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How is Chinese ink painting explored in contemporary art? RedBox Review in discussion with Liang Quan

Posted by artradar on October 7, 2010


CHINESE INK CHINESE ARTISTS ARTIST INTERVIEWS

In a conversation with Chinese-based art blog RedBox Review the artist Liang Quan (b. 1948), living and working in Shenzhen, China, explains how ink painting is used in contemporary art and how this exploration continues to follow the philosophy of traditional Chinese painting.

Liang Quan is considered as one of the pioneers of contemporary ink painting.

“Ink painting”, also known as “wash painting”, was developed in China during the Tang Dynasty. Ink painting or shui-mo hua in Chinese (水墨畫) is composed of water,  shui and Chinese ink, mo. In Western art, using similar techniques, it is known as drawings.

 

Liang Quan, "Tea Stain No3", 2008, ink and paper, 63.8x48cm

Liang Quan, 'Tea Stain No. 3', 2008, ink and paper, 63.8x48 cm.

 

In this conversation Liang Quan highlights to RedBox the difference between ink painting and ink art:

The exploration of using ink and referring to the tradition of Chinese painting is part of a greater narrative to define a cultural identity.

American contemporary artists like Brice Marden and Cy Twombly inspired Liang Quan while he was living and working abroad. On top of using ink painting and water, Liang incorporates paper into his works.

Liang’s ink painting seems abstract but in reality he follows the philosophy of this art. He aims to capture the soul of the subject rather that trying to reproduce the exact appearance of it. As he relates to RedBox,

My use of collage, combining strips of ink and/or tea stained paper, may seem abstract to the unknowing eye, and without direct correlation to a depiction of reality. But my works, collages, are actually diagrams of traditional Chinese landscape paintings and the Chinese still life painting genre of birds and flowers.

 

Interesting difference between ink painting in West and East: perspective

Having explored ink painting in Western art, Liang Quan observed a major difference between it and Chinese landscape painting: multiple points of perspective are used where Western painting uses only one or two.  As he relates to RedBox,

To view a Chinese painting, one’s eye usually follows the flow of water from the bottom of the mountains as it meanders farther into the hills and up the composition of the painting.

Following this philosophy and adding paper strips and color makes Liang’s painting abstract.

After exploring the multiple points of perspective in Chinese landscape painting, Liang Quan combined this concept with the ideals of Nan Pai, also known as Southern School. As said in the RedBox article,

By addressing the theme of Chinese tradition, he is distinguished from his contemporaries choosing to use painting as a depiction of or social response to modern society.

SB/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Chinese artists, definitions, ink

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New project on Chinoiserie and contemporary art to launch at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum

Posted by artradar on October 7, 2010


CHINESE CONTEMPORARY ART CHINOISERIE CONFERENCE

Originating in the 17th century to describe the Western fascination with Chinese art and design, the phenomenon of Chinoiserie will be the focus of a new three year project SINOPTICON: Contemporary Chinoiserie in Contemporary Art which opens with a symposium at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in early October this year.

 

Genuine American Chop Suey Served With Some Hokey-Pokey!, Paper, 33 x 33 cm, Karen Tam, Source: SINOPTICON

Karen Tam, 'Genuine American Chop Suey Served With Some Hokey-Pokey!', 2006, paper, 33 x 33 cm. Image courtesy of SINOPTICON.

 

Project founders Eliza Gluckman and Gayle Chong Kwan will chair sessions, including a keynote speech by Beijing-based curator and writer Philip Tinari, alongside sessions featuring Ben Schmidt (University of Washington), Ying Kwok (Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK), Glenn Adamson (V&A), Sarah Teasley (Royal College of Art, London) and artists Wu Chi-TsungEd Pien and Erika Tan. Each will set out the key themes of the project, identified as: politics and trade, authorship, interpretation and cultural misunderstanding, fantasy, escapism, fiction and design.

In the words of SINOPTICON, the project aims “to use the metaphor of Chinoiserie to expand the discourse of artistic exchange between the two sides of the globe”. As well as the symposium, Philip Tinari will write a series of critical articles for the SINOPTICON website. Major new works are to be commissioned, including a collaborative pavillion featuring Gayle Chong Kwan and Stephanie Douet in late 2010. Art residencies and a touring exhibition can also be expected as the project unfolds.

 

SINOPTICON is part-funded by Arts Council England and supported by the National Trust’s ‘Trust New Art’ programme. Places for the symposium are now fully booked but those interested can still contact Eliza Gluckman via the SINOPTICON website to receive updates on future events.

 

 

Shot Through: Journey of Connections, 2008, DVD still, Erika Tan, Source: SINOPTICON

Erika Tan, 'Shot Through: Journey of Connections', 2008, DVD still. Image courtesy of SINOPTICON.

 

HG/KN/KCE

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Rubin Museum breaks tradition to show the first Tibetan art show in New York – New York Times

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2010


TIBETAN CONTEMPORARY ART NEW YORK MUSEUM SHOWS

Until October 18, Rubin Museum, usually New York’s home for traditional art of the Himalayas, will run the first Tibetan contemporary art show in the city. Titled “Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond“, this exhibition showcases the works of nine Tibetan artists born within the period 1953 to 1982. In a review published by The New York Times, critic Ken Johnson comments on each of the artists’ works.

Kesang Lamdark from Zurich presents Johnson’s most highly recommended works. On display is a sculpture made of perforated beer cans. As one peers through the drinking hole they can see a “glowing, dotted-line image of a Tibetan deity.” He also presents O Mandala Tantric, a pin-pricked black disk of four-foot diameter.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The holes on 'O Mandala Tantric' by Kesang Lamdark are back-lighted, such that they create a complex mandala pattern composed of images of skulls and animals, erotic Buddhist art imageries and modern pornography. The work touches upon themes of “debasement of sex in the modern commerce” and the East-West divide over views on eroticism.

The collages presented by Gonkar Gyatso from London are “graphically appealing,” but Johnson notes they would be more impressive if they advanced “the genre of Pop collage or ideas about spirituality and business.” One of the works on display is called Tibetan Idol 15.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

'Tibetan Idol 15' by Gonkar Gystso is a collage of “hundreds of little stickers imprinted with familiar logos, cartoon characters and other signs of corporate empire” which form the “atomised silhouettes of the Buddha”.

The computer-generated prints by Losang Gyatso from Washington are, according to Johnson, “technically impressive” and “optically vivid”, but should attempt to draw a clearer relationship between “Buddha-mindedness” and “digital consciousness.” Clear Light Tara is one such work.

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Large and colorful, 'Clear Light Tara' by Losang Gyatso is a computer-generated print which features “abstracted traditional motifs.”

Ken Johnson comments on the paintings like Water 1 by Pema Rinzin from New York, stating that they are “uncomfortably close to hotel lobby decoration.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”

'Water 1' by Pema Rinzin is a painting of “curvy, variously patterned shapes gathered into Cubist clusters.”


Penba Wangdu from Tibet presents Links of Origination while Tenzin Norbu from Nepal presents Liberation. Both painters have the greatest “potential for narrative and symbolic elaboration,” but their works are “disappointingly decorous”, says Johnson.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Tenzin Norbu's 'Liberation' is made with stone ground pigments on cloth.

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Penba Wangdu’s 'Links of Origination' outlines a sleeping woman whose body contains a “dreamy, pastoral landscape where little people make love, give birth, drink beer and paddle a boat on a peaceful lake.”

Tsherin Sherpa from Oakland, California, presents a large watercolor painting which features, as Johnson describes, an “angry blue giant with a vulture perched on his shoulder and flames roiling behind him.” Another of the artist’s major works, Untitled, features on the official website of the exhibition.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tsherin Sherpa's 'Untitled'.

Tenzing Rigdol from New York presents a large watercolor painting named Updating Yamantaka.

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

'Updating Yamantaka' by Tenzing Rigdol is composed of “crisscrossing bands” which are “layered over colorfully traditional imagery of deities and ornamentation.”

Dedron from Tibet is the only female artist in the show. We are Nearest to the Sun is painted to resemble to a “modern children’s book version of folk art.” It is a painting of a village “populated by little bug-eyed characters,” projecting the theme of “nostalgia for preindustrial times.”

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

'We are nearest to the Sun' by Dedron, the only female artist represented in "Tradition Transformed: Tibetan artists Respond".

Johnson sums up by stating that it is paradoxical that the “freedoms granted by modern art and culture” do not generate much imagination in the show’s artists, who still cling onto that classic Tibetan style of art that has existed “hundreds of years prior to the 20th century.” He conveys a hope that in future Rubin shows he will discover some Tibetan artists with “adventurous minds.”

CBKM/KN/HH

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Writer Steven Pettifor talks about the old and the new in Thai contemporary art – Art Radar interview

Posted by artradar on August 10, 2010


Steven Pettifor, author of 'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art'.

Steven Pettifor, author of 'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art'.

THAI ART BOOK WRITER INTERVIEW

Thailand has long had a small but very vibrant contemporary art scene. Compared with its recently-flourishing neighbours, however, contemporary Thai art hasn’t been getting much attention. Little has been written about it. Back in 2003, Bangkok based Briton Steven Pettifor decided to address this problem with his book Flavours – Thai Contemporary Art.

Flavours was listed on a reading list for newcomers interested in Southeast Asian art, as reported in an earlier Art Radar post. With 23 profiles of artists of different mediums (painting, sculpture, textile, costume, installa­tion, ceramics and photography), the author hoped to provide exposure of Thai artists outside their home country, and to give readers “a ‘taste’ of Thailand’s burgeoning contemporary visual arts.”

It’s now been seven years since the book was first published and much of Thailand’s contemporary art scene has changed. Art Radar Asia caught up with Steven Pettifor to find out more about his book, and to see what he thinks of the country’s current art movement.

Most importantly, this interview has revealed that there is now more non-Thai Asian art able to be viewed in Thailand. Local art galleries are teaming up with other Asian galleries to bring non-Thai Asian art into Thailand and foreign artists are now viewing Thailand as a place to set up professionally. He also identifies a number of important emerging Thai artists and names some of the top collectors of Thai contemporary art.

What prompted you to write Flavours?

I’d been writing about Thai art for about seven or eight years. I was starting to build up quite a body of artists that I’ve written about and covered. There was only one other book on Thai art written in English up until that point, and that was Modern Art in Thailand by Dr. Apinan Poshyananda. His book went up to 1992 and then after that it was nothing, and 1992 was the year I arrived in Thailand, so I felt like filling in the gap from that period onwards. That was my intention.

I was floating the idea for about a year or two before I actually found someone  who wanted to collaborate and publish it, and Thavibu Gallery said yeah okay, we’ll be interested in doing it, we might be able to find someone to back it financially, which they did. They found Liam Ayudhkij, who is the owner of Liam’s Gallery in Pattaya. He’s been collecting art here for thirty, forty years. So Liam kindly backed it. That’s how the book came about.

'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art', published by Thavibu Gallery.

'Flavours - Thai Contemporary Art', published by Thavibu Gallery.

What were the main issues and challenges for you when writing and researching Flavours?

I wanted the book to broaden the message about Thai art. I didn’t want to keep the book an academic book, purely for an already art-affiliated readership. I wanted to move beyond that and try and get more general public interest in Thai art. So one point was to keep it accessible in terms of language and to try and cover as broad a scope as possible within a coffee-table sort of format. That was one challenge.

Another was to try and cover as many different mediums as possible, so it was finding sculptures, paintings, installations, photography… I tried to cover as many mediums as possible, and that wasn’t easy, given that some of the less popular mediums… it was hard to find good quality artists working in that field.

Tell us more about your selection of artists in Flavours.

Medium was one big consideration. Also, their career point. I tried to get as many young artists or emerging artists or mid-career artists, so that the book would have relevance ten years on. It’s six years old now and most of the artists are still in their mid-careers. I didn’t want to pick artists that were in their twilight years or have passed away. People ask me why didn’t I include Montien Boonma, who’s considered the father of installation art here. I included him in the overview essay, but because he has passed away, I didn’t want to profile him, because there wasn’t so much currency. His career is not still being carried on, basically.

How did your interest in art, and in Thai art, evolve?

As early I could remember, I could draw and paint. Not self-taught as such, but it was there from an early age. I don’t come from an artistic family at all, so it was never really nurtured as such. But when I reached high school, I then got pushed toward art, just because they saw my natural talent or whatever. So the interest in art has always been there, but I’d say from high school onwards it was developed by teachers.

…It’s not so much as a passion for Thai art. The main art that was in view in Thailand was Thai art, and you just got into it. I got to meet a lot of the artists quite quickly and I found it quite interesting to be thrown in on that level. Back in 1997, there weren’t so many foreigners involved in the art scene and everyone was quite accommodating, inviting you to their studios and things like that. So it was interesting. You got to feel involved.

What makes Thai art different from other Asian art?

Buddhism is quite predominant here. Sometimes that can be good, sometimes that can kind of almost saturate the art that is produced here. If you look at Burmese art or what’s coming out of places like Laos, you’ll see a lot of Buddhist imagery as well. Places like Indonesia and Vietnam… the art being produced in those places is not so religious-focussed. Religion would be one aspect that defines a lot of the art that is made here. Not necessarily the art that is hitting international levels. They tend to deal with work that is more universal, or themes that would fit more into the international art interest. But across the board, a lot of them deal with Buddhist subject matter.

Santi Thongsuk, 'I'm Glad I'm Dead Year', 2000, oil on canvas.

Santi Thongsuk, 'I'm Glad I'm Dead Year', 2000, oil on canvas.

Another thing would be the craftsmanship. I do see it elsewhere in Asia, so it’s not necessarily different but there are different kinds of crafts that are brought into Thai art. Chusak Srikwan uses shadow puppetry, but he does things like modern politicians and symbols of corruption. Montri Toemsombat has used silk weaving and silk crafting in the past. There’s this attention to craft. A lot of technical training goes on here, so they get very good grounding in the technical aspects of art training, so that comes through very strongly as well.

Chusak Srikwan, 'Birth-Age-Ailment-Death', 2009-10, leather carving.

Chusak Srikwan, 'Birth-Age-Ailment-Death', 2009-10, leather carving.

Tell us about the artist training system in Thailand.

It’s pretty much similar to anywhere else. It’s art school, mainly. It’s an emerging thing. Art school is expanding constantly and courses are expanding constantly here, but it’s still largely focused in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, with a couple of provincial centers in the north-east and in the south. A lot of young wannabe artists, when they graduate here, will go through assisting a senior artist in a studio for a couple of years. Again, that’s comparable to anywhere else as well. But I find it quite good that artists get a lot of hands on training through working with the artists when they graduate.

Is the Thai art scene receiving greater external interest, as compared with before?

It was anticipated here around the early 2000s on that there would be a lot more interest on the back of the increased focus towards Asia, with China and India doing very well. Vietnamese art in the mid to late 90s kind of opened up a lot. And it was always expected that there would be more people coming in for Thai art, and for a while there was. There’s a lot more Thai artists now included in biennales and triennales and international thematic shows, but I would say that is comparable to just part of this larger focus on finding art in Asia. I would also say in the last couple of years it has slowed down a lot. Since the coup in 2006, and the financial recession in late 2008, the commercial aspect of art has slowed down quite a bit. But I don’t think it’s just here, I’d say it’s everywhere.

Do Thai artists see international acceptance as one of the criteria for success? How does that compare with domestic recognition?

There are artists here that are quite content to work on the domestic level, but they have to work within a fairly narrow framework in order to succeed there. And then there are those who desire and need the international exposure in order to continue making art of that kind of calibre.

You mentioned in Flavours about a gap between the public and the local art scene, citing insufficient education and exposure as a major problem. Has the situation improved?

Things like education are not going to improve overnight. There are more universities and higher education establishments offering art related courses. But for your average state sponsored school, like high school, there’s still going to be a very limited art practice beyond basic drawing techniques and painting.

But in terms of accessibility, they are trying to change things. They’ve opened the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) here in the last two years, which is a major art center in the heart of downtown. It was always the intention to put it in a very commercial area so that it would be on the consumers’ door step. So they’re hoping to draw in the public to look at art and find out what art is. And there’s another plan to build a national art center in Bangkok. But that’s all very Bangkok-focused.

…one way the void is being filled in the provinces is that some of the artists that have either come from different provinces or have gone there to settle or to set up a studio have built artist-gallery-public places – places to promote their own work, but also places to give something back to the community. Up in Chiang Rai, Thawan Duchanee is a good example of an artist that has made his work open to the public.

Montien Boonma, 'Drawing of the Mind Training and the Bowls of the Mind', 1992, held in the collection of Chongrux Chantaworasut.

Montien Boonma, 'Drawing of the Mind Training and the Bowls of the Mind', 1992, held in the collection of Chongrux Chantaworasut.

How has the local art scene changed since you published Flavours?

There are a lot of commercial galleries that have opened up in the last  five to ten years, but a lot of them have a less than five-year shelf-life. A lot of galleries are still set up here by people who have an interest in art, but I wouldn’t say that they are specifically trained in how to operate a gallery on a professional level. A lot of them have opened galleries because it’s their passion, but managing it on a professional level doesn’t always work out the way they expect. It’s still tough to make a profit here as a commercial gallery. There’s been a few more non-profit spaces opening as well, but they’re even harder to manage and sustain with no profits coming in and it’s hard to find sponsorship to back spaces like that.

One thing that I think is important to push is that there’s been more diversity of art that’s been on view in the last five years or so. When I first started looking at art thirteen years ago here, it was very Thai. Most of the galleries were showing Thai. Any foreign or overseas art would predominantly be at university spaces and would be by visiting lecturers or hookups with overseas institutions. But now, in commercial spaces, more regional art is certainly being seen. Thavibu Gallery bring in Vietnamese and Burmese art. Gallery SoulFlower, which just closed last year, brought in Indian art on a regular basis. Tang have a gallery in Bangkok, and they bring in a lot of good quality, high-profile Chinese art. And there’s a couple of galleries that bring in Japanese artists, and you’ll see Indonesian art here every now and then. So there’s been more exposure to regional and international art.

Another development is there’s been more foreign artists coming and spending time here, trying to work out of here. Some just setting up their own studios and still working with their galleries overseas… others coming here to make a goal out of it, trying to get involved with the Thai art scene. If I look at foreign artists based here thirteen years ago, it was more of people using art as hobby rather than a serious pursuit. But now I would say that there’s a lot more foreign artists here that are serious about art making and trying to make a career out of their art here as well.

What is the biggest problem facing the Thai art market at the moment?

There are probably only around fifty viewing spaces in Bangkok that attempt a regular or an occasional exhibition schedule, but not of huge amount of that translate into sales. I would say only a dozen or so galleries here manage themselves towards a sustainable and professional gallery that also tries to promote its artists beyond Thailand.

Can you name some interesting galleries and non-profit spaces for our readers to explore?

It’s a bit of a self promoting thing, but I initiated the Bangkok Art Map, which is a useful tool for people arriving in the city wanting to see art, or people living in the city wanting to see what’s happening on a monthly basis. It’s a map of the city’s galleries with the regular exhibition calendar plus highlights of what’s on, and a spotlight focus every month.

…obviously I have to say Thavibu Gallery, because they published my book, and I’m working with them this year on a curatorial project for the course of a year called “3D@Thavibu“. That is my conscious effort with the gallery to promote small-scale sculpture in Thailand towards more collecting base and to push emerging sculptors here that don’t get seen in so many galleries here.

There’s H Gallery, another professionally-run gallery. It’s run by an American, H. Ernest Lee, and it’s in a beautiful colonial-style building. One of the best galleries running in terms of putting their artists into biennales and working with some of the major Asian and Thai artists is 100 Tonson Gallery. Ardel Gallery is run by a Thai artist called Thavorn Ko-udomvit, who curated the Thai Pavilion for Venice last year. DOB Hualamphong brings in artists that are not necessarily commercially minded. Numthong Gallery has been a gallery that’s done very well over the years. [Mr. Numthong Sae-tang] runs a fairly small space out of a co-op building, but he attracts some of the big name Thai artists to work with him, because he tries to help them out and he’s a very good supporter of the artists when they come on board. Obviously the BACC is a place worthy of visiting.

Which artists have been doing interesting things recently in your opinion?

There are quite a few artists. The big names are already on the radar. People like Navin Rawanchaikul, Chatchai Puipia, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Sakarin Krue-on… these are all very good established artists.

Maitree Siriboon, ''Isarn Boy Dream" series, 2008, photography.

Maitree Siriboon, ''Isarn Boy Dream" series, 2008, photography.

On the younger front, I like Maitree Siriboon. He is an artist I think is worth watching. He’s been using photography to photograph himself to examine his identity as an openly gay guy from Isarn. He deals with the rural to urban migration, exploring on a sensory level what it means for him as an artist and as an openly-gay person to move from the provinces to Bangkok. Yuree Kensaku, a Thai-Japanese artist; I like her brand of painting. She’s also doing some sculptural work. I like Yuree’s work a lot. There’s Tawan Wattuya. He does watercolours, very loose watercolour paintings, all about conformity and uniformity in Thai society. He’s done a lot of paintings of groups of Thais in uniforms. There’s a strong sexual element to a lot of his works as well. Also Sudsiri Pui-Ock in Chiang Mai.

Yuree Kensaku, 'The Killer from electricity authority', 2009.

Yuree Kensaku, 'The Killer from electricity authority', 2009.

Are there any major collectors of Thai art?

There’s Narong Intanate. He has been collecting more conventional Thai art – modern Thai artists but not necessarily contemporary. But he’s recently started to branch out into contemporary. Disaphol Chansiri has a really interesting collection of Thai and international contemporary art. His collection is open by appointment, he’s housing it in an apartment space that he’s opened up as an art-viewing space on Sukhumvit Road. His collection is very contemporary, probably the most contemporary I’ve seen in terms of the artists he’s collecting. Jean Michel Beurdeley is a French collector who has lived here for decades. He has a collection that he opens up in quite a nice traditional Thai house where he lives. Again, viewable by appointment only. One more worth mentioning is Petch Osathanugrah. He’s collected contemporary domestic art. I don’t think his collection is housed in any permanent space at the moment. For awhile he was going to open a private museum, but I don’t think that has materialised.

Are there any books or websites you would recommend for learning more about Thai contemporary art?

I would say our website, the Bangkok Art Map, would be a site to mention. The Rama IX Foundation is very well supported. Until recently, they’ve focused more on senior conventional artists. I think there’s more diversity to their website, but there’s a lot of contemporary artists not on there. But it’s a good website. Several of the gallery websites have good listing info.

As I said before, there are only two books out there, Modern Art in Thailand and Flavours. They’re the only two English-language books that have been written on Thai art in the last fifteen years.

About Steven Pettifor

Born in 1968 in London, Steven Pettifor graduated with degrees in fine arts from both the Wimbledon School of Art and Liverpool Polytechnic. The writer-artist-curator has been living in Thailand since 1992, immersing himself in the local contemporary art scene. He is currently the Thailand Editor for Asian Art News and World Sculpture News.

VL/KN

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Indian art market hits peak 2008 figures – modern art favoured

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


ART MARKET INDIAN ART MODERN ART AUCTIONS

For some time now, the Indian art market has been reviving after the post-2008 buying slump. New Delhi-based journalist John Elliott, who runs the current affairs blog Riding the Elephant, reports in a recent post that now it may well be on the first step towards similar pre-2008 peak figures. However, the artists raking in money this time around are not contemporary but modern Indian artists.

In June this year, Sotheby’s raised USD7.9m in a mostly Indian art sales. In the same month, Saffronart sold art worth USD6.7m, and together with a Christie’s two day sale of USD18.1m, Indian art sales for the month of June totaled a substantial USD32.7m.

Rabindranath Tagore. Portrait of a woman.

Rabindranath Tagore's 'Portrait of a Woman' sold for over USD461,000 at Sotheby's.

Elliott reports that ArtTactic, a London based art market analysis firm believes that average auction prices and volumes for modern Indian art are now back to levels seen at the market’s peak in June 2008. Anders Peterson, who runs the firm, adds that,

The return in the confidence for the Indian art market is at the high end of the market.

A significant change from the trends of 2008 is the consistent sales of established veteran artists of Indian modern art rather than contemporary artists. However, given the overall push in the performance of the market, contemporary sales have also picked up. ArtTactic reports that previously popular contemporary artists such as Subodh Gupta and Jitish Kallat are still lagging far below 2007-2008 prices.

Saffronart founder and owner Dinesh Vazirani agrees with ArtTactic’s line on modern art. He says,

Auction prices are reasonably close to their 2008 peak. Serious collectors are there and this is backed with confidence in the Indian economy and with people investing as a hedge against inflation.

But how much do these results tell us about trends in buying Indian art? Anders Peterson from ArtTactic believes that,

Auctions are now a filtered version of the reality in the art market. Lots that are likely to sell are works of high quality, rarity and outstanding provenance. Works that do not demonstrate these qualities are still selling at lower prices or not at all. Therefore the return in confidence is at the high end of the market.

SH Raza. Rajasthan.

SH Raza's 'Rajasthan'.

The highlight of the Sotheby‘s sale were the works of Indian modernist painter, poet, philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, while Saffronart relied on modern art veterans like S.H. Raza, who was part of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and now lives in Paris. His wife, Janine Mongillat, died in April 2002.

AM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Indian art, Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, market watch- auctions

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, Indian, London, Market watch, Painting, Progressive Artists' Group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Wu Guanzhong, influential and non-conformist Chinese painter, dies at 91

Posted by artradar on July 14, 2010


CHINESE PAINTING MODERN CHINESE ART

Modern Chinese master painter Wu Guanzhong passed away in late June this year, aged 91. Wu became known for using traditional Chinese ink brush techniques to produce an aesthetic that is distinctly influenced by western art, in both ink and oil mediums. In his last years, Wu donated many of his works to public museums.

Wu Guanzhong, 'The Call of the Gods', 2009, oil on canvas.

Wu Guanzhong, 'The Call of the Gods', 2009, oil on canvas.

According to The New York Times, Wu gave 113 works to the Singapore Art Museum in a donation valued at 73.7 million Singapore dollars, about $53 million in 2008. He also donated dozens of paintings to the Hong Kong Museum of Art, adding to a collection of previous gifts. Just before his death, he donated five more of his works to this museum.

The Guardian headlined that Wu “emerged from a cultural straitjacket as a modern master”. The article went on to state,

In the summer of 1950, soon after Mao Zedong had proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic, Wu Guanzhong, happily studying painting in Paris, made the fateful decision to return to China. Appointed to teach in the Central Academy of Art in Beijing, his head full of Cézanne and Van Gogh, he soon found that he was forbidden to mention those names, and felt unable to face his radical students until he could talk about socialist realism in the Soviet Union, and its foreshadowing in the art of Ilya Repin. This was the beginning of almost three decades of harassment and victimization that, for him and countless others, ended only after the death of Mao in 1976.

About Wu Guanzhong

Wu Guanzhong

Wu Guanzhong

Wu Guanzhong was born in 1919 into a peasant farm family in a village near Yixing, in east China’s Jiangsu province. In his teens, he was studying to become an electrical engineer, but Wu changed his path after attending an art exhibition at the National Arts Academy of Hangzhou. He decided to transfer to this institution to study and it was here that his talent started to blossom.

After studying both Chinese and Western painting under Lin Fengmian and Pan Tianshou, Wu graduated from the National Arts Academy of Hangzhou in 1942. After teaching art in the architecture department of National Chongqing University, he won a scholarship to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He left China in in 1947. Here, Wu studied under Professor Jean Souverbie, whom according to Wu had affected him deeply. But by 1950, he began to feel cut off from his roots and decided then to go back to China.

The three-year study in France enabled Wu to capture the essence of modern art in the West. Growing up in withinChinese culture, he also had a deep understanding of Chinese painting style. After his return to China, Wu taught at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing and other institutions. He introduced Western art to his students, but the Academy was dominated by Soviet social realism and he was branded as a fortress of bourgeois formalism.” Refusing to conform to political dogma, he was transferred from one academy to another, painting in his own style.

During the Cultural Revolution in August 1966, he was forbidden to teach, write or paint. Eventually he was sent to the country to work as a farm labourer. It was only after two years that he was permitted to paint again.

Gradually, things got better. In 1973 Wu was one of the leading artists brought back from the countryside, an initiative of Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China. He was painting again, travelling around China and writing articles. His rehabilitation was marked by an exhibition of his work in 1978 at the Central Academy. From that moment, he never looked back. Major exhibitions of his work were held in the British Museum in 1988, in the US in 1988-89, in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, and today he is recognised around the world as one of the masters of modern Chinese painting.

Mr. Wu had an impact on the way the Western art world viewed Chinese painting. In 1992, he was the first living Chinese artist to have a solo exhibition at the British Museum in London. In 1991, France made him an officer of l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2002, he was the first Chinese artist to be awarded the Médaille des Arts et Lettres by the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France. The New York Times

Wu’s importance within Chinese art

Unlike some other modern Chinese artists, he never found the choice of styles a problem. Asked whether he preferred the Chinese or the western style, he said: “When I take up a brush to paint, I paint a Chinese picture” The Guardian

Flower, 2000,  Ink on paper

Wu Guanzhong, 'Flower', 2000, ink on paper.

Like Van Gogh he painted not just the form, but “with his feelings”. He found inspirations in the beauty of nature. Wu’s style of painting has the colour sense and formal principles of Western paintings, but tonal variations of ink that are typically Chinese.

“Don’t be afraid of it,” he insisted, “because it is all around us in nature – in the design of the trellis in a garden pavilion, in the shadow of the bamboo leaves on a white wall… The line that connects the painted image to the real thing can never be broken.” The Guardian

In his work, natural scenery is reduced to its essentials – simple but powerful abstract forms. In rows of houses built along the contour of the hills, Wu discovered abstract patterns, the white houses with black roofs standing out against the soft grey tones of the mountains or water. In all his work, objective representation loses its importance, overtaken by the beauty of the abstract forms, lines, colours and subtle ink tones.

Wu’s works are unconventional and full of passion. In the eyes of the West, the images are very Chinese, but to Chinese viewers, the images appear modern and Western.

Read the obituaries and other related articles

JAS/KN

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Chinese, Classic/Contemporary, Drawing, Galleries, Landscape, Medium, Nature, Oil, Painting | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rising confidence in Indian art as market recovers

Posted by artradar on June 9, 2010


INDIAN ART MARKET CONFIDENCE

Francis Newton Souza's Imbecile Girl in a Green Blouse (1957) will be on sale in Saffronart's summer auction 2010. Its estimated price is USD275,000-350,000.

A recent article published on livemint.com by the Wall Street Journal reported a rising trend of speculators’ confidence in the Indian art market, possibly as a result of a rebound in valuations of Indian artworks.

The article used the data in the latest report by London-based art market research firm ArtTactic to show that speculators’ confidence in the Indian art market is on the rise, after its significant drop in May last year as a result of the global art market downturn.

“The ArtTactic Speculation Barometer for Modern Indian Art shows a 28% increase since October 2009, and is now at 6.3, up from 4.9. This is the highest reading since ArtTactic started its survey in May 2007,” the article reported.

“In my reading of the Indian context, most collectors who entered the market over the last five-seven years were keen speculators.” Arvind Vijaymohan, Head of Indian arts advisory Japa Arts Pvt. Ltd (as quoted on livemint.com)

“…Vijaymohan says that in the current situation, there exists a section of speculators who consider this the perfect time to enter the market, and acquire works of modern Indian art at low values.” http://www.livemint.com

“For Anders Petterson, managing director of ArtTactic, the most revealing aspect of the report is the speed of the recovery in the modern art market even though it raises the threat of speculative buying.” http://www.livemint.com

The article reported that “the combined auction sales for Indian art in March 2010 raised a total of $15.2 million (Rs69.3 crore)”.

The article also noted the widening gap in confidence between the modern and contemporary Indian art market.

“The Modern Indian Confidence Indicator is 51% higher than the equivalent confidence indicator for contemporary art. The report reasons that the established nature of the modern Indian market has created a sense of “safe haven” for many art buyers, a fact that is leading to its expansion.” http://www.livemint.com

Read the full article here.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics: Indian artists, collectors, business of art, market watch

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Business of art, Classic/Contemporary, Collectors, India, Indian, Market watch, Research, Surveys, Trends, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cause and Effect: London solo for Macau-Russian artist Konstantin Bessmertny

Posted by artradar on May 11, 2010


Konstantin Bessmertny Causarum Cognitio Philosophicus

Bessmertny's Causarum Cognitio Philosophicus

Courtesy Rossi & Rossi

RUSSIAN ARTIST TALK EXHIBITION

A technical impresario who underwent rigorous formal training, Konstantin Bessmertny has risen to become one of Macau’s foremost artistic ambassadors.

