What's Happening in Asian Art...

Hiking with Songtsam!

May 29, 2022

Songtsam offers a series of once-in-a-lifetime hiking experiences.

Hiking near Feilai Temple
Each year, local Tibetans and global travelers come to worship Mt. Kawagebo, the major peak of the Meili Snow Mountain Range and one of the holiest mountains in the larger Tibetan region. Specifically designed as a respite along the spiritual pilgrimage to Mt. Kawagebo, Songtsam Lodge Meili was built in a village away from any tourists and overlooking the majestic mountains. Visitors are invited to incorporate Feilai Temple in their hikes in this region. Originally built in 1614 during the Wanli period of the Ming dynasty and constructed in harmony with the local geography, the temple offers an unmatched view of the mountains and village.

Meili Snow Mountain from Feilai Temple

Mingyong Glacier Hike
Mingyong Glacier is one of the world's top 10 glaciers and might disappear at any time. It has the lowest latitude and elevation of any glacier in China and is a sacred glacier to the local people. Located about a 1.5-hour drive from Songtsam Lodge Meili, it stretches around 11.7km from Meili Snow Mountain to the virgin forests. During the summer the ice and snow melt into a seasonal lake, which turns dark blue in color and is approximately 50m long in diameter.

Mingyong Glacier

Baima Snow Mountain Hike
Baima Snow Mountain is the largest and highest nature reserve in Yunnan province. Located between the Jinsha River and Lancang River, it has a complete vertical sight of virgin forests and rare plants and animals, such as the black snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) that inhabit the forest.

Meili Lodge
At the end of a physically tiring by spiritually exhilarating day, there is nothing better than a delicious dinner and serene evening at Meili Lodge. Every window faces the holy Meili Snow Mountain, so that as you sit, clouds float past in the sky and the clear stream winds its way through the valley.

For more information and to book a reservation, click here.

Yufu Shohaku Closing at TAI Modern

May 29, 2022

Yufu Shohaku (born 1941), Meoto Iwa (The Wedded Rocks), 2020, madake bamboo, rattan, branches, shuro rope, 24 x 61 x 59 in.

Yufu Shohaku, TAI Modern
Concludes May 31, 2022

TAI Modern presents Japanese bamboo artist Yufu Shohaku’s first solo exhibition outside of Japan. This exhibition was initially shown in New York, and has recently travelled to Santa Fe, giving New Mexico art fans the opportunity to view these powerful baskets and sculptures in person.

Yufu Shohaku (born 1941) is not only a master bamboo artist, but also a cultured man with a meticulous mind, a leader in his community, a certified master flower arranger, and head of a local Shigin (chanted poetry) group. He is known for his robust and energetic rough-plaited baskets. Though Yufu’s works have sculptural presence, his belief is that beauty and functionality are at the core of his art. After completing a basket, he arranges flowers in it to determine whether he was successful in its execution. “When I make flower baskets, I always consider the size and balance of the baskets, as well as the type of flowers to be arranged in them,” Yufu explains. “For me, baskets and flowers are inseparable, and I get my inspiration from natural forms such as the earth and cliffs. I try to give my works an organic look, as if they are a part of nature.”

Read more, including the online catalogue, click here

Elaine Ildan Choi, Here and Now - Special Online Event

May 28, 2022

Elaine Ildan Choi, Here and Now, Korean Cultural Center
Now through May 31st

The Korean Cultural Center New York sheds light on the life and art of artist Elaine Ildan Choi (born 1936) in a special documentary and online exhibition that features not only her selected artworks, but the story of her turbulent life and fierce spirit that has remained a constant thread throughout. The video was unveiled on March 8th, 2022 to commemorate International Women’s Day and also as a part of Asia Week New York 2022.

The mini documentary follows the artist's life spanning more than 80 years as she navigates through the tumultuous times from the Japanese occupation of Korea, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and as she builds her life around the world starting from Seoul, Korea to Paris, Beijing, and finally to New York.

In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), the Korean Cultural Center invites viewers to leave comments after watching Elaine Ildan Choi, Here and Now, which currently has over 40k views on YouTube since its premiered back in March, before the end of the day on May 31st. The artist Elaine Ildan Choi will select a total of 10 comments from participants, and the selected 10 will receive a special prize, prepared by the artist and the center.

For more information, including details and eligibility about this special online program, as well as for other related programs, please visit the Korean Cultural Center New York’s website, click here.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend and Summer's Beginning!

May 27, 2022

Karamono and Birds (detail), 18th century, pair of two-panel screens, ink, colors, gofun, and gold leaf on paper, each: 170 x 165 cm, Courtesy of Giuseppe Piva Japanese Art

The exuberant flowers and exotic birds in this vibrant and colorful pair of screens set a lively tone for the beginning of summer. Giuseppe Piva Japanese Art in Milan provides an informative commentary about this 18th century painting.

The term karamono is used to define ceramic, carved lacquerware, furniture, bronzes and other decorative items imported from China. They became highly prized as imported curios, used in Japan as kazari (display items) and even the shōgun would install karamono in his chamber (zashiki) and invite members of the court and clergy to view them. Often karamono have been copied by Japanese craftsmen, so shapes from Chinese bronzes and porcelain have been used in Japan for centuries. Flower baskets for ikebana were also imported from China. These karamono baskets had formal, symmetrical structures with tightly plaited weaves. Unlike those used during the tea ceremony, that maintain a natural and austere wabi-sabi construction, karamono bamboo baskets, like those represented on this pair of screens, were modelled on Chinese bronzes and show classical forms. Chinese bronzes themselves, as seen here, would also be used to display flower compositions.

Even exotic birds would serve as kazari. While bird-keeping was already popular since the early Edo period for the enjoyment of their songs, the habit of breeding birds for aesthetic purposes was quite unusual. Some entertainment stalls kept parrots and other rare specimens in exquisite cages for their customers’ enjoyment. The composition of this pair of screens seems inspired by the same amusement: kept on an elaborate perch or in an elegant cage fitted with a scholar’s stone, these birds are intended to intrigue and fascinate the viewer. Also, natural history studies became fashionable in Japan during the 18th century, due to the import of European books and prints. These imported images inspired paintings of rare birds which, regardless of whether they had any significance or meaning, were highly appreciated by collectors. Painting with this style were introduced by the nanga samurai painter and Confucian scholar Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758), who began his training with artists of the Kanō school, but became a disciple of Watanabe Shūseki and then of the nanga painter Gion Nankai.

Read more and see more details, click here

Ippodo Gallery's Magic of the Tea Bowl, Volume 2

May 27, 2022

L-R: Mokichi Otsuka (born 1956), Teabowl, ceramic, H. 3 3/8 x Dia. 4 ¾ in. and Tomoyuki Hoshino (born 1976), Sugar-coated Bowl, ceramic, H. 3 3/8 x Dia. 5 1/8 in.

Magic of the Tea Bowl, Volume 2, Ippodo Gallery
June 2-July 7, 2022
Opening reception: Thursday, June 2, 5-8pm

The Japanese tea ceremony was first established during the 16th century and has continued to flourish to the present day. Closely related to Zen philosophy, it has held a central place in Japanese art, culture, and soul. Known as chawan, tea bowls are handed from the tea master, who prepares the tea, to the guests, transmitting the scent and warmth of the tea through the hands to the lip.

Ippodo Gallery held the Magic of the Tea Bowl exhibition last year, which was collected during the height of the pandemic (2020-2021) by visiting workshops around Japan. Many tea bowls left the hands of potters to the hands of their owners. In this second exhibition, Ippodo has added new artists and collected their masterpieces: Yasushi Fujihira, Hideyuki Fujisawa, Noriyuki Furutani, Hiroshi Goseki, Tomoyuki Hoshino, Morimistu Hosokawa, Takeshi Imaizumi, Koichiro Isezaki, Yukiya Izumita, Tsubusa Kato, Kohei Nakamura, Akio Niisato, Mokichi Otsuka, Kai Tsujimura, Shiro Tsujimura, Yui Tsujimura, Koichi Uchida, and Kodai Ujiie.

Read more, click here

Last Days for Chanoyu: A Taste of Tea at Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.

May 26, 2022

Chanoyu: A Taste of Tea, Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.
Last day May 30, 2022

Dai Ichi Gallery is delighted to present a group of teawares this Spring, functional wares representing the art of Chanoyu, the ritual Japanese tea ceremony that involves serving, taking, and drinking of tea. The modern history of Chanoyu carries through the style and grace of tea tradition. Vases, teabowls, water jars, and other functional objects act as aesthetic anchors for the ceremony.

The exhibition focuses on functional pieces, featuring tea bowls, vases, water jars, and functional works by artists: Kato Mami 加藤真美 (born 1963), Goto Hideki 後藤秀樹 (born 1973), Shingu Sayaka 新宮さやか (born 1979), Murata Gen 村田元 (1904-1988), Shimaoka Tatsuzo 島岡達三 (LNT, 1919-2007), Kinjo Jiro 金城次郎 (LNT, 1912-2004), Sugimoto Sadamitsu 杉本貞光 (born 1935), Nakamura Takuo 中村卓夫 (born 1945), and many more.

Read more, click here

Tribal Blankets Exhibition at Charles B. Wang Center
Closing Soon

May 26, 2022

Blanket from Zhuang Tribal, early 20th century, silk supplementary weft on a fine cotton tabby ground, 45 x 67 in., Collection of Chinalai Tribal Antiques

Auspicious Dreams: Tribal Blankets from Southern China,
Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University

Last day May 31, 2022

The Charles B. Wang Center celebrates precious, rarely seen Chinese textiles, specifically blankets made by South and Southwest Chinese tribes in Auspicious Dreams: Tribal Blankets from Southern China exhibition. Often made with fine materials, exemplary techniques, and unparalleled artistry, these striking textiles convey the unique identities, statuses, and traditions of diverse Chinese tribal groups. Curated by Vichai and Lee Chinalai of Chinalai Tribal Antiques and Jinyoung Jin, director of cultural programs at the Charles B. Wang Center, the treasures in this exhibition take visitors on a remarkable journey across regions and time.

Read more, click here

Asia Society Japan's Art for Breakfast

May 25, 2022

Art for Breakfast 2022 Japanese Painting for the 21st Century | Ryo Shinagawa
Asia Society Japan

May 31, 8am Tokyo time/May 30, 7pm EDT

Asia Society Japan is honored to invite artist, Ryo Shinagawa for Art for Breakfast this May. His works at first sight look academic and historic. They are contemporary Japanese paintings using traditional Japanese materials but mixing modern expressions that are highly minimized. Like the artist himself, his works are philosophical, quiet, and disciplined.

In this program, Mr. Shinagawa will talk about his process, journey, and experiences abroad had broadened his work to go beyond the limits of Japanese paintings and expand their future. He is bringing together elements of Japanese art to discover contemporary meaning for traditional materials and styles.

Read more and register, click here

Exhibitions Ending Soon - Ippodo Gallery and Korea Society

May 24, 2022

Toshio Tokunaga (born 1952), Vibrato Chair, Triple, Yoshino Cedar, Japanese Zelkova,
H. 37 3/8 x W. 59 1/8 x D. 19 3/4 in. (95x150x50 cm)

Bring Forest Bathing to the Home: Chairs by Toshio Tokunaga
Ippodo Gallery

Concludes Thursday, May 26

Toshio Tokunaga (born 1952) is an artist whose expertise in furniture is uniquely attuned to the natural world. Precious Zelkova, mulberry, cherry, and cypress woods are all sourced with passion and dedication from local forests, then dried for decades. The artist delicately familiarizes himself with each rare tree’s individual spirit, allowing him to develop a strong bond with the work and can thus infuse each chair with this warm understanding.

Read more and watch a recorded interview with the artist, click here

Wonju Seo, Through My Window: Ocean, Sky and Wind, 2021, silk organza with abstract painting images, silk thread, 112 x 105 in. (284.48 x 266.7 cm.)

Wonju Seo: Travelogue, Korea Society
Concludes Friday, May 27

This exhibition, Wonju Seo: Travelogue, is a contemporary abstract textile art exhibition. In her solo exhibition, Seo reinterprets the aesthetic value of traditional Korean wrapping cloth called Bojagi with a modern twist.

Read more and see a talk by the artist, click here

Member Monday - Executive Director Margaret Tao

May 23, 2022

AWNY Executive Director Margaret Tao (left) with Katherine Martin, former Chairman of the AWNY Planning Committee, AWNY Treasurer, and Director at Scholten Japanese Art during Asia Week March 2022. Courtesy Annie Watt Agency

A veteran of the Asian Art world and lifelong New Yorker, it is not an understatement to say that Asia Week New York runs so well in large measure as a result of the leadership and sheer hard work of Executive Director Margaret Tao. While most AWNY participants know Margaret professionally and socially, few likely realize how diverse and crucial her responsibilities are.

Margaret started working at AWNY in 2011, just a couple of years after the organization was started, as Administrative Coordinator. In 2015, Margaret succeeded Noémie Bonnet to become Executive Director and was the first to bring Asian Art experience to the role. At the outset, Margaret assumed responsibility for managing interactions with existing AWNY dealer, auction, and museum members, expanding membership, supervising staff and consultants, financial oversight and supporting and collaborating with AWNY’s Planning Committee and Board of Directors. She also manages all facets of organizing the March event, including the preparation of the Gallery Guide, planning the various events and programs, the reception at the Met, and overseeing promotion and publicity. In other words, Margaret is essentially the public face of AWNY and in one form or another involved with or responsible for nearly all the organization’s undertakings, along with the rotating Planning Committee Chairperson.

Recently outside factors, most notably the COVID pandemic, tariffs placed on Chinese art imports, and issues of repatriation of Asian works of art have impacted AWNY. As readers are well aware, AWNY responded by dramatically expanding its activities during the past two years, so that Margaret’s tasks now run year-round with ongoing promotion of and engagement with members and followers. In addition to the annual March Asia Week, AWNY now also is engaged in the September Asian art sales, auctions, and exhibitions. Moreover, AWNY has significantly increased its online roster of programs, especially offering virtual exhibitions during Asia Week and regular webinars. The weekly newsletter is emailed to more than 6,000 readers; fresh material is posted most days on AWNY’s website, which now has over 68,000 visits, an increase of 75% since last year; AWNY also communicates actively on social media, including in Chinese on RED.

As a result of these endeavors, all under Margaret’s purview, AWNY has grown to have not only nationwide reach but also international scope. While New Yorkers are the most numerous users of AWNY’s website, the second largest number are in California and Virginia, respectively. And while 60% of users are based in the US, an impressive 17% are in China, followed by the UK, Japan, and Canada.

L-R: Margaret Tao works closely with AWNY’s Planning Committee, Courtesy Annie Watt Agency

Margaret has had a global outlook since childhood, when she attended the Lycée Français in New York and then in London and so is bilingual in French. In college at Wellesley, she majored in Asian Studies and studied Mandarin intensively. Margaret has worked in all aspects of the Asian art market during her career, which provides an unusually wide range of experience and personal contacts. She began at Sotheby’s in the Antiquities and Chinese art department and then was gallery director for Didier Aaron Gallery. She was the US representative for Orientations magazine for twenty years, contributing reviews of Asian art exhibitions and auctions in New York. Margaret’s journalism activities benefited several other major art periodicals, including Art and Auction, The Art Newspaper, Departures, and Architectural Digest. She covered the Asian art sales for Asian Art Newspaper up until March 2020 when Covid halted live art events.

Always interested in deepening her understanding of Asian culture and art, over the years Margaret has traveled to China frequently and spent long holidays there. These trips allowed her to refresh her Chinese language abilities and explore many parts of the country and culture. Margaret studied Chinese traditional painting with artist, connoisseur, and collector C.C. Wang for several years and recalled that she particularly enjoyed copying a painting of rocks from his collection by the Qing-dynasty master Shitao, like the below painting at the Met.

L-R: Shitao (1642-1707), Landscapes of the Four Seasons (detail), album of 8 leaves, Bequest of
John M. Crawford Jr., 1989.363.155a–h and C.C. Wang (1907-2003) practicing calligraphy, courtesy of Eileen Travell

Looking ahead, Margaret expressed a desire to expand the membership of Asia Week New York and to broaden the organization’s outreach and influence. She is also exploring ways to attract a new group of collectors to Asian art by using all existing tools available and enlisting new devices and practices.

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