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Posts Tagged ‘contemporary artists’

Japanese artist Hiroshige Fukuhara reappears after 8 year absence – Art Radar interview

Posted by artradar on August 19, 2010


JAPANESE ARTIST INTERVIEW PAINTING DRAWING EMERGING ARTISTS

Eight years ago, Japanese artist Hiroshige Fukuhara was building up a successful career as a promising contemporary artist. He showed work at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in 2001 then disappeared from the contemporary art world. Then, in 2009, he reappeared at Tokyo’s ULTRA002 art fair, and in March this year exhibited work at NYC PULSE. Last month, Art Radar Asia spoke with Fukuhara in a special interview in which he talked about artwork from his recent solo exhibition “Binary” and explained what he has been doing in the eight years that he withdrew from the art world.

Fukuhara is represented by Ai Kowada Gallery in Ebisu, Japan, where he had a solo exhibition, “Binary”, earlier this year. His artwork from this exhibition features a series of drawings on which he sketches images of flora and fauna onto a black background with pencil, making the image difficult to see in certain lighting or at certain angles. We interviewed Fukuhara at this gallery, surrounded by his most recent work. Here he explained the reasons he chose this new medium and talked about his inspiration for the title of the exhibition. We discussed his background, what drives him and his art and the challenges that face young artists working today.

Artist Hiroshige Fukuhara next to his piece, 'The Night' at his latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

Artist Hiroshige Fukuhara next to his piece, 'The Night' at his latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image property of Art Radar Asia.

When did you first feel that you were an artist?

Something like, when I felt different from other people? (laughs)

You mean you wanted to do something different?

Yes, when I thought that, and also when there are judgment calls between something that’s supposed to be “good”, and “bad”, and I felt that, even though I know what’s socially right, morally right, I want to take those social and moral judgments separately. For example, with morals, morally, something could be bad, but it can still be good. I sometimes made that kind of judgment, but people around me, if it was morally bad they would always consider it bad. So there’s a difference there.

After exhibiting at P.S.1 in 2001, you quit all activity as an artist to pursue other work until ULTRA002 in 2009. What influenced your decision to quit activity as an artist?

When I was in university, what I made was the same as now, fine art. Then, when I was there, Phillip Morris [International] did things like Art Hour. I was remaining as a candidate until the finals – well there were twenty, thirty of us – but I was one of the finalists. Then, that became a trigger that led to some small exhibitions.… That time it was already the final. There were people from other countries in the finalists, so there were a quite lot of people, but the Finalist Award pretty much triggered other things, several other things, but after that, I sort of got tired of it…. And then, what I mean by ‘tired of it’ is that I sort of grew tired of what I was making at the time as well, and then from there, I went more towards media art.

Things like graphic design?

No, more interactive than that. There’s some programming, then projection, like that…. Then, when I was making interactive art work, places like Sendai, Mediatheque from Sendai, and New York, and there was talk of Kyuushu at one point, although that didn’t end up happening, there was talk of going to these places … and when I participated in that, then I really ended up tired of what I was doing. What I mean is, I like media art, but I don’t think I can do it.

So what did you do after you grew bored of new media art? Why hadn’t you been creating art until recently?

In 2001, I did one exhibition, but then I started to question whether there was a point in doing art without the thought, without the creativity. And then I really began to think, was there a point in doing art? Is there a point in making, say, a sculpture? Who would it be for? And what manner of creating art would satisfy me? Keeping these things in mind I made some simple test pieces…. Samples. For example, making something without a shape. Not exactly design… just the idea. Just the philosophy behind it. And so the period of time that I spend just focusing on the philosophy part, the philosophy regarding art, the creative part is open. And so I subdivided my brain a little, separated creative as creative, and that part I used when I was doing design, which I don’t consider fine art. In my head, therefore I had space to consider what I should do with the “art” side of things. I kept thinking. I mean really, I tell everybody this but, I spent at least six years thinking about this.

What have you learnt during your absence from the art world?

I realised there’s no need to make things that are already visible. For example, let’s say you go somewhere, travel somewhere, maybe. You see a very beautiful landscape. I think you can leave that for a photograph. So I decided not to recreate things that exist in the first place … I think that it’s best to draw something that uses imagination and inspiration as a way to consolidate your own philosophy.

Tell me about how you came to participate in ULTRA002 (2009) and NYC PULSE (2010).

That’s because I’m part of this gallery of artists. The artists associated with this gallery … can speak with the directors and discuss the possibility of entering the next ULTRA art fair, and it’s not certain you’ll pass, but you know, you apply for it.

Why did you want to become an artist?

I think that art is like a subject. It’s academic … the basis of art is quite academic. But the viewer has freedom. That’s why, when I make my work, it’s more philosophical. I like to have philosophical ideas and make pieces…. The point is that the people who critique art often have very academic backgrounds, but I think even children and people who don’t know anything about art should be able to see the art, and freely feel what it means to them. I feel that is the most pure, somehow. And so, for fine art, there aren’t any restrictions. For example, the big difference between ‘design’ and ‘art’ is whether or not it’s been requested. The thing with design is that, after all, it’s somebody else’s intention, or somebody’s … desire…. There’s a purpose, very clearly. And so, for fine art, the purpose is in the self, so it remains extremely pure…. For example, nobody is going to be sad as a result, or maybe they won’t be happy either, and maybe they will be sad, but, even so, it might make them happy. Thus it’s really quite a … place where one can face new challenges.

So would you consider yourself a fine artist? What do you consider your main line of work?

Myself? I would like to keep being an artist.

What major influences have you had in your life?

I suppose books…. I don’t really read novels much. Other than novels, documentaries, philosophical books, chemistry books, things like that. Especially books that might change one’s perspective, thoughts. Or else something that changes one’s thoughts, one’s mind. How should I explain this? To ‘dephase’…. And so, I’m always trying to find opportunities for change, so yes, perspective. What kind of perspective to have each time.

What was it that changed you as an artist?

Maybe books. I suppose books. For example, even people you can never meet, people who you really respect, even if you’ve never met them, that person’s words are written down. The words affect us, and make us consider things like, maybe there’s no value in that, or that’s not quite right. In the end it’s yourself thinking, but the trigger for that, what gives it initiative, are the words of those people you respect.

What has challenged you as an artist? Why? What kinds of things have been challenges for you as an artist?

Everyday is a challenge (laughs). There’s a kind of fulfillment when you finish a piece, but at the end, that’s it; and so little by little, I try to find something I don’t like about it. Even if I’m pleased with it, I look for something I find displeasing, and next time, try to make it better. Whether it’s the technique, or the philosophy behind it, or the surface, that [makes it] good. And so I don’t know what it is, but I try to improve it, even if it’s just a little bit.

What do you like about art?

After all, we don’t have to have art, but it’s better to have it. We can have art, or not, but it’s definitely better to have it; the strangeness in that! The fact that we don’t know if there is or isn’t value; it’s unclear. I think it’s obvious that it’s better to have it, so that’s what’s fun.

What makes your work different from other artists’ in your generation?

I think they’re all very accomplished (laughs)…. The difference is that they are Fukuhara, or they aren’t. What I do, only I can do; when I’m doing art, I think like that…. For example, I consider the boundary between something existing and not existing. I like that boundary … I pay a lot of close attention to that, so, for example, the medium can be pencil, or oil paints, or metal, it can be anything. And so, if something does exist, or it doesn’t … I pay attention to that, I want to express that. And so I consider how to convey that, I look for that. And even if there’s someone who’s thinking the same thing, that person and I will probably come up with different ideas. And since we have different knowledge, that’s only possible for me to do, there’s only me.… My priority is not for the expression. I’m more inclined towards the philosophy involved.

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any future projects?

A big art fair. It hasn’t been decided yet but either in Miami, PULSE in Miami, or next year in New York … or a show. There are also some shows that want to exhibit my work, they’re pretty far ahead, but there are some exhibitions.

What challenges do you see for young artists working in contemporary art today?

In Japan? The circumstances are bad. Business is bad. Right now, it’s so. And, yes, the Japanese economy is very … the Japanese arts, arts scene? The arts scene I suppose, or more like, the custom here, is very bad. It depends on the culture. In Europe, and probably at PULSE as well, probably everyone is quite understanding, so they say, ‘Mr. Fukuhara, I can support you.’ As in, before they ask ‘How much?’ or things like that, they tell me, ‘I can support you.’ I’ve never heard of it in Japan. There were some people like that up till now, and so, yes, there are some, but they’re few. Overseas, in the USA, what I learned when I went to PULSE was that in fact, both very rich people, and people not quite so rich are willing to buy a piece of art if they like it. Because if they support a young artist, and since they like the piece itself, maybe they’ll become really well-known later on. There’s sort of a feeling like that. And also, they know that if they buy this piece, the artist can go on to make their next piece; they’ll approach artists in a sensibility like this, even if they don’t say it to this extent. Japan likes modern art. In Japan, there’s a kind of feeling that there’s a tendency towards it. I think that’s because the value is already determined, like: ‘This is good’; ‘That there, that is worth about this much.’ But, there isn’t much of a sense of supporting young artists … Japan has lots of really amazing young artists, but I think it’s very difficult in Japan.

