Archive for 'Phantoms of Asia'

Newly on View: Chinese ink paintings

This is the first in an ongoing series in which our curators introduce artworks that have recently gone on display.

The strength of the Chinese painting collection in the Asian Art Museum lies in modern and contemporary ink painting. To complement the special contemporary exhibition Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past (May 18–October 14), I have selected from the collection representative ink paintings ranging in date from 1965 to 2011.

Lui Shoukun, Chinese, Chan painting, 1974, ink and color on paper.

Lui Shou-kwan, Chan painting, 1974, ink and color on paper.

The group of ink paintings on view in the Chinese painting gallery represents several major trends and artists, including:

  • Modern Chinese ink painting movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong from the mid-1950s to the 1970s;
  • 1980s new ink painting;
  • 1990s experimental ink painting in China; and
  • Works by overseas Chinese ink painters in the last several decades.

Two monumental paintings are on view for the first time: Chan (1974) by Lui Shou-kwan of Hong Kong, and Ended Season by local painter Zheng Chongbin, which is the first contemporary Chinese art work commissioned by the Asian Art Museum (on display beginning mid-March).

The paintings are on view in the Chinese painting gallery on the second floor.

Why do we always have new art on display?

There’s a scientific reason: organic materials such as silks and natural dyes are extremely vulnerable to fading and damage. To protect these light-sensitive artworks, we display them under low lighting only, for a 6-month period every 5 years.

There’s also another reason: we have so many treasures in storage that sometimes it’s just fun to put them on display for our visitors. So please enjoy!

Curator Joseph ChangCurator Joseph Chang is the Senior Research Fellow, Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in the museum’s Research Institute.





Phantoms of Asia: Behind the Scenes

While Maharaja is still going strong in our galleries, behind the scenes we’re gearing up for our next major exhibition, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past. I spoke to assistant curator of contemporary art Allison Harding about why preparing for this show is different.

What’s special about the way this show is being presented?

Curators Mami Kataoka and Allison Harding with exhibitions manager Kelly Bennett.

The serious business of displaying art: curators Mami Kataoka and Allison Harding with head of preparations Kelly Bennett.

To deepen visitors’ experience of contemporary art, we are incorporating traditional objects into the exhibition. This approach might seem counter-intuitive but we’ve found that blending old and new art offers more entry points for the viewer, and inspires new insights about both. For me, this exhibition shows that over thousands of years art really has not changed at its core. We make things to explore and to communicate ideas, and to access realms beyond everyday life. When artisans during China’s Han dynasty handcrafted incense burners in the shape of sacred mountains, for example, they were exploring some of the same questions as today’s artists who make work about the environment: how can we respect and protect the landscape? How does it respond to our actions?

When you visit Phantoms of Asia, you’ll find contemporary objects in many collection galleries. I look forward to hearing the connections that these old and new objects spark for you.

Adrian Wong in the museum planning his installation.

Adrian Wong planning his upcoming installation during a recent visit to the museum.

Which works are you the most excited about seeing installed?

I am most excited about site-specific installations by Adrian Wong, Sun K. Kwak, and Heman Chong. These works will be created by the artists just before the exhibition opening. We won’t see them until we can experience them in the space. I am eager to see how visitors engage with these installations as I expect that people will have unique, personal experiences of each work.

 Which works will be the most challenging to display?

For a museum of mostly traditional art, a project like Phantoms of Asia pushes many boundaries of display. Our team has taken on this challenge with creativity and an open mind. We will have live trees in our galleries, we will have art created by visitors, we will show large installations and videos, and we are building temporary walls in our collection galleries.

This show is a huge amount of work – are you going to treat yourself when it’s done?

First I will spend time enjoying the galleries. Seeing the work of 31 contemporary artists in our museum will be the biggest treat! Then I will fulfill an outstanding promise to visit barns and ride tractors in Vermont with my son.

About Town: Hiroshi Sugimoto

Here at the Asian Art Museum we are getting excited about our spring show, Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past. One of the artists featured in the show will be Hiroshi Sugimoto, who recently opened Photogenic Drawings at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco (until February 25).

The works on view at the Fraenkel are very different from the pieces we will have in Phantoms, so if you’re in the Bay Area the next few months offer a great opportunity to get to know Sugimoto’s work.

And if you want to get to know the artist as well, Art21 has some great videos and other information. In this one, Sugimoto takes us on a guided tour of his “cabinet of curiosities.”