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Archive for the ‘Takashi Murakami’ Category

Murakami opens new gallery in Taipei, says Taiwan’s art market 10 years ahead of Japan

Posted by artradar on July 22, 2010


ART GALLERIES OPENINGS JAPANESE ART TAIWANESE ART PAINTING

As reported in a recent Taiwan News article, world-renowned contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami opened a new art gallery in Taipei, Taiwan, at the end of June this year.

Kaikai Kiki All Star exhibition flyer, currently showing at Takashi Murakami's new Taipei art space, KaiKai Kiki Gallery Taipei.

Kaikai Kiki All Star exhibition flyer, currently showing at Takashi Murakami's new Taipei art space, Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei. Taken from the KaiKai Kiki Gallery Taipei website.

Named the Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei, it is the second exhibition space opened by Murakami – the first was inaugurated in Tokyo in 2008.

In an interesting reflection on Taiwan’s art industry, the newspaper quoted Murakami as saying “that he has chosen Taipei as his art company’s first overseas foothold mainly because he feels Taiwan is 10 years ahead of Japan in terms of the maturity of its arts market.”

The gallery is reported to be unique in that it “does not impose any distance restrictions on visitors.”

Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei is located on first floor of the Taiwan Land Development Corp. office building in Taipei, Taiwan. It will showcase the “Kaikai Kiki All Star” exhibition of paintings by represented artists until 25 July.

KN

Related Topics: Takashi Murakami, art spaces, Japanese artists, Taiwanese artists

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Japanese, Taiwan, Takashi Murakami, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 »

Liquidity propels prices, Chinese Political Pop is back – Sothebys Contemporary Asian Art Auction 2009 Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on October 16, 2009


SOTHEBY’S AUCTIONS HONG KONG CONTEMPORARY ASIAN ART

Although called a Contemporary Asian Art auction, this sale was dominated by Chinese artists which was a canny move by Sotheby’s given that mainland liquidity is driving prices of property in Hong Kong to record high prices of US$1,000 per square foot and sending Chinese stock markets soaring. According to Bloomberg, Chinese money supply has grown by 55% since the beginning of 2007 compared with 20% in the UK and US.

Some of this liquidity has found its way into the art market at this auction. Mainland buyers were active and revealed some surprising preferences.

Hong Kong artists back in a second showcase

Sotheby’s followed up its inaugural and successful showcase of 8 Hong Kong artists in the ‘Spring auction earlier this year with an expanded selection of works by 10 artists. Affordable prices meant that all but two of the works found buyers with successful bids mostly coming in around estimates.

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Works by two artists, sculptor Danny Lee and photographer Simon Go who were both new to the auction this year, did better than estimates. Danny Lee produces stainless steel sculptures which are reminiscent  – though in a more organic liquid form –  of the stainless steel scholar rocks made by the world-renowned sculptor Zhan Wang  whose works have been collected by institutions such as the British Museum . Danny Lee’s Mountain and Stream IV sold for HK$170,000 against a top estimate of HK$160,000 (before premium). (US$1 = HK$7.7)

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Simon Go’s set of 2 photographic works called Hong Kong Old Shops: Wing Wo Grocery and Keng Ming Mirror Shop achieved a price of HK$80,000 against an estimate of HK$30-50,000 (before premium). This lot points to several collector trends. According to Larry Warsh, a New York-based dealer, there is a growing interest in Chinese photography and Wing Wo Grocery ( an image of a family clan in an old-style grocery shop from the colonial era recently shut down in preparation for urban renewal) embodies trends identified at an ArtInsight seminar last month called ‘Trends and Opportunities in Photography” . The panelists identified documentary photography and ‘slice of lif’e’ photography as hot areas for collectors now.

Zhan WangThe biggest story of the Hong Kong part of the sale was Tsang Tsou Choi’s calligraphy which saw excited bidding between several bidders in the room and on the phone resulting in a price (before premium) of HK$400,000 which was 8 times the lower estimate of HK$50,000. Work by this artist now deceased was also a surprising success in the Spring 2009 auction perhaps because of local media and public interest in the eccentric behaviour he displayed in his long art career.

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

In our Sotheby’s Spring 2009 auction post we wrote:

Tsang, Tsou Chin aka The Kowloon Emperor is a Hong Kong legend, famous for his calligraphy graffiti which he painted on public furniture. Undeterred by numerous warnings he roamed the streets for 50 years laying down his family genealogy and his personal history as an emperor in exile in blatant defiance of the Queen and English colonial rule. Deemed a lunatic by some, he was nevertheless recognised when in 2003 he became the very first Hong Kong artist to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Cynical Realist artists are back

In the next section of the sale a series of Chinese sixties-born artists, many from the Cynical Realist and Political Pop movements (Yue Minjun Feng Zhenghjie Zeng Fanzhi, Fang Lijun, Zhang Xiaogang) came under the hammer with hefty estimates of several hundred thousand and up to around $5 million per lot.

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

On a visit to London last month Art Radar heard several Western commentators describing Chinese art as ‘old’, ‘tired’ and ‘done’. This auction showed clearly that there are keen buyers for Chinese artists of this era who are willing to pay robust prices. Room bidders were mainly middle-aged Chinese men, who are perhaps collectors or more likely dealers for a growing middle class market in the mainland. Most lots in this section sold at estimate and some well above. Yue Minjun’s ‘Hats Series – The Lovers’ attracted several room bidders and a phone bidder eventually selling for HK$5.3m against a top estimate of HK$3.5m.

Institution-endorsed Chinese artists of the  fifties and sixties meet price resistance

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

It is no secret that Western critics regard some of the Cynical Realist artists as lightweight and lacking in intellectual rigour.  Instead major institutions such as the Royal Academy and British Museum in London have favoured and endorsed other mid-century born artists such as gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing, famous for his invented calligraphy . These artists sold well at lower price levels but lots with high estimates met resistance and failed. Cai Guo-Qiang’s Money Net No 2, part of Royal Academy of Art Project (estimate HK$4.7m – 5.5m) and Xu Bing’s Silkwom Series – The Foolish Old Man Who Tried to Remove the Mountain (estimate HK$5m – 5.5m) were bought in.

Frowns for part-increment bids

What we did see at this auction was a much stronger resistance by the two auctioneers in this marathon four-and-a-half  hour sale to partial bids. In recent auctions we have seen bidders make counter-offer bids at increments lower than standard. In the recent past these were accepted with alacrity by genial auctioneers. At this auction bidders were left waiting, frowned at and as often as not turned down.

Zhang Huan upset

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan

, formerly a performance artist and more recently a sculptor and installation artist known for his works in ash and animal skins had 5 lots in the sale. Despite  backing by big-boy galleries in London and New York (Zhang Huan currently has an installation at White Cube in Picadilly London) four of his works including two sculptures and two chromogenic prints were bought in. The only work which was successful was a chromogenic print (numbered 3/8) recording his early endurance performance art which sees him running barefoot along the streets covered in raw meat. This work exemplifies another trend identified at the Artinsight photography seminar: growing interest in photographic documentation of performance art.

Sculpture mixed

Sculpture had a mixed performance. Apart from Zhang Huan’s two failed lots and one by Hong Kong artist Kum Chi Keung, there was a surprise pass on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s pink polyester mannequin Self-Obliteration (estimate $550-650,000). Most of the rest of the ten or so sculptures including Wang Keping’s wooden female forms, Zhang Wan’s scholar rocks, kitsch sculptures by the Luo Brothers and Huang Yan and a run of five works featuring sculpted heads  and figures (by various artists) sold at or above estimate.

