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Posts Tagged ‘Mori Art Museum’

Picasso of China or voice of dissent: Who is Ai Wei Wei? Profile

Posted by artradar on September 22, 2009


Ai Weiwei's middle finger at Tiananmen.

CHINESE ARTIST PROFILE

Ai Wei Wei is vying with Cai Guo Qiang to become the most famous contemporary Chinese artist in the world claims Artinfo in its must-read quote-dense 4 page profile produced on the occasion of  Ai Wei Wei’s first large-scale solo show world-wide (Ai Wei Wei: According to What? at Mori Art Museum July to November 2009).

Obedient or defiant? Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei who was raised in China and has lived in the U.S for 12 years, integrates his social beliefs into his artwork with audacity and temerity.  Behind the title of design consultant for the Beijing Olympics “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, Ai Wei Wei remains a mystery figure who flaunts multifarious identities:

According to Chinese authorities, he is a dissident to be watched, one whose inflammatory blog needed to be silenced. But to others, the Chinese conceptual artist, architect, photographer, and curator — loathed and loved for his human rights activism — is the courageous voice needed in today’s repressive China.

He’s been called a headline grabber, a master of borrowing from other artists, and a “scholar clown,” and he’s been denounced for criticizing symbols of elitism and authority ranging from New York’s Museum of Modern Art to the Chinese government to the Eiffel Tower.

Ai’s philosophies about society and his willingness to expose and explore the issues are evident in his artwork:

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236 by 165 by 165, crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier by Ai Weiwei. 236'' by 165'' by 165'', crystal, scaffolding, 2002

Chandelier, a satire of the bizarre Chinese state aesthetic in the shape of half a chandelier that hangs in the museum’s entrance lobby.

Snake Ceiling is a serpentine installation formed from hundreds of new black-and-white backpacks sized for elementary and junior high school students. The coiled snake, suspended from the museum’s ceiling, alludes to an aesthetic form, the snake as ancient monster, and the tragedy and systematic cover-up at the heart of the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project, a focus for Ai’s guerrilla investigative activism.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China by Ai Weiwei. Tieli wood from destroyed Qing Dynasty temples, 20 X 70 X 63 in., 2004.

Map of China (2006) is a 3D object made with intricately-assembled old wood pieces and traditional joinery that poses subtle questions and a critique about China’s perceived domination of Taiwan and regions such as Tibet.

Fairytale, premiering at the exhibition, is a 150-minute film consisting of video and images from Ai’s historic 28-day journey with 1,001 Chinese citizens to the 2007 Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany.

Not only does Ai unify art and society in his artwork, he is also an activist blogger on the net.

…the high number of school fatalities was due to local officials siphoning money from school building costs. Grieving families said the structures were badly built and collapsed easily during the quake. But officials refused to list the names of the dead students, which could be used to unveil a possible cover-up, so Ai formed the Sichuan Earthquake Names Project with researchers and volunteers who discovered the names of 5,190 students.

Is it a coincident that he’s also the son of Ai Qing, an enemy of the state?

One of China’s most esteemed poets, he was sent to labor camps in northern Heilongjiang Province and western Xinjiang Province for 20 years for criticizing the Communist regime.

A fighter for freedom of choice, Ai also expresses challenging views about the Olympics last held in China and cultural censorship.

The Olympics became a very superficial activity that didn’t lift China into another possible condition but rather created great difficulties for [Chinese] society today.

China is still culturally under strong censorship, so a state museum would certainly never invite me,” he says. “If I have a show, I don’t want to be censored. … That’s not my principle. I don’t care if I ever have a show in China.

Read full article on ARTINFO for more about Ai Wei Wei: his personality, his canon and his views which have led Artinfo to make a bold statement about the importance of Ai Wei Wei.  After this MAM exhibition and

a larger one opening at Munich’s Haus der Kunst in October, Ai may overtake Cai Guo-Qiang as China’s most famous contemporary artist. Although Cai is a skilled, popular showman famed for his spectacular fireworks display at the Beijing Olympics, his work lacks the depth that is so integral to Ai’s many projects.

-Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Posted in Ai Weiwei, Chinese, Collaborative, Identity art, Installation, Japan, Land art, Large art, Museums, New Media, Overviews, Participatory, Profiles, Shows, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Japanese contemporary art – changes and trends – by gallerist Koyanagi

Posted by artradar on March 24, 2009


JAPANESE ART SCENE

Gallerist Atsuko Koyanagi discusses:

  • why Japanese galleries group together in different districts
  • how the opening of the Mori museum impacted the art scene
  • Japanese government’s relationship with culture
  • how Japanese and Western collectors differ
  • the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese art market
  • the future for art in Japan

Gallery Koyanagi is one of Tokyo’s top contemporary art galleries, representing major artists such as Sophie Calle, Marlene Dumas, Olafur Eliasson, Mariko Mori, Rika Noguchi, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Tabaimo.

The gallery, a regular exhibitor at Art Basel, Frieze Art Fair, Art Fair Tokyo and CIGE, started out as a contemporary ceramics gallery in 1988 but its founder and director Atsuko Koyanagi reopened the space as a contemporary art gallery in 1995. She talks here to Ashley Rawlings, an art critic based in Tokyo, about the changes in contemporary art in Japan over the last 15 years and about upcoming trends.

Atsuko Koyanagi

Atsuko Koyanagi

AR: What led you to open your gallery as a contemporary art gallery in 1995?

AK: The mid-1980s was when Cindy Sherman was becoming known and photography was starting to be appreciated as an artistic medium in its own right. Back then, with the exception of Zeit Photo Salon, Tokyo didn’t have any museums or galleries dedicated to photography. At that time I also met Hiroshi Sugimoto, and he was looking for a gallery that would represent him, but was being met with a lot of rejection. I was inspired to show his work and make the shift into contemporary art.

The advertising work I had done at Kazuko Koike’s office until then was in some respects close to photography. I felt I had an eye for this medium and that it would offer me the easiest way to enter the contemporary art world. I hadn’t studied art and I had never worked in another gallery before, so opening my own contemporary gallery was incredibly difficult at the beginning. But it was for that very reason that I felt I was open to involving myself with something new. So Gallery Koyanagi reopened as a contemporary art gallery on the first floor of this building in 1995, and then moved to the 8th floor in 2004.

AR: From the mid-1990s you became closely associated with other young gallery owners who drove the Tokyo art scene towards recovery. What was the reason for you all grouping together?

AK: Until then there had been no real talk of bringing Tokyo’s galleries together in the same space. There were, of course, a couple of old gallery associations like the Bijutsu Club and so on, but nothing equivalent for contemporary galleries. People working in the contemporary art world tend to be quite individualistic. It wasn’t like we all had to all be best friends, but given how small the market was back then, we were stronger and stood out more as a group. It would allow us to introduce each other to each other’s clients. So I started to talk to the various galleries about it, and we held a group show at Spiral Garden called ‘G9: New Direction’.

AR: Ever since then the contemporary art world in Tokyo has been characterized by various combinations of galleries grouping together in buildings around the city. What led to the Shinkawa building opening?

AK: Tomio Koyama was already occupying one of the spaces within the Sagacho Exhibit Space, as were Shugo Satani and Taro Nasu. The Sagacho Exhibit Space was doing very well and in 2001 Shugo Satani and I opened the Rice Gallery by G2 within it, but by then the building had been slated for demolition the next year.

Everyone had been working really well together, so we wanted to keep the collaboration going. Koyama-san happened to find the building in Shinkawa, and we moved there in 2003. The Shinkawa building was able to house four of us: Taka Ishii Gallery, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Shugoarts and a showroom extension of Gallery Koyanagi.

AR: At this time the Mori Art Museum was about to open. How did that impact the gallery scene?

AK: I was working with Mariko Mori, and at her wedding party, I had the opportunity to talk with Minoru Mori. I mentioned to him that abroad, the opening of a major museum tends to attract the opening of commercial galleries around it.

The Mori Corporation was buying up old buildings in the area for future redevelopment, so I suggested to him that it might be interesting to rent out those buildings at reduced rates to galleries that wouldn’t mind their condition. He was interested and straight away he introduced me to the planning division, which suggested a building on nearby Imoaraizaka. It was in a pretty run down state, so the rent was very cheap. The galleries that couldn’t fit into the Shinkawa building opened up there.

AR: With the map of Tokyo’s contemporary art galleries having diversified so much beyond the Ginza area, are you still happy to have your space in this neighborhood?

AK: I was born and raised in this neighborhood and my family business has always been here. I guess if I were starting from scratch now, I probably wouldn’t choose to run a contemporary art gallery here. But then this building belongs to my family, so there are financial incentives to be here too.

AR: What do you think the future is for Ginza?

AK: In recent years there have been more and more buildings by foreign companies going up and it’s a little sad to see Ginza losing some of its original character. Ginza is one of the most representative, internationally known parts of Japan, and so I have quite strong views on how it should be and a strong desire to protect its status as one of Japan’s most significant areas.

Areas like Daikanyama, Aoyama and Roppongi are becoming these very stylish places, so I think Ginza has to keep up. On the other hand, the people running old shops here are working really hard too, so I hope we can achieve a neighborhood with the right balance of new and old.

AR: What do you look for in an artist’s work before deciding to take them on?

AK: It’s not so much what I look for in the artist’s work as what I look for in the artist as a person. Of course, when I encounter a work, I want it to have an impact on me, but it’s who the person behind it is that’s more important. I want to know what they see, what they think, what it is they are trying to convey.

The quality of each work that an artist produces may vary, but overall it is a constant process of trial and error that they are engaged with. If I can look at the fundamentals of what they do and feel good about it, then I know I can work with them.

I also have to bear my clients in mind. I know what kind of tastes they have and what they are searching for in contemporary art, so when looking at an artist’s work, it’s incredibly important to consider how it fits in with our current stable of artists. In general if I like the artist and their work, then my clients will like them too.

AR: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Japanese contemporary art market?

AK: One of the main reasons the art market doesn’t really grow here is due to taxation laws. In the United States, you get tax breaks if you buy an artwork and eventually donate it to a museum. This is a fantastic system that allows people with money to buy art, enjoy it and then give it to a museum for the benefit of others, and it helps museums enrich their collections.

However, there is no such system in Japan: if you buy an artwork here it becomes an asset and you have to pay tax on it.

Another problem is that there are very few big collectors of contemporary art. Perhaps that’s because the market hasn’t fully matured. There are of course serious collectors like Toshio Hara, Minoru Mori and Soichiro Fukutake, but overall there are very few compared to the number you would find abroad.

AR: Compared to other large cities in the world, does Tokyo receive enough funding from the government to support the art world?

AK: Not really. The Japanese government has absolutely no cultural strategy when it comes to contemporary art. Of course, when manga suddenly became popular, everybody in the government started to pay attention to Takashi Murakami and government officials started to make use of manga as a buzzword, but that’s not the same as having a strategy.

In other countries, like Switzerland, the government pays for the insurance of artworks. Tohaku Hasegawa’s ‘Pine Trees’ screen is a national treasure, and it was shown in Switzerland last year. The insurance costs for having that work shipped over there must be astronomical and too much for a museum to bear, but it was all covered by the Swiss government. It would be so helpful if there were a system like that in Japan, but there isn’t. If Japan could give tax breaks for donating to museums and cover the insurance costs of shipping artworks, I think the market here would be able to grow much more healthily.

AR: Broadly speaking, are there any identifiable differences in taste between Japanese and foreign collectors?

AK: A lot of artists in Europe and the US make work that really engages with the serious social issues of their time, be it war, economic problems or racism. Those kinds of problems are more immediate in Europe and the US, and the people who live there deal with them in real time. Correspondingly, there are collectors who truly comprehend their work and buy it.

 Japan, on the other hand, is more of a monoracial society; it has not been at war at all for the past sixty years and in general has had much less social instability to deal with. As Takashi Murakami put it, the Japanese suffer from ‘peace lag’ or have been infantilized; they don’t feel themselves to be very connected to the problems that affect the world.

For example, the wars going on in the Middle East are thought of as America’s problem, and the Japanese don’t feel the same anger towards President Bush as everyone else does. If an artist conveys that anger in a work, then there will certainly be American collectors who will identify with it and buy it, whereas Japanese collectors probably wouldn’t. Of course, some work speaks to everyone through technique alone, but contemporary art is about more than just that; collectors have their conceptual preferences as well.

In Japan there is also a tendency for people to rush towards easily comprehensible art. Gallery owners like Tomio Koyama and artists like Motohiko Odani and Takashi Murakami have been instrumental in making art more accessible to a greater number of people, and I think that’s really good, but equally it’s important not to go too far. I think contemporary art should relate to social issues, and I hope that Japanese collectors will also make the effort to understand the nuances that artists are trying to convey.

AR: How has Japanese contemporary art changed over the past fifteen years?

AK: Looking back at how appalling a state the economy was in when I opened my gallery thirteen years ago, I’d have to say the state of the Tokyo art world has changed a lot since then. To talk about these changes simply in terms of prices, fifteen years ago, a small work by Hiroshi Sugimoto would sell for 350,000 yen, whereas now its primary market price at this gallery would be 1.5 million yen. It would then fetch about 5 million yen at auction. A work by Marlene Dumas was worth 350,000 yen back then but now on the primary market her paintings will sell for three to 5 million yen; at auction her work would fetch close to 10 million yen. So just looking at the prices you see how much the market has grown.

I think the market will grow just as much over the next fifteen years as well. But whether it’s Murakami, Nara or Sugimoto, these price rises have largely been due to the growth of the international market, so in a sense it’s like they are being imported back into Japan. These works didn’t increase in value through Japanese auctions, but European and American ones. But their sales abroad caught people’s attention here and have encouraged Japanese people to buy.

Another thing that has changed has been the opening of a new generation of galleries here in Tokyo. I’m very happy about this, as it helps encourage young people to get involved in the art world. Before, collecting habits used to be very divided, with only young people buying work by young artists and only established collectors buying work by big name artists, but that has changed. The market has matured a lot.

AR: What about upcoming trends?

AK: In the past Western artists used to dominate everything and both female and Asian artists were a minority. That’s just not the case anymore. Now artists gain recognition simply according to their individual merits. There are also more and more chances for artists to go abroad these days. In the 1980s it used to be that an artist would have to make it big in Japan before going abroad, but now it’s possible to become popular in other places like New York and then come back to Japan, and I think there will be more artists taking that sort of route from here on.
This interview is an extract from Art Space Tokyo (Chin Music Press, 2008), an intimate guide to the Tokyo art world that features 20 interviews with the directors and curators behind some of Tokyo’s most distinctive galleries and museums, and many others. To find out more, visit Art Space Tokyo.

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Posted in Art districts, Collectors, Gallerists/dealers, Japan, Japanese, Manga, Overviews, Professionals, Profiles, Trends, Women power | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Video Art Weekend at Mori Art Museum Tokyo August 2008

Posted by artradar on July 8, 2008


JAPAN MUSEUM VIDEO ART SHOW August 1-3 2008 An exciting three days of video art works from Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand is promised by the Mori Art Museum.

As a part of the ASIAN Summer In Roppongi Hills celebration of Roppongi Hills’ 5th anniversary, the Mori Art Museum will hold a special screening of video art from Asia. “In-Between: Asian Video Art Weekend” will be held on the first weekend of August.

The use of moving pictures in artistic expression gained popularity in the 1970s with the development of video technology. Since then, each new technological breakthrough has seen moving pictures utilized in new and exciting ways.

In recent days, video art comes in the forms of long and short films, documentaries, home-videos, road movies, interviews and animations.

The “In-Between” event will consist of screenings of single-channel works by 11 artists from Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. Exploring a range of dichotomies relevant to Asia’s rapidly hybridizing cultures – life and death, reality and fantasy, memory and truth, local and global, conscious and subconscious, old and new – the works illuminate problems and issues that have arisen, and also depict visions of new futures unlike the past.

Participating Artists:
Cao Fei (China), Chen Chieh-Jen (Taiwan), Kondoh Akino (Japan),
Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (Vietnam), Sherman Ong (Malaysia), Peng Hung-Chih (Taiwan), Araya Rasdjarmreamsook (Thailand), Sawa Hiraki (Japan), Sun Xun (China),
Tanaka Koki (Japan), Yuan Goang-Ming (Taiwan)

 Dates:  1 August (Fri) – 3 August (Sun) 2008
 
Source: http://www.mori.art.museum/html/english/contents/in-between/index.html

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India Embraces the Contemporary: Financial Times

Posted by artradar on May 25, 2008



INDIA The Indian art market is going through a major transformation, where the market’s focus has shifted from modern Indian art to contemporary Indian art.

According to a report this month by ArtTactic, an art market research service which provides analysis and advice for art collectors, art professionals, art institutions and art funds, its contemporary art market Confidence Indicator now stands 20 per cent higher than the indicator for the modern art market. However, recent auction results show that there is still strong demand for the right period works by a selected number of modern Indian artists such as FN Souza, MF Husain, VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar and SH Raza.

Western museums and private collectors have started to take a strong interest in what is happening in India at the moment. This will continue in 2008, with exhibitions planned at the Serpentine Gallery, the Saatchi gallery, the Mori Art Museum, as well as the current exhibition “Passage to India” at Initial Access, the space recently opened by UK collector Frank Cohen.

According to the ArtTactic Indian Art Market Confidence Survey, the overall Indian art market confidence indicator fell 13 per cent from the last reading in October 2007.

The indicator has been hit by a 54 per cent drop in both the current and future confidence in the economy. With India’s inflation surging to a more than three-year high, with global financial markets in decline and with crude oil prices rising, the economic prospect looks less promising than six months ago. And as the economic component of the confidence indicator carries a 33 per cent weighting in the overall Indian Art Market Confidence Indicator, the significant loss in confidence weighs heavily on the overall results.

However, despite the fall in overall ArtTactic Indian art market confidence, both the confidence levels in the modern and contemporary market increased significantly: up 17 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

After the slowdown that started at the beginning of 2007, where the modern Indian art market experienced a 38 per cent drop in annual auction volume compared with the record year of 2006, the modern Indian art market is now regaining some of the lost confidence.

The ArtTactic Indian Modern Art Market Confidence Indicator is up 27 per cent from the last reading in October 2007, and while the survey respondents are less positive about the near future of the Indian contemporary market, the “expectation indicator” for the modern art market stands 23 per cent higher than the “present indicator”, showing the modern art market could be about to regain some of the ground that it recently lost.

www.arttactic.com

The ArtTactic Indian Market Confidence Indicator was launched in May 2007. It is derived from polling 81 respondents, including curators, collectors, dealers, galleries and auction houses operating in the Indian art market.

 

 

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