Saturday, October 31, 2015

'Looking East' at the Asian Art Museum

From the subtle to the exuberantly gaudy.. so much wonderful work that you will need several visits to take it all in. A real review to come...

From the MFA Collections Catalog:
"Silver, partially gilded, decorated in champlevé, basse-taille, and cloisonné enamels, with cut out base supported on four cast turtles, enameled with geometric patterns, naturalistic scenes, and facsimile prints surrounding a sea with carp. Fitted with a drawer etched and parcel-gilt in three colors. Base supports four shaped letter racks in geometric patterns flanked by two rolling blotters topped with "shi-shi" dogs holding brocade balls. Removable central section has a vase-shaped pen holder decorated with female figures, plants, and field mice in kimonos, flanked by nesting boxes enameled in landscape and geometric motifs. Removable lids topped by a beetle and a wasp in gold and basse-taille enamel." Did they leave anything out? I don't think so, but I admire the Parisian exuberance here!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Art from San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo

One of the few images from the original show, showing the salon style of hanging which was popular at the time.

Review of the show here:

Edwin Deakin (American, b. England, 1838–1923), “Palace of Fine
Arts and the Lagoon,” ca. 1915. Oil on canvas. 32 3/8 × 48 3/8 in.
Crocker Art Museum
E. Charlton Fortune, The Four Seasons),” ca. 1915. Oil on canvas. 16 1/4 × 20 in.
Moonlight (Panama Pacific International Exposition),” ca. 1915. Soft- ground etching in color. 6 7/8 x 4 3/4 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Benjamin Chambers Brown (American, 1865-1942), “Art Palace, Reflections (Panama Pacific International Exposition),” ca. 1915. Soft-ground etching in color. 6 7/8x 4 7/8 in. Fine Arts Museums 
Bruce Nelson (American, 18881952), “The Summer Sea,ca. 1914. Oil on canvas. 30 × 40 in. Irvine Museum, California
Cecilia Beaux (American, 1855 1942), “Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker),1898. Oil on canvas. 48 × 34 5/8 in. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design
Edwin Austin Abbey (American, 18521911), “The Penance of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester,1900. Oil on canvas. 49 × 85 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Francis McComas (America, b. Australia, 1874-1938), “Navajo
Gateway, Arizona,” 1914. Watercolor. 26 3⁄4 x 21 1/16 in. Fine Arts
Museums of San Francisco, museum purchase, Skae Fund Legacy
John Singer Sargent (American, b. Italy, 18561925), “The Sketchers,1913. Oil on canvas. 22 × 28 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Covert Operations' at the San Jose Museum of Art

Snowden and Manning’s revelations, NASA spying on citizens, the Chinese spying on Ai Weiwei, the Russians killing one of their spies by radioactive poisoning- at times, it seems like half the world is spying on the other half. Understanding our post 9/11 world is difficult enough; the artists in “Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknown” at the San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA) are attempting to present the more disturbing facets of our 'Brave New World" via multimedia. The exhibition’s conceptual themes include secrecy and disclosure, violence, power, subterfuge, surveillance, territory, geography and the visible versus the hidden. Subjects range from classified military sites and reconnaissance satellites to border and immigration surveillance, terrorist profiling to narcotics and human trafficking, illegal extradition flights to nuclear weapons.

The title of the exhibition was inspired by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s response to a question at a 2002 news conference about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” Rumsfeld’s insight into our post-9/11 landscape illustrates the logic behind the phrase “war on terror." Luckily, the artists here are free to use our democratic freedoms to bear witness to the attacks on liberty and abuses of power.

More at:

images courtesy of the SJMA/various artists

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.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Asia Week San Francisco Bay Area 2015

Not able to go to China? Putting off that trip to Mongolia? Not to worry – for one activity and art packed week, Asia comes to the Bay Area.

Starting October 2nd through October 10, the week brings together Asian art dealers, auction houses, cultural institutions and academia, uniting the diverse participants around the theme of “Asian Art in the Contemporary World.”

The week begins with a Chinatown Art walk. Led by the Chinese Culture Foundation, the walk takes visitors through a history of Chinatown’s struggle to control its image and voice. The artwork seen on this guided tour features significant events in history such as the I-Hotel and also symbols of cultural pride

 Qui Deshu. Fissure - Gathered Colors, 2009

In the afternoon, NanHai Art is sponsoring a two-part symposium on “Asian Art in the Contemporary World.  The first panel is titled “Innovation and Continuity: Art Across Asia Now, the symposium will survey major  trends in contemporary Asian Art.  The second panel focuses on art from marketing and collecting perspectives. The gallery is also showing the work of Qui Deshu, whose work combines a traditional Chinese aesthetic along with a modern perspective.

In between, the visitor can view the current exhibit at the Asian Art Museum “First Look an exhibition featuring 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. Allison Harding,  the Guest Curator organized “First Look”.  She explained “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.”

In Berkeley, California, you will find The Mongolia Foundation presenting an exhibition of three leading Mongolian women artists. Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav, also known as Mugi, currently has her works on show at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015. She creates oil paintings, collage, bronze and fabric sculptures, with themes of healing and nature. In contrast, Nomin Bold uses a traditional painting style known as Mongol Zurag, while Tugs-Oyun Sodnom is one of the earliest female oil painters in Mongolia whose versatility spans oil painting and graphic art.

While at the foundation, head over to the concurrent exhibition “Bay Area Mongolian Artists: Visions from Afar” featuring three artists based in the San Francisco and East Bay regions. One of the artists, Turburam Sandagdorj also known as Turo, uses paper cutting techniques in both large and minuscule installations. His work features characters in Mongolian folk tales and the world of fantasy. The Institute for East Asian Studies at  UC Berkeley is presenting "Auspicious Images to Feminist Critiques: The Evolution of Mithila Painting in Rural India. "

The week culminates with the opening party with San Francisco’s Open Studios, the city’s biggest art event of the year SF Open Studios is the oldest and largest open studios program in the country, featuring an annual, month-long art event in October and November that showcases over 800 emerging and established San Francisco artists in their studios. We invite you to explore our city and find amazing art at every turn. You’ll discover an authentic connection to your art community and artwork in myriad forms, from painting, photography, and printmaking to glass, metal sculpture, and more. The event connects collectors with artists for engaging dialogue and a glimpse into the life of the working artist; SF Open Studios simultaneously helps artists build their mailing list, gain new admirers, and ultimately sustain a living making art.

The complete schedule and list of participants is here.