saatchi show unveils vibrant Middle East art sceneReuters– Mike Collett-White – Jan 29 2009

This provocative show will test the tolerance of some says Collett-White in a rare opinion at the beginning of this facts-dominated piece covering the inspiration for the show. The recent unrecognised flourishing of artistic communities in Tehran and Beirut is the rationale for the show explains Rebecca Wilson head of development for Saatchi. Apart from French-Algerian Kader Attia and his ‘striking’ piece (Ghost), other artists mentioned include Rokni Haerizadeh (Typical Iranian Wedding, Beach at the Caspian), Halim al-Karim (Hidden Prisoner 1993), Shirin Fakhim’s work about prostitutes incorporating kitchen utensils and Sara Rahbar.

 Saatchi shows veiled women made of foil, Iran sex-worker dollsBloomberg– Martin Gayford – Jan 29 2009

Full of “brash, sometimes shocking Saatchi-type art” this is clearly a display of one man’s tastes and there is nothing wrong with that says Martin Gayford. Saatchi has a propensity for figurative art “though frankly none of it is that exciting” but it is the sculptures and installations that grab attention and Kadia Attia’s Ghost is a show-stopper. Other artists address women’s issues too and Gayford highlights Shirin Fakhim (Tehran Prositutes) and Shadi Ghadirian’s photographs (Like Everyday Series).

Related links: Saatchi website

Related categories: Middle Eastern art, Iranian art, gender in art, political art, reports from London

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Posted in Collectors, Feminist art, Identity art, Iranian, Iraqi, Islamic art, Lebanese, London, Middle Eastern, Painting, Palestinian, Photography, Political, Prison, Religious art, Reviews, Saatchi, Sculpture, Shadi Ghadirian, Social, Syrian, UK, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sothebys inaugural sale of contemporary Turkish art – video – 5 artists talk

Posted by artradar on February 24, 2009


TURKISH ART AUCTION

Sotheby’s is holding its inaugural sale of Turkish art on 4 March 2009 in London. Check out the art and see 5 Turkish contemporary artists talking about their paintings, photographs and sculptures in the sale.

Themes of war, imprisonment, fighting and human sacrifice run through the works. Power and powerlessness are expressed in both social commentary works referencing feminism and the more political works such as Nasif Topcuoglu’s  Abu Ghraib-inspired photograph Lamentations .

Click here for Turkish contemporary art video

Featured artists:

  • Taner Ceylan discusses his work Spiritual 2008, a photo-realistic painting of blood-dribbling fighter in motion.
Taner Ceylan, Spiritual, paint

Taner Ceylan, Spiritual, paint

  • Female artist Hale Tenger talks about Invainers of the Lost Arc II 1992, a brass installation of male figures spiralling down into a void expressing her fiery feminism at that time. In Balloon Loan II 2008 the topic of depression is depicted in a photograph in which the only coloured objects are a row of balloons floating on the sea soon to be shot with a gun.
Nasif Topcuoglu, Lamentations, photograph

Nasif Topcuoglu, Lamentations, photograph

  • Nasif Topcuoglu is a photographer who reconstructs Baroque paintings with contemporary youths replacing the original figures. His works are sexually-charged and his interest in the sacrifice of youth as a continuing phenomenon  is evident in both Sacrifice: The Story of Isaac 2008 and in the more political work Lamentations 2007 which references Abu Ghraib.
  • Other artists include ‘bright young thing’ Leyla Gediz and another female artist Canaan Senol whose work The Transparent Police Station 2008 shows nude and uniformed figures trapped in a plexiglass brick wall. Ansen Atilla‘s ‘inspired’ photograph The Devil May Load 2008 captures a violent scene of a gun-toting figure constructed with household and everyday objects.

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Posted in Auctions, Classic/Contemporary, London, Market watch, Painting, Photography, Political, Prison, Sculpture, Turkish, UK, Videos, War, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »