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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.

Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Russian curators prosecuted for showcasing banned art: media round-up

Posted by artradar on August 2, 2010


RUSSIAN ART CURATORS BANNED ART LAW

After a two-year trial, two Russian curators, Yury Samodurov and Andrei Yerofeyev, were declared guilty of “inciting religious hatred,” despite massive protest. Although they escaped the three-year prison sentence demanded by the prosecution, the judge declared them guilty and each had to pay a hefty fine. Critics fear the results of this trial are proof of cultural oppression in Russia.

They had showcased art banned from other Russian museums in an exhibition entitled “Forbidden Art” at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

Alexander Kosolapov's 'This Is My Body', from "My Blood My Body" series, one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

Strong public interest in the case

Most media leans in favor of the Russian curators and sees the verdict as a sign of cultural oppression and censorship in Russia. However protesters from both sides were present outside the courthouse on the day of the ruling. Those offended by the paintings and who initiated the prosecution were mostly fundamentalist Russian Orthodox Christians while those against the prosecution consisted generally of artists and human rights activists. Multiple blogs and news agencies have covered the trial, ranging from arts websites to Russian interest magazines and blogs about human rights.

Extreme factions from both sides have voiced their protests. The New York Times reports that radical art performance group, Voina, released cockroaches into the courtroom, an act criticized by Samodurov. According to the Associated Press, extremist members of the prosecution threatened the curators in court, reminding them of the fate of Anna Alchuk, curator of “Caution: Religion!” who was found dead in Berlin in 2008.

Artists “incited religious hatred”

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006" at the Sakharov Museum.

'Chechen Marilyn' by Blue Noses Group (2005, colour print, 100 x 75 cm), one of the works from the controversial exhibition "Forbidden Art" at the Sakharov Museum.

The works in question include an icon made of caviar, a depiction of Christ with a Mickey Mouse head, and an image of Christ with the McDonald’s sign and the words “This is my body”. There were also some non-Christian symbols included in the list of offensive images such as Chechen Marilyn and the Chinese invading the Kremlin. The exhibition spurred a lot of anger amongst religious groups.

In a video interview with Russia Today, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church explains that,

Orthodox believers, as citizens of their country…have the right to protect their sacred symbols. It was not the church that initiated this prosecution, but the people who were offended. The investigation proved that the art at the exhibit was offensive towards believers, and incited religious hatred.

The New York Times also mentioned, however, that Russian Orthodox Church officials believed that while displaying the paintings was criminal and the curators should be punished, they shouldn’t be imprisoned. Furthermore, the Russian Minister of Culture was critical of the prosecution.

A fight against censorship

The defendants’ view is that this exhibition was a critique of the materialism of Russian society and a fight against censorship of the arts, and had nothing to do with religion. Ironically, critics fear that results of the trial have shown that censorship is quite powerful in Russia.

Samodurov faced similar charges for a 2003 exhibition called “Caution: Religion!” He says the Church has reacted more strongly in the “Forbidden Art” trial.

Human rights and arts activists fully disapprove of the judge’s ruling, and are alarmed not only at the guilty verdict but at the fact that this trial even took place. The BBC News reported that thirteen renowned Russian artists signed an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev protesting the trial. Russia Today reports that,

…much more concerning [than escaping the jail sentence] for people in their circumstances is what they’ve seen as a curb from their freedom of expression.

In addition support from other artists and curators has been prevalent. The Associated Press reports that Marat Gelman, a Moscow gallery owner, declared his support for the pair by saying he would launch his own “Forbidden Art” exhibition should the ruling be in favor of the church. One sympathizer stated for the Associated Press before the verdict was declared,

‘I am very afraid for them,’ she said. ‘The church is now younger, more energetic.’

Some fear a return to a cultural oppression similar to that of Czarist Russia. Some suspect the Kremlin may have had a role in lightening the punishment of the curators to prevent tarnishing their international image. Critics have predicted that people will be wary of displaying and producing potentially offensive art in Russia, and this will make Russian art less competitive globally.

MM/KN

Related Topics: Russian artists, curators, venues – Moscow

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National Art Gallery Singapore pays homage to 1970s leading artist Yeh Chi Wei in a retrospective

Posted by artradar on July 14, 2010


NATIONAL MUSEUM ART RETROSPECTIVE SINGAPORE

The Story of Yeh Chi Wei” at the National Art Gallery, Singapore celebrates the life and times of pioneering artist Yeh Chi Wei, a critical current in the shaping of a unique Southeast Asian style of painting in the 1960s and 70s.

Born and educated in China, Yeh became a well-known artist and educator in Singapore. He is most remembered for his role as the leader of the influential Ten Men group – a group of artists and art educators that would later take on the form of the seminal Southeast Asian Art Association.

Credited with defining the course of the Singapore arts scene in the early days of the 1960s and 70s, Yeh became famous with his unique style that drew from his interests in Chinese woodblock print, Han dynasty carvings, decorations on bronze vessels and oracle and stone drum inscriptions. In his paintings,varied Southeast Asian painting traditions achieve an unlikely unity, evoking a monumentality in both figurative and non-figurative works.

Drummer by Yeh Chi Wei. 1963

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Drummer', 1963.

Yeh took influence from his travels across the Southeast Asian subcontinent with the Ten Men group. Imbibing local painting styles, flavors and colors, Yeh’s works move from representational to an investment in abstraction during his career as an artist.

Boats in Bali by Yeh Chi Wei. 1962

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Boats in Bali', 1962.

In the heyday of Yeh’s popularity as an artist, educator and part of the Ten Men group, Yeh moved to a village in Malaysia where his career took a downward turn. A lot of his works never made it out of Malaysia and the artist fell into obscurity. In an article in The New York Times, Southeast Asian curator Ong Zhen Min said,

It was not until we delved into the archives that we realized how interesting and innovative this artist was, and understood the uniqueness of his art. Most of his paintings were in his Malaysian studio and were not widely circulated beyond that point, so his name faded into obscurity. We hope this exhibition would be able to reintroduce audiences to his art works.

A lot of Yeh’s work stands out for its choice of palette. Of the artist’s unique selection and application of color, Ms Ong says,

Yeh was probably one of the most daring artists of his generation in his use of black. Most artists use black to highlight things, but he actually used black and its different shades as a color. From a distance, it almost looks like a cave drawing, which I think is an effect he was trying to achieve.

Drummer by Yeh Chi Wei. 1970

Yeh Chi Wei, 'Drummer', 1970.

Yeh taught art for 22 years at different schools around Singapore and Malaya and passed away in 1981. This exhibition is the first survey show since his passing, and is an overview of his artistic career and his contribu­tions to the Singapore art scene.

The Story of Yeh Chi Wei” is on at the National Art Gallery, Singapore until 12 September, 2010.

AM/KN

Related Topics: Singaporean artists, museum showsgroups and movements

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Posted in Chinese, Events, Groups and Movements, Museum shows, Painting, Singapore, Singaporean, Southeast Asian, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

American visual artists react to Google’s book grab

Posted by artradar on April 29, 2010


VISUAL ART GOOGLE LIBRARY PROJECT

American visual art groups plan to file complaint against Google’s library project

As reported in the New York Times earlier this month, a number of American groups representing visual artists have come together to file a class-action lawsuit against Google. They are reacting to the company’s plans to digitize millions of out-of-print books to make available or sell to the public.

Google books is already available to the public

These groups, including the American Society of Media Photographers, the Graphic Artists Guild, the North American Nature Photography Association and the Professional Photographers of America, as well as individual photographers and illustrators, want fair compensation for the artworks that appear in the books that Google has already “illegally” scanned.

A similar complaint was filed in 2005 by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers who are awaiting the approval of a US$125 million settlement. If approved, this will pave the way for the Google project.

“The agreement has faced a barrage of opposition from Google rivals like Amazon.com and Microsoft, as well as many academics and legal scholars, representative of authors and estates, and event some foreign governments.”

View the full New York Times article here.

KN/KCE

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Posted in Art and internet, Business of art, Groups and Movements | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New auction houses with new strategies open in Singapore art market

Posted by artradar on October 28, 2009


ASIAN ART MARKET TRENDS

Usually, to be a part of the bubbling Asian art market scene, buyers need to associate themselves with industry leaders Christie’s and Sotheby’s for lack of other options. In South East Asia, however, there’s a new way for collectors to discover their contemporary art. According to a recent article by the New York Times, a host of new and smaller auction houses—such as Borobudur, 33 Auction, and Larasati in Singapore—have successfully emerged to “fill in the gaps” of the market, which means they are opening their doors to a broader range of the market, from high-end collectors to first time buyers. So far, sales suggest this may be the right strategy to entice new buyers:

“Last week, sales by two auction houses in Singapore, Borobudur and 33 Auction, brought in a combined $10 million, with the larger sale, by Borobudur, easily beating its pre-sale estimate. Later this month another Singapore auctioneer, Larasati, will offer 160 lots of Asian modern and contemporary art with an estimated value of 2 million Singapore dollars, or $1.4 million.”

A.C. Andre Tananma, "Run Away" 2008. Part of Larasati's Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction in Singapore on October 25th, 2009.

A.C. Andre Tananma, "Run Away" 2008. Part of Larasati's Asian Modern and Contemporary Art Auction, Singapore, 25 October 2009.

Many of the new auctions houses have developed as off springs from established galleries, such as 33 Auction (Singapore), Maestro Auction House (Jakarta, Singapore) and Kingsley Art Auction (Beijing), as a way of broadening their offerings to current clients, while also becoming accessible to new ones:

“Like everything else, the art market is not immune from the global recession and consequently sales at most galleries have been down for the past 12 months,” said Valentine Willie of Valentine Willie Fine Art, which has galleries in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, and has in the past helped Borobudur curate its auctions. “Auctions may seem a good way of clearing gallery stock and they offer the possibility for collectors of bargain hunting, especially after the boom of two years ago.”New and smaller auction houses would naturally try to fill in the gaps with more adventurous offerings and lower entry price points because, “the industry leaders, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have a somewhat limited and conservative offering of Southeast Asian art,” Mr. Willie added.”

Some auction houses are targeting the middle class crowd in particular, a demographic rarely cornered by larger and more established auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s. To entice the middle class market, Singapore’s Ziani Fine Art Auction House tactic was to award cash prizes, serve wine, and even offer whiskey tastings at their September 20 debut auction:

“‘When you launch a new business you need to attract new people,” said Frank Veyder, a banker and partner in Ziani, before the auction. “We are very conscious there is a risk that people might think it’s just a fly-by-night, gimmicky house, but we’re holding this auction in a five-star location and we’re offering quality art.

“The pieces are not of the level you would see at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, but we’re not trying to play in that space,” Mr. Veyder added. “Our marketing is targeting to a wider, middle-class crowd.”‘

Though it can be said that the competition between auction houses is good for business, there are some auctioneers that are concerned that the market may have a hard time absorbing everything on offer.  Daniel Komala, chief executive of Larasati Auctioneers, explains:

“‘The art market has bottomed out; in fact, it’s fair to say that it has picked up some speed of late,” Mr. Komala said. “Having said that, the real capacity to absorb, over all, especially in Singapore, is only going to increase by 20-30 percent maximum from its rock bottom level. So, it’s wishful thinking to expect that the market will double up in capacity compared to how it performed six months ago.”

Read more New York Times

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RM/KE

Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Events, Market watch, Overviews, Recession, Singapore | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Zhang Huan’s spectacle at Pace Wildenstein in 4th NY gallery show

Posted by artradar on June 6, 2008


CHINA Until July 25 2008, Zhang Huan’s 2 gallery show at Pace Wildenstein in New York displays gigantic pieces of festival scale work. Known mainly for his eye-watering challenging performance art, the scale (architectural) and materials (dead animals) of Zhang Huan’s works in this show recall Damien Hirst.

For full story New York Times http//www.nytimes.com/2008/05/23/arts/design

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