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Posts Tagged ‘Saatchi’

“The Empire Strikes Back – Indian art Today” at Saatchi Gallery: critics’ review roundup

Posted by artradar on February 24, 2010


INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

“The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today” opened on 28 January 2010 at Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London. It has received attention from critics interested in both the cultural implications of contemporary Indian art in British society and the exhibition’s impact on the art market.

Intensity and violence are found in some stand out works but the consensus suggests an uneven show.

According to the Business Standard, over 100 works of 26 Indian artists are being displayed. Price estimates are included for some works.

Also concerned with the art market, Colin Gleadell of The Daily Telegraph contemplates the impact of “The Empire Strikes Back” on the value of Saatchi’s investment in Indian contemporary art. He also summarises the fluctuations in the Indian contemporary art market.

Generally, critics’ reviews have been mixed: though they support the concept of showing contemporary Indian artists, many claim that there are only a few standouts.

The Financial Times‘s Peter Aspden is intrigued by “contrast between the work’s wholesome message and the gruesome imagery used to deliver it” in Jitish Kallat’s Public Notice 2, the first work in the show.

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2

He then interviews Rebecca Wilson, the associate director of Saatchi Gallery. She explains Saatchi Gallery’s reasons for organising the show, focusing on global trends regarding Indian and Pakistani contemporary art and the sheer volume of new artists from the region.

The Guardian’s Adrian Searle begins with “One might expect Charles Saatchi to show just the sorts of things that are presented,” listing works like Huma Mulji’s Arabian Delight and Atul Dodiya’s Fool’s House as expected works. He concludes “A lot of the work looks exoticised for the gallery, the artists playing their post-colonial otherness as a gimmick, rather than making art of substance.”

JJ Charlesworth of Time Out London also concedes that there are works of “bog-obviousness,” but especially praises Chitra Ganesh’s Tales of Amnesia, consisting of 21 comic-inspired prints that question the role of femininity in society.

Husband-and-wife Subdoh Gupta and Bharti Kher impress Ben Luke of London’s Evening Standard, though he mentions the “collection’s unevenness.”

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Bharti Kher, An Absence of Assignable Cause

Luke is especially interested in Bharti Kher’s An Absence of Assignable Cause, which is her conception of a sperm whale’s heart covered in bindis.

The Times’ Joanna Pitman is fascinated by the artists who “push their media into almost illegible territories, as if to say that art could not possibly be adequate to record what really matters.”

Probir Gupta’s painting Anxiety of the Unfamiliar and Tallur L.N.’s Untitled both depict what she describes as “bleary fragments, the chance events, and barely registered perceptions of this imbalanced, disturbed country.”

However, Pitman also comments on the unevenness of the show: “Many works resemble the outpourings of pained and confused undergraduate minds.”

Mark Sheerin of Culture 24 is also struck by the intensity present throughout the works. He  claims that, “At best, such high impact work can astound and violently re-orient you” and cites Tushar Joag’s The Enlightening Army of the Empire’s “skeletal, spectral band of robotic figures” as a prime example.

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

Tushar Joag, The Enlightening Army of the Empire

He encourages the reader to “come and let the works do violence to you. They should be resisted, if at all.”

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Posted in Asia expands, Atul Dodiya, Bharti Kher, Consumerism, Gallery shows, Heart art, Indian, Jitish Kallat, Light, London, Overviews, Political, Rashid Rana, Reviews, Robot, Saatchi, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Surprising new direction taken by cadaver artists and Saatchi stars: Sun Yuan and Peng Yu – interview

Posted by artradar on September 16, 2009


HONG KONG CHINESE PHOTOGRAPHY ART

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, born in the early 1970s and both alumni of the prominent Beijing Central Academy of Art, have a long-established  reputation in Asia for their controversial collaborative installations featuring animals, human tissue and baby cadaver specimens.

In the west they made a big splash in 2008 at the record crowd-drawing Saatchi exhibition of new Chinese art, The Revolution Continues with a satirical work called Old People’s Home (click for video). Both popular and critically-acclaimed, this life-sized 2007 work featured sculptures of decrepit old people “looking suspiciously like world leaders… now long impotent”‘ rolling slowly in wheelchairs around the gallery and occasionally crashing into one another.

Taking a surprising new direction, their exhibition Hong Kong Intervention (Aug 22 – Oct 10) at Osage Gallery delves into the working environments of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Each of the 100 Filipino participants took a photograph of a toy grenade placed in his or her employer’s home. Sun Yuan and Peng Yu talk with Wendy Ma about whether or not this experiment in spatial intrusion by Filipino maids creates tensions.

Toy grenade placed in the center of a dining room and the back of the Filipino maid. Image courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Toy grenade placed in the center of a dining room and the back of the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: What inspired you to make photos with Filipino domestic staff?

Two years ago at a square in Central I observed the mass congregation of Filipino girls. I thought it was a very interesting situation since each one is connected to a family in Hong Kong. I started chatting with them and obtained their agreement to volunteer to do the photo shoots. Through them I could intervene in an relationship.

AR: Why do the photographs include the image of a toy grenade?

To intervene, I wanted to use a toy specifically bought in Hong Kong. It was up to them to place it anywhere inside their owner’s house, e.g. inside a garden, on the bed, blending it with the environment. Then they take a photograph of the scene. The toy is a legal product. When your kid plays with a toy grenade, you might find it cute, not dangerous. It was a chance for the participants to exercise their creativity. We wanted to use a very simple object to show how it can open up possibilities.

AR: Is it just a game or does it carry other implications?

It is a game because there are no real consequences. An example of something that is not a game would be the recent incident when a reporter threw a shoe at George Bush. However, it would’ve been a game had he said, “I’m going to throw it at you, first at your head then at your chest.” By not carrying it out, it would have remained just a concept. If something happens in reality, it changes the environment. But right now our work is only a photograph.

The proposition of the game is neutral. It doesn’t carry implications of danger. Last night someone told me that they treat their Filipino maids like guests.

Hidden toy grenade on the book shelve and the male domestic worker. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Hidden toy grenade on the book shelve and the male domestic worker. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: Why is the photograph of the back of the worker juxtaposed next to the surroundings?

Actually, neither the person nor the environment is significant. They are entities with no individual characteristics. Instead of specifying a particular being, I just want to describe a phenomenon.

AR: What have you found out about their lives and about contemporary Hong Kong society?

One third of the Filipino population live outside their country. They are a special group in Hong Kong. During the week they enter into the homes of different families. On Sundays, they bond and return to their own world. When they work, they disappear into the families of Hong Kong. They play different roles in their working and living environment. They use their culture to communicate. As for us, we work outside the family and we bond when we return to our home. For them, they enter our families to work. It’s the reverse.

Bedroom and Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Bedroom and Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: Why is the exhibition called Hong Kong Intervention?

Intervention in Chinese can be small (eating a crab) or large-scale (invading a country). It can be magnified in the imagination of readers. You can imagine the explosive possibilities of the toy grenade, despite the fact  that in reality it cannot explode. How the viewer perceives ‘intervention’ is beyond my control.

Intervention can be a strategy to communicate ideas. Ours is the study of a social phenomenon. It does not necessarily mean invasion or changing a situation as it does in the English expression “tossing a grenade”.

Words acquire different meanings in different situations. They cannot be precise. Words cannot express what you actually feel. So art is not expressed through words or titles but through a different means to pull you closer to the underlying meaning.

AR: Are you concerned that the proprietor might feel violated if he saw the photograph of his home on display?

We had no intention to expose individuals. Like I said, the photos of the maids and the homes are not meant to be specifically meaningful; they only a representation and a portrayal of the mass.

Bedroom of a Hong Kong owner and the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

Bedroom of a Hong Kong owner and the Filipino maid. Photography by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. Image Courtesy to Erin Wooters.

AR: What is the role/identity of Filipinos in your work? Creators, participants, or assistants?

I consider all the participants as collaborators: not just Filipinos, but also the audience involved in the discussions. They are common authors of the work. As part of the contract, we don’t have to give credit to them by listing their names as they transferred the copyright to us.

Contributed by Wendy Ma

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Editor’s note: This post is interesting to contrast with a recent exhibition at Para/Site in Hong Kong in which Filipino domestic helpers were invited to receive manicures given by the Australian artist collective Baba International.  Whereas Baba International sought to nurture and engage with their subject physically, the “‘Intervention”‘ exhibition carries intriguing tones of depersonalisation and violence. Baba was keen to explain the intentions behind their work whereas Sun Yuan and Peng Yu step away and allow the viewer to explore and fully shoulder the responsibility for interpretation.

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Posted in China, Chinese, Collaborative, Documentary, Domestic, Family, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Interviews, Migration, Participatory, Photography, Social, Toys, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Saatchi back with new gallery, school programme, China show, – Reuters, BBC

Posted by artradar on October 12, 2008


COLLECTOR SHOW CHINESE ART

Influential British art collector Charles Saatchi is back after three years out of the limelight, opening a major new gallery in central London showcasing some of China’s hottest artists reports Reuters. The man who introduced the world to Britart stalwarts like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin has been largely absent from the art scene since his gallery was forced out of its previous home on the River Thames in 2005. Now he is back with a huge new exhibition space in upmarket Chelsea, where he hopes free entry to the imposing former headquarters of the Duke of York will attract passers by.

Critics have lauded the imposing three-storey building with its glass and white-walled interior, and welcomed back one of contemporary art’s biggest players. But the inaugural show, opening on Thursday, has earned mixed reviews.

The Revolution Continues: New Art from China” is dedicated to Chinese artists including established stars like Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang and Zeng Fanzhi, whose painting fetched $9.7 million in May, a record for Asian contemporary artwork.

Some critics have categorized the crazed, laughing men of Yue or the gray, stylized portraits of Zhang as repetitive, even “mass production” art.

Generally more popular were the sculptures, particularly an installation piece called “Old Persons Home” by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, involving 13 aging men on wheelchairs moving randomly around a large basement room. Their striking resemblance to late world leaders turns the work into a commentary on the pitfalls of power and conflict. The gallery calls it “a grizzly parody of the U.N. dead.”

But the gallery’s head of development, Rebecca Wilson, said Saatchi’s target audience was less the experts — critics, collectors and curators — and more the general public, most of whom are unfamiliar with contemporary Chinese art. “There was a feeling that all of these artists were suddenly emerging from China, doing very well at auction, there were the Beijing Olympics coming up,” she told Reuters. “There was this kind of convergence of interest in China, so we felt it should be the exhibition that we open with.”

IRAN, IRAQ ART TO COME

Early next year the Saatchi Gallery will put on a show dedicated to contemporary Middle Eastern art, including from Iran and Iraq, by artists never seen in Britain before.

“None of those artists have been seen in this country before and will be very little known elsewhere in the world as well,” said Wilson. “I think Charles has been searching for months to try to find interesting works.”

Saatchi sells some art after an exhibition ends, partly to fund his enterprise. Auction house Phillips de Pury is supporting the gallery to ensure entry will be free.

_____________________________________________________________________________

BBC coverage:

Only free contemporary art museum in world

The BBC reports that the Saatchi gallery claims to be the only completely free entry contemporary art museum of its size in the world. Simon de Pury, of auction house Phillips de Pury & Company, who is sponsoring the exhibition, said they expected “millions” of visitors.

Ground-breaking school education programme to come

The gallery said it was seeking to establish a “ground breaking” education programme “to make contemporary art even more accessible to young people.

“It is anticipated that the facilities that the Saatchi Gallery plans to offer – at the gallery, via its website and the gallery’s own classroom – will ensure that teachers receive the best on-site and outreach support for their students.”

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Artists: Zhang Dali, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Guangyi, Zheng Guogu, Zhang Haiying, Zhang Hongtu, Zhang Huan, Qiu Je, Xiang Jin, Shi Jinsong, Fang Lijun, Yue Minjun, Li Qing, Wu Shuanzhuan, Shen Shaomin, Li Songsong, Zhan Wang, Liu Wei, Zhang Xiaogang, Zhang Xiaotao, Cang Xin, Shi Xinning, Li Yan, Bai Yiluo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Zhang Yuan, Yin Zhaohui, Feng Zhengjie

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Posted in Chinese, Collectors, Cultural Revolution, Gallery shows, Individual, Iranian, Iraqi, London, Mao art, Middle Eastern, Political, Sculpture, UK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Iranian artists dominate Saatchi’s upcoming Middle Eastern exhibition

Posted by artradar on September 29, 2008


 

Sara Rahbar Flag 19 Mixed media

Sara Rahbar Flag 19 Mixed media

ACQUISITIONS MIDDLE EASTERN ART

As financial markets roil , art collectors seeking a safe haven eye up opportunities in the Middle East. If anything, some players expect an even stronger market in the Middle East than in China, because so many of the art initiatives-to showcase the region’s artists as well as import Western art-have the direct backing of the government or royal families. Abu Dhabi is planning to spend $50 million to fill its Louvre.  

While galleries are increasingly showing Middle Eastern contemporary art, especially in London, it is still uncommon in Western collections says Conde Nast’s Portfolio. Most of the artists are unknown outside of the Middle East.

That could be about to change as British art collector and marketing guru Charles Saatchi makes his interest in Middle Eastern art known. A recent addition to his planned exhibiton list is Out of Arabia: New Art and New Perspectives in which he showcases artists from Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and predominantly Iran.

At time of writing artists include:

  • Iran: Sara Rahbar, Tala Madani, Laleh Khorramian, Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh, Ali Banisadr
  • Lebanon: Jeffar Khaldi
  • Iraqi: Halim Al-Karim, Ahmed Alsoudani
  • Syria: Diana Al-Hadid

For most recent list of artists, bios and images visit Saatchi online , latest news on Middle Eastern art, Islamic art, thread art, feminist art, identity art.

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Posted in Acquisitions, Collectors, Galleries, Gallery shows, Identity art, Individual, Iranian, Iraqi, Islamic art, Lebanese, Painting, Surveys, Syrian, Thread, West Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Takashi Murakami’s one-of-a-kind Japanese art fair Gesai grows in size – Saatchi Online

Posted by artradar on September 9, 2008


ART FAIR JAPAN

Saatchi Online Magazine reports that art fair GEISAI #11 to be held in Tokyo on September 14 “will be significantly larger than all previous editions, offering space for one thousand exhibitors in individual booths”. Founded by the prolific rule-breaking contemporary artist Takashi Murakami in 2001, Gesai art fair usually takes place in Tokyo twice a year and  “differs from typical art fairs in that it allows artists to represent themselves and present their work directly to an audience of collectors, art professionals and art enthusiasts in a professional art fair setting”. Gesai had its American debut in Miami last December to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach.

On the day of the event, art works will be awarded medals by a jury of international art professionals. Judges include Jack Bankowsky, Editor-at-Large, Artforum; Alison Gingeras, Chief Curator, the Pinault Collection; Carol Yinghua Lu, Independent curator and art writer; Philippe Segalot, Art Advisor, Giraud.Pissarro.Ségalot; and Marc-Olivier Wahler, Director, Palais de Tokyo, Site de Creation Contemporaine, Paris.

GEISAI #11 will also feature a special celebration of the unique anime and otaku subcultures that grew from southern Tokyo’s electronic and computer shopping district Akihabara and are now taking the world by storm. As part of this celebration, GEISAI #11 will debut a special festival space featuring working shops inspired by those in Akihabara, and special surprise performances.

GEISAI #11 will be followed by the second edition of GEISAI Miami, which will once again be hosted by PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, and take place in the Wynwood Art District, December 2008, coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach.

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Posted in Anime, Cartoon, Fairs, Japanese, Manga, Market watch, Southeast Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Niubi kids and American art – Top ten shows in Hong Kong September 2008 part 2 – Saatchi Online

Posted by artradar on September 7, 2008


 EXHIBITIONS HONG KONG

Top ten shows in Hong Kong this September part 2 published in Saatchi Online Magazine and written by Art Radar Asia’s editor Kate Evans.

Lee Waisler: Portraits and Abstractions
11 September to 11 October
Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Sundaram Tagore’s first solo show in its new gallery in Hong Kong features the eminent American artist Lee Waisler whose works are in permanent collections of prestigious institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Lee Waisler presents two series of works: portraits of iconic figures and abstracts, both in a trademark style in which he loads the canvas with layers of paints and organic materials to create thick sweeps of pigment separated by knife-sharp ridges. His portrait series includes the stylized over-bold faces of, amongst others, Marilyn Monroe, Mahatma Gandhi, Kafka and Albert Einstein. Their textured planes draw our hands to hover over the surface, curious, wanting to touch but not quite daring: a potent echo of the real life lure of iconic idols and our visceral compulsion to draw near, look closely and touch. For this show Waisler has created an interesting new body of work incorporating Chinese culture and imagery including a portrait of Anna May Wong, a famous Chinese-American actress of the 1930s and 1940s and Doctor Ho, a renowned healer from China.

 

Larry Yung: Desire – Loss

Amelia Johnson Contemporary
4 September to 27 September 2008

In the works of this much anticipated show two years in the making, Chinese American artist Larry Yung places idealized images of American and Chinese people alongside material objects of desire and cultural icons such as Mickey Mouse. Smiling characters are painted with a flatness reminiscent of the iconography of Chinese propaganda posters and 1950’s US advertisements of the American Dream. This juxtaposition invites us to examine the complex relationship between the demise of the American Dream and the rise of Chinese aspirations. His stiff stylized figures appear artificial and remind us material prosperity is impermanent and illusory: part of a fleeting cycle of lack, desire, success and loss. His work has been commissioned by Proctor & Gamble, Pierre Cardin and Nordstroms and is held in various private collections including those of Marvel Comics, Esquire Magazine and Microsoft.

 

Niubi Newbie Kids
Mixed media group exhibition: Chen Fei, Chen Ke, Zhou Jin Hua, Zhang Ye Xing, Zhou Yi Qian, Feng Wei
19 September to 13 October 2008
Schoeni Gallery

Schoeni was pivotal in the nineties in promoting the art of then unknown Chinese political pop artists such as Yue Min Jun, Zeng Fan Zhi and Zhang Xiaogang, many of whom have since gone on to achieve iconic status and high auction prices. This September the gallery is showing the next generation of 80s born unknowns, the rebellious Niubi Kids. Untranslatable and a play on Chinese slang curse words, the word ‘Niubi’ is used by young people to identify the new wave of rebellious cool young Chinese. Also termed China’s ‘Me’ generation, a product of China’s One Child policy, they are less concerned with politics than with themselves, issues of identity and alternative worlds. This provoking not-to-be missed show of mixed media works, replete with influences from the internet, comics, video games and Japanese culture, is the result of two years work by the gallery and is the first in a biannual series.

Posted in Acquisitions, Anime, Cartoon, Chinese, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Emerging artists, Manga, New Media, Painting, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Western art advisors turn to Asian new media art for their corporate clients – International Herald Tribune

Posted by artradar on September 5, 2008


NEW MEDIA ART FROM SOUTH EAST ASIA FOR COLLECTORS

Fortune Cookie projects, an art consulting service with clients who include Clifford Chance, Hermes, UBS and Saatchi, plan to set up headquarters in Singapore this year and they are on the look out for Asian new-media artists whom they can introduce to the West.

“Chinese artists have been the flavor of the month for the last five years,” founder Rutkowski said. “That will not cool, but it will change a bit. International collectors that went in early have got their works and they won’t buy an artist that they got for $20,000 a few years back for $4 million now; if anything, they’re going to sell. So many are looking along the Silk Road, and there is a very strong interest in the Southeast Asian region.”

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Posted in Acquisitions, Chinese, Collectors, Corporate collectors, Electronic art, Market watch, New Media, Video, Virtual | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Manga, ink and new generation Chinese – Top ten shows in Hong Kong September 2008 part 1 – Saatchi Online

Posted by artradar on September 4, 2008


EXHIBITIONS HONG KONG
Yoshitaka Amano 'Deva Loka Bleu'

Yoshitaka Amano

Yoshitaka Amano – New Works

Art Statements Gallery
30 August to 10 October 2008

Fans of Japanese cartoons and animations are in for a treat this September at Art Statements Gallery where legendary Japanese manga artist Yoshitaka Amano is presenting a solo exhibition of new works. No longer a subculture with a limited following, manga has grown into one of the most significant creative forces exported from Japan in recent history and its influence on mainstream popular culture in film, advertising, industrial design, fashion and graphic design is now regarded as nothing short of a phenomenon. Born in 1952 Amano shot to fame in the 1970s with his cartoon series ‘Gatchaman’ (G-Force) and since then has created many popular epics including the hugely successful video game series ‘Final Fantasy’. Featuring several 2 metre long aluminium panels depicting fantastical creatures, warriors, heroines and superheroes, this is a must-see show for manga buffs and manga neophytes alike.

Chan Yu 'Where is my childhood? no 9'

Chan Yu

Showcase 82 Republic!


Mixed media group show: Chan Yu, Liu Ja, Guo Hongwei, Wan Yang, Zhou Siwei
Connoisseur Gallery
1 September to 30 September 2008

September is going to be an exciting month for Connoisseur’s stable of young artists who will be exhibited in four locations across Asia. Known as the 82 Republic artists, this generation Y group of four painters and one sculptor was born in the eighties and incubated in their own dedicated gallery of the same name. Now ready for the world, their work will be shown in two of Connoisseur’s gallery spaces in Hong Kong – Connoisseur Art Gallery and Connoisseur Contemporary – as well as at the international art fairs at ShContemporary in Shanghai and KIAF in Seoul, Korea and in Connoisseur’s Singapore gallery as a parallel event of the Singapore Biennale 2008. Zhou Siwei’s cartoon-like character in ‘Infection – Astroboy no 7’ and the flat translucent shapes of Chan Yu’s ‘Where is My Childhood? No 9’ exemplify the new ‘spirit’ of this era which has been powerfully influenced by animation, toys and digital culture.

Xue Song: A Tale of Our Modern Time
Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery
4 September to 27 September

An alarming accident was responsible for a crucial turning point in Xue Song’s art practice: “In 1990, a big fire broke out in my dormitory”. His books, magazines, newspapers, pictures and prints, damaged and burnt, were “released from their frames” leaving Xue Song with a new deeper understanding of the fragmentary, mutable nature of life. From these ashes emerged the embryo of his own significant unique visual language quite distinct from his contemporaries: a language of burning, restructuring, collage and drawing. The retrospective show exhibits Xue Song’s range of interests since the fire from his pop art-coloured Mao series made in the 1990s inspired by leader portraits, model operas, big-character posters (Dazibao) and Red Guards to his more recent preoccupation with modern Shanghai and the intriguing relationship between people and cities.

New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond
Group exhibition
Hong Kong Museum of Art
22 August to 26 October 2008

“Ink has been part of our history for over 3,000 years,” says guest curator Alice King. “I want to show people how Chinese ink painting has evolved through the ages. It is no longer painted the way it was even twenty years ago”. Comprising 64 works by nearly 30 artists from Hong Kong and the mainland, this thorough survey places the increasingly popular Chinese contemporary ink genre in its historical context with a particular emphasis on the part played by Hong Kong master Lui Shou-kwan who, with his New Ink Movement, has inspired ink artists since the 1960s, amongst them Wucius Wong, Leung Kui-ting, Irene Chou and Kan Tai-keung. The exhibition looks to the future too with some controversial exhibits in the boundary-pushing section called “Is it Ink Art?” Some would say that works such as Cai Guoqiang’s gunpowder images, organic installations and digital works are not ink art at all. This show asks us to question our view of ink as a medium and to appreciate it as an essence, an aesthetic which can find expression in a variety of forms.

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Posted in Anime, Cartoon, Chinese, Collage, Cultural Revolution, Drawing, Emerging artists, Hong Kong Artists, Ink, Japanese, Manga, Mao art, Painting, Reviews, Yoshitaka Amano | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Emerging Pakistani artists getting noticed in India and abroad

Posted by artradar on July 11, 2008


CONTEMPORARY ART PAKISTAN  Rashid Rana occupies a unique position among Pakistan’s contemporary artists and has been a hit internationally. Rashid Rana is a star, whether it’s in Lahore, Mumbai or Hong Kong. The Pakistani artist wowed the crowds who flocked to his Mumbai show in November 2007. And he received an equally rapturous response last month at HK 08, the inaugural Hong Kong Art Fair.

The overwhelming response to Rana’s eye-catching work didn’t come as the slightest surprise to two Mumbai art galleries. Chatterjee & Lal and Chemould Prescott Road jointly organised the show of Rana’s digital photo-montages at HK 08 and they were absolutely certain that it would receive critical acclaim. “It was all sold out,” says Mortimer Chatterjee, partner, Chatterjee & Lal.

 

Artist names attracting attention

Rana occupies a unique position among contemporary Pakistani artists and he has made a huge name for himself internationally. But he isn’t the only artist from across the border who’s attracting the attention of connoisseurs in India. In the last two months, three shows by Pakistani artists like Bani Abidi, Ali Kazim and Muhmmad Zeeshan have been held across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. And many more are planned in the coming 12 months.

 

Collector Anupam Poddar buying Pakistani art with plans for show

Or take a look at art collector Anupam Poddar, who has built a sizeable collection of contemporary Pakistani art. His Devi Art Foundation is doing the groundwork for a show in March 2009, which will be curated by Rana.

 

Indian interest in Pakistani art

“Interest in Pakistani art is increasing in India,” says Peter Nagy of Delhi’s Nature Morte, who held the first solo show of Rana’s work in India and then helped take his work overseas.So, is Pakistani art the next Big Thing in India? Many art experts believe the interest in Pakistani art is only natural. Says Chatterjee: “There are so many lines of inter-connection between the concerns of Pakistani artists and the lives of normal Indians that often the subject matter is entirely relevant to an Indian audience.”There’s also, as Rana says, “a kind of mutual obsession on both sides of the border, fostered by shared histories, the trauma of Partition and the years of hostility and inaccessibility.”

 

Pakistani art more visible in auctions and fairs

Certainly Pakistani art, like Indian art, is suddenly becoming more visible at international art fairs and auctions. For instance, works by Talha Rathore and Nusra Ali Qureishi sold at auctions held by Christie’s and Saffronart recently.

 

Bani Abidi – female video artist

For Bangalore-based GALLERYSKE‘s founder, Sunitha Kumar Emmart who had been following Pakistani video artist Bani Abidi’s work, then, art fairs provided an opportunity to view the work of the Pakistani artist at first-hand. That led to a show by Abidi recently. “Regardless of nationality or gender, we have been interested in Bani’s work primarily for the strength of her practice and the clarity of her artistic vocabulary,” says Emmart. Abidi’s themes went down well with Bangalore art lovers. In the video piece, Reserved, she shows a city coming to a halt for a political bigwig. It has images of schoolchildren waiting to wave crumpled paper flags at a motorcade that never arrives – it was a theme, obviously, that Indian viewers could relate to.

“I’m interested in talking about a more complex identity formation along linguistic and cultural lines, rather than religious ones,” says Abidi, who was surprised by the response to her show. “This is the first time I’ve had a solo show in India. So, it was a first for me that this kind of attention was given to my work here and I value that,” she adds.

 

Ali Kazim – watercolours

Meanwhile, Ali Kazim’s mastery over watercolours drew a huge response at Delhi’s Gallery Espace. The show was held in collaboration with Green Cardamom, a UK-based institution that promotes South Asian artists.

 

Mohammad Zeeshan – contemporary miniatures

And in Mumbai, art lovers got to see Muhammad Zeeshan’s contemporary miniatures in his show, What Lies Beneath, organised by Delhi’s Anant Art Gallery.

“There’s a certain understanding regarding art that I find in Indians. And it feels good to be a foreigner only 40 minutes across the border and be identified with my imagery as an international artist,” says Zeeshan, who has shown in Delhi, Agra and Calcutta since 2005. Miniature artist Muhammad Zeeshan wants his images to tease the imagination as in Let’s Make A Great Pattern I and Untitled II.

 

2005 show in Mumbai was turning point

Pakistani artists are addressing issues like gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that’s contemporary and international, says art critic Quddus Mirza.

India’s interest in Pakistani art has been building gradually. The canvas was prepared by curators like Pooja Sood in India and Salima Hashmi in Pakistan, and institutions like Khoj International Artists’ Association and VASL Artists Residency in Delhi and Karachi, respectively. Khoj and VASL have held artists’ residencies since the late 1980s. Early shows like “Mappings: Shared Histories” curated by Sood too helped.

But till 2004, when Nature Morte held Rana’s first show here, public interest was low. Recalls Nagy: “There was good response from the art community but not from collectors.” That has changed now. One catalyst was the large show, Beyond Borders: Art from Pakistan, at Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in 2005. It was co-curated by Pakistani artist and art critic Quddus Mirza and NGMA’s then director Saryu Doshi.

“I didn’t realise it would create such a stir. It was the first time that we were recognised as contemporary to India in art,” says Mirza.

 

Pakistan’s art described as contemporary, international, cutting-edge

Since then, the momentum has picked up, spurred by galleries and artists. Says Muhammad Umer Butt, artist and creative director, Grey Noise, a new virtual art gallery based in Pakistan: “Rashid [Rana] has played an instrumental role in introducing us Pakistanis to India.”

Mirza believes that apart from the “newness” factor, the similarities and differences between the two nations have attracted Indians. Shows like Beyond Borders also revealed that Pakistani artists aren’t “making Islamic calligraphy or veiled women”. “We’re painting nudes, addressing issues of gender, politics and ethnicity in a language that is contemporary and international. So perhaps that shattering of pre-conceived ideas was one source for the Indian attraction,” he says.

But it isn’t just cultural affinity that’s attracting Indian art lovers to the work from across the border. The fact is that cutting-edge work is coming out of Pakistan. Says Saffronart co-director Dinesh Vazirani: “Wherever collectors are looking at art from outside, they’re looking for innovation.” Hammad Nasar, co-founder, Green Cardamom, believes this is partly because, “for most of its 60-year existence, Pakistan has remained a cauldron of political and social upheaval.” He adds: “This has proved to be a fertile ground for artists to mine.”

Two broad categories: new media and contemporary miniatures

Certainly, it has thrown up a diverse palette. The Pakistani art scene can be broadly divided into two: there are artists working in new media, and there are those that have given a contemporary twist to the miniature tradition.

Indians, says gallerists, are interested in both types of works. The big draw, of course, is Rana with his multi-layered images and messages. Take his Red Carpetphoto-montage series – Red Carpet-1 incidentally sold for a record $623,400 at Sotheby’s recent Spring Sale of Contemporary Art. At first glance, the work appears to be a large Persian carpet. But when you look closer, there’s a series of tiny photographs of scenes from a slaughterhouse. The work reflects, in a sense, Rana’s formal and conceptual concerns. He says in his artist’s statement, “In today’s environment of uncertainty, we cannot have the privilege of a single world-view. Every image or idea already contains its opposite within itself.”

 

Other artists names

Other contemporary Pakistani artists are also being noticed around the world. There are prominent names like Naiza Khan, sculptor-photographer Huma Mulji, Hamra Abbas, Faiza Butt, Mohammad Ali Talpur, and sculptor Khalil Chishtee, whose recent work includes sculptures with garbage bags. Mulji’s Arabian Delight, for instance, was reportedly picked up by British collector Charles Saatchi for $8,000 at the recent Dubai Art Fair.

At a different level, there are the neo-miniaturists – Indian collectors who are familiar with miniatures are quite enthusiastic about this type of work. Miniature art is a strong discipline at Lahore’s National College of Art (NCA), and it has turned out stars like Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq and Shahzia Sikander, who made a name for herself internationally in the ’90s.Now there are newer miniaturists like Imran Qureshi, Aisha Khalid, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Hasnat Mehmood, Talha Rathore and Zeeshan. “These artists have taken the South Asian tradition of miniature to new heights, and then moved beyond the page to invent a new visual language, rooted in tradition but of the here and now,” says Nasar.

Take Zeeshan, who began painting porn cinema posters before studying miniature work at NCA, and who combines the beauty of miniature with edgier themes of gender, dominance and violence. Zeeshan says he enjoys “teasing” the viewer. “And I think my images tease a lot. The oddity of the composition leads the viewer to dialogue and maybe, just for a second, ask, ‘What is this?” he says.

 

Pakistan’s art educational system strong…

Pakistan’s rich artistic output owes largely to its strong art educational system, especially since, unlike India, most practicing artists there also teach. “This has honed the critical edge of art here,” adds Rana.

 

But market infrastructure underdeveloped

For Pakistani artists too, India is an attractive destination, especially since the gallery infrastructure in Pakistan is still very underdeveloped. Grey Noise’s Butt says, apart from a few spaces like Rohtas 2 in Lahore: “We have showrooms but not galleries unfortunately.” Abidi too says, “The art market (in Pakistan) is almost non-existent and the small one that does exist is very conservative.” That’s why Butt felt compelled to found Grey Noise. “We’re the first virtual gallery to represent cutting-edge artists based in Pakistan,” he says.

 

International buyers showing interest

Already, Butt is “overwhelmed” by the response from India on his site. “I get a decent amount of taps from around the world and India takes the lead,” he says. Artists like Ayaz Jokhio, Mehreen Murtaza, Fahd Burki and Amna Hashmi are getting the most queries.

Even Indians living abroad are showing an interest in Pakistani art, according to Prajit Dutta, partner, Aicon Gallery, which is present in New York, Palo Alto and London. Last year, Aicon held two shows with Pakistani artists in London and New York. This year, it has done solos with Zeeshan and Talha Rathore in New York. Coming up in July is a show with installation and video artists Adeela Suleman, Jokhio and Fareeda Batool. And there’s a possible Naiza Khan show in New York next year. Dutta is also planning to show these artists in India. “We’ve got a great response from Western and Indian collectors,” he says.

 

Pakistani art attractive proposition

The boom in the international art market and growing interest in South Asia have made Pakistani art an attractive proposition, feels Rana, especially since art from South Asia is expected to emulate the global success of Chinese art. “Pakistani art benefits from a kind of trickle-down effect from this tremendous energy in the Indian art market,” he says.

 

Shows planned

The Pakistanis are obviously eager to make their mark in the booming Indian art mart. Green Cardamom, for instance, is planning two exhibitions in India next year, one by the acclaimed Hamra Abbas, who works in everything from video to animation, miniature painting and sculpture. In her Lessons on Love series, she transposed the romantic figures of Indian miniatures into sculpture. Says Green Cardamom’s Nasar: “India is a place where almost all our artists are keen to show. So we’ll figure out ways to do this to their best advantage.”

Nature Morte too will host a solo with Abbas in 2009 in Delhi and Calcutta. Besides, Abbas and Rana are part of a large canvas project Nagy’s working on with auction house Phillips de Pury in London in November, which will then travel to New York in January.

Meanwhile, GALLERYSKE‘s Emmart too plans to mount curated shows by Indian and Pakistani artists. Even Vazirani intends to increase the Pakistan section of Saffronart’s auctions. And he will hold a two-city show with Pakistani artists in Mumbai and New York in 2009.

 

Prices still low

To be sure, prices are one reason why Pakistani art is suddenly becoming popular here. As Indian art prices soar, there are better bargains to be had across the border. One art critic says that emerging artists from Pakistan offer “much better value than most Indian art now”. Vazirani too says: “There are opportunities to discover new artists.”

According to one gallerist, high-quality miniatures from Pakistan are typically priced between $10,000 and $20,000 though the masters are more expensive.Autumn II, a miniature by Zahoor-Ul-Akhlaq, for instance, sold at Christie’s’ auction of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art this month for over $39,000.

The artists, though, are sceptical of the commercialisation in the Indian art market. “What we have now is everyone trying to cash in, exploit the artist, and in some cases, the artist exploiting the buyer,” says Abidi.

Yet the artistic exchange seems set to continue – barring the arbitrariness of officialdom. And as Chatterjee says: “This is just the beginning.”

Image details: Rashid Rana

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