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Two lots by neon and steel sculptor Li Hui (1977) were highly sought after and attracted across-the-room bidding. Both pieces were purchased by an Asian family who were active bidders in the preceding sale of South East Asian art. The family also acquired an acrylic on canvas by Japanese artist Hiroyuki Matsuura and another by Ryuki Yamamoto. Traditionally collectors’ interests cluster geographically and more often than not collectors prefer to buy their national artists though there have been signs of changes. Despite the recession there is still momentum  behind this trend of pan-Asia buying.

Chinese photography fluid bidding

A handful of photographs were scattered through the sale but the bulk was found in an eleven lot run in the middle.  This run featured sixties-born Chinese photographers such as Hai Bo, Hong Hao, Wang Qingsong, Huang Yan, Cang Xin and Sheng Qi who were active in the nineties and many of whom came to international prominence in 2004 with Christopher Phillips’ seminal exhibition Between Past and Future at the International Center of Photography in New York. Since then major US institutions have been collecting the work of this group as we reported in April 2009:

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

The J. Paul Getty Museum is the latest institution to add works by Chinese contemporary artists to its holdings. Others include New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired 28 works for its photography collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as global institutions such as the Tate and the Pompidou Center.

“The acquisition of these works (Wang Qingsong, Hai Bo) affirms an important new direction for the Getty,” says noted photography dealer and collector Daniel Wolf, who helped establish the museum’s collection in the 1980s. “It reflects an interest in expanding the collection in this category.”

Prices were affordable and bidding was fluid. While editions were limited to the 8-20 range and many of the lots were made up of multiple images, sales were made at estimates which were surprisingly affordable. Most lots sold for between HK$40-75,000. Wang Qingsong’s triptych photograph Past Present, Future which sold at estimate for HK$260,000 was the exception.  One buyer snapped up several lots.

One upset was lot 765 by Cao Fei which was passed in. Her works are inspired by the internet, video games, role-playing and the virtual world and she has received wide coverage in London and beyond after a recent show at Battersea Power Station organised in conjunction with the Serpentine Gallery.

Japanese and Korean art

The sale was dominated by Chinese artists but there was a run of cartoon-style art, many by young Japanese artists, a third of the way through the sale which sold at prices HK$50-150,000. Heavyweight Japanese artists were priced much higher but did not always sell or meet the estimate.  Yoshimoto Nara’s It’s Everything sold at HK$3.3m compared with an estimate of HK$3.8-HK$5m. Work by Yoshitaka Amano (described by Time Out as ”the Japanese anime legend behind the Final Fantasy video game” and who attracted spirited phone bidding in the spring sale 2009) was passed in. Takashi Murakami was the exception achieving HK$520,000 for an untitled 1/50 edition screenprint carrying an estimate of just HK$50-70,000. Korean works also achieved mixed results.

Long long auction

The final run of 11 lots saw 6 passes despite affordable prices. This result is probably not worth analysing in depth as it likely had more to do with the numbing length of the 4-5 hour 2 auctioneer sale which saw a packed room of 200 or so dwindle away to 30 or 40 tired stalwarts at what felt like the dog-end of the sale. Perhaps Sotheby’s who charged for coffee and catalogues again this year is still in cost-slashing mode. Let’s hope that by next year there will be enough new money supply for a return to more coffee breaks and free coffee.

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Cai Guoqiang, Cao Fei, Cartoon, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Japanese, Korean, Li Hui, Market watch, Photography, Sculpture, Takashi Murakami, Xu Bing, Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitaka Amano, Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Huan, Zhang Xiaogang | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Newslink round up Art Basel 2009 – Indian, Japanese artists dominate coverage of Asians

Posted by artradar on June 24, 2009


ART FAIR

Much of the traditional coverage of Art Basel takes the same format: descriptions of some highlighted artworks are interwoven with information about sales generally and, dealers willing, specifically. From this gathering of anecdotal, far-from-objective evidence some kind of assessment of the buoyancy of the market is made.

