From India to Japan, Asia’s artists are still taking inspiration from Marcel Duchamp.
Artists across Asia still find inspiration in the works of Marcel Duchamp, 100 years after the “father of conceptual art” scandalised audiences at New York’s inaugural Armory Show.
2013 marks 100 years since Marcel Duchamp presented the world with Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, introducing the United States to Modernism. Four years later he scandalised the art world again with his infamous Fountain, a urinal signed ‘R Mutt 1917’. In the intervening century, artists worldwide have been inspired by Duchamp’s audacity, and Asia’s contemporary artists are still learning lessons from the so-called “father of conceptual art.” Art Radar brings you six Asian artists inspired by Duchamp.
Guangdong art group named Zuzhi (Organisation) are so influenced by Duchamp that they named their 2012 project Why Not Sneeze, Rose Sélavy? after the artist’s 1912 ready-made installation of the same name. Although apparently completely different, with Duchamp’s work containing a birdcage holding 152 white marble cubes resembling sugar, a mercury thermometer, a piece of cuttlebone and a tiny porcelain dish, and Zuzhi’s project revolving around workshops introducing contemporary art to children, the four artists in the group nonetheless feel Duchamp captures the essence of their practice: “especially given the current education system in China, all the teaching models and content are ready-made.”
Song Dong, China
One of fifteen artists included in UCCA’s “Duchamp and/or/in China” exhibition in 2013, Song Dong’s work carries the imprint of both Duchamp’s suitcase shows and his ready-made aesthetic. Song’s large-scale show “Waste Not” at Sydney’s Carriageworks in 2013 was in some senses a Duchampian boîte-en-valise, a “portable museum” in honour of the artist’s parents, and showed a plethora of ready-made objects belonging to the preceding generation.
Huang Yongping, China
Also included in UCCA’s Duchamp exhibition, Huang Yongping’s interest in Duchamp started as far back as the 1980s, when he founded a Duchampian collective called Xiamen Dada. He then moved to Paris and reflected, as the China Daily has it: “only now am I really able to understand the state of mind that made Duchamp say, ‘the traditional idea of the painter with his brush, his palette, his turpentine, is an idea which has disappeared from my life.’ This is a revolutionary and irreversible change for me.”
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Japan
Photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has, according to nonprofit organisation Art 21, a “lifelong connection” to Marcel Duchamp. Sugimoto’s photographic series “Conceptual Forms”, inspired by Duchamp’s Large Glass: The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even consisted of images of a scaled down replica of Duchamp’s original work. When interviewed about the project Sugimoto said,
[Duchamp’s] original has an enormous power, compared to the replica. A replica is a replica; it’s a copy, a duplicate. Duchamp’s concept of a copy was that the copy is as important as the original. But it’s not true. The original has its own Duchamp spirit in itself, even though he might say, “Well, this is not special at all.” He probably didn’t believe in spirits. But I do feel it.
Nobutaka Aozaki, Japan
In a self-conscious nod to both her own and her generation’s indebtedness to Duchamp, Japanese artist Nobutaka Aozaki created “Children of Duchamp”, an installation series that reimagines the Duchampian bicycle wheel for the Ikea era. Speaking to Japanese culture blog Spoon & Tamago, Aozaki explains, “in this project I pay attention to technical aspects of Readymade such as artistic labor versus productive labor, educational instructable art making, and displacement of artist’s identity.”
Subodh Gupta, India
Dubbed “the Sub-continental Marcel Duchamp” by The Guardian, India’s Subodh Gupta has forged a blue-chip career out of the ready-made aesthetic. Deploying objects of everyday India, from pots and pans to humble flip-flops, Gupta makes works which, according to Hauser and Wirth gallery, “reflect on the economic transformation of his homeland while acknowledging the reach of contemporary art.” No stranger to economic transformations himself, Gupta recently sold his boat installation What does the vessel Contain, that the river does not? for USD 800,000 to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
- “Damien Hirst of Delhi” named Knight: French government honours Subodh Gupta – March 2013 – India’s own enfant terrible is recognised for his contribution to international art
- One man’s treasure: Chinese artist Song Dong’s “Waste Not” in Sydney – January 2013 – Song looks at how love, family and art can solve the problems of existence
- Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping’s once-banned “Bat Project” gets first European showing – June 2011 – artist, magician, fortune-teller, alchemist, healer, teacher, philosopher and writer Huang hits Europe for the first time
- Ai Weiwei fills Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with 100 million ceramic sunflower seeds – October 2010 – 100 million handmade seeds speak to the enormity of the voiceless Chinese populace
- Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto – 4 fascinating video interviews – May 2009 – innovation and humour mingle in the work and conversation of Hiroshi Sugimoto
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