What's Happening in Asian Art...

Summer Museum Exhibitions, Part 2: Asian Art in New York and Boston

August 4, 2017

Vajradhatu (Diamond Realm) Mandala. 14th century, Central Tibet, distemper and gold on cloth. On view at the Met's Cosmic Buddhas in the Himalayas exhibition.

We asked our participants to share the museum exhibitions they are most looking forward to this summer—here are their recommendations. For Part 2 of this series, we're focusing on the New York and Boston areas. If you find yourself in the Northeast this August, don't miss the following exhibitions:

The Buddha Vairochana Presiding over the Cosmic Axis, Panel from a Buddhist Ritual Crown. Early 14th century, Central Tibet, distemper on wood.

1. Cosmic Buddhas in the Himalayas at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Being reborn in one of the heavens inhabited by a living Buddha offered a clear path to enlightenment for Himalayan Buddhist communities. Vairochana, the emanation of the historic Buddha Shakyamuni, sat at the center of the cosmos, while each of the Pure Lands in the four cardinal directions was presided over by a celestial Buddha. The vast and complex Mahayana and tantric pantheon of Buddhist gods and goddesses are emanations of these living Buddhas, while individual deities associated with them personify ideas such as compassion, abundance, learning, or protection. This exhibition draws together works of the highest caliber and places Vairochana at the center of the gallery, and the directional cosmic Buddhas on the four walls along with some of their most significant manifestations, presenting this complex Buddhist pantheon of deities in a startlingly simple way," reads the exhibition description. Learn more and view additional exhibition objects on the Met's website. On view through December 10, 2017.

Tide by Fujitsuka Shōsei (Japanese, born 1949). 1978. Timber bamboo and rattan.

2. Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Featuring works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late 19th century to the present—the period when basketry in Japan became recognized as an art form that transcends "craft"—this loan exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation "Living National Treasure." Highlighting key stages in the modern history of Japanese bamboo art, the exhibition is drawn from the Abbey Collection, one of the finest private collections of Japanese baskets and bamboo sculpture; most of the works have never before been presented in public," reads the exhibition description. Learn more and view additional exhibition objects on the Met's website. On view through February 4, 2018.

3. Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou at China Institute
From China Institute's website: "In 201 BCE, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty knighted his younger brother as the first king of the Chu Kingdom, which was centered in Peng Cheng, today’s Xuzhou, in northern Jiangsu Province. Ruling under the emperor’s protection, and given special exemption from imperial taxes, elites in this Kingdom enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Twelve generations of kings lived, died, and were buried in sumptuous tombs carved into the nearby rocky hills. Since the mid 20th Century, nearly hundred tombs were excavated, revealing contents that testify to the Chu kings’ affluence, as well as their beliefs in immortality and the afterlife. One of the most stunning finds was an elaborate jade sarcophagi burial suit, assembled from thousands of pieces of jade, the precious stone adored by Chinese people since the Neolithic period as an auspicious material that could ensure immortality. This exhibition will feature the jade suit, and other tomb contents that highlight how these powerful and wealthy kings prepared for death and envisioned their afterlife to come." On view through November 12, 2017.

4. New Women for a New Age: Japanese Beauties, 1890s–1930s at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
"Examine the changing image of Japanese women though prints, book illustrations, and photographs made in Japan from the 1890s to the 1930s. During this crucial period of rapid modernization, traditional ideas of ideal beauty and behavior intermingled with imported styles and concepts. Arranged in roughly chronological order, the exhibition begins with ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the late Meiji era (1868–1912) and postcards that include both photographs and artists’ depictions. A recent gift of kuchi-e prints—color woodblock frontispieces for books of the early 1900s, usually romantic fiction—makes up the exhibition’s core. Shin hanga prints from the 1910s and ‘30s depict beautiful women in both traditional and modern styles. These works can be interpreted in several ways: as glamorized reflections of the lives of Japanese women during a time of rapid social change; as idealized expressions of heterosexual male desire; and as metaphorical images of Japan itself, with the young women standing in for their entire country and its search for national identity," reads the exhibition description. Learn more on the MFA Boston's website. On view through August 20, 2017.

Lobed Quatrefoil Basin with Four Cloud Scroll Feet, Chinese, Ming dynasty, probably 15th century. Numbered Jun ware: light gray stoneware with variegated magenta and blue glaze; with Chinese numeral 1 (yi) inscribed on base before firing; “Palace of Double Glory” (Chonghua gong) inscription incised on base at a later date. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane, 1942.185.56.2. Photo: Harvard Art Museums; © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

5. Adorning the Inner Court: Jun Ware for the Chinese Palace at Harvard Art Museums
"The Harvard Art Museums hold the largest and finest collection in the West of a rare and strikingly beautiful type of ceramic ware used in the private quarters of the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace in Beijing. These numbered Jun wares—so named because each is marked on its base with a single Chinese numeral—have long been admired for their fine potting, distinctive shapes, and radiant purple and blue glazes. Opinions on these vessels’ dates of origin vary widely, and given the scarcity of numbered Jun in most museum collections, a comprehensive study of this unusual ware has never been undertaken outside the imperial collections in China and Taiwan. Drawn entirely from the museums’ permanent collections, this exhibition introduces the typology, technical characteristics, collecting history, and controversies surrounding numbered Jun ware," reads the exhibition description. Learn more and view additional exhibition images on Harvard's website. On view through August 13, 2017.

Summer Museum Exhibitions, Part 1: Asian Art in California and Florida

July 27, 2017

Saito Kiyoshi, Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto, 1959. Woodblock. On view as part of the San Diego Museum of Art's Modern Japan exhibition.

We asked our participants to share the museum exhibitions they are most looking forward to this summer—here are their recommendations. For Part 1 of this three-part series, we are featuring three exhibitions to see in California and Florida:

From left to right: Chinese, Vase, Qianlong Period, 1736-1795. 3 1/2 x 1 7/8 in.
Japanese, Nehanzu: Death of the Buddha (detail), 17th Century, 4 x 2 1/2 in.
Indian (Kerala), Venugopala with Attendants and Gopis, 16th century, Bronze, 3 1/8 x 3 5/8 x 1 5/8 in.

1. Show Me the Mini at the Harn Museum of Art
"The art of miniatures takes many forms and exists across time and cultures. Issues of size, scale, modeling, ownership, production, and historical and contemporary functions of miniatures will be examined," reads the exhibition description. Lark Mason of iGavel Auctions shares with us that "it is a fresh, interesting perspective on a variety of Asian works across several cultures, united by scale. Probably one of the few times one could see in the same exhibit Himalayan gilt bronze figures alongside Japanese woodblock prints, and it works well." Learn more on the Harn Museum's website. On view through November 25, 2018.

Hashiguchi Goyo, Woman in Loose Summer Yukata, 1920. Woodblock print.

2. Modern Japan: Prints from the Taisho Era (1912-1926) and Beyond at the San Diego Museum of Art
"Combining modernity, scenic tranquility, and Japanese romantic fantasy, Modern Japan: Prints from the Taisho Era (1912–1926) and Beyond showcases several important and well-known Japanese artists and their works from the Museum’s collection of East Asian Art, many for the first time. This exhibition focuses on two major movements, Shin Hanga (New Prints) and Sosaku Hanga (Creative Prints), which arose in the 1910s in Japan, after the end of the Ukiyo-e prints from the Edo Era (1615–1868). The notion of Sosaku Hanga continues to the modern day, so some of these contemporary printmakers, practicing Western printing techniques, are also included in the exhibition," reads the exhibition description. Learn more and view additional exhibition images on the museum's website. On view through August 13, 2017. 

Namikawa Yasuyuki, Incense Burner (kōro) with Design of Cranes and Pine, c. 1905–15, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift from the Japanese Cloisonné Enamels Collection of Donald K. Gerber and Sueann E. Sherry, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

3. Polished to Perfection: Japanese Cloisonné from the Collection of Donald K. Gerber and Sueann E. Sherry at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
"Polished to Perfection presents approximately 150 works from the collection of Donald K. Gerber and Sueann E. Sherry. Built over the course of more than four decades, the collection contains works crafted by the most accomplished Japanese cloisonné masters of the time including Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845–1927), Namikawa Sōsuke (1847–1919), Hayashi Kodenji (1831–1915), and Kawade Shibatarō (1856–1921). The artists represented in this exhibition raised the art of cloisonné enamel to a level of unparalleled technical and artistic perfection," reads the exhibition description. Learn more on the museum's website. On view through February 4, 2018.

Japanese Prints at the Library of Congress

June 27, 2017

Woodblock print by Andō Hiroshige, 1797-1858, showing a view of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay, with breaking waves in the foreground.

High resolution images of more than 2,500 Japanese prints and drawings, spanning the 17th through early 20th centuries, can be viewed and downloaded on the Library of Congress website. The collection includes scenes depicting actors, women, Western foreigners, landscapes, and daily life by Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi, Sadahide, Yoshiiku and others.

"The Library acquired its Japanese woodblock print holdings from a host of different donors and collectors including Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, President William Howard Taft, Crosby Stuart Noyes, and Emily Crane Chadbourne," writes the Library on its website. "Many schools, traditions, and genres are represented, notably surimono, privately distributed prints combining pictures and poetry, and prints from the Russo-Japanese and Sino-Japanese wars. However, the primary strengths of the collection are the Japanese art forms known as Ukiyo-e and Yokohama-e."

With summer—and summertime tourism—in full swing, we've selected several scenes depicting travel for your viewing pleasure, below.

Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849: Dawn at Isawa in Kai Province, showing porters carrying bundles and sedan chairs, and travelers departing at dawn, with view of Mount Fuji in the distance.

Woodblock print by Andō Hiroshige, 1797-1858. Print shows five travelers fording a stream, each carrying either a person or a bundle on their back, low buildings in the background, at the Fujieda station on the Tōkaidō Road.

Utagawa Hiroshige, 1826?-1869. Enshū akiba enkei fukuroi no tako (distant view of Akiba of Enshu: kites of Fukuroi), showing people flying kites with open fields and mountains in the distance.

Ikeda Eisen, 1790-1848. Print shows farmers at a mill getting their grain ground on a millstone in front of the miller's establishment; a traveler and a porter pass by, looking back at the operation.

Woodcut by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798-1861, showing the stream of Asazawa with view of Mount Fuji from the hot springs at Hakone.

Woodblock print by Andō Hiroshige, 1797-1858, showing travelers resting at a teahouse or inn at the Mariko station on the Tōkaidō Road.

To view more scenes of travelers from the collection, go here. To view all prints in the collection, click here.


Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Onishi Gallery

April 21, 2017

Shun Sudo (b. 1977)
Acrylic on canvas
31 1/2 x 39 in. (80 x 100 cm)

Shun Sudo (b. 1977) is a cutting-edge artist based in Tokyo. Deeply influenced by American pop culture from a young age, Sudo spent his 20s travelling around the United States. When he returned home to Japan in his early 30s, he began working on paintings that reference his creative roots both in Japanese culture and the contemporary street culture of Western life. As a result, Sudo developed two artistic styles that reflect the two different aspects of his personality. His primary aim is to capture his subject matter in a few stylized brushstrokes—otherwise known as Japanese sumi-e brush stroke painting. He then paints over that image with graffiti pop art which makes for a graphically-animated impression that awakens the eyes, mind, and spirit.

In his current series “Paint Over,” which contains allusions to iconic brands such as Chanel and Nike alongside pop art imagery, Sudo gestures to decades of commercial and counterculture forces. He presents portrait images that feature famous icons in Western culture such as Andy Warhol and John Lennon, but reinterprets the familiar through an original colorful lens. By painting over globally-recognized icons with his own favorite images, such as flowers and hearts, Sudo incorporates his individual worldview into a greater tradition, making viewers re-conceptualize what they already know.

Below are more selections from Onishi Gallery's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition, Playful Perfection: The Artist’s Imaginary Universe, on view at 521 West 26th Street, from May 2 to 10:

Tomoko Konno (b. 1967)
Stoneware with nerikomi
h. 21 5/8 x w. 20 1/2 x d. 10 5/8 in. (55 x 52 27 cm)

ITO Sekisui V (b. 1941), Living National Treasure
Sado Island Square Jar
h. 8 5/8 x w. 12 5/8 x d. 9 1/2 in. (22 x 32 x 24 cm)

NAOYA (b. 1958)
PEPO #1.2.1.
h. 33 x w. 17 1/2 x d. 16 3/4 in. (83.6 x 44.2 x 42 cm)

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Joan B Mirviss LTD

April 20, 2017

Takegoshi Jun (b.1948)
Porcelain square vessel decorated with animated blue crested ibises amongst lotus in kutani-style enamel glazing
10 1/4 x 9 1/8 x 8 7/8 in.

This elegant and powerfully painted vessel was recently created by the master of kutani porcelain, Takegoshi Jun (b.1948). On this square vessel with an upraised neck are depictions of animated blue crested ibises amongst lotus, all created with abroad array of artfully applied, colorful glazes based on the ancient kutani five-color tradition. Created specifically for this exhibition, it is one of more than twenty porcelain works by this highly-sought-after ceramist, whose list of international collectors include the Emperor of Japan as well as The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Below are more selections from Joan B Mirviss LTD's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition, Beyond Kutani: Innovations in Form and Color, on view at 39 East 78th Street, Suite 401, from May 2 to 10:

Nakamura Takuo (b. 1945)
Softly pleated stoneware vessel with summer and fall floral design and separate ladle-rest in polychrome under and overglaze
a. 7 7/8 x 11 x 11 in. b. 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.

Takegoshi Jun (b. 1948)
Porcelain box with kutani-style enamel glazing depicting a flock of blue kingfishers
4 1/8 x 10 5/8 x 6 1/8 in.

Nakamura Takuo (b. 1945)
Stoneware Box that is not a Box with ivy design in polychrome under and overglaze 
19 x 21 x 13 in.

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Navin Kumar Gallery

April 19, 2017

S. H. Raza
Village dans la Nuit
Oil on Canvas
39.5 × 32 in.

S. H. Raza is amongst India's leading modernists. After being a founding member of the Progressive Artists' Group in 1948, Raza soon moved to France in 1950. During these early, formative years in France, he started experimenting with his oil paintings and was influenced by the landscape and architecture of the countryside.

In this night-time landscape, the houses adorning the undulating surfaces of the French countryside are revealed by reflections of moonlight off of their light colored walls. The gentle movement leads the gaze slowly away from the village, towards the unilluminated nature nearby, leaving the viewer to imagine the realm of experience that awaits there.

This work displays Raza's landscape style at its evolved heights. Compared to the early 1950's, Raza has moved away from sharp delineation of shape, tending instead to prefer the coalescence of form through movement in amorphous polychormatic strokes. The affinity for abstraction shown here foreshadows the progression of his artistic career, first towards highly deconstructed landscapes, and eventually a complete change in subject to the geometric and symbolic.

Below are more selections from Navin Kumar Gallery's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition, Selections: Modern Indian Masters, on view at 24 East 73rd Street, Suite 4F, from May 2 to 10:

F. N. Souza
Untitled (Landscape)
Oil on Canvas
40.5 × 37.5 inches

M. F. Husain
Blue Woman with Monkey
Oil on Canvas
54.5 × 20.75 inches

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Kang Contemporary Korean Art

April 18, 2017

Seungmo Park (b. 1969)
b-3, Maya7616
Stainless steel mesh
64.6 x 3.9 x 64.6 in (164 x 10 x 164 cm)

Park creates giant ephemeral portraits by cutting layer after layer of wire mesh. Each work begins with a photograph, which is superimposed over layers of wire with a projector, then using a subtractive technique Park slowly snips away areas of mesh. Each piece is several inches thick as each plane that forms the final image is spaced a few finger widths apart, giving the portraits a certain depth and dimensionality that’s hard to convey in a photograph. The Maya series is in line with the artist’s idea of constructing a space or scene that transcends its existence. Prompting viewers to interact with the portrait and their own immediate surroundings, the artist enacts a way of seeing beyond what is real and visible. 

Below are more selections from Kang Contemporary Korean Art's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition, Korean Art: Now and Then, on view at 9 East 82nd Street, 3rd Floor, from May 2 to 10:

Ik-Joong Kang (b. 1960)
Happy World - Blue Jumbo Airplane
Mixed media on wood
47 x 47 in (119.5 x 119.5 cm)

Minjung Kim (b.1962)
Pieno di vuoto
Mixed media on rice paper
59 1/8 x 82 5/8 in (150 x 210 cm)

Jongsook Kim
Mixed Media on canvas, made with Swarovski’s cut crystals
27 1/2 x 27 1/2 in (70 x 70 cm)

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Kaikodo LLC

April 17, 2017

Wang Mansheng (b. 1962)
Red Lotus
Hanging scroll
Ink, walnut ink and color on paper
179.0 x 97.0 cm. (70 x 38 in.)

Mansheng is noted for the creation of bold paintings of lotus ponds, dense with giant leaves in seductive brown and black, cradling lotus blossoms in bright red. The present vertical scroll is a departure from the horizontal formats he normally uses for this subject, such as those now gracing the Baltimore Museum of Art and private collections as well.  The image here successfully and strikingly conveys both the organic nature of the subject and the compelling abstract qualities of color and form.  

Below are more selections from Kaikodo LLC's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition Twenty Years of Ink Art, on view at 74 East 79th Street, Suite 14B, from May 2 to 10:

Wucius Wong (b. 1936)
Casual Ideation
Ink and color on board
Group of 8
24.9 x 22.2 cm. (9 ¾ x 8 ¾ in.)

Qiu Mai (Michael Cherney) (b. 1969)
Map of Mountains and Seas #18
Photography, ink on mitsumata paper
Mounted as a hanging scroll
128.7 x 56.6 cm. (50 ½ x 22 ¼ in.)

Wu Qiang (b. 1977)
Spirited Away
Ink and color on silk, framed
28.5 X 7.0 cm. (2 3/4 X 11 1/4 in.)

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Scholten Japanese Art

April 14, 2017

Paul Binnie (b. 1967)
ca. 1993-94
Watercolor on paper
10 5/8 by 15 1/8 in. (27 by 38.5 cm)

A reclining male nude lies horizontally against a deep teal background, bearing a blue koi tattoo down the sides of his chest, while hiding his face with his left arm. The dappled light dances on the subject's body in much the same way that light would hit the surface of water, enlivening the tattoo of stylized waves and carp swimming upstream.

Paul Binnie, a Scotsman living in London, has over the past 25 years become one the most important artists working in the Japanese tradition of woodblock printmaking. He has taken up the mantel of the shin-hanga ('new print') artists of the early to mid-20th century, producing works that can only be described as innately Japanese. This painting is one of an array of early Binnie paintings, sketches and prints of nude and tattoo (and nudes with tattoos) subjects being shown alongside his beloved woodblock print series A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo (Edo Zumi hyaku shoku), which playfully references timeless imagery from classic ukiyo-e and inventively placed them on modern nude subjects. 

Below are more selections from Scholten Japanese Art's Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition, on view at 145 West 58th Street, suite 6D, from May 2 to 10:

Paul Binnie (b. 1967)
A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo: Yoshitoshi’s Ghosts
Woodblock print
17 by 11 3/4 in., 42.5 by 29 cm

Paul Binnie (b. 1967)
A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo: Utamaro’s Erotica
Woodblock print
16 3/4 by 11 3/8 in., 43 by 30 cm

Paul Binnie (b. 1967)
A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo: Sharaku’s Caricatures
Woodblock print
16 7/8 by 12 1/4 in., 43 by 31 cm

Asia Week New York Contemporary: Selections from Michael Goedhuis

April 13, 2017

Wei Ligang
The Mountain Residency Seizing The Origin of The River
Ink and acrylic on paper
37 3⁄4 x 35 1⁄2 in (96 x 90 cm) 

This abstract calligraphic painting, with gold acrylic and ink on a black background, recreates, in a modern idiom, the characters for 'mountain' and 'river'.

Born in Datong, Shanxi, in 1964, Wei Ligang has been at the forefront of contemporary ink painting’s development from its beginning, and he was one of the organizers of the June 1999 “Bashu Parade” exhibition. Wei studied mathematics at the Nankai University in Tianjin and he became the president of the calligraphy society at the university. His training in mathematics has contributed to his abstract form of calligraphy. He constantly deconstructs and re-forms the characters in his paintings while hinting at traditional script-forms (such as formal, running, or “grass” script), thus declaring his deep roots in Chinese culture. 

Below are more selections from Michael Goedhuis' Asia Week New York Contemporary exhibition Changing China: Contemporary Ink Painting, on view at Traum Safe, 1078 Madison Avenue, from May 4 to 10. An opening will be held on the evening of May 4 from 6–9pm.

Yao Jui-chung
Dust in the Wind: Mountain Road
Ink and gold leaf on hand made paper
79 x 33 in (200 x 84 cm)
Framed: 83 1/2 x 38 in (212.2 x 97 cm)

Lo Ch'ing
Hole in One (A Feminist's View)
Ink and color on paper
54 x 27 1/4 inches (137 x 69 cm)
Framed: 64 x 36 3/4 in (161 x 93 cm)

Wei Ligang
The Lush Pavilion Blurred in the Autumn Rain, Carrying the Chinese Zither Toward the Blue Creek
Ink and acrylic on paper
Each panel: 70 3/4 x 37 3/4 in (180 x 96 cm)
Framed: 73 x 39 3/4 in (185.6 x 101 cm)

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