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This year the consensus view emerges that, from a base of very low expectations and to the relief of dealers, sales were made and perhaps were even quite strong.

Blogs offer some alternative reporting – see in particular the Sojones blog about the fast-selling artwork “Simple Things” – made of everyday objects encrusted with tens of thousands of precious jewels – which was a collaboration between musician Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami. This post by a non-fine arts blog took one small element of the fair and provided a link-rich comprehensive report. This may be a glimpse of the future of arts reporting. We hope so because there remain many untold stories about the fair …

Other themes extensively reported by the papers and blogs included  Brad Pitt’s purchases. Less predictable was the wide coverage given to “Il Tempo del Postino“, described as a show in time rather in space and as the “world’s first visual arts opera”.

For a list of Asian artists given press coverage see the tags at the bottom. Their names are also highlighted in grey in the article descriptions. It is interesting to note that these were mostly Japanese and Indian.

Collectors pleased with Art Basel 40 FairJapan Times – 19 June – “Art market is surprisingly healthy” Sep 09 to Mar 09 was difficult for dealers but Basel has coincided with an uptick in activity. Sales by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Other Asian artists mentioned included veteran Yayoi Kusama, and new or under-rcognised artists such as Teppei Kaneuji, Ei Arakawa.

After Art Basel, dealers have high hopes for London salesWall Street Journal – 19 June – Fair organisers talked of ‘unexpectedly strong’ sales and dealers seemed happy though no final sales figure has been released. 61000 visitors the highest number ever.

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Recession appealThe Economist – 18 June – A piece about sales – “by all nebulous barometers, business in Basel was satisfactory, possibly even very good”. Sales included Indian artists Anish Kapoor, Raqib Shaw. Posits 4 reasons for buoyant sales: return of collectors in down market, discounting, diversion of money out of Swiss bank accounts and perception art a stronger asset class.

Art Unlimited Part 2 – Art Basel videoVernissage TV – 16 June – In this video walkthrough find works by Gabriele di Matteo, Li Dafang, Willem Boshoff, David Shrigley, Marcel van Eeden, Mel Bochner, Anthony McCall, Sigmar Polke, Steven Shearer, Lawrence Weiner, Goran Petercol, Aernout Mik, Stephan Balkenhol, Tatjana Doll, Chen Zhen, Natalie Djurberg, Sarah Oppenheimer, Bharti Kher, Falke Pisano, Clegg & Guttmann, Banks Violette, and Hans op de Beeck.

Art Basel Vernissage Arrested Motion – 16 June – Over 60 images of artworks

Jeppe Hein loop bench at Art BaselDesigncrave – 15 June – Good pics of this piece of large crossover art.

Pharrell Williams’ and Takashi Murakami’s “Simple Things” sold for more than $2millionSojones – 15 June 2009 – One of the most comprehensive pieces to cover the sale within 30 minutes of the opening of Simple Things, an artwork encrusted with 26,000 jewels by music man Pharrell Williams in conjunction with Takashi Murakami. A link to a great video interview with Farrell talking about the artwork.

 Art 40 Basel: Extraordinary quality, surprisingly strong results Art Basel press release – 14 June – This press release is a closing statement rounding up the fair’s achievements and successes. Lists artists who attended including Subodh Gupta. Over 50 museum groups attended. Over 61000 visitors, over 300 galleries from 29 countries, more than 2500 artists. “Il Tempo del Postino”

 

Art Basel 2009 – videoVernissage TV – 13 June – video walkthrough

Surprise success: Art Basel dispels credit crunch blues The Art Newspaper – 12 June – Lists celebrities and collectors present. Fewer American collectors mostly Europeans did the buying. “The recession compelled dealers to bring their best”. Everyone was “sniffing”‘ for discounts and if dealers were flexible sales were made. Long list of specific artwork sales made.

