Sunday, October 4, 2015

A second look at "First Look" at the Asian

In August 2015, the Asian Art Museum launched its second summer exhibition of works from its recent contemporary art collection. The exhibition featured highlights and recent acquisitions in the Museum’s expanding contemporary art collection. Running until 11 October, the show marks the second time in 2015 that the Asian Art Museum is mounting a major display of contemporary art from its collection. The museum boasts a 180,000 strong collection, 1,100 of which are Asian contemporary artworks acquired in the past 15 years.

Allison Harding was the Guest Curator at the Asian Art Museum and the one who organized “First Look”. As she explained to the press:

"To truly understand the contemporary, you must understand the tradition from which it emerged. “First Look” embodies how tradition can inspire new works in the present and continue to impact contemporary life.”

The Asian Art Museum is not new to contemporary art exhibitions. The Museum has already held “28 Chinese” this summer, presenting 48 works by 28 Chinese artists organized by Miami’s Rubell Collection. Over the past 15 years, the Asian Art Museum has made a concentrated effort to include contemporary art in its exhibitions and acquisitions. They have organized two major contemporary art exhibitions – “Phantoms of Asia” (2012) and “Gorgeous” (2014) and number of exhibitions and installations including “Proximities” (2014), “Tetsuya Ishida: Saving the World with a Brushstroke” (2014-2015) and “Sanaz Mazinani: Threshold” (2015).

Many of the pieces, as skillful as they are, could be done by anybody, anywhere. For me, Asian art has such a magnificent past; I don't want to see that past thrown away for a generic modern "future." The best artists - well, those whose work I liked - combined cultural traditions with work that will prove timeless.

The Night of Perpetual Day, 2013
By Yang Yongliang (Chinese, b. 1980)
Four-channel HD video with sound, 8:32 min.
Acquisition made possible by Gorretti and Lawrence Lui, with additional funding from Richard Beleson, 2014.14

"The Night of Perpetual Day" combines Chinese painting traditions with new media techniques to construct an animated landscape exploring China’s rapid urban development. The artist’s process begins in the city, where he photographs the development of contemporary China that surrounds him. His images document the tensions of urbanization: progress and destruction, the grayness of the metropolis and the beauty of nature. He then digitally collages different photographs together and animates them to construct a landscape simultaneously futuristic and historic,
Interview with the artist at the Guardian

Vase, 1985
By Kim Yik-yung (Korean, b. 1935)
Porcelain with clear glaze
Gift of Dr. Phyllis A. Kempner and Dr. David D. Stein, 2015.22

Kim Yik-yung’s ceramics emphasize the whiteness of porcelain clay and the aesthetics of modern forms, overlapping the traditional and the contemporary. While studying in New York in the early 1960s, Kim went to a lecture by the influential British ceramic artist and teacher Bernard Leach and heard him say one should learn everything about ceramic art by studying Korea’s Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) whiteware ceramics. Since then, her goal has been to create unembellished porcelain forms with innovative surface treatments that convey the sense of serenity characteristic of traditional Korean ceramics.
My UFO by Yako Hoda

 At age sixteen Yako Hodo began six years of apprenticeship with three different bamboo masters before becoming an independent artist. Making only one or two exhibition pieces each year, he won numerous awards for his bamboo work, which transforms the strength and resiliency of bamboo into energetic, sculptural compositions. While "Wave Crest" and "Forest" suggest the beauty and movement of natural forms, "My UFO" offers the artist’s view of more alien terrain. 

Ended Season by Zheng Chongbin. Ink and acrylic on Xuan paper.

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