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Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

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Posts Tagged ‘Takashi Murakami’

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

Posted by artradar on July 26, 2010


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.

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.


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Murakami opens new gallery in Taipei, says Taiwan’s art market 10 years ahead of Japan

Posted by artradar on July 22, 2010


As reported in a recent Taiwan News article, world-renowned contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami opened a new art gallery in Taipei, Taiwan, at the end of June this year.

Kaikai Kiki All Star exhibition flyer, currently showing at Takashi Murakami's new Taipei art space, KaiKai Kiki Gallery Taipei.

Kaikai Kiki All Star exhibition flyer, currently showing at Takashi Murakami's new Taipei art space, Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei. Taken from the KaiKai Kiki Gallery Taipei website.

Named the Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei, it is the second exhibition space opened by Murakami – the first was inaugurated in Tokyo in 2008.

In an interesting reflection on Taiwan’s art industry, the newspaper quoted Murakami as saying “that he has chosen Taipei as his art company’s first overseas foothold mainly because he feels Taiwan is 10 years ahead of Japan in terms of the maturity of its arts market.”

The gallery is reported to be unique in that it “does not impose any distance restrictions on visitors.”

Kaikai Kiki Gallery Taipei is located on first floor of the Taiwan Land Development Corp. office building in Taipei, Taiwan. It will showcase the “Kaikai Kiki All Star” exhibition of paintings by represented artists until 25 July.


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Posted in Art spaces, Artist Nationality, Japanese, Taiwan, Takashi Murakami, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

‘Guerilla’ gallerist on introducing Banksy to Asia, art atmosphere in Hong Kong- interview

Posted by artradar on April 14, 2010


Two year old gallery Fabrik, known for its unique guerilla exhibitions and for bringing Western iconic artists to Asia, sets up permanent home in Hong Kong.

The Fabrik Contemporary Art Gallery is young in Hong Kong, having exploded onto the art scene about 2 years ago with its first show LOVE ART, which caused a sensation introducing works by the notorious street artist Banksy, who had never before been exhibited in Asia. Although the Fabrik Gallery is young, it stands out in Hong Kong’s Chinese-saturated art market for its rare support of Western and contemporary pop artworks and its unique practice of holding ‘guerilla exhibitions’ in temporary or borrowed spaces. In fact, 2 years into its business of promoting art, Fabrik Contemporary has just recently found itself a fixed home in the heart of Central in Hong Kong.

The gallery is a joint venture, owned and operated by Sean Coxall, Jurgen Abergas, and Mark Saunderson, and was originally intended as a platform for the art enthusiasts to share and market their ever-expanding private collections of Warhol and other iconic pop artworks.

The business partners recognized the void of popular Western artworks within the Hong Kong art market, which generally does not expose art lovers to Western phenomena.

The gallery’s flagship Banksy show in April 2008 shocked the art community with its overwhelming success, drawing unprecedented crowds and attention. This Spring, Fabrik fittingly celebrated the opening of their permanent space with another show featuring Banksy, accompanied by the likes of Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Gilbert & George in ‘The Great British Show,’ which ran February 25-March 25.

Art Radar catches up with the Fabrik Gallery’s lively co-owner and curator Jurgen Abergas, a London-educated cosmopolitan whose background includes growing up in the Philippines and living in Los Angeles and China. He shares his perspective on the Hong Kong art scene, Hong Kong’s reaction to Western pop art, and tells all about the series of serendipitous events that culminated in bringing Banksy to Hong Kong.

Was it logistically easy to have the Banksy LOVE ART show in Hong Kong?

Yes, it was actually, because there is no tax on importing art here. We were not yet even registered as a company at that time. We were just working as a private dealership. We collaborated with the Schoeni Gallery, because [the Gallery Director] Nicole Schoeni loves Banksy and wanted to bring him here too. This was also a jump starting point for Nicole’s Adapta Gallery project in Hong Kong.

The show was comprised of 3 days in the Hong Kong Art Centre, and then another 2 weeks with additional pieces for the Schoeni show.

What is the mission of the gallery?

The mission of the gallery is to encourage first time collectors. We try to provide known iconic pieces that accurately represent the style of an artist. For instance, if you want a piece by Hirst, you wouldn’t want a piece that is only a squiggle or a dot, because that is not a known Hirst. We show work that is more iconic and familiar.

Japanese Apricot 2, 2005, by Chiho Aoshima. 55 x 77.8 cm Lithograph. Contact Fabrik Gallery.

What type of art did you intend to share with Hong Kong?

Definitely Western contemporary art. The Japanese art was not a fluke; I’ve been into manga since I was a kid, and it was something that my two partners only got eventually.

We were at a gallery showing of Murakami and other artists, and I told them we should definitely show Murakami. I mean, we go to London, New York, Los Angeles, and we see all these [Murakami] retrospectives, but we don’t see it here. I thought it would make a difference in the Hong Kong arts scene if someone showed works of Murakami here. And also, we wanted to prove that what Murakami does is beyond just Louis Vuitton.

When we opened this gallery, it was supposed to only be a stockroom. But, I said, let’s just do it properly. We were just kind of sick and tired of showing art out of our homes. It’s not ideal, but there are many dealers in New York and London that show art out of their home. However, in Hong Kong it is so crazy outside that you really need your home to be sacred space.

So, we launched the Murakami show, and we pre-sold most of the art before hand! It was one of those shows where we were struggling because clients wanted their art immediately and not wait until the end of the show! So, we were re-hanging stuff that wasn’t even Murakami anymore, because we ran out of the pieces that were actually in demand. We didn’t see that coming at all. Nobody was specializing in Murakami in Hong Kong. However, I have to credit Nicole [Schoeni], because she had works by Chiho Aoshima, who is another artist by Murakami. Aoshima is a lady who just paints women. Nicole had an amazing Japanese apricot lithograph. It is a piece that is really stuck in my head. After seeing that, I was like, ok, let’s include other artists with Murakami.

How is the Fabrik Gallery unique among galleries in Hong Kong?

I think we’re unique because we deal with art that is not generally represented in Hong Kong, and we do not deal with Chinese art.  I love Chinese art, but in a sea of contemporary Chinese art, there is only so much you want to see. We are looking to offer something different.

We also think it’s important to educate the viewer of the message behind the piece. You can go to galleries and think a work is beautiful, but not understand the inspiration for a work. We support more people, especially students, coming into the gallery and reading about an artwork so they do not have unprocessed thoughts about art. When you have a guide to read or someone who will explain the art to you, it really makes a difference and makes a lasting impression on someone who visits the gallery.

Can you describe the Fabrik Gallery’s ‘guerilla’ approach to art sales?

Basically, we went to different venues, like the W Hotel, rented out space, painted it, put up lights, and showed our works there.

Which galleries and arts organizations do you work closely with?

We work closely with White Cube in London, Aragon Press (the publisher of Damien Hirst), Other Criteria (again, Damien Hirst.) Hirst is our specialty. Also KaiKai Kiki, which is Murakami, the Helium Foundation, and other galleries in New York for our private collections.

Do you attend art fairs? Are you participating in Art HK?

This May we will be. We’re going to Art HK. One of the reasons we did the Banksy show is because we were rejected from Art HK in 2008. We were accepted this year, but we’re still deciding whether we should go. They prioritize the international galleries and we notice that most of the galleries here in Hong Kong are not participating.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it’s a very weird process.

Although we were rejected the first time, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us. If we had done Art HK, the Banksy show never would have happened.

What was your impression of Art HK?

I love Art HK. It’s a great way to see art! I think it’s one of those events that can give a platform and democratize the buying of art and make international artworks accessible to a wider audience. However, I don’t approve of hard sales tactics, and showing artworks without providing the context of the artist. In art fairs in general, it is hard to create the intimacy of an actual gallery.

What was Hong Kong’s reaction to your flagship show featuring Banksy?

It was phenomenal, they loved it. No other exhibition has ever graced the front page of the City section of the South China Morning Post. The turnout was around 1,000 people, and people from Christie’s and Sotheby’s were lining up. We had to hire security because it was just too packed. It was a very well publicized event that just happened in about 3 weeks. People usually plan this sort of thing 6 to 8 months in advance, and we did it in only 3 weeks. We worked around the clock, and were so tired afterward. Before we opened the Art Centre the next day, people were already lining up to see the show.

Was the turnout local?

It was a combination of both local and expatriate people, which is good. I think people in London and Europe are more passionate about these things, though. It’s weird, because when we opened the Banksy show, Banksy-style art of monkeys appeared on the bridges, and the next day it was already erased. A lot of people thought the graffiti was actually authentic Banksy. If this was in London, they would have preserved that. If it was in New York, they would have preserved it. But here in Hong Kong, it was wiped the next day.

The government needs to promote more sensibility toward the arts, especially here in Hong Kong Island. We’re on the cusp; we’re still not there yet.  The Hong Kong crowd still has a lot to see compared to London. However, we’re never going to be London and we need to make our own niche in Hong Kong, and make a city where art and commerce blend in. It’s still a financial city; that is what we are all about. We are not exactly an art city. That is one of the disadvantages of being here in Hong Kong. We are not exposed to a lot, and important art can get erased the next day by the cleaners. Because it’s not important to them.

Has Banksy been featured in Asia prior to your first show?

We definitely wanted Banksy to be our first show. It is the first and largest show of Banksy in Asia; Tokyo rejected it, so we were glad to take it. Ironically, now Tokyo is hungry for his works.

Does the Fabrik Gallery intend to feature other street or urban artists?

Paul Insect, Icon 8, 2008. Wooden panel, gold leaf, natural powder paint, shellac, acrylic paint.

We are planning to bring Lazarides U.K. artists Antony Micallef and Paul Insect before the end of the year. We love their works and they relate well to Warhol, especially Paul Insect. He creates appropriated images that reference historical art.

How does Banksy promote his art if his identity is kept secret? Does he directly work with galleries for his shows?

He’s not with his manager Steve Lazarides anymore, since they had a falling out. They had different intentions; it’s hard when you’re turning art into a commodity. Banksy doesn’t work directly with galleries either, and doesn’t show up in exhibitions. He just wants his identity to be secret and to keep a low profile, and to continue creating smart work and churning out really good stuff.

Why do you think Banksy created the sensation in Hong Kong?

His works confront a lot of issues and are very tongue in cheek, yet also is close to the heart. Banksy’s art talks to each individual and is easy to relate to. It makes you think, but it makes you smile as well.

Do you see any major differences between the art of Banksy and the art of the other artists in the ‘Great British Show’?

His work, whether it is rendered in canvas or in print, is from the street. There is a roughness that you can see and feel, although it is a screen print. It is still raw, and there is something sinister about it. You know the artist made this on the street in the middle of the night and ran away from the police, knowing he could get caught at any time while he was painting.

Are you familiar with the street art scene and artists in Hong Kong?  If so, who would you consider important artists?

I am familiar with Hong Kong street artists, like the ST/ART Collective… However, in general the street scene in Hong Kong is not very prolific. Funnily enough, I saw a tagging by the U.K. artist Word to Mother on a wooden board in the market. I am sure that it’s his authentic tag, since no one else can really do that. Someone just used the board to cover the fruits they were selling.

Do you view Hong Kong as an international art hub?

With Art HK, the success of ArtWalk, and the international galleries— The Gagosian Gallery is coming, Ben Brown is here, and the Malborough Gallery is opening here. Obviously people are looking at the potential of Hong Kong, and there is a big market here.

Tsang Kin-Wah, 2006. Untitled wallpaper detail for Shu Uemura in California.

What is great about the local art scene?

There are particularly 2 artists that I really like. One is Tsang Kin-wah. He was commissioned to create the wallpaper of The Pawn restaurant in Wan Chai. He made repetitions of words to create a flock wallpaper pattern. He has had exhibitions in New York, Paris and Norway. He’s really a major artist, but he’s very humble.

Nadim Abbas is another Hong Kong artist who used to work for Plum Blossoms, and is now showing his art at Para/Site. He’s a very conceptual artist, and was featured in the [Hong Kong Museum of Art] Louis Vuitton show representing Hong Kong artists. I love artists who work from their stream of consciousness, and he obviously does this.

I also like the illustration style of Carrie Chau, [featured at the Wun Yin Collection Gallery] at the Homeless boutique on Gough Street.

What news sources do you read to stay informed about the art world?

Art is my number one resource. The Art Newspaper is good too, although I’ve noticed that not all their stories are up to date. Sometimes their news seems to be relevant to say, 1o months ago.  I also read Frieze MagazineThe Art ReviewThe Guardian, blogs, anything!

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a dealer gallery in Hong Kong?

Show only the artists that you love and the artists that you’re passionate about. Art is a very personal thing, and the general public may come in and hate it. Be prepared to be judged.

Is there any particular information, news, or advice you would like to share with our readers?

Start collecting now.  If you like something, save your money and make it your goal. In the next few years you will probably regret not getting it.

What is your next show at Fabrik Contemporary Art?

In the Name of Pop, featuring Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring will run May 6-June 10, 2010.

Visit Fabrik Contemporary Art’s new and permanent home at 412, 4F, Yip Fung Building, 2 – 18 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong.


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Posted in Art spaces, Business of art, Curators, Galleries, Gallerists/dealers, Gallery shows, Graffiti, Hong Kong, International, Interviews, Pop Art, Profiles, Street art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Animamix Biennial – an alternative biennial pushes aesthetic of comic art – interview curator Victoria Lu

Posted by artradar on February 16, 2010


The Animamix Biennial is unique. The first was held in 2007, organised by Victoria Lu, an experienced curator and the Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai. This years show, also curated by Lu, spans four galleries: the Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei, Taiwan), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai, China), Today Art Museum (Beijing, China) and the Guangdong Museum of Art (Guangzhou, China).

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, MOCA Shanghai

It presents art that develops or embodies the Animamix aesthetic, artwork that combines the styles of animation and comics.

The term “Animamix” was actually coined in 2004 by Lu when she became aware of the emerging stylistic trend while curating Fiction.Love at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan.

Fiction.Love, 2004, MOCA Taipei

Animamix is now entering the mainstream, pushing the artists who have developed this style into the spotlight, artists such as Takashi Murakami (Japan), mixed-media visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock (U.S.A.) and Brazilian painter Oscar Oiwa. As the style encompasses a broad range of mediums, and is often brightly coloured with bizarre narratives, it has an inherent ability to attract attention.

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, Guangdong Museum of Art, China

Always interested in exploring emerging trends, Art Radar Asia spoke briefly with curator Victoria Lu about the Biennial:

On Animamix as an artistic trend

The Animamix Biennial was inaugurated in 2007. Since then, has this art direction become more recognisable to mainstream audiences or does it still sit on the fringes?

This answer is rather difficult to define. If I judge by the growing numbers of Animamix direction artworks in the international art fairs, I can say yes. The Animamix direction is growing internationally.

Is this style popular internationally (for audiences, dealers and buyers) or is the popularity restricted to the Asian region?

There is more Animamix kind of artworks available in Asia market for the moment, so I believe Animamix art is more popular in Asia. But there are more and more artists in Europe working [with an] Animamix direction.

On the Biennial

Why did you want to start this Biennial?

I am tired of the current international biennials. There are a group of curators [which have been] leading the conceptual direction for too long. You will find [that] very similar artists list no matter where you go. So I want to try something new, something different. My concept for the Animamix Biennial is an ongoing evolution of art exhibitions and activities. This kind of biennial can really reflect the local art scene.

Would it be fair to say this Biennial is an Asian-initiated event focussing on an art trend that is becoming more globalised?

International biennials were started in Europe in the early last century. Now biennials are becoming more and more popular in the Asia, starting from the beginning of this century. Many cities in Asia are competing for the exposure of their art and culture.

Generally, how has the exhibition been received by critics and museum patrons?

My Animamix shows are very well received by audiences. So far we have also been well received by the critics.

Which artists have been well received by critics and audiences? Are there any “stars” of the Biennial?

I cannot say who the stars are. They are all important to me.

Animamix Biennial, 2009-2010, Today Art Museum, Beijing

The final leg of the Animamix Biennial, Dazzled and Enchanted – New Age Animamix, is now showing at the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou, China. The show will close on 28 February 2010.


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Posted in Anime, Beijing, Biennials, Body, Brands, Brazilian, Cartoon, Celebrity art, China, Conceptual, Consumerism, Curators, Emerging artists, Fantasy art, Guangzhou, Illustration, International, Interviews, Japanese, Manga, Museum shows, Pop Art, Professionals, Shanghai, Taiwan, Takashi Murakami, Technology, Toys, Urban, Video game art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Top 17 Asian artists 2009: Art Radar’s most-searched artists

Posted by artradar on January 5, 2010


We have been up and running for over 18 months now and we receive over 25,000 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 or image written by Art Radar. Our analytics package tracks these search terms for us and we thought you might be interested in this data too.

Wucius Wong

Wucius Wong

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 caveats below). However we do think the list throws up some fascinating data.

  1. Takashi Murakami – Male Japanese anime painter and sculptor – 34,000 searches
  2. Anish Kapoor – Male British Indian sculptor – 3,500
  3. Shirin Neshat – Female Iranian photographer – 2,200
  4. Cao Fei – Female Chinese photographer and new media artist – 550
  5. I Nyoman Masriadi – Male Indonesian painter – 520
  6. Yoshitaka Amano – Male Japanese anime artist – 460
  7. Ori Gersht – Male Israeli photographer – 380
  8. Terence Koh – Male Canadian Chinese photographer, installation and multimedia artist – 340
  9. AES+F – Russian photography and video collective – 320
  10. Ronald Ventura – Male Filipino painter – 280
  11. Hiroshi Sugimoto – Male Japanese photographer – 260
  12. Farhad Moshiri – Male Iranian painter – 240
  13. Subodh Gupta – Male Indian painter, installation artist – 210
  14. Farhad Ahrarnia – Female Iranian thread artist – 180
  15. Gao Xingjian – Male Chinese ink artist – 180
  16. Jitish Kallat – Male Indian painter – 170
  17. Wucius Wong – Male Hong Kong Chinese ink artist – 160

The most startling finding is the “‘winner takes all” phenomenon. Takashi Murakami searches are 10 times the second most-searched artist and more than 100 times most of the artists on the list. This correlates with some of the latest findings on internet searches which are tending towards an L shape ie  there are blockbuster categories and a long tail of niches in which a vast number of categories each receive very few searches.

I Nyoman Masriadi

I Nyoman Masriadi

The well-known book “The Long Tail”‘ first brought the long tail phenomenon to light and it was expected that searchers given the choice would no longer need to cluster around a blockbuster because that was what was most readily available but would be able to choose between a myriad of interest categories. The latest research is showing that the long tail is indeed happening but that the long tail is not diminishing interest in blockbusters, instead the long tail is taking away from the middle-interest categories.

This pattern seems to be borne out in our data.  This trend could have some profound implications for the way that artists are marketed in the future. Perhaps art galleries as we now know them will go the way of independent bookstores and publishers, unable to afford the marketing costs needed to create blockbusters and unable to sell enough in the niches to survive. We would like to hear more about your thoughts on this subject in the comments section below.

Farhad Ahrarnia, The Struggle Within

Farhad Ahrarnia, The Struggle Within

Preferred media of most-searched artists

Most of the arists work in various media but in this list we have tagged them with the media they are best known for. Only 5 of the artists are known primarily for painting and this list is dominated by photographers, new media artists and sculptors.  Chinese ink, thread and anime make intriguing appearances on the list too.


Most of the artists were born in the 1960s and 1970s as you would expect for a contemporary art site. But there are some surprise appearances for 2 older artists Gao Xingjian born 1940 and Wucius Wong born 1936. What is even more interesting is that both of these artists are Chinese and work in the same, very national genre of ink. While new media dominates, the inclusion of traditional Chinese ink art suggests a countertrend in which historical media and disciplines are being appreciated by contemporary art enthusiasts.


Male 13, Female 3, Mixed collective 1

Farhad Moshiri

Farhad Moshiri

Breakdown of nationalities

Chinese 4, Indian 3, Iranian 3, Japanese 3, Israeli, Indonesian, Filipino and Russian 1 each

While it is commonly known that there is now great international interest in the Chinese, Indian and Iranian art scenes we were fascinated to note the high ranking of two painters from Southeast Asia: Indonesian artist I Nyoman Masriadi and Filipino Ronald Ventura.  The  Southeast Asian collector base is composed of a small group of prominent Indonesian Chinese businessmen collectors. Artists from Southeast Asia find themselves in a somewhat enclosed and isolated art scene and are rarely exhibited outside the region. We did not expect to see Southeast Asian artists achieving a high ranking for internet searches.

Yoshitaka Amano

Yoshitaka Amano


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.

More recent lists: June 2010

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Murakami’s Geisai Miami cancelled, Geisai Taiwan debuts this December

Posted by artradar on October 29, 2009



Takashi Murakami

The contemporary Japanese art guru Takashi Murakami is continuing to shape the infrastructure of the art world through his biannual Geisai art fair, which Murakami intends to expand to multiple international cities. The Art Newspaper reports that Geisai Taiwan, to be held in Taipei, will replace Geisai Miami this December. The new Geisai Taiwan event is planned to have more than 200 exhibition booths for new artists. In contrast, the cancelled Miami event was structured differently, presenting only 21 new artists in 2008 which a panel selected from a pool of applicants. The event was originally intended to coincide with Art Basel Miami.

Regarding the cancellation,  the spokesperson for Murakami’s company commented:

” We would not say that Geisai Miami has been cancelled, but rather that we are simply building on our desire to expand the Geisai event/concept worldwide.”

Geisai has been highly successful in Japan, growing each year since its 2002 Tokyo inception and repeatedly attracting 1,000 participants and 9,000 visitors for the one-day event.

Geisai is produced by Murakami’s company Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., and is intended as a platform to discover new artistic talent.

Soichi Yamaguchi, whose art now commands high prices, entered Geisai as an unknown artist and cites his win at Geisai #9 in 2007 as the turning point in his career  that helped him find gallery representation. The Japanese event has taken on a festival-like feel, and has been highly accessible for new artists, with booth fees starting at ¥25,000 (approximately $270 USD).

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Posted in Branding in art develops, Business of art, Connecting Asia to itself, Democratisation of art, Fairs, Japanese, Market watch, Miami, Taiwan | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Liquidity propels prices, Chinese Political Pop is back – Sothebys Contemporary Asian Art Auction 2009 Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on October 16, 2009


Although called a Contemporary Asian Art auction, this sale was dominated by Chinese artists which was a canny move by Sotheby’s given that mainland liquidity is driving prices of property in Hong Kong to record high prices of US$1,000 per square foot and sending Chinese stock markets soaring. According to Bloomberg, Chinese money supply has grown by 55% since the beginning of 2007 compared with 20% in the UK and US.

Some of this liquidity has found its way into the art market at this auction. Mainland buyers were active and revealed some surprising preferences.

Hong Kong artists back in a second showcase

Sotheby’s followed up its inaugural and successful showcase of 8 Hong Kong artists in the ‘Spring auction earlier this year with an expanded selection of works by 10 artists. Affordable prices meant that all but two of the works found buyers with successful bids mostly coming in around estimates.

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Simon Go, Hong Kong Old Shops, Inkjet on Bamboo Paper

Works by two artists, sculptor Danny Lee and photographer Simon Go who were both new to the auction this year, did better than estimates. Danny Lee produces stainless steel sculptures which are reminiscent  – though in a more organic liquid form –  of the stainless steel scholar rocks made by the world-renowned sculptor Zhan Wang  whose works have been collected by institutions such as the British Museum . Danny Lee’s Mountain and Stream IV sold for HK$170,000 against a top estimate of HK$160,000 (before premium). (US$1 = HK$7.7)

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Danny Lee, Mountain and Stream IV, Steel wood

Simon Go’s set of 2 photographic works called Hong Kong Old Shops: Wing Wo Grocery and Keng Ming Mirror Shop achieved a price of HK$80,000 against an estimate of HK$30-50,000 (before premium). This lot points to several collector trends. According to Larry Warsh, a New York-based dealer, there is a growing interest in Chinese photography and Wing Wo Grocery ( an image of a family clan in an old-style grocery shop from the colonial era recently shut down in preparation for urban renewal) embodies trends identified at an ArtInsight seminar last month called ‘Trends and Opportunities in Photography” . The panelists identified documentary photography and ‘slice of lif’e’ photography as hot areas for collectors now.

Zhan WangThe biggest story of the Hong Kong part of the sale was Tsang Tsou Choi’s calligraphy which saw excited bidding between several bidders in the room and on the phone resulting in a price (before premium) of HK$400,000 which was 8 times the lower estimate of HK$50,000. Work by this artist now deceased was also a surprising success in the Spring 2009 auction perhaps because of local media and public interest in the eccentric behaviour he displayed in his long art career.

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

Tsang Tsou Choi, Calligraphy, Acrylic on Canvas

In our Sotheby’s Spring 2009 auction post we wrote:

Tsang, Tsou Chin aka The Kowloon Emperor is a Hong Kong legend, famous for his calligraphy graffiti which he painted on public furniture. Undeterred by numerous warnings he roamed the streets for 50 years laying down his family genealogy and his personal history as an emperor in exile in blatant defiance of the Queen and English colonial rule. Deemed a lunatic by some, he was nevertheless recognised when in 2003 he became the very first Hong Kong artist to exhibit at the Venice Biennale.

Cynical Realist artists are back

In the next section of the sale a series of Chinese sixties-born artists, many from the Cynical Realist and Political Pop movements (Yue Minjun Feng Zhenghjie Zeng Fanzhi, Fang Lijun, Zhang Xiaogang) came under the hammer with hefty estimates of several hundred thousand and up to around $5 million per lot.

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

Yue Minjun, Hats Series - The Lovers, Oil on Canvas

On a visit to London last month Art Radar heard several Western commentators describing Chinese art as ‘old’, ‘tired’ and ‘done’. This auction showed clearly that there are keen buyers for Chinese artists of this era who are willing to pay robust prices. Room bidders were mainly middle-aged Chinese men, who are perhaps collectors or more likely dealers for a growing middle class market in the mainland. Most lots in this section sold at estimate and some well above. Yue Minjun’s ‘Hats Series – The Lovers’ attracted several room bidders and a phone bidder eventually selling for HK$5.3m against a top estimate of HK$3.5m.

Institution-endorsed Chinese artists of the  fifties and sixties meet price resistance

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

Wang Keping, Untitled, Wood

It is no secret that Western critics regard some of the Cynical Realist artists as lightweight and lacking in intellectual rigour.  Instead major institutions such as the Royal Academy and British Museum in London have favoured and endorsed other mid-century born artists such as gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing, famous for his invented calligraphy . These artists sold well at lower price levels but lots with high estimates met resistance and failed. Cai Guo-Qiang’s Money Net No 2, part of Royal Academy of Art Project (estimate HK$4.7m – 5.5m) and Xu Bing’s Silkwom Series – The Foolish Old Man Who Tried to Remove the Mountain (estimate HK$5m – 5.5m) were bought in.

Frowns for part-increment bids

What we did see at this auction was a much stronger resistance by the two auctioneers in this marathon four-and-a-half  hour sale to partial bids. In recent auctions we have seen bidders make counter-offer bids at increments lower than standard. In the recent past these were accepted with alacrity by genial auctioneers. At this auction bidders were left waiting, frowned at and as often as not turned down.

Zhang Huan upset

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan, My New York, Chromogenic Print

Zhang Huan

, formerly a performance artist and more recently a sculptor and installation artist known for his works in ash and animal skins had 5 lots in the sale. Despite  backing by big-boy galleries in London and New York (Zhang Huan currently has an installation at White Cube in Picadilly London) four of his works including two sculptures and two chromogenic prints were bought in. The only work which was successful was a chromogenic print (numbered 3/8) recording his early endurance performance art which sees him running barefoot along the streets covered in raw meat. This work exemplifies another trend identified at the Artinsight photography seminar: growing interest in photographic documentation of performance art.

Sculpture mixed

Sculpture had a mixed performance. Apart from Zhang Huan’s two failed lots and one by Hong Kong artist Kum Chi Keung, there was a surprise pass on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s pink polyester mannequin Self-Obliteration (estimate $550-650,000). Most of the rest of the ten or so sculptures including Wang Keping’s wooden female forms, Zhang Wan’s scholar rocks, kitsch sculptures by the Luo Brothers and Huang Yan and a run of five works featuring sculpted heads  and figures (by various artists) sold at or above estimate.

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Li Hui, Amber Dragon, Neon and steel

Two lots by neon and steel sculptor Li Hui (1977) were highly sought after and attracted across-the-room bidding. Both pieces were purchased by an Asian family who were active bidders in the preceding sale of South East Asian art. The family also acquired an acrylic on canvas by Japanese artist Hiroyuki Matsuura and another by Ryuki Yamamoto. Traditionally collectors’ interests cluster geographically and more often than not collectors prefer to buy their national artists though there have been signs of changes. Despite the recession there is still momentum  behind this trend of pan-Asia buying.

Chinese photography fluid bidding

A handful of photographs were scattered through the sale but the bulk was found in an eleven lot run in the middle.  This run featured sixties-born Chinese photographers such as Hai Bo, Hong Hao, Wang Qingsong, Huang Yan, Cang Xin and Sheng Qi who were active in the nineties and many of whom came to international prominence in 2004 with Christopher Phillips’ seminal exhibition Between Past and Future at the International Center of Photography in New York. Since then major US institutions have been collecting the work of this group as we reported in April 2009:

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

Hai Bo, Red Guard, Chromogenic Print and Gelatin Silver Print

The J. Paul Getty Museum is the latest institution to add works by Chinese contemporary artists to its holdings. Others include New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired 28 works for its photography collection, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Brooklyn Museum, as well as global institutions such as the Tate and the Pompidou Center.

“The acquisition of these works (Wang Qingsong, Hai Bo) affirms an important new direction for the Getty,” says noted photography dealer and collector Daniel Wolf, who helped establish the museum’s collection in the 1980s. “It reflects an interest in expanding the collection in this category.”

Prices were affordable and bidding was fluid. While editions were limited to the 8-20 range and many of the lots were made up of multiple images, sales were made at estimates which were surprisingly affordable. Most lots sold for between HK$40-75,000. Wang Qingsong’s triptych photograph Past Present, Future which sold at estimate for HK$260,000 was the exception.  One buyer snapped up several lots.

One upset was lot 765 by Cao Fei which was passed in. Her works are inspired by the internet, video games, role-playing and the virtual world and she has received wide coverage in London and beyond after a recent show at Battersea Power Station organised in conjunction with the Serpentine Gallery.

Japanese and Korean art

The sale was dominated by Chinese artists but there was a run of cartoon-style art, many by young Japanese artists, a third of the way through the sale which sold at prices HK$50-150,000. Heavyweight Japanese artists were priced much higher but did not always sell or meet the estimate.  Yoshimoto Nara’s It’s Everything sold at HK$3.3m compared with an estimate of HK$3.8-HK$5m. Work by Yoshitaka Amano (described by Time Out as ”the Japanese anime legend behind the Final Fantasy video game” and who attracted spirited phone bidding in the spring sale 2009) was passed in. Takashi Murakami was the exception achieving HK$520,000 for an untitled 1/50 edition screenprint carrying an estimate of just HK$50-70,000. Korean works also achieved mixed results.

Long long auction

The final run of 11 lots saw 6 passes despite affordable prices. This result is probably not worth analysing in depth as it likely had more to do with the numbing length of the 4-5 hour 2 auctioneer sale which saw a packed room of 200 or so dwindle away to 30 or 40 tired stalwarts at what felt like the dog-end of the sale. Perhaps Sotheby’s who charged for coffee and catalogues again this year is still in cost-slashing mode. Let’s hope that by next year there will be enough new money supply for a return to more coffee breaks and free coffee.

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Posted in Auctions, Business of art, Cai Guoqiang, Cao Fei, Cartoon, China, Chinese, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Japanese, Korean, Li Hui, Market watch, Photography, Sculpture, Takashi Murakami, Xu Bing, Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitaka Amano, Yue Minjun, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Huan, Zhang Xiaogang | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A different kind of real – Gesai winner Yamaguchi Soichi’s international solo debut in Hong Kong – interview

Posted by artradar on October 14, 2009


'Pose' by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on Canvas. 145x145 cm.  $20,250. USD. Inquire with the Madhouse Gallery, Hong Kong.

'Pose' by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on Canvas. 145x145 cm. $20,250. USD. Inquire with the Madhouse Gallery, Hong Kong.

Yamaguchi Soichi is a bright creative star who has surpassed his own expectations and found recognition and success early in his career as a contemporary Japanese artist. Indeed, he only graduated from the Tokyo National University of Art and Music in 2007, but he has already caught the attention of the guru of Japanese contemporary art himself, Mr. Takashi Murakami, and was chosen from hundreds of hopeful young artists to receive the coveted Gesai #9 Gold Award in 2006.  His cheerful yet introspective works beg the viewer to escape from a mass universal perspective, and offer a glimpse at a world that he hopes will ‘cause a question, and make you think about what is unknown.’

A journey began with the Batman logo

Yamaguchi is a quiet and soft spoken 26 year old, and is not a natural urbanite, preferring the Japanese countryside and activities like fishing to hustle and noise. He admits that he believes he sees the world differently than others, and discovered this in unlikely circumstances about 10 years ago. Believe it or not, Soichi says his artistic journey started while pondering the ‘Batman’ logo, those outstretched black webbed wings, which he mistook for a gaping open mouth. His ‘mistake’ of seeing something else prompted him to further expore why he sees differently, and the fruits of his discoveries are currently on display at the Madhouse Gallery in Hong Kong, in a solo exhibition titled ‘The Way You Look.’

First international solo exhibition

Soichi’s Madhouse show is his first international solo exhibition, and also marks his first visit to Hong Kong. However, the emerging artist is well traveled, having visited Beijing, New York, and Brazil in the past 2 years. When asked about the cultural and spiritual background of Soichi’s art, he explained that his work is overtly Japanese, not consciously borrowing from other traditions, and has little deliberate religious or spiritual intention. Although many viewers believe his works are spiritually motivated, he is actually philosophically motivated. He explains:

‘People see things differently, according to their heart. People can see many things on a street, and each person will see things differently. What one sees, or pays attention to depends on the outlook of the individual. Although many people think the art is religiously motivated, this is not my intention.”

The use of the eyeball motif in Soichi’s work reinforces this idea of perspective.  He comments:

We see things differently, all from our eyes. The idea is that we see things differently and the eyes are a reminder that everything is from a different perspective.

Eyes, by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 100x150 cm. $17,700. USD. Inquire with the Madhouse Gallery in Hong Kong.

Eyes, by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 100x150 cm. $17,700. USD. Inquiries to the Madhouse Gallery.

Existence and an interconnected universe

However, the artistic concept from this promising young artist goes even deeper. He explains that another inspiration for his art is the idea of existence, interconnectedness, and universal expansion. He is inspired by the ‘other’ and is searching for an alternate form of reality to convey to viewers, because, he says:

Nowadays we have information from many networks, news and the TV, and everyone is getting the same information. This is a very dangerous thing. Art provides another vision of how to see things. It is very dangerous when everyone is looking at the same thing or the same road, because when a way is no longer good, it will collapse. This art is like an exit, and offers an escape from the mass perspective. It offers a different kind of real.

The ‘next step’ in Japanese art

The psychadelic, celebratory, and invigorating works of Soichi do indeed channel an otherworldly feel. For those collectors looking for an appealing investment, this young Japanese artist offers a visual look that is completely unique to Japan, which appears to be the ‘next step’ in the evolution of Japan’s surreal cartoon-like motifs. With Soichi being a newcomer on the international contemporary art scene, his works are still priced reasonably. There are some who are saying that for the investment-minded, Soichi’s work might be a promising buy.

Everyone, by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 27x27 cm. $2,300. USD. Inquire with the Madhouse Gallery, Hong Kong.

Everyone, by Yamaguchi Soichi, 2009. Acrylic on canvas. 27x27 cm. $2,300. USD. Inquire with the Madhouse Gallery, Hong Kong.

Q & A with Yamaguchi Soichi

Which artists do you admire?

Japanese artists Tahami Kenishi and Nakamura Hiroshi.

How did you first begin marketing your work?  Who did you work with?

I began working with the Hiromi Yoshi Gallery in Tokyo. I networked at art conventions, and at Gesai I met my gallery.

How long does it take to produce an artwork?

Depends on the size. The painting may only take a certain amount of time, but before painting, I have to create the concept and make preliminary drawings, which can take a very long time. The actual process of physically painting a work may only take a month, but then ideas may pop into my head after awhile and I add onto it. It is all a work in progress for awhile.

Tell me about how you work? A typical piece?

I use a piece of paper to create the basic composition, making the shapes without color. Then I consider which parts should be dark and light, and finally decide the colors.

What kind of space do you work in?

I work in a mostly empty personal studio with white walls. The walls are covered with bits of paper with ideas written on them. Every time I get an idea I scribble it down and stick it to the wall.

When did you sell your first piece? Is it hard parting with your work?

I was 23 when I sold my first piece. I was so excited when someone offered to buy my work! I don’t mind parting with it, actually. I feel like the buyers of art will honor it and take good care of it. I think it goes to a good home.

What has surprised you the most about working in the arts?

I didn’t expect such a fast reception of my work—I am suddenly having international solo shows and conducting interviews only a year out of school. When I started my career I just wanted to create interesting art, and didn’t have any expectations of becoming famous. I was lucky to meet people who understood my concepts, but I don’t already consider myself successful. I want to do more.

What has been your biggest challenge in art?

The main challenge is how it will be perceived, and the initial impact of a work, in the first moment a viewer looks at it. Also, I send so many messages in one piece, a major challenge is how it should all come together.

What problems do you see for young artists today?

The current standard of the art market sometimes dictates what artists create, and artists should not change themselves to fit neatly into the market standard. Individuality is a strength.

In what ways are young artists today fortunate?

There are more ways to enter the industry now. Most of my friends have moved on to international destinations, like New York and San Fransisco, to start their careers. It may actually be too easy to enter the art world, since there appears to be too many artists who find success before they have found their voice. It is not ultimately good for artists to be shown in galleries when they have not yet discovered their main concept.


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Louis Vuitton, A Passion For Creation review – the fine art of branding in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2009


The historical roots and modern artistic expression of a luxury brand are revealed at  ‘Louis Vuitton: A Passion For Creation,’ presented as a 3-part series by the Hong Kong Museum of Art.  In the first installment of the exhibition, the story of the brand’s evolution is told through the display of original products and artworks from the 19th and 20th centuries and the new millennium. The show begins quietly, showcasing old original Louis Vuitton pieces that champion form and function. However, soon aspirations are revealed to challenge the limits of brand identity and demonstrate the ever-evolving nature of this luxury name.

'Louis Vuitton: A Passion For Creation' Exhibition Entry, Hong Kong Museum of Art

'Louis Vuitton: A Passion For Creation' Exhibition Entry, Hong Kong Museum of Art

The brand is shown from its humble beginning, when the spirit of travel inspired the original concept for Louis Vuitton. However, a new identity emerges under the art direction of Marc Jacobs, who was appointed in 1997.

The show demonstrates LV’s progression with pieces that reflect modern international urban culture by Takashi Murakami of Tokyo, and Stephen Sprouse, who emerged from the arts scene in New York.  The chosen works on display suggest that Louis Vuitton has grown from its origins as the image of Western sophistication into a reflection of international artistic attitudes, sometimes fantastic or defiant, but always luxurious.

'Panda' by Takashi Murakami, 2003. Fiberglass.

'Panda' by Takashi Murakami, 2003. Fiberglass.

Of particular significance is Murakami’s Panda, made in 2003. The massive multicolored, cartoon-like fiberglass panda appears to be rising out of a classically inspired Louis Vuitton trunk, suggesting the surreal new direction he envisions for the brand. Indeed, Murakami’s vision for the modern Louis Vuitton is a frivolous world, a brightly-colored childish fantasy. In contrast, Marc Jacob’s Spring 2008 interpretation for the brand challenges boundaries with a provocative ‘naughty nurse’ theme, and Stephen Sprouse’s Spring 2001 graffiti-inspired pieces challenge the established high-end identity with defacement.

Louis Vuitton Spring 2008, by Marc Jacobs

Louis Vuitton Spring 2008, by Marc Jacobs

Although this show may first appear to be another form of marketing, it does a fair job of demonstrating the art of creating a powerful brand and the evolution of its identity. It would be over-reaching to say the Louis Vuitton products themselves are presented as special works of art. Instead, the real magic that Louis Vuitton shows is the ability to build off an original concept while not changing its foundation, and continually applying a fresh mystique every few seasons by modeling products after fine art by edgy, of-the-moment artists.  Louis Vuitton is artfully alive and growing, but its roots are still intact.

It is still unknown who exactly came up with the concept for the show. Although the show would have more legitimacy if it was the brainchild of Mr. Tang Hoi-Chui, Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and his associates at the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department, it is unlikely they alone conceived the premise for an exhibition on Louis Vuitton . Who approached whom for this collaboration is unclear, and Art Radar will be investigating the source of the show. In the meantime, however, expect to see commercialism and art continue to merge in the Asian art scene, which like Louis Vuitton, is also alive and growing into something different.

Showing at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, May 22-Aug 9, 2009.  $30 HK admission

Contributed by Erin Wooters

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Posted in Branding in art develops, Brands, China, Chinese, Consumerism, Crossover art, Events, From Art Radar, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Artists, Logos, Museum shows, Museums, Reviews, Shows | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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