Window shoppers – seasoned collectors spend carefully at Art BaselWall Street Journal – 12 June –  A list of collectors who visited (American collectors: the Horts and Craig Robins) and art advisers (Sandy Heller who buys for Steve Cohen and Philippe Segalot adviser to Francois Pinault owner of Christie’s).  Also lists some of 101 artists who were also at Venice Biennale. Relief that some sales were made. Describes ways galleries saved money. Asian artists mentioned On Kawara, Subodh Gupta.

A Thriftier Lot comes to Art Basel this yearNew York Times – 11 June – This piece lists some of the artwork highlights on show and collectors and curators who attended. Art was more conservative than last year and focused on big rather than new names. Expectations so low that there was relief that some business was done.

Warhol price slashed as Art Basel fights slump with bargainsBloomberg – 9 June – Long 25 paragraph piece made up of snippets of market information based on gallery interviews. Leading para is about trimming of prices this year – other interesting comments: Art Basel will be 2 shows this year both work on show and discreet consignment sales on behalf of collectors; Kapoor prices holding steady, pure New York market gone with some dealers missing this year but still interest from Asia and some parts of Europe.

Art Unlimited – Art Basel video part 1 – Vernissage TV – 9 June – This year’s Art Unlimited exhibition of the international art fair Art 40 Basel in Basel, Switzerland, marks the tenth edition of Art Basel’s sector for large sculptures, and installation and video art. Works by Elisabetta Benassi, Yoshitomo Nara, Beat Zoderer, Sislej Xhafa, Ayse Erkmen, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Fabrice Gygi, Surdashan Shetty, Farhad Moshiri, Jesús Fafael Soto, Sterling Ruby, Laurence Weiner, Franz Erhard Walter, Steven Shearer, Nedko Solakov, :Mentalklinik, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Stephan Balkenhol, and Matthew Day Jackson.

Editor’s Picks: Art Basel Preview Artinfo – 8 June – Useful link to an image carousel showing works being presented at 42 galleries, many with price information.

For art lovers Basel doesn’t end at the fairNew York Times Travel Section – 7 June – Long comprehensive post covering what to eat, where to sleep and what to see in Basel. Brief overview of Art Basel (40th anniversary, 300 galleries, 2500 artists, not much art after 1970s) and an interesting look at the exhibitions by museums (the result of 5 centuries of wealth and “public-mindedness”).

Locals Rule: Alternative Art spaces gear up for Art BaselArtinfo – 6 June – List of activities offered on Basel’s alternative art scene.

Basel, more than a fair cityNew York Times Travel section – undated – 9 enticing images of hotels and restaurants

The Art Market: the biggest fairs around the worldFinancial Times – Georgina Adams – 6 June – A few paragraphs of Basel coverage in this piece covering art fairs. Two distinguishing events at Art Basel: Art Unlimited an exhibition of large scale works in 12000 sq m hall and Il Tempo del Postino which sets time limits on art display. Two more paragraphs speculate about pricing strategies.

Meanwhile in Basel Contemporary Works you can buyWall Street Journal – 5 June – Short prefair description of event and some works

Related links: To see the online catalogue visit http://artbasel-online.com/

Related posts:

  • Newslink round up – Art HK 09 – May 09
  • Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4 fascinating video interviews – May 09
  • Which 5 Indian artists would you dare to buy now? – May 09
  • Art Dubai 2009 – who sold what to whom? – Mar 09
  • Who are the top artists at art fairs? – Mar 09
  • Newslink round up Arco Madrid 2009 – Feb 09
  • Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for round ups of art news coverage

    Posted in Anish Kapoor, Bharti Kher, Collectors, Fairs, Farhad Moshiri, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Indian, Japanese, Jewel art, Market watch, Sudarshan Shetty, Takashi Murakami, Time | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Top 5 sites for Japanese contemporary art news by Matthew Larking

    Posted by artradar on June 24, 2009


    JAPAN ART READING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Takashi Murakami on why the War helped create Japanese pop culture

    Posted by artradar on December 1, 2008


    Takashi Murakami

    Takashi Murakami

     

     

     

     

     

    JAPANESE ART LECTURE HONG KONG

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

    Single greatest catalyst for explosion of interest in art

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

    Murakami’s recession concerns

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

    Murakami identifies himself as ‘otaku’

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

    Malaise in Japanese society

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

    So ‘Otaku’ is about filling that hole.

    Otaku is like a drug

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

    Otaku idols

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

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

    Otaku has roots in defeat of Japan in World War II

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

    What will we see next from Japan and otaku?

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

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

    Art is a bloodless revolution for Murakami

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

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

    takashi-murakami-book

    Click to buy Murakami book

    Murakami embraces Japanese identity

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

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

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

    Takashi Murakami lecture in Hong Kong – Christies

    Posted by artradar on November 18, 2008


    Takashi Murakami

    Takashi Murakami

     

     

     

    ARTIST TALK JAPANESE

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

    Language: Japanese with English and Putonghua simultaneous interpretation

    SYNOPSIS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Takashi Murakami

    Murakami

    Murakami

    Biography


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

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    Posted in Cartoon, China, Hong Kong, Japanese, Pop Art, Takashi Murakami | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Asians, women show momentum and banks tumble in Art Review’s Power 100 2008

    Posted by artradar on October 23, 2008


    INFLUENCERS ART

    Art Review monthly magazine has published its Power 100 list for 2008.  Produced annually since 2001 it is a ranking of the most influential participants in the art world and includes artists, gallerists, auctioneers and collectors.

    Trends this year include

    • Higher rankings and numbers for women in a market tradtionally dominated by men – Kathy Halbreich is first woman to appear on her own in the top 10. Ranked third, behind Hirst and gallerist Larry Gagosian, she is the newly appointed Associate Director of MoMA, New York.
    • Tumbling influence of banks  – as the global credit contagion spreads, financial institutions take a tumble  with both UBS and Deutsche Bank, longtime key art sponsors, ranked 62 and 63 respectively in 2007, falling off the Power 100 in 2008. 
    • Asian participants showing momentum or appearing for the first time.

    Takashi Murakami (28), a superbrand not dissimilar to Damien Hirst’s model comes in at 61 places above his 2007 ranking for a year that saw a major exhibition of his work, including a Louis Vuitton store selling Murakami’s own branded products, travel across the US and draw record numbers of museum goers.

    Ongoing artistic and financial strength in emerging markets has seen new listings for collectors Roman Abramovich and Dasha Zhukova (54) and a strong rise by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang (69, from 99 in 2006), with first-time appearances by the Beijing-based Long March Project (93) and Delhi-based gallerist Peter Nagy (95).

     

    Asian artists

    • Takashi Murakami no 28 (Japanese) wiki site
    • Ai Weiwei no 47 (Chinese)
    • Cai Guo Qiang 69 (Chinese) wiki
    • Subodh Gupta 92 (Indian)  pics
    • The Long March Project 93 (Chinese) pics  site

     

    Collectors from Asia

    • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan no 30
    • Roman Abromovich and Daria Zhukova no 54
    Asia-based gallerists

    Entrants are judged on the following four criteria, each of which carries a 25 percent weighting.

    1. Influence on art development: entrants must exert influence over the type, style and shape of contemporary art being produced in the previous 12 months.

    2. International influence: as the list is international, entrants must exert influence on a global scale rather than as big fish in small-to-medium ponds.

    3. Financial clout: entrants are judged on the extent to which they have shaped, moulded or dominated the art market, whether as artists, dealers or collectors.

    4. Activity within the last 12 months: entrants are judged on having actually done something during the period September 2007 to August 2008. It’s not enough to sit on your powerful behind.

    Posted in Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang, Chinese, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Indian, Individual, Japanese, Subodh Gupta, Surveys, Takashi Murakami, Trends | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »