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Hong Kong Street Art Series: Above Second imports new energies and aesthetics to local art scene

Posted by artradar on October 14, 2010


HONG KONG STREET ART URBAN ART SERIES

In this first feature in our Hong Kong Street Art Series, Art Radar Asia will introduce you to one of the newest art spaces in Hong Kong to show street and urban art, Above Second. In this post, co-owners Jasper Wong and May Wong discuss the importance of supporting the local art community and encouraging people to consider creative career options, as well as explain their choice of location and their first-time buyer appeal.

In a steep lane in Sai Ying Pun, Above Second stands aloof from busy streets and is a fifteen minute walk from the gallery-saturated Central district. This glass-fronted art space with a graffiti wall on the side was founded and is run by Jasper Wong and May Wong.

 

Above Second, one of Hong Kong's newest art spaces dedicated to street and urban art.

Above Second, one of Hong Kong's newest art spaces dedicated to street and urban art. Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

Before Above Second came into being, May dedicated most of her time to a nomadic gallery called Apostrophe which travelled to different spaces to do shows for artists from predominantly Denmark, the US and the UK. She found out about Jasper a year and a half ago after discovering his works on the blog of hip hop artist Kanye West and then inviting him to do a show at G.O.D, a Hong Kong-based lifestyle store. After some talking over a gallery plan in Hong Kong they ended up opening Above Second together earlier this year.

Half a gallery and half an art space

Above Second is very different from other mainstream galleries in the Central district in many ways. To begin with, Jasper won’t even consider it a gallery.

“It’s not a gallery in the strictest sense in what people usually perceive galleries to be. People see galleries to be like blank white walls… but we decided to turn it into more like a, I guess you can call it a creative club? That’s why we leave the word gallery in front of the name, ‘cause we don’t want to be specifically one thing.”

Above gallery is special in a way that it is a combination of a gallery and an art space. Jasper uses the gallery space at the front for painting and exhibition while May uses the art space at the back for art classes in the weekend.

 

Children drawing in the Above Second art space on Saturday. Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

 

Adults painting in the Above Second art space. Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

May elaborates on this concept:

“I think the main reason [for teaching art classes] is to generate more people to come into the gallery to see art. In a way, we enjoy teaching and we enjoy people coming in to share what art is and just be creative.”

“Basically when we teach (I’m talking about [teaching] three-year-olds to adults; everybody can come), we’re just giving them the materials, and then they can do whatever they want, usually. But we kind of try to give them a concept or give them some kind of inspiration for arts. For instance, we did a class that was based on Mondrian paintings, so we kind of restrict the colors to red, yellow, blue, and black, very Mondrian. Then we just let the students do what they want with it.”

 

Hong Kong street art gallery Above Second held exhibition "King for a Day" in July this year.

Hong Kong street art gallery Above Second held exhibition "King for a Day" in July this year. Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

Mission to support local art and promote art as career

Jasper also hopes that, through the art classes for children, the young generation in Hong Kong will come to consider art creation as a career path rather than just a hobby. He says,

“A lot of times I feel, from what I’ve experienced here, is that a lot of the parents tend to steal their kids away from creative pursuits. Their tendency [is] that if their kids are interested in music or art or dance or something creative, then it is seen more as a hobby, rather than something that they can dedicate their life to.”

Unlike many mainstream galleries in Hong Kong, Above Second is also less business-oriented and more driven by the goal to improve the creative environment in Hong Kong. Jasper states,

“Most galleries in Central, you probably see, they are all very commercial. They are all pretty much paint stores. They are trying to sell what’s hot, what’s the hot trend, and what people will buy at the time. They tend to show all the same kind of art. So when you go to one gallery it’s pretty much all the same. And it’s not very accessible to a lot of local people and they don’t tend to promote emerging artists or even to try to make the creative scene better in Hong Kong. So we started our gallery … there’s an altruistic mission to it: to try to make [the Hong Kong art scene] better, to try to bring in the emerging artists that have never been shown in Hong Kong or to try to promote local artists…. There’s a goal to try in a small way to make Hong Kong’s creative community better.”

Above Second doesn’t formally represent any artists as most of the traditional galleries do. Instead, it continually organises shows for different artists from around the world with intriguing “energies” and “aesthetics”. “We are showing the creative energy all around the world [by] supporting young and emerging artists from all around the world,” says Jasper.

Price range attracts young first-time buyers

As May points out, works in most of the Above Second shows are for sale at affordable prices and because of this the gallery has attracted a number of first time buyers.

“For the show King for a Day, we had three prints there and they all sold. Most of (our buyers) are under thirty years old or around thirty and they are all first time buyers. It’s really great to see, because the prints themselves are pretty reasonably [priced], and when people come in they are like ‘Wow! This is the first time that I have gone into a gallery where I can afford to buy something.’ So we kind of encourage that trend…. [In] some galleries the price ranges are at least 10,00 dollars. We [are] like a couple of hundred, four digits, five digits.”

 

 

Visitors and guests crowd outside Above Second at an exhibition opening.

Visitors and guests crowd outside Above Second at an exhibition opening. Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

Currently, Above Second is showing Nebula, an exhibition of paper-cut and stencil works by Danish artist Mathias and illustrations of another Danish artist Michael. This Friday, Above Second will open Primary, an exhibition of work by Hong Kong street artist group Graphicairlines. Says May of her hopes for the space,

“For me, in five years, I hope that the gallery will grow, have a couple more staff…. For us it’s still difficult to pay for all the expenses, the shipping and stuff, to get artists here, but we’re trying….”

CBKM/KN/KCE

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Posted in Art spaces, Artist-run, China, Hong Kong, Interviews, Medium, Street art, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Art Radar Asia launches Hong Kong Street Art Series: interview with co-owner of Above Second

Posted by artradar on October 6, 2010


HONG KONG STREET ART URBAN ART SERIES

While the street art gallery scene in Europe has been pushed into maturity by world-renowned and highly sought after urban artists such as Banksy, it is only in recent years that it has started to emerge in Hong Kong. In response to the burgeoning street art scene in the city, Art Radar Asia is launching a Hong Kong Street Art Series to introduce to you Hong Kong galleries which show urban art. With the prominence of a number of local street artists and the founding of at least three urban art galleries in the city in the past couple of years, we will observe how street art is being taken into new contemporary art galleries in Hong Kong.

We introduce this series with a brief interview with Jasper Wong, co-owner of Above Second art space, in which he presents his views on Hong Kong street art and the urban art business, and how the Hong Kong scene compares with other more established communities.

Jasper Wong wouldn’t call himself a street artist, as he doesn’t like being restricted to any particular form of art. After studying graphic design in Portland, illustration at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and manga (Japanese comic books) in Kyoto Seika University, he returned to Hong Kong to work on various art projects. Earlier this year, he started Above Second with his partner May Wong.

 

Jasper Wong (middle) at Above Second's September show "Nebula". Image courtesy of Above Second.

Jasper Wong (middle) at Above Second's September show "Nebula". Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

 

This collaborative work by Jasper Wong and his half-brother Wu Yue was shown in Above Second at the March show "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am". Image courtesy of Above Second.

This collaborative work by Jasper Wong and his half-brother Wu Yue was shown in Above Second at the March show "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am". Image courtesy of Above Second.

 

What do you think of street art in Hong Kong? How is it different from the street art in Europe?

I know a lot of street artists in Hong Kong. They are all doing their own thing in this city, so I really respect that. They get up all over the city and also pursue other creative outlets such as apparel, etc. They have their own styles. It’s not that much different from the rest of the world. The ones in Hong Kong are influenced by their own cultures growing up in Hong Kong, and [they] respond to it. Other artists around the world do the same and respond to their own individual cultures. Hong Kong is very small though. There needs to be more artists out there pushing like SFZ (Start from zero) and Graphicairlines, Invasion guys like Sinic and Xeme. (I meant the Invasion Magazine crew. Invasion Magazine was started by Sinic. They’re one of the few graffiti magazines in Asia and the only one in Hong Kong.)

What about the sticker culture here? Is it a global culture?

Sticker culture is global. It’s an aspect of street art. People do pieces with spraycans, wheatpaste, stickers, and sometimes even create installations by knitting. It’s about taking art to the streets. There are no rules. Look at Invader – he creates art with ceramic tile.

We have been told that in Hong Kong there are lots of limitations for street art. Do you agree with this statement?

The only limitation is yourself. You can do whatever you want, thanks to the Internet. You can get your art to people all over the world. So I don’t agree. I just agree on the point that people in Hong Kong don’t care about art as much, they think of it as useless. But they don’t see that they are surrounded by art from the clothes they wear to the movies they watch and the chairs they sit on.

But shouldn’t street art be in the street rather than the Internet? Or is it changing now?

I’m not talking about art being on the Internet persay. I’m talking about getting people to know about your art. You use the Internet as a tool to get the word out so people can learn about Hong Kong street art through the use of the Internet. The Internet changed the game  for everything.

How would you describe the status of street art in Hong Kong?

Street art is up and coming out here. There is a small group of individuals seeking to get the word out about it and they get up strong around the city. It’ll take some time for it to be[come] bigger but it’s definitely happening.

What do you think about the street art business in Hong Kong?

Street art can’t be thought of as a business. The words together are an oxymoron. Street art is for the people. That’s why it’s on the street; you can view it for free. Some artist segway their art into products and that is a way to get the word out, an additional channel to inform people about your art. In that case, the business plays a role in supporting the art.

So apart from the street, street art business and the Internet, can you identify other channels for showing or promoting street art?

Everything can be a channel if you’re creative. Of course, there are the traditional ones like magazines and television, but there are no rules.

Who are the important street artists in Hong Kong?

Start from zero and Graphicairlines. Those are the two I know personally and they work hard here in Hong Kong.

Over the coming weeks we will be presenting a number of interviews with urban art gallery owners in Hong Kong. With these we hope to provide an in-depth study of the current and future aims of this constantly evolving community.

CBKM/KN/KCE

Related Topics: Hong Kong venues, street art, interviews

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Young Chinese artist Li Hui lights up Netherlands: an Art Radar interview

Posted by artradar on September 28, 2010


CHINESE ARTIST SOLO EXHIBITION LIGHT ART NETHERLANDS

Li Hui at work. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui at work. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Following his impressive solo exhibition last year in Mannheim, Germany, young Chinese artist Li Hui brings yet another surprise to the European art scene. In the pitch-dark exhibition space provided by The Centre of Artificial Light in Art in the Netherlands, Li Hui presents a spectacular display of four of his light works entitled “Who’s afraid of Red, Amber and Green?. The show, which runs from 16 July to 24 October this year, showcases Li’s experiments with laser and LED light.

The current show, the title of which may remind people of Barnett Newman‘s painting Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?, exhibits four of Li Hui’s works: Amber, Reincarnation, Cage and Everything Starts from Here. The works were selected jointly by John Jaspers (director of The Centre of Artificial Light in Art), Christoph and Cordelia Noe (co-directors of The Ministry of Art who represent Li Hui) and the artist.

In an interview with the museum, printed on the museum guide, Li Hui describes his works:

“I can imagine that if someone sees my work for the first time, it can have a very strong visual impact. Just like in Newman’s paintings, the bright colors first have to get stored in one’s brain. I also understand that there are elements in my works that might make people feel a little puzzled or even a little scared when first confronted with them. However, from what I have experienced, it is not just the visual impact, but also the ‘otherness’ or their mysticism that can have this kind of result. It is somehow similar to … Shamanism.”

Art Radar Asia spoke to Li Hui about the ideas in his works, the challenges he faces and his future plans.

Light not an intended media

Specialising in sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Li Hui learnt to use stainless steel and wood but not light. In fact, he never meant to use light in all of his works, and would not call himself a light artist. It was in the process of production that he thought of light as a possible media for some of his works. He gives an example of how he came up with using LED light for Amber.

“I wanted the transparent material to glow, and I found that LED light is the only light that can produce the effect I wanted. The material is also thin enough for me to install inside the work, so I used it.”

Using LED light led to his discovery of the properties of laser light, a non-heating light which produces pure colors, and he started to experiment with it for other works. Light is not a usual medium for art in China or the world and Li says of this phenomenon,

“Light doesn’t seem like a material that can be used in art – if you do not handle it well, the outcome will be awful. Everyone can use light in their work, but light may not always be a good material to help them express what they want to express.”

"What I want to create is smoke rising from the bed softly and freely. It is a work that would evoke emotions, but this may not be obvious from photos," relays Li Hui. Reader's who are interested in experiencing these emotions firsthand can click on the image to watch a video. (Please note that the video is presented in Dutch.) 'Reincarnation' (200 x 110 cm; height variable) is a sculpture made of laser lights, fog, metal and medical bandage to create a mysterious, psychedelic, religious visual effect. In Buddhism, reincarnation means cycle or life circulation – the recurring process of our spirit being incarnated in another life after we die. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

"What I want to create is smoke rising from the bed softly and freely. It is a work that would evoke emotions, but this may not be obvious from photos," relays Li Hui. Readers who are interested in experiencing these emotions firsthand can click on the image to watch a video. (Please note that the video is presented in Dutch.) 'Reincarnation' (200 x 110 cm; height variable) is a sculpture made of laser lights, fog, metal and medical bandages. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

At this point, Li hasn’t thought about specialising in light art, and says that he would use whatever materials suit his concepts. Asked about what he is going to do next, Li says that he is interested in the spiritual and the inner world. When asked whether there are particular philosophies that Li Hui wants to convey in his works, he answers no.

“I want to create feelings which cannot be expressed in languages. There are just too many works attached [to] some kind of philosophy, but to me that’s not what art is about. You create feelings in art – if you can feel it, others will feel it too.”

Li Hui says about his work 'Cage': "There are two cages inside the work made of laser beams. Laser beams are special in a way that they look tangible while in reality they are not. The two cages appear alternatively so that a group of people who find themselves 'trapped' in the cage in one moment would suddenly find themselves outside the cage in the next. This work brings out the contrast between reality and illusion." 'Cage' (each 200 x 200 cm; height variable) is made of laser lights, mirrors and iron. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui says about his work 'Cage': "There are two cages inside the work made of laser beams. Laser beams are special in a way that they look tangible while in reality they are not. The two cages appear alternatively so that a group of people who find themselves 'trapped' in the cage in one moment would suddenly find themselves outside the cage in the next. This work brings out the contrast between reality and illusion." 'Cage' (each 200 x 200 cm; height variable) is made of laser lights, mirrors and iron. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Technological skill toughest obstacle

You may imagine Li Hui’s laboratory crammed with a lot of professional equipment to support his experiments, but in reality he has to seek technological support from others, such as LED light producers, to create his light works. In fact, technology is one of the greatest challenges in the artist’s production process.

“It is impossible to do the works in my own studio. I have to cooperate with others. I don’t have their professional equipment. It is very costly…. The most difficult [thing] is skill – I am not talking about artistic skill, but technological skill. Sometimes the problems are just impossible to solve.”

For Li Hui, every work is born from rounds of brain-storming followed by rounds of experiments in an effort to work through and predict potential problems.

“Experiments push toward the final outcome. At the initial stage of production, I may draw on the computer. Then I begin experimenting with materials. For example, I test a few shots of laser beams with smoke and find the proportion that suits what I want to express.”

Li Hui says about his work 'Everything Starts From Here': "This is a discovery in an experiment. The light beams strike through the transparent dining goblets to project a very impressive light image on the wall. Most of my works are large but this one is not because it is an experimental work." 'Everything Starts From Here' (20 x 30 x 20cm) utilises laser lights, a metal box with a crank, glass and projectors. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Li Hui says about his work 'Everything Starts From Here': "This is a discovery in an experiment. The light beams strike through the transparent dining goblets to project a very impressive light image on the wall. Most of my works are large but this one is not because it is an experimental work." 'Everything Starts From Here' (20 x 30 x 20cm) utilises laser lights, a metal box with a crank, glass and projectors. Image courtesy of Ministry of Art.

Ministry of Art dedicated to Chinese art in Europe

Art Radar Asia spoke with Christoph Noe, one of the directors of The Ministry of Art, an art advisory and curatorial company based in China which represents Li Hui, to find out more about how European opportunities are secured for Chinese or other Asian artists.

“The Ministry of Art … has a broader scope than [just being] a gallery. Our idea is to give artists the opportunity to cooperate with museums or art institutions in Europe … as a lot of the Chinese artists have already had the opportunity to exhibit their works in China or Asia, and some of them lack the opportunity to exhibit in Europe. We come in with our expertise because of our European origins and networks with European institutions. Once we are excited about a Chinese artist we can find an institution that fits very well for that artist.”

Li Hui will participate in a group show called Internationale Lichttage Winterthur 2010 in Switzerland in November. He will present another solo exhibition in June 2011 in Berlin, Germany.

CBKM/KN/HH

Related topics: Chinese artists, light art, museum shows, emerging artists

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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

Related Topics: Tibetan artists, museum shows, New York venues, Buddhist art

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Australian modern and contemporary arts gain momentum: top five auctioned works listed

Posted by artradar on September 6, 2010


AUSTRALIAN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART PRICES AND TRENDS

As the 17th Sydney Biennale drew to a close, a recent article published on artprice.com reported on the improvement of the Australian modern and contemporary art market since 2007, despite its confinement to Sydney and Melbourne. There is a strong preference among Australian collectors for paintings, oil, acrylic and figurative work.

The article provides a list of the top ten Australian works which have been sold at the highest price between 2000 and 2010. Here is the list of the top five:

  • First-Class Marksman (1946) by Sidney Robert Nolan (1917-1992): sold at USD4,103,100 by Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in March 2010

    'First-Class Marksman' depicts a square-helmeted Ned Kelly pointing his gun into the Australian bushes to protect himself from the police. Picture taken from deutschermenzies.com.au.

  • The Olgas for Ernest Giles (1985) by Brett Whiteley (1939-1992): sold at USD2,445,280 by Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in June 2007

    "It's a highly charged, erotic painting and the landscape itself is depicted as having the qualities of flesh," said Adrian Newstead, managing director of Deutscher-Menzies, talking to the 'Sydney Morning Post' in 2007 about 'The Olgas for Ernest Giles'. Picture taken from deutschermenzies.com.au."

  • The Old Time (1969) by John Cecil Brack (1920-1999): sold at USD2,301,320 by Sotheby’s in May 2007

    'The Old Time' is a painting of a ballroom dancing couple. Picture taken from Art News Blog.

  • Opera House (1971-1982) by Brett Whiteley (1939-1992): sold at USD1,972,560 by Sotheby’s in May 2007

    Taken From: http://www.artquotes.net/masters/whiteley/opera-house-painting.htm

    This painting of the Sydney Opera House was owned by Qantas Airline. It hung in the club travellers lounge in Sidney. Picture taken from artquotes.net.

  • The Bar (1954) by John Cecil Brack (1920-1999): sold at USD1,893,060 by Sotheby’s in April 2006

    Modelled on Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, this painting mocks the Six-o'clock swill - the last minute rush to buy drinks in bars due to their early closing. Picture taken from Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Sidney Robert Nolan’s First-Class Marksman, fetching over USD4,000,000 in 2010, tops the list. This is against the price trend of Nolan’s works, which has been downward since 2007.

Brett Whiteley, named the “most sought Australian artist during the decade” by the article, produced The Olgas for Ernest Giles which has fetched over USD 2,400,000. It has been reported that “100 euros invested in one of his works in 1998 were worth an average of 555 euros by February 2010”.

Among the best results of 2009 and 2010 are the sales of works by Norman Alfred Williams Linsay which went for between USD100,000 and 235,000.

In the affordable USD10,000-40,000 price range are the best works by Frederick Cress and large watercolors by John Henry Olsen and Frederick Ronald Williams. In the higher USD40,000-120,000 price range are the still-lifes by Grace Cossington SMITH and tranquil landscapes by Lloyd Frederic REES.

Representing the young generation of artists loyal to the Australian figurative tradition are Rick Amor, Lin Onus and Vincent Fantauzzo. Rick Amor broke the USD100,000 line with The Waiter which fetched USD100,300 at Menzies Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in May 2010. The value of Lin Onus’ Reflections, Barmah Forest leapt from USD100,600 less than seven years ago to USD200,600 in March 2010 at Deutscher & Menzies. Some of her oils on cardboard from the 1970s can be picked up at less than USD10,000. Vincent Fantauzzo’s portrait Brandon fetched USD 43,580 in June 2010 at Menzies Art Brands, Sydney.

While the purchase of contemporary art in Australia is picking up speed, the performance of Aboriginal art has been in serious decline since its peak in 2007. This may be because the buying spree of best works by Aboriginal art masters who have died in the last decade is gradually coming to an end.

CBKM/KN/HH

Related Topics: Australian artists, lists, trends

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Wilson Shieh revitalises ancient Chinese painting techniques – video

Posted by artradar on September 1, 2010


HONG KONG ARTISTS CHINESE INK PAINTING VIDEO

Art Radar Asia brings you another video (length 5:22 minutes) from Internet channel ChooChooTV’s show [art]attack. This one features Wilson Shieh, one of the few full-time professional artists working in Hong Kong. Specialising in gong-bi, or fine-line, Shieh is admired for creatively merging traditional Chinese painting techniques with modern art elements. In the video on ChooChooTV, Shieh talks about how he develops his unique style of painting and creates intriguing works with it.

“Before I learned the fine-brush technique, I considered this style as just a kind of antique craftsmanship. But after all, as you can see, I have adopted the fine-brush manner in my work. The ancient sense of beauty looks fresh to contemporary eyes.” Wilson Shieh, as quoted on Crown Point Press

Wilson Shieh at work.

Wilson Shieh at work.

While pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shieh became interested in gong-bi paintings, which inspired him to create an unusual style of work.

Experimenting with the combination of old and new

Since gaining his bachelor’s degree in 1994, Shieh has been working on figure paintings. One of the traditional Chinese painting techniques which Shieh has been using in his works is lin-mo, which involves paper-scanning figures onto traditional gong-bi paintings.

To introduce modern elements in his works, Shieh replaces the ancient costumes of the scanned figures with modern clothing. He also experiments with nude bodies, taking the work “back to basics and nature” and removing the sense of time. An example of this is “Musical Family” (2008), a set of paintings in which nude bodies imitate instruments.

Click here to view more videos from ChooChooTV show [art]attack and read our summaries of them.

CBKM/KN/HH

Related topics: Hong Kong artists, ink painting, videos

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The 17th Sydney Biennale – Art Radar rounds up highlights, disappointments and critiques

Posted by artradar on August 25, 2010


BIENNALES ART EVENTS AUSTRALIAN ART CONTEMPORARY ART GLOBALISATION ENLIGHTENMENT

With an unprecedentedly high attendance of over half a million visitors, the 17th Sydney Biennale has also been the largest in scale since the biennale was first held in 1973. From 12 May to 1 August, 444 works by 167 artists from 36 countries sprawled out over seven exhibition venues, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cockatoo Island, Pier 2/3, Artspace, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the entrance court of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. What follows is an Art Radar summary of this year’s artists and events and a collection of comments and critiques made by various arts writers and bloggers.

From European Enlightenment to globalisation

Titled The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, this year’s biennale celebrated the end of European Enlightenment in art and welcomed a new era of shifted balance of power. David Elliott, artistic director of the biennale, spoke to The New Zealand Herald about the breaking down of previous political and geopolitical structures and the changing dispersion of power and knowledge in the present world.

In an effort to explore this new world – a world in which Western superiority is being replaced by equality among different cultures – the biennale selected and presented works from diverse cultures, predominantly Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavia, Britain and China, works created mostly by artists who are new to international exhibitions.

Diverse art styles, heavy demand for new technologies

As the subtitle Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age suggests, the biennale presented arts with themes that are closely connected to contemporary realities. A recent article posted on c-artsmag mentioned how the biennale pointed to a world which “is fragmented and fractured, hobbled by inequalities and necessitating historical reassessment.” Common themes of the exhibited works include poverty, famine, inequality, environmental despoliation and globalisation.

The biennale presented works of a variety of styles. In Sydney Morning Herald, Adam Fulton describes that,

“The modern art – traversing installation, sculpture, painting, film, cross-media and performance – goes from the sublime (110 Aboriginal memorial poles in the Museum of Contemporary Art) to the bizarre (a giant ship sculpture with oozing foam and pierced baby-doll faces on Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay).”

There was a heavy demand for new technologies to support the audio and visual effects in many biennale works. A review by Colin Ho on ZDNet reports that over 70% of the budgeted expenses for artworks and installations of the biennale were spent on audio-visual and IT infrastructure.

Australian arts were promoted

The biennale represented the largest number of Australian artists in history. 65 Australian artists exhibited their works, and most of the 68 artists who premiered new works were also Australians.

An example is Peter Hennessey’s sculptural work, My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself) (2010), with which visitors can play to modify and create their own universes that they can then view in the eye piece located high in the air.

Peter Hennessey's 'My Hubble', which allows viewers to create and view their own universes, was part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Peter Hennessey's 'My Hubble', which allows viewers to create and view their own universes, was part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Another example is Brook Andrew’s Jumping Castle War Memorial (2010). The seven-metre-wide bouncy castle is not designed for the children, but for adults over sixteen only. The plastic-enclosed turrets contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide.

The plastic-enclosed turrets of Brook Andrew’s 'Jumping Castle War Memorial' contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide. The interactive installation is part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

The plastic-enclosed turrets of Brook Andrew’s 'Jumping Castle War Memorial' contain skulls which represent the victims of genocide worldwide. The interactive installation is part of this year's Sydney Biennale.

Major Asian artworks at the biennale

Among all the exhibited works, one of the most visited, media-covered and praised artwork was Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One, his largest installation to date.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s 'Inopportune: Stage One' (2004) is a colossal installation made with nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes which create an impression of a series of cars exploding and rotating through space.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s 'Inopportune: Stage One' (2004) is a colossal installation made with nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes which create an impression of a series of cars exploding and rotating through space.

The biennale exhibited other Asian premier works including Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Faraday Cage, Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Hong Kong Intervention and Chinese artist Jennifer Wen Ma‘s New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III.

Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s premier work 'Faraday Cage' is an installation created with light boxes from his previous “lightening fields” which experiment with photographically imaging electricity on large-format film.

Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s premier work 'Hong Kong Intervention' (2009) reflects on the socio-economic inequity between the now mobile and globalised Filipino domestic maid workforce in Hong Kong and their employers.

Chinese artists Jennifer Wen Ma's premier work 'New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III', a video installation in which smoke projection beams an animated image of the Monkey King from Chinese mythology.

Go here to view videos highlighting some of the major works in the 17th Sydney Biennale including Jennifer Wen Ma’s New Adventures of Havoc in Heaven III, Peter Hennessey’s My Hubble and Brook Andrew’s Jumping Castle War Memorial.

Mixed response from professionals and blog critics

While the consensus among critics and bloggers is that the Sydney Biennale this year was better than those in previous years, there are mixed comments about the biennale. John McDonald makes a summary of the biennale as a circus which relies too much on the natural ambience of Cockatoo Island. As he wrote in the Brisbane Times,

“This Biennale is as much a circus as ever, with some impressive works and a huge amount of filler. It is a better, more consistent show than the previous Biennale, although it still contains many exhausting hours of video and leans heavily on the extraordinary ambience of Cockatoo Island.”

He also questions whether the diverse selection of works is based on a central theme or just David Elliott’s taste.

“The sheer diversity of this collection makes a mockery of the conceptual framework outlined by the director. He might just as easily have said: ‘These are works that I like, made by some friends of mine.’ Instead, we are subjected to the usual preposterous claims that this art will leave us gasping for breath and spiritually transfigured. If it doesn’t, the problem lies with us, not the show.”

A blogger, writing on Art Kritique, shares a similar view with John McDonald and describes the biennale as confusing, banal and tricksy.

“The Biennale of Sydney is confusing. A friend of mine recently described it as a ‘car crash mishmash’ and she was right, sometimes the unexpected juxtapositions make for magical surprises, more often they leave you with a headache … The inherent ghostly palimpsest of the island’s history, the shapes and textures of architecture and machinery speak so eloquently themselves that much of the work feels banal and tricksy.”

But some appreciated the biennale as being thought provoking and the works as being engaging and of high standard.

“Remarkably coherent and thoughtful, Elliott’s biennale mostly avoids the pitfalls of political correctness by including art that is thought-provoking, engaging and, in some instances, even beautiful.” Christina Ruiz, writing in the Art Newspaper.

“The Sydney Biennale … is usually more Banale than Biennale but not this year. The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, curated by David Elliott, is at turns poetic, ironic, and provocative. With tonnes of interesting artists doing amazing and often very humorous things, from Cai Guo Qiang and Shen Shaomin from China, to Folkert de Jong from the Netherlands, Paul McCarthy from the US, and Kader Attia from France. Roxy Paine’s ‘Neuron’ installation outside the Museum of Contemporary Art is particularly arresting, its stainless steel nerve cell of tree roots exploding in front of the MCA’s rather authoritarian 1930s facade. In my view, it is the best Biennale since the ‘The Readymade boomerang’ curated by René Block in 1990.” Chris Moore, writing in Saatchi Online TV and Magazine.

“The Biennale has a delightfully freewheeling and inclusive spirit, but it is the high standard of the art work, carefully selected and displayed, that makes the big exhibition so enjoyable at all its venues, not just Cockatoo Island … It helps that there is very little art of the ‘my three year old could have drawn that’ school. The easy pose of ironic detachment which sometimes puts people off contemporary art is almost completely absent, or is at least leavened by a political and conceptual eagerness which eloquently expresses the Biennale’s seemingly unwieldy theme, “The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age.” Alan Miller, writing in the Berkshire Review for the arts.

CBKM/KN

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Myanmar artists access international art community, Art Radar speaks to Aye Ko about +ROAD

Posted by artradar on August 3, 2010


ART PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEW MYANMAR ARTIST AND ART SCENE

Late last month, Art Radar spoke with Nindityo Adipurnomo, one of the executive directors of Cemeti Art House, about the recent “+ROAD” collaborative project and exhibition between five young artists from Myanmar and five from Indonesia. He presented our readers with valuable insight into the Indonesian art climate and his perspective on the project.

Art Radar Asia thought it important to find out what is going on in Myanmar, so we contacted Aye Ko, Executive Director of New Zero Art Space and one of the participating artists in the exhibition. Here is what he had to say…

Aye Ko with some of his paintings

Outreaching to one of the most prestigious art centers in Asia

The reason why Aye Ko initiated the “+ROAD” project, as he said, was because he knew that Cemeti Art House is one of the most important art centers in Asia. He had had his first experience with Cemeti Art House when he invited the two executive directors, Nindityo Adipurnomo and his wife Mella Jaarsma, to the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange Program in 2009, where New Zero Group tried its best to build mutual understanding and connections with Cemeti. The project was initiated as a further step towards collaboration.

Aye Ko was keen for New Zero Group to learn from Cemeti Art House. He says,

The whole project was what we asked Nindityo for. The detailed program was planned by Cemeti Art House. As you know, Cemeti Art House’s experience is about twenty years, but honestly New Zero is just green. That’s why we need to learn from them.

Access to a passport the major selection criteria for Myanmar artists

According to Aye Ko, the most important consideration in the selection of Myanmar artists to participate in “+ROAD” was whether the artists held a valid passport, which is very difficult and costly to obtain in Myanmar. The second consideration was whether the artists could concentrate on their artwork and be serious about it. The final consideration: selecting a variety of artists who produced different genres and styles of work.

The “+ROAD” project ran for two weeks; an exhibition followed. Although two weeks is not a long time, Aye Ko did have a chance to observe the Indonesian art scene, culture and developing environment, especially during the workshops, when he and the other artists had friendly conversations and shared their knowledge, opinions and ideas. He attributes their successful communication to patience, understanding and a passion for arts, especially new media and contemporary art.

When Aye Ko and other artists brainstormed ideas in workshops, they didn’t know these ideas would be used to put together an exhibition; the news came as a surprise as well as a headache when the Cemeti organisers broke it. The artists began to seriously discuss their ideas: ways of presenting them as well as the use of materials, lighting and space. Aye Ko explained that this process is how great artworks are created and how artists gain respect and admiration from each other.

Myanmar artists need to learn from their Indonesian counterparts

Presentation of ideas and reflections on society were usually different for each of the artists involved in the “+ROAD” project, who had different ideas and emotions because of their unique social-cultural backgrounds and corresponding identities, but Aye Ko appreciated the differences. As he explains,

The sense of art could be promoted through sharing. Different ideas could also help [us] to understand more about their passion and identities. We also have an opportunity to oppose a view point.

Aye Ko felt that two weeks were a rather short period of time in which to brainstorm ideas and produce a piece of artwork, but overall he enjoyed the experience. It gave him the opportunity to discover different ideas and styles in others’ artwork and to learn from the Indonesian artists. As he explains,

I saw how hard working the artists from Indonesia are. I think the Indonesia artists concentrated a lot on their art and the ideas and they feel deeply about their art. I feel that we, Myanmar artists, need to work more, concentrate more and improve our communication.

Aye Ko’s view of the Myanmar art scene and future prospects

Aye Ko believes that projects like “+ROAD” are crucial for educating Myanmar artists and exposing them to international art practices and standards.

[The] Myanmar art scence is isolated from other countries. It needs to develop internationally and take time to develop enough for [the] international [art community]. Indonesian artists are catching up with international artists. [The] international art society is interested in Indonesia artists, in my opinion. There are many museums in Indoneisa but there is only one in Myanmar.

This project is a very crucial event, not only for me but also for New Zero Art Space, Myanmar artists and arts, and new generation artists. Because our country is isolated, it can [be] directed from an isolated country to a free and open art society. With this hope, I am trying to do different types of projects which can give [me] more knowledge.

[By] displaying these exchange programs, Myanmar artists knock the door of international art society for the first time.

As I said, I am planning to make this kind of event in Myanmar. We already did the Nippon-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2001/2005/2009), the Hong Kong-Myanmar Performance Art Exchange (2010), the ASEAN Contemporary Art Exchange (2009), and the Artists Residency Program (2010). There will also be the Mekong Contemporary Art Exchange in Vietnam and Bangkok this month. These events motivate me to do more art events continuously in order to promote international standards for local artists and new generation artists.

CBKM/KN

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Sotheby’s to hold first ever international auction house sale of calligraphy in Doha

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


ART MARKET ART AUCTIONS CALLIGRAPHY DOHA

Sotheby’s London recently announced it will hold the first ever international auction house sale dedicated solely to calligraphy in Doha, Qatar, at The Ritz-Carlton Doha hotel, on 15 December. The groundbreaking calligraphy auction Hurouf: The Art of the World will showcase various works ranging from very early Islamic calligraphies to a mix of modern and contemporary Arabic, Farsi and Ottoman Turkish works.

Highlights of the forthcoming auction will travel through the Gulf Region prior to sale, one of which being Ali Omar Ermes’ The Fourth Ode which has an estimated price ranging from USD250,000 to USD350,000.

Ali Omar Ermes's 'The Fourth Ode' (acrylic and ink on paper).
Ali Omar Ermes’s ‘The Fourth Ode’ (acrylic and ink on paper).

Calligraphy is an art form that has influenced the Doha art scene for many years, and Sotheby’s believes this sale represents the region’s past and present talents. Says Roberta Louckx, Sotheby’s Executive Vice President and Head of Sotheby’s in Qatar, in a the press release announcing the sale:

We are delighted to return to Doha later this year with an inaugural auction devoted to ‘calligraphy’, a theme that has inspired and informed the art of this rich and diverse culture throughout the ages – from the production of the first Kufic Qur’ans to the modern and contemporary artworks of Farhad Moshiri. Sotheby’s is strongly committed to the region, and we are extremely excited to present for sale, in Qatar, the creative endeavours of some of the region’s most talented artists, past and present.

According to the press release, the forthcoming calligraphy sale is built on the success of last year’s Doha sales. After opening an office in Doha in 2008, Sotheby’s held maiden sales in March last year during which an Indian carpet made of pearls and gems fetched USD5.5 million, although the Bloomberg article which reported on this sale also mentioned that the prices of the auctions were disappointing in general. As Dalya Islam, Director of Sotheby’s Middle East Arab & Iranian Art Department, states in the press release,

Last year at our Doha sales Sotheby’s achieved solid success for works by highly sought-after Arab artists such as Chafic Abboud, Nabil Nahas, Ayman Baalbaki, Yousef Ahmad and Ali Hassan. In order to build on this, we have decided to devote a sale to works of significant interest to the region, focusing on calligraphy. The Arabic script has stimulated artists for more than a millennium, and is still a highly regarded and revered art form that reflects the rich history of the region. The auction will emphasise the enduring legacy of Islamic art by tracing the development of calligraphy, with a focus on its contemporary manifestation.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics:  market watch – auctions, calligraphy, Middle Eastern artists

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Will Youtube become a new platform for video art? Guggenheim experiments

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


YOUTUBE GUGGENHEIM VIDEO ART ONLINE BIENNIALS

The world’s most popular online platform for video sharing, YouTube, will soon be put to the test as a potential new platform for art expression in joint initiative with the Guggenheim Museum. Launched this year, YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Videos is a creative video competition and art project committed to the exploration of online video art.

A media and an art institutions are cooperating to find out how the internet is changing the video art form and whether there is art in online videos – an emerging media which is continually establishing new ways to create, distribute and consume videos.

The promotional imagery for YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video.

The promotional imagery for YouTube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video.

“This collaboration with YouTube gives us a chance to explore digital media, bring it into the museum, and see how it functions, see if it functions. And through the process learn more about the phenomenon, because we would like to believe that art is transformative.” Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation (as quoted in the Otago Daily Times)

For the competition, each applicant may submit one original video entry of ten minutes or less that he or she has created in the past two years. When the competition closes for entry at the end of this month, a team of Guggenheim curators will review all the entries and create a shortlist of 200. A separate jury of nine professionals – from various disciplines such as visual arts, filmmaking, animation, graphic design and music – will then select twenty to be screened in four Guggenheim museums worldwide. All 200 entries will be available to view on the YouTube Play channel.

“We are, in a sense, inviting people to raise the standards of YouTube. This is aspirational for people who are interested in seeing their work be taken artistically.” Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation (as quoted in the Washington Post)

The project provides an opportunity for anyone, albeit art professionals or amateurs, to submit an innovative, original video to YouTube Play to compete for the chance of having his or her winning entry shown in October in four Guggenheim museums simultaneously: the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. The jury is looking for innovative works that debate on, discuss, test, experiment with and elevate the video medium. They expect to see something “different” – not “what’s now” but “what’s next”.

“People who may not have access to the art world will have a chance to have their work recognized. We’re looking for things we haven’t seen before.” Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation (as quoted in the New York Times)

To express your thoughts and opinions of the biennial visit The Take, a platform for commentary and discussion of the project by Guggenheim-invited guests, staff, and web site visitors.

CBKM/KN

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