What's Happening in Asian Art...

Joan B Mirviss LTD at the Winter Show 2021
January 22-31
Online only

January 12, 2021

Kondo Takahiro (b. 1958) "Black and White Drop," 2005-06
Glazed porcelain with silver mist, 31 1/4 x 6 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.

To mark their fortieth year participating in The Winter Show, and its first ever online-only edition, Joan B Mirviss LTD presents Masterworks of Modern Japanese Porcelain alongside a selection of woodblock prints by celebrated 19th century artists such as Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). A pair of small two-fold screens by Matsumara Keibun (1779-1843) depicting a spring landscape is also on display.

The survey of modern Japanese porcelain includes a fine white porcelain vessel by the great Tomimoto Kenkichi (1886-1963) who marked the turn from traditional modes of clay creation toward the approaches that define the modern era. His profound influence lives on in the innovative forms and techniques of Kondo Takahiro (b. 1958) and in the distinctive gold and silver patterned decorations of Maeda Masahiro (b. 1948).

Works by the groundbreaking artists of the Sodeisha ceramic movement Suzuki Osamu (1926-2001) and Yamada Hikaru (1923-2001) and an emergent group of younger artists exploring porcelain's possibilities in sculptural form such as Kino Satoshi (b. 1987) and Fukumoto Fuku (b. 1973) are also included.

Asked and Answered: Answers to submitted questions at Tales of Conservation: The Application of Science to Asian Art (Part Two)

January 7, 2021

Indian Trade Cloth with "High Baroque" motif, India, found in Indonesia, cotton; mordant red on an indigo ground, likely 18th Century, 90 x 44 in / 229 x 112 cm, Thomas Murray

We are pleased to share the second installment of additional material related to our recent webinar on art conservation which featured scholarly contributions from two leading Asian Art conservators, Leslie Gat, (Art Conservation Group) and John Twilley (Art Conservation Scientist), along with AWNY members Mary Ann Rogers (Kaikodo LLC), and Thomas Murray (Thomas Murray Asian and Tribal Art).

Some questions and answers relating to conservation in general and to textiles in particular:

1. How do you decide on the degree of restoration to perform?

The basic guide for visual integration of damages is that when you are close to the object, you should be able to tell the difference between original and restorative materials. If not visible to the naked eye, it should be visible under a raking light or a UV light source. It is a balancing act. The goal is to make the piece visually appealing without burying the authenticity of the piece under cosmetics.

Your question raises two issues for conservators beyond the overall esthetics of the piece - the materials used and extent of restoration.

The guiding principle for conservators is that, as much as possible, all materials used during treatments must be reversible. Generally, a fill material would be one different from the original. On a Mayan Jar, a reversible synthetic putty or plaster or a vinyl spackle or a combination of these might be used. The material itself would be pigmented or the fill surface would be inpainted once it was dried and shaped. All restorative materials would be in the areas of damage only, extant original surfaces would be left untouched.

The extent of loss compensation for a stable object is a subjective decision, often guided by styles of the present day and can be very different for objects from different periods and cultures. There are countless examples of work done only 20 years ago that would be approached in very differently now. And the same will be true in 20 years for the work we do now, which is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to make what we do reversible.

At the present time, best practices in the field hold that the goal is to make an object’s original intent legible and to do so in a manner that minimizes the visual effect of the both the loss and restorative intervention without doing irreversible damage to the object.

Indian Trade Cloth with Thai Temple motif
Indian Trade Cloth with "Thai Temple" motif (detail), Coramandel Coast, found in Indonesia, cotton; hand painted mordant red and indigo, 17th Century, 35 x 49 in / 89 x 124 cm, Thomas Murray

2. Do you have any advice about storage packing material for antique wood, lacquer and textiles? Is bubble wrap outside of acid free paper to be avoided?

The climate – relative humidity (RH%) and temperature - is the most important consideration for storage.

Wood and lacquer are usually stored in 50 – 55% relative humidity. Textiles should be ok in 50±5%. Note that these are generalized recommendations and objects can have individual idiosyncrasies that would need to be taken into consideration.

As a general rule, fine art and cultural materials/objects should not be stored in any type of plastic wrap. A sealed environment should only be used if RH% controls appropriate to the materials can be maintained within the sealed package.

Archival boxes with unbuffered acid free tissue are good basic materials for most storage needs. It is often helpful to attach a photograph of the enclosed materials for later reference without having to open the box.

3. Is it safe to freeze all kinds of textiles for pest control?

Deep freezing is a widely practiced pest eradication approach in museums and involves placing individually packaged objects in a deep freezer at -20˚ to 30˚C (depending on which studies you read) for about 24 hours. The object is then removed, allowed to thaw and then refrozen at the same temperatures for another week or two (studies vary). Since most household freezers do not reach those temperatures, it is not really possible to guarantee that a household treatment will be successful, unless of course, the collector has a deep freezer.

For collectors with moth infestations, I would recommend contacting a conservator in their area. When there is one moth infestation, it is possible that other objects are also infested and object handling varies depending on a pieces age and fragility.

The AIC lists some conservators in private practice on their website:
https://www.culturalheritage.org/about-conservation/find-a-conservator

One of the attendees, Vera Indenbaum, provided a link to her blog on Textile Care Recommendations, where a number of questions raised are answered here.

This post is part one of a three part essay about our Webinar, Tales in Conservation. To read part one Click here.

Watch an excerpt from the Tales in Conservation webinar:

Wintertide, an online exhibition at Kaikodo

January 6, 2021

Lan Ying 藍瑛, (1585-1652 or later), Fisherman on Snowy River, after Wang Wei, 1638
Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk, 209.5 x 50.5 cm. (82 1/2 x 19 7/8 in.)

For the Winter 2020-2021, Kaikodo has launched an online exhibition entitled "Wintertide." Howard and Mary Ann Rogers describe it this way:

The seasons during this year of the pandemic seem, for us, to have lost their identity. Spring, summer and fall crawled by without their usual impact, or did they race by? Time itself has been hard to grasp, measure, corral, and then it is gone. Our minds and feelings have been, and are, so otherwise occupied that the depths and nuances of the seasons, their gifts and challenges, have evaded us. Wintertide is our attempt to awaken ourselves to the magic of the current season. Our former exhibitions celebrating winter—Let it Snow and The Silent Season—were gatherings of Chinese and Japanese paintings produced under the spell of a season that spans an old year and a new, landscape on the one hand caught in a straitjacket of ice and snow, as pine and bamboo struggle to be seen and plum blossoms open to the future. In the present exhibition paintings inspired by biting winds, sleet and snow are joined by other works of art that suggest through their color a season cloaked in white. The final work in the exhibition is a painting by Suda Kokuta, a portrait of the Japanese character ichi or, in Chinese, yi, “one,” the white plain, a clean slate, representing for us here the first month of a New Year, where our hopes for better times reside.

New Date for Upcoming Event at Japan Society From Here to There

January 5, 2021

Hanako Murakami Untitled (AGFA Isochrom #1), 2020, Image courtesy of the artist, © Hanako Murakami.

Dialogue: Hanako Murakami x Simon Baker
Thursday, January 14, 6-7 PM EST

Admission: $10 General Public / $8 Japan Society Members

This conversation traverses the processes, histories, and strategies of influence from the field of film and photography, exploring how artist Hanako Murakami adapts these techniques in her work. With Simon Baker, Director of Maison Européenne de la Photographie.

Read more about From Here to There

Wishing you Health, Happiness and TRAVEL in the New Year

January 1, 2021

photo: Michael Yamashita

The Asia Week New York Association is pleased to announce that Songtsam Hotels, Resorts & Tours, the award-winning luxury boutique hotel and travel group, is Presenting Sponsor for a second year. Located in the Chinese provinces of Tibet and Yunnan, the twelve properties consist of four Linka resort hotels and eight lodges.

About the Songtsam Group

Founded by Baima Duoji, in 2000, the Songtsam Group, on the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List in 2019, is the only collection of luxury Tibetan-style retreats found across the Tibetan Plateau that offers guests sophisticated elegance, refined design, modern amenities, and unobtrusive service in places of natural beauty and cultural interest. Baima Duoji's aim is for guests to be inspired by the ethnic groups and cultures of the region, and most importantly to understand how the local people pursue and understand happiness.

With his long-standing interest in Chinese, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian art, Mr. Baima started collecting art long before he established his first hotel, Songtsam Lodge Shangri-La, which is located next to the famous Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-La. Many of the properties across the Tibetan plateau are decorated with Mr. Baima’s personal collection, with each hotel acting as a private art museum. Songtsam aims to share the beauty of humanity’s imagination and creativity with people from all over the world.

By combining stays at different hotels and lodges, Songtsam Tours are designed for intrepid travellers to discover the region’s diverse culture, rich biodiversity, incredible scenic landscapes, and unique living heritage.

Currently they offer two signature routes: the Songtsam Shangri-La Circuit, which explores the "Three Parallel Rivers" area (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Yunnan, and the Songtsam Yunnan to Tibet Tea Horse Road Expedition leading from the center of the Three Parallel Rivers area across the Tibetan Plateau and allowing visitors to experience these magical lands in unprecedented comfort.

Songtsam has been exploring and preserving the essence of Tibetan culture, all the while maintaining a commitment to supporting economic development, local communities, environmental conservation, and sustainability within Tibet and Yunnan. For more information, visit www.songtsam.com/en.

Kyushu University & Yale University Organize Five Day International Symposium Repositioning Japan in the First Global Age (1500-1700)

December 31, 2020

Arrival of the Europeans, folding screen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This international symposium explores Japan’s role in the “First Global Age” through a comprehensive and interdisciplinary investigation of its cultural, material, and intellectual production from about 1500 to 1700. The thematic focus lies on transcultural exchange and its related processes, such as shifting taxonomies and iconographies; translation, interpretation, and appropriation; re-evaluation and re-interpretation; and the construction of social biographies of moving objects.

A key goal is to advance the discussion beyond prevalent yet limiting models such as, for instance, a narrowly conceived, bilateral exchange between Iberia and Japan. Instead, this symposium aims to complicate and deepen our understanding of the complex amalgam of actors and trajectories of exchange by exploring the pre-existing cultural, political, and economic spaces of an “East Asian Mediterranean;” transfer routes via South and South-East Asia as well as the Americas; diasporas and hybrid communities; continuities, ruptures, and innovations in the conceptualization of self and other; and processes of mapping, labeling, and appropriation.

Researchers from top institutions around the world and from a wide disciplinary range will convene to bridge the classical humanities (history, art history, literature, religious studies, intellectual history) and history of science (astronomy, cartography). The aim is to find a balance between established and emerging scholars as well as between the academic cultures of Japan, Europe, and the Americas.

This symposium is co-organized and co-funded by Kyushu University’s Faculty of Humanities and Yale University’s Council of East Asian Studies.

  • Sessions on five event days: February 6th, 9th, 11th, 16th, and 18th, 2021 (all dates are in Japanese Time).
  • Information about pre-registration and participation via Zoom will be distributed around mid-January.
  • In the case of more than 500 pre-registrations, participants from academic institutions will be privileged.
  • Contact: Prof. Dr. Anton Schweizer schweizer@lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp

Zoom Webinar sponsored by the Japanese Art Society of America (JASA)

December 30, 2020

The Unfathomable Art of Sesson

Tuesday, January 12, 2021 5:00 PM EST

A lecture by Professor Yukio Lippit, Jeffrey T. Chambers and Andrea Okamura Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University on the life and work of the monk-painter Sesson Shūkei (ca.1492-1577).

Advance registration is required. Click here to register for the Zoom event: January 12 Zoom Webinar.

Edit: The webinar took place January 12th. Video of the webinar is available here:

Joan B Mirviss LTD with Asia Week New York Presents “An Insider's Look at Hokusai's Iconic Great Wave,” on Thursday January 7, 2021 at 5 pm EST

December 29, 2020

New York: Joan B Mirviss LTD, along with Asia Week New York, will host a Zoom panel discussion on the influence and legacy of Hokusai's most celebrated woodblock print, "The Great Wave." The presentation takes place on Thursday, January 7 at 5:00 pm EST.

The recent record-setting $1.1 million sale of an impression of "Under the Wave off Kanagawa" from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (ca. 1830–32) by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) – more commonly known as "The Great Wave" – has proven once again the enduring impact of one of the world's most recognizable artworks. The Christie's New York sale in September 2020 has prompted numerous questions from within the art world, from collectors, and the general public. To address those questions and more, an esteemed group of Japanese art experts from different backgrounds will shed light on not only the current market, but also on the relevance of this globally iconic image.

Says Joan Mirviss, who will moderate the panel: “Following a conversation with Gary Levine about the astonishing price paid for the impression sold recently at Christie’s, I was inspired to assemble a dream team of Japanese art experts to focus in on this celebrated image and use it as a launching pad to unravel some of the mysteries and misunderstandings about Japanese art and the world of ukiyo-e."

The expert panelists will delve into the history versus the legend, the myths and misconceptions, and the technical variations present in impressions in prominent collections. They include:

Michiko Adachi, assistant conservator at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Christine Guth, author of Hokusai's Great Wave and scholar of Japanese art history
Gary Levine, longtime dealer specializing in Japanese woodblock prints
Matthew McKelway, Takeo and Itsuko Atsumi Professor of Japanese Art History, Columbia University
Sarah Thompson, Curator, Japanese art at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

To register for this free virtual event, please email director@mirviss.com Space is limited.

Edit: Watch Part 1 of the Webinar here:

Salvator Mundi: It’s a Boy! An 18th Century Carving of Jesus as “Savior of the World” on Christmas Day

December 25, 2020

Jesus as “Savior of the World,” Goa, 18th century, Ivory 4.5 in. (11.43 cm.) high at Kapoor Galleries

Our friends at Kapoor Galleries recently shared with us this delightful ivory carving of a boyish Jesus as “Savior of the World” dating from 18th century Goa, India. While India is generally associated with the Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist religions, Christianity is practiced by a sizable minority making it the third-largest religion in India today (after Hinduism and Islam). According to some traditions, the Christian faith was introduced in the 1st century AD by Thomas the Apostle and is generally believed to have taken hold on the Malabar Coast (Kerala) by the 6th Century. In the early modern era, the Portuguese held sway in the enclave of Goa on India’s western coast from 1510 onward, and many of the local population became Catholic. Christian works of art were produced in Goa’s ivory carving production center, including this Catholic image of Jesus. Here, Jesus is depicted as a child in his role as Salvator Mundi (Latin for ‘Savior of the World’) identified by the orb in his left hand and his right hand raised in a gesture of blessing. He is dressed in sumptuous regalia, and has a rich, warm, deep yellow patina, enhancing the appeal of the piece.

Exhibition extended at Onishi Gallery

December 23, 2020

Iede Takahiro (b.1962), Vessel Ritsu (Rhythm), 2019, Metal weaving of shakudo, shibuichi and silver
h. 6 x w. 6 1/4 x d. 6 3/8 in. (15.5 x 16 x 16.2 cm)

The metalwork exhibit at Onishi Gallery, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, originally set to close December 19, will remain on display until further notice.

The gallery hours have been adjusted for the holidays, and the gallery will reopen on Saturday, January 9th.

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