Hiroshige Fukuhara, "the night with a clouded-over moon (carp)", 2010, pencil on aluminum panel, 50x35 cm, image courtesy of the artist

Hiroshige Fukuhara, 'The Night With a Clouded-over Moon (Carp)", 2010, pencil on aluminum panel, 50 x 35 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Tell me about your current exhibition, “Binary”.

The color is black, but, color depends on the light. The color is determined by the light. This here, what the color white means, is that it’s reflecting white light back at us. And here the light is getting absorbed and so it’s black in color. This looks silver, but all it is is that the carbon in the pencil lead is shiny. If you put black on black, well, you can’t see it very well, but it shines, and sometimes you can see it well, sometimes you can’t. And if you see it at night, it’s almost completely dark. If you see it in a room at night the surface is completely black.

What was the philosophy behind “Binary”?

As I said earlier, I’m trying to reach the borderline between what exists and what doesn’t. That’s why, for example, from here it’s impossible to see this painting because of the glare, yes? Because of the acrylic board, because it’s darkened. But if you put your eye close to it, you can see that there’s quite a bit drawn on it. ‘Then don’t draw on it!’ someone might say. But I want to draw on it. …When you interpret a computer, the data formats are, for example… there’s a thing called text, and text goes on forever. But with binary code, it tells you in the first row how many letters there are. And you can’t have any more than that. In that lies a big difference between so-called binary code and text. With binary you know the end from the very start, and in text it goes on forever so the end is unknown. Text has no limit but binary defines the end in its first row of numbers.

How did you use this idea of “binary” in your artworks?

In how I incorporated a limit into my work process. To start with, drawing lines in a way that makes them invisible is in itself limiting. And also, binary is in two states, so it’s ‘0’ and ‘1’… there’s no middle point, I didn’t draw any middle tones. They’re all drawn as solid lines, and it’s not in grey scale, but it’s black on white. What is it? Gradation? Gradation is hard to reproduce. If someone says, ‘Here is some gradation, go copy that exactly onto here,’ it’s really difficult to do that…. If’s it’s only two colors, if there’s a line in exactly the same place, it can be reproduced. …It’s just the placement. And so, this is somehow maybe worthless in value in terms of creativity. The act of purposely making something that can be re-created easily, that’s somehow important, the value. The easiness to re-create and the difficulty to re-create. Maybe it should be the priority to make things that are harder to re-create, but I deliberately want to express what’s easy to re-create.

What do you like most about this exhibition, “Binary”? What do you like most about this series?

The fact that it’s black (laughs)… It can be black or it can be white, but to have none… The good part is that it’s clear if it is or isn’t there … if you go in what you notice in the moment you enter is that there are black squares. And then in that, there’s a, what do you call it, in minimalism they made black panels, or red panels, but I can’t get that stoic, and I do want to express…. I want to express something animated, something pulsated, but part of me also doesn’t want to express it…

And so you make it harder to see.

Yes that’s it. And also in a picture, you try to fill it up; this goes here…. And so in order to not do a layout, I start drawing from an area.

Is that easier to do if it’s black?

No, that doesn’t affect it. In order to make the layout quieter… this isn’t fixated. And so if you take the acrylic board off and touch it, it’ll come off.

Why did you decide to use black gesso?

That’s because black holds a lot of different meanings. For example, it’s very still, it has a sense of immense quiet, and also a strong sense of night and also darkness… And it’s possible to see a highly dense something in black. White things are the opposite and they’re pure, there’s cleanliness. Black for me is a mysterious color. In order to fully expose the good qualities of the color black, I wanted to make it black on black. In the end it looks more like black on silver than black on black, but the act was to put black on black.

Is there a reason you decided to use pencil?

I think it’s the freshness?… For example that piece there, I’ve fixated. It’s more like a CD. If you compare it to music, it’s more like a CD. And this is more like a live show. It’s possible to do black on black by using a brush, for example, to place a transparent medium on the black, that would make it black on black as well. But if you do that, I think that makes it more like laying it out. I think that once you start deciding the composition, the picture will get more like, well industrial arts, or arts and crafts.

And it will get harder to see.

Right. Also I don’t intend to do arts and crafts, so, for lines that I can only draw in this instant, I want to draw them in that instant as much as possible, and with pencil it’s fast.

Do you draw directly onto the gesso or the aluminium?

Yes. As a piece…. I’m repeating myself a bit, but the relationship between the pencil and the gesso is that, it’s ultimately about being able to adjust the image, and I suppose how to deal with the lighting, because I’m not using colour. And so, it’s all about how much you control the light, and so I don’t question the medium. And this acrylic case protects it, but the piece is actually the whole thing, case and all, so it’s okay. It’s fine if the surroundings are reflected on the acrylic board. It’s all included in it.

Gallery view of Hiroshige Fukuhara's latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image courtesy of the artist.

Gallery view of Hiroshige Fukuhara's latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image courtesy of the artist.

Hiroshige Fukuhara, 'The Night', 2010, pencil, black gesso on wooden panel, 900 x 630 mm. Image courtesy of the artist.

Hiroshige Fukuhara, 'The Night', 2010, pencil, black gesso on wooden panel, 900 x 630 mm. Image courtesy of the artist.

This artwork shaped like a horse is a little different? Could you tell me more about this one?

It is different. I’m starting to do these recently, but as I said earlier about layouts, pictures tend to mostly be rectangular shaped.  I want to be able to connect the philosophy and the technique as directly as possible onto the square, the surface. However, somehow various… um, it has to go through, a certain way, and so it’s inevitable that the expression becomes more …angled than what was being imagined. For example, just drawing instinctively… without making a draft and drawing in real-time, directly, means that the lines aren’t pre-determined. After drawing a strawberry-like image… a flower appeared, and then below that are some moss-like things … and in each of those instants, there’s something that’s alive, and I try to draw them, picking up these random images from the library in my head and placing them onto the canvas. And so, when it’s square, I can’t help placing an object on it. For example, the butterfly, I put the butterfly down. This shape here, because the shape is intentional, internally it is tremendously free. I’m thinking I’d rather continue to do this sort of thing. And then when you do that, the place where it’s displayed? There might be more freedom in where you hang it and, if it’s square, for instance, often, pictures are something I want to be displayed in houses,… or museums and such as well. And so, with things like that, you feel an urge to place it bang in the middle. For example… there’s a horse drawn on that one. It’s just that a horse is there, but I drew the horse by accident. But, instead, if the canvas is a horse, then isn’t there no need to draw a horse? I can draw the pattern more freely from within, because if the tableau is square, I’m compelled to draw a horse. It’s a way that I strategise, but if the canvas is already shaped like a horse, there’s no more room to place one, and it makes it easier to make a direct connection between my head and my hand…. It’s impossible to remember what I drew (laughs).

Gallery view of Hiroshige Fukuhara's latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image courtesy of the artist.

Gallery view of Hiroshige Fukuhara's latest solo exhibition at Ai Kowada Gallery in Japan. Image courtesy of the artist.

You mean, the order that they’re hung is decided?

Yes, like maybe you want some more space between them. But if they’re shaped like this, and for instance, if there’s a small picture then maybe it might be good to put them in a spot like this. Yes, you might be freer to put them where you want, and maybe the meaning of the piece might change depending on where you place it. Also, outside? Having an association with a silhouette, also, makes the interior extremely … there’s a feeling of my own sense of alive-ness, and so for me I’d really like to continue to do this sort of thing.

MM/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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27 contemporary Southeast Asian artists featured in ASEAN-Korea photo exhibition

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


KOREAN ASEAN CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION

Created to showcase the range of dynamic contemporary photography coming from Korean and Southeast Asian artists, Emerging Wave“, currently on view at the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan (South Korea), features works from 27 artists ranging from emerging creators to established veterans.

Established in March 2009, the ASEAN-Korea Centre promotes both cultural and economic cooperation between Korea and the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) member countries. The organisation  recently partnered with Seoul Art Centre’s Hangaram Art Museum to open their 2010 photo exhibition which features 27 artists from 11 countries.

The exhibition, which is the second since ASEAN-Korea Centre’s launch, exposes the international community to new work by some of Southeast Asia’s brightest contemporary photographers. While many of the participants are veterans, the exhibition gives younger artists exposure to the contemporary art scene of a major city such as Seoul.

“Emerging Wave” attracts artists from all over ASEAN region

For example, for emerging Bruneian photographers Hirfian Hussain and Akmal Benangsutera, the exhibition is an opportunity to showcase the budding photography scene in their home country, as well as a chance to connect with dedicated artists from outside of Brunei.

Artists well-established in other media also make up this year’s selected names such as Burmese performance and installation artist Po Po. While not considered a prolific artist – he has had only two solo exhibitions since 1987 – his work is thoughtful and full of depth. As an artist who works with different media there is much crossover within his work. With his photography he employs elements of cubism, a movement he considers to be painting’s “highest state of intellectual approach.”

Po Po, Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1, 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm

Po Po, 'Searching for Identity: Bottle # 1', 2002-2007, C-print, 167 x 305 cm.

“How can I make cubist photos which present every aspect of a thing? These works are not objects of material.  They are objects of mind”.

Although in an article on the Myanmar Times website Po Po states his distinterest in “flashy technology or visual hype”, his selected photos demonstrate his willingness to experiment with newer media to create complex, visually stimulating images without losing the sincerity of his message.

Like Po Po, Singaporean artist Mintio incorporates multiple overlapping angles in photos from her “Concrete Euphoria” series (2008-2009).

Mintio, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm

Mintio, 'Kuala Lumpur City Centre', 2008, D-print, 152 x 122 cm.

In spite of being relatively young Mintio, who got her start at a major commercial studio at age 16, has already created a stir with her documentation of Asia’s largest cities using long-exposure techniques. For Mintio, the process is about both rediscovery and finding the unknown in familiar things.

“At the end of the day, no matter how familiar we think we are with a person or a place, there always will be jewels left undiscovered. Perhaps the answer of what a place or city means might just be a continuous journey of finding those jewels.”

Also on display is work by fellow Singaporean Zhao Renhui, a resident artist and member of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. Zhao channels his fascination with man’s perception of animals into photos sometimes depicting live or taxidermy creatures, and other times depicting man’s often futile attempts to be at one with nature. In an interview with Asian Photography Blog, Zhao expresses the idea that photography is a medium through which people “relate to animals and the world”. At the same time it is a medium which “blurs the distinction between fact and fiction”. In one particular image he presents a zoologist who appears nearly invisible with the aid of a camoflague cloak and photo manipulation.

Zhao Renhui, Tottori Sand Dunes, 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm

Zhao Renhui, 'Tottori Sand Dunes', 2009, archieval piezographic print, 84 x 121 cm.

In doing so, Zhao presents a surreal image as reality and challenges the validity of photography as a medium for depiciting truth. For the artist, reality in photography is illusory and constantly in flux. Viewers must try to make sense of the natural, scientic world through a manipulated, and possibly false, image.

A fascination with perceptions of truth also permeates the photographs of Thai artist Dow Wasiksiri and Vietnamese artist Richard Streitmatter-Tran. While Streitmatter-Tran makes no attempt to hide the artifice of his composite images, Wasiksiri’s saturated photos capture a side of Thai culture that he feels foreigners are not exposed to when viewing the “styled and staged” images of Thailand. According to the artist’s statement on his website:

“Visitors are presented with contrived, idealized images of Thainess by Thais ourselves … countless published views of Thailand are staged and styled. The contrivance and the reality rarely match, leading to startling juxtapositions”.

In presenting what he calls the “unexpected moments”, Dow aims to show unabashed ‘Thainess’ with humor and unself-consciousness.

Indonesian photographer Angki Purbandono makes use of what he calls a “freestyle” approach which allows him to employ methods ranging from collage to the scannography technique used in “Avocado Horse” (2010). Even so, Purbandono doesn’t separate himself from other photographers too much.

“Just like other people working with photography, I play with objects, considering light as important and employing a dark room to print my work.”

Angki Purbandono, Avocado Horse, 2010, Scannography, 100 x 100 cm

Angki Purbandono, 'Avocado Horse', 2010, scannography, 100 x 100 cm.

Korean artists well represented in “Emerging Wave”

Although most of the eleven countries are represented by two artists, organisers made sure to give Korean artists plenty of additional exposure. Bright candied flora populate the work of Koo Seong Youn while Hyun Mi Yoo seems to suspend falling objects in time with skillful compositions. The warped perspectives of Zu Do YangWawi Navarroza’s impersonation of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and “real vs. unreal” themes explored by artist Lee Yeleen add to the diversity of subject matter and style. Given that they were chosen for their talent and thoughtful innovation, it comes as no surprise that “Emerging Wave” participants turn the idea of photography on its head. With their photos they call on viewers to question the factual nature not just of the images they view but also the experiences which they have come to accept as normal and routine.

Koo Seong Youn Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm

Koo Seong Youn, 'Ht01 (+ Ht02), C-Prints, 2009, 120 x 150 cm.

Other artists included in the show are Koreans Choi Jung Won, Lee Won Chul, and Nanda; Laotians Manichanh Pansivongsay and Phonephet Sitthivong; Indonesian artist Arya Pandjalu; Filipina artist Bea Camacho; Malaysian artists Liew Kung Yu and Tan Nan See; Burmese artist Thit Lwin Soe; Tanapol Kaewpring; Vietnamese artist Le Kinh Tai; and Cambodians Sok Sophal and Tralong Borin.

The exhibition has moved from the Hangaram Art Museum to the GoEun Museum of Photography in Busan and will close on 8 August.

EH/KN

Related Topics: Southeast Asian, photography, museum shows

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

Posted by artradar on July 27, 2010


CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS CELEBRITIES REALITY TV

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

Reality TV and contemporary art finally meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profiles of the judges can be found here.

Vietnamese artist Trong eliminated in second round

Artist Trong Nguyen

Artist Trong Nguyen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EH/KN

Related Topics: celebrity art, crossover art, Vietnamese artists

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Top 20 Asian artists June 2010: Art Radar Asia’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on July 26, 2010


TOP ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS

In January this year, we published the article, “Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists, listing Art Radar Asia‘s most searched for artists to the end of 2009. This was so popular with our readers that we have decided to publish these results again. This list below highlights artists searched for between 30 June 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

Art Radar Asia receives an average of 27,000 page views a month. Our readers come to us in various ways: via links from other websites, from Twitter, facebook and other social media, from our email newsletter, from word of mouth referrals and, of course, via search engines.

Many readers find us by typing a specific artist name into Google or another search engine and finding a story written or image published by Art Radar Asia. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data, too. The search terms used by readers when finding each artist are varied. For example, common search terms recorded for Japanese artist Takashi Murakami included: “takashi murakami”, “murakami”, “murakami takashi”, “takashi murakami art” and “takeshi murakami”.

Art Radar Asia‘s 20 most searched artists – the list

We can’t claim that this list is a reliable proxy for the most-searched Asian artists on the Internet overall (take a look at our notes at the bottom of this article). However, we do think the list throws up some fascinating data, particularly when compared with the 2009 results.

  1. Takashi Murakami – male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 36,086  searches (34,000, December 2009)
  2. Shirin Neshat – female Iranian photographer – 4,532 searches (2,200, December 2009)
  3. Anish Kapoor – male British-Indian sculptor – 4,246 searches (3,500, December 2009)
  4. Marina Abramović – female New York-based Serbian performance artist – 3,092 searches (not listed, December 2009)
  5. Yoshitaka Amano – male Japanese anime artist – 829 searches (460, December 2009)
  6. Cao Fei – female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 672 searches
  7. Terence Koh – male Canadian-Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 634 searches
  8. I Nyoman Masriadi – male Indonesian painter – 625 searches
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 521 searches
  10. Hiroshi Sugimoto – male Japanese photographer – 503 seaches
  11. Subodh Gupta – male Indian painter, installation artist – 417 searches
  12. Ori Gersht – male Israeli photographer – 408 searches
  13. Ronald Ventura – male Filipino painter – 393 searches
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – male Iranian thread artist – 377 searches
  15. Farhard Moshiri – male Iranian painter – 363 searches
  16. Jitish Kallat – male Indian painter – 329 searches
  17. Gao Xingjian – male Chinese-French ink artist – 301 searches
  18. Bharti Kher – female Indian-British painter, sculptor and installation artist – 270 searches
  19. Shahzia Sikander – female Pakistani miniaturist – 264 searches
  20. Zhang Huan – male Chinese performance artist – 237 searches

How has the top 5 changed?

As with the last list, published at the end of 2009, Takashi Murakami is still holding the title spot with more than 36,000 searches. This is compared with 34,000 in 2009’s list. Shirin Neshat and Anish Kapoor have switched places since the previous list, although the difference between their numbers is somewhat insignificant. Yoshitaka Amano is new to the top 5, moving up to 5th place from 6th place in 2009, perhaps due to the 2010 announcement that he has established a film production company called Studio Deva Loka, in addition to directing a 3D anime named Zan. These announcements followed a small solo tour of his artwork. Marina Abramović has surged into the top 5 this time around, particularly notable as she did not appear on the 2009 list. This is most likely due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”.

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

Marina Abramovic, 'Happy Christmas', 2008, silver gelatin print, 53.9 x 53.9

How has the list changed since it was first published?

The following artists have returned since the 2009 list was published, but many have moved up or down by one or two places: Cao Fei (4, 2009); I Nyoman Masriadi (5, 2009); Ori Gersht (7, 2009); Terence Koh (8, 2009); AES+F (9, 2009); Ronald Ventura (10, 2009); Hiroshi Sugimoto (11, 2009); Farhad Moshiri (12, 2009); Subodh Gupta (13, 2009); Farhard Moshiri (12, 2009) ; Farhad Ahrarnia (14, 2009); Gao Xingjian (15, 2009); Jitish Kallat (16, 2009).

There are some new additions: Marina Abramović, perhaps due to her 2010 MoMA exhibition, “Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”; Shahzia Sikander, whose medium has recently become popular with collectors and critics and who has herself surged into prominence with a win at ART HK 10 ; Bharti Kher, whose works are currently auctioning for large sums; and Zhang Huan, who has had a number of permanent sculptures installed in US cities this year, and whose company designed the permanent public sculpture for the US pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

Only Chinese ink artist Wucius Wong doesn’t reappear. His surge in popularity in 2009 may have been due to the retrospective exhibition, “Myriad Visions of Wucius Wong“, at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Preferred media of most-searched artists: miniatures and performance art rising in popularity

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Six of the artists are known primarily for painting, compared with only five in the 2009 list, and once again, this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors. Miniature painting and performance art seem to be new topics of interest for readers.

Artist Age

Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s, as you would expect for a contemporary art website.

Interestingly, Shirin Neshat (Iranian photographer), Anish Kapoor (British Indian sculptor), Marina Abramović (Serbian performance artist), Yoshitaka Amano (Japanese anime), all born before 1960, were listed as number 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively. Of course, due to their age and time spent working in the arts, they each have large bodies of work which are consistently being exhibited, collected and discussed.

Artist Gender

male 14 (13, 2009); female 5 (3, 2009); mixed collective 1 (1, 2009)

In the year to June 2010, there were more female artists on the list though men still dominated (approx. 75 percent). Those female artists who were on both lists appeared higher up this year than last.

Breakdown of artist nationalities

Chinese 4 (4, 2009); Indian 4 (4, 2009); Iranian 3 (3, 2009); Japanese 3 (3, 2009); Serbian 1 (not listed, 2009); Israeli 1 (1, 2009); Indonesian (1, 2009); Filipino (1, 2009); Russian (1, 2009)

As you can see, this result is almost identical to the previous result, with the edition of one Serbian artist (Marina Abramović, Serbian performance artist). Once again, artists from China and India are among the most searched nationality, despite fears the Indian art market would be slow to recover after the 2008-2009 global art market turndown.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Shahzia Sikander working on a mural in the USA.

Notes
This list is not a reliable proxy for the most-searched artists on the internet overall. Here is why: If we have not written a story on or tagged this artist, the search engines will not bring us traffic for this search term and it won’t appear on our traffic analysis stats page. As we have only been up for 18 months it is quite possible that we have not yet covered some higly-searched artists. And even if we have referenced an artist on our site and the artist is highly-searched, the searcher will not come to us unless we have a good page ranking for the story on the search engine.  For example if the story is, say, after page 4 of the search engine results, the searcher probably won’t find our story and will not appear in our stats. Despite these limitations the data is likely to be a reliable indicator for certain trends. Finally even if we have a story and the story is well-ranked, it may be that other stories on the same page are more alluring than ours and readers do not find their way to us.

KN/KCE

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