Raised in Far Eastern Russia on the Chinese border, Bessmertny learned the traditions of European painting while studying under Russian dissidents exiled eastward by the Soviets. Later moving to Macau, a city of Chinese and Portuguese history, perpetually shadowed by the bustling Hong Kong, Bessmertny is a creature of boundaries between times, cultures and places. He represented the Chinese enclave at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

Konstantin Bessmertny

Konstantin Bessmertny, La Battaglia di Anghiari dell'Opera Perduta di Leonardo (Copy after Leonardo No. 2) 2009

Bessmertny’s works address the many absurdities of contemporary living and our understanding of history. The paintings are lush, thick with coded allusions to high and low culture. They gleefully portray challenges of basic, almost universally accepted understanding of zeitgeist and history.

Rossi & Rossi, in association with Amelia Johnson Contemporary, is holding an exhibition of much anticipated new paintings and sculpture by Bessmertny — Causarum Cognitio or Knowledge of Causes.

The exhibition is to be held from May 7 to June 3 at Rossi and Rossi www.rossirossi.com. An artist’s talk was held on May 8  with Pamela Kember, a director of the Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong.  Kember is a curator and historian of art. She has lectured at the Hong Kong Arts School and the Academy of Visual Arts in Hong Kong. She has contributed to Asian Art News, World Sculpture News and Art Asia Pacific.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue 52 pages in length.

Konstantin Bessmertny

Konstantin Bessmertny

Courtesy Museu de Arte de Macau

Pamela Kember

Pamela Kember

Courtesy Chelsea College of Art & Design

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Why is Thailand difficult for street artists? Graffiti artist Bundit Puangthong explains

Posted by artradar on July 2, 2009


THAI STREET ART GRAFITTI

Thai artist Bundit Puangthong arrived in Melbourne 10 years ago and is a well established figure in the Australian art world, having staged highly successful exhibitions in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. He tells the Bangkok Post why Australia is a sanctuary for his street art.

I think people are freer to dabble in street art here in Australia than people in Thailand.

I also think that like mainstream art, street art is a luxury that a lot of Thais simply don’t have the time or money for. A lot of young Thai people study and work full-time as well as having responsibilities to their families, which does not leave a lot of time to be creative, or take part in activities such as street art.

Bundit Puangthong, Whisper

Bundit Puangthong, Whisper

Also, a lot of the Thai landscape or environment does not lend itself to street art. In Thailand there are not a lot of large clean walls waiting to be painted on like there are in Australia. In places like Bangkok, every little bit of the street is used by street hawkers, businesses, pedestrians, traffic, parking, etc. It is already very visually chaotic.

We are spoiled in Australia for having the money, time, space and freedom to express ourselves the way we wish to.

Bangkok Post for more

Bundit Puangthong fuses his training in traditional Thai art with a modern Western-based arts practice. His paintings incorporate elements of traditional Thai art, American pop art and contemporary street art in attempt to strike a balance between the cultures in which he lives. His work explores a diversity of themes, from his own understanding(s) of Buddhism and how this fits into life in Australia, through historical stories of Buddha and aspects of Thai culture such as superstition and royalty. Drawing on his traditional Lai Thai Arts Training his paintings are rich in symbology.

See his work and bio on Bundit Puangthong website

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Posted in Asia expands, Australia, Buddhist art, Classic/Contemporary, Open air, Thai, Urban | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistani contemporary miniature art – overview on video

Posted by artradar on June 4, 2009


PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY MINIATURE ART

Aisha Khalid

Aisha Khalid

Keep hearing about contemporary Pakistani art and want to know a bit more? Here is a great little introductory video.

RTHK, a Hong Kong media organisation, has produced a brief but powerful  video which, in just 6 minutes, manages to  include:

  • a look at the historical development of the genre which has roots in the Mughal empire;
  • the tools – shell mixing pallettes and squirrel hair brushes so fine that only 2-3 hairs are used;
Imran Qureshi

Imran Qureshi

  • demonstration of artists at work;
  • interviews with 2 renowned artists, Imran Qureshi and Aisha Khalid, who talk about the sources of their inspiration: nuclear warheads and curtains in the Red Light District of Amsterdam;
  • a contextual interview with Professor Salimi Hashmi, a respected expert who explains that the development of this hallowed aesthetic into a contemporary form has spurred vigorous debate.

Watch the Pakistani contemporary art video here

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Posted in Classic/Contemporary, Feminist art, Interviews, Islamic art, Miniatures, Overviews, Painting, Pakistani, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »