Saturday, 28 June 2008

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Slide Show: Japanese Contemporary Prints

Japanese contemporary prints

It was an ignorant prejudice to think that prints --generally considered reproductions of artworks--were a less valuable form of art. Fortunately, early this year, an interview with the director of HANGA TEN gallery Hely Norton taught me that this is not always the case. Hely said,
"What happens when the artist, without any help from a print studio, does each single copy of the prints; and what if the original printing materials --the woodblock or the plate-- are destroyed once the edition is completed? Patricia, you know nothing about Japanese contemporary prints."
The full version of what she explained can be read in my article in the March 2008 issue of Artists & Illustrators magazine, but, in a nutlist, this is what I learned:
  • These prints are the natural consequence of the Sosaku Hanga movement of the early 20th century --so never confuse them with the well known Ukiyo-e.
  • Editions numbers and sizes are rigorously respected --and the most expensive ones can be as few as 6or 7 prints per edition.
  • Techniques are diverse --woodblock, etching, silkscreen, lithograph, mixed media.
  • Themes are varied too --from figurative to abstract; from traditional to contemporary.
  • Price range is enormous --from £30 to £3,000 or even more.

It is impossible to name all the artists that are worth looking at (see the College Women's Association of Japan prints artists list), but here are the names that Hely selected for a novice like me (see images of their works in the Japanese prints slide show):

And some non-Japanese who trained in these techniques, like Rebecca SALTER or Daniel KELLY.

Hely said, "At first sight, these prints may seem expensive, but remember that they can take more time to produce than a complex painting."

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Chinese Art: Identity and roots

Thanks to Saatchi, Gagosian, and many other high-brow dealers and collectors, Chinese art has undoubtedly become the prima-donna of the Asian contemporary scene. But many experts --that are not dealers--argue that the art that seems to be so popular with western audiences is nothing more than art manufactured to please the western taste and expectations, and that it bears little relation to China's own artistic identity, styles, and historic roots.
There is a lot to agree with this. Just take a tour of the China Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery and you will see what I mean. However, I recently came across a series of photos by Chinese artist Li Wei that could well be rooted in China's acrobatic tradition. Are these a signal of change in production and consumption trends?
Li Wei says he has produced these photos without digital manipulation, so why the buzz? See for yourself.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Chinese art destruction

This short video by The Guardian's Jonathan Watts shows a different face of the all-so blooming contemporary Chinese art scene: Dashanzi district's artists' studios are being pulled down by developers who need space for the modern city paraphernalia --car parks, supermarket, shopping malls, and the sort. Needles to say, none of the artists that work in Dashanzi are known in the West...
Superb coverage on several aspects of China Art 2008 in The Guardian. There's something for everyone...

Art Fairs

According to the Art newspaper, it was the first Hong Kong international art fair in a decade, and now it is over, but its success seems to promise another one in 2009. Still, we can check who was there.
Hong Kong Art Fair
For those who missed Hong Kong, but still want to make it to other fairs in Asia, the rest of 2008 is full of exciting events. Here is a list of links to those that seem promising.

Yokohama Triennale

Korea International Art Fair

Asian Art in London Fair

And, of course, a fraction of carefully selected contemporary Asian art can be seen at the major international art fairs such as Frieze, FIAC, and Art Basel Miami Beach.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Art Cloud

This is not exclusively related to ACA but to art from all origins...Art Cloud is an online social network site that, obviously, connects the art world. Membership is varied and extensive. Can't say much about its leverage, but was surprised to find Nikhil Chopra (one of the big names in Indian Contemporary Art) under the artists' members tab. click on the image and explore...Membership is free.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Indian Art Slide Show

These images are just a selection kindly forwarded by Grosvenor Vadhera gallery in London, but, if you wish to seriously gauge the enormous variety of Indian contemporary art that can be seen in the U.K., do look at the images from "A Passage to India" --the exhibition that is running until August/08 at Initial Access in Wolverhampton.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Indian Contemporary Art

Indian cotemporary artists are not new on the scene, but this year we are hearing a lot more about them.
Divia Patel, curator of the Asian Department at the V&A told me that this buzz is the product of a large amount of international exposure over the last few years, that mainly started in 2006 when a paiting by Indian artist Tyeb Mehta sold for US$1.7 million at a New York acution. Since then, Indian art has been in all major international fairs --art dubai, ARCO --and festivals; and for collectors, it has become the next big thing after China.

In countries where western art parameters are not the norm, there is always a movement that opens the door to contemporary forms, and in India it was the Progressive Artists group that emerged in 1940.

Again, there are plenty of names to look for (see my slide show)-- from the great masters of contemporary art like Francis NEWTON SOUZA, MF HUSAIN, and Tyeb MEHTA, to the avant garde line such as TV SANTOSH, Nikhil CHOPRA, or Sunoj D-- but maybe the apple of all the collectors' eyes is Subodh GUPTA, whose work was included in the Venice Biennale, is featured in every Indian art show in the UK and US, and is in the collections of Francois Pinault and Larry Gagosian.
(Gupta is also dubbed the Damien Hirst of India, not least because on of his masterpieces is an enormous skull made of stainless steel pans and pots titled Very Hungry God. Do read his interview in Art Review--his art is meaningfully connected to India's realities and issues.)

So, where to see Indian art in the UK? The main shows are

And, don't forget to check the galleries (Aicon, Albion, Grosvenor Vadhera)...

Vietnamese art slide show