Preview: The Armory Show 2017 – highlights from Africa, the Middle East and Asia

The Armory Show continues to expand with a new USD10,000 prize and two new curatorial sections.

Combining modern and contemporary artwork in the same space, The Armory Show features work from a range of media, from painting and photography to sculpture, video and installation.

Zohra Opoku, 'Sassa', 2016, medium pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag. Photo by Zohra Opoku, image courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

Zohra Opoku, ‘Sassa’, 2016, medium pigment print on Hahnemühle photo rag. Photo: Zohra Opoku. Image courtesy Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.

The Armory Show 2017, on from 2 to 5 March 2017 in New York, brings together over 200 galleries from 30 countries around the world. There are five sections, showcasing artists from the early 20th century to contemporary artists practicing now.

Asha Zero, 'exxdlip', 2017, acrylic on Board, 131.5 x 163.5 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show and the gallery.

Asha Zero, ‘Exxdlip’, 2017, acrylic on board, 131.5 x 163.5 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

As well as the main gallery section, there is “Insights”, which displays works of modernism and the post-war era, “Presents”, a platform for young galleries no more than ten years old, “Focus”, an annually curated section and “Platform”, which is a new initiative in its first year that stages large-scale artworks, installations and site-specific commissions.

Art Radar takes a look at some highlights from Asia and Africa that can be found in this year’s edition.

A diverse selection of galleries

As always, the Armory Show brings together a vast range of galleries. Some features this year include SMAC Gallery (Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johannesburg), Pi Artworks (London, Istanbul), Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok), Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo), Gallery Hyundai (Seoul), Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, Singapore) and Arario Gallery (Seoul, Cheonan, Shanghai) to name a few.

Mehmet Ali Uysal, 'Anonymous Sculpture No. 1', 2016, polyester, 90 x 222 x 25 cm. Image courtesy the gallery.

Mehmet Ali Uysal, ‘Anonymous Sculpture No. 1’, 2016, polyester, 90 x 222 x 25 cm. Image courtesy Pi Artworks.

Pi Artworks is a London- and Istanbul-based gallery that will premiere sculptures and works on paper by Abraham David Christian (b. 1952), Ahmet Civelek (b. 1988), Susan Hefuna (b. 1962), Tayeba Begum Lipi (b. 1969) and Mehmet Ai Uysal (b. 1976). Several of the artists focus on the ways materials can be shaped and manipulated and Pi Artwork’s book will explore the materiality of each artist’s medium. For example, Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi uses stainless steel razor blades to create rigid yet fragile structures, while Turkish artist Mehmet Ai Uysal implements a light-hearted humour in his large-scale installations that are integrated into the material of their surrounding buildings or landscapes.

Gareth Nyandoro, 'Boot Seller', 2016, ink on Paper, Mounted on Canvas_253 x 253 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Gareth Nyandoro, ‘Boot Seller’, 2016, ink on paper, mounted on canvas, 253 x 253 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Another gallery to watch is SMAC Gallery , based in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Johannesburg. The gallery is bringing self-taught Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, South African Asha Zero (b. 1975) and Zimbabwean Gareth Nyandoro (b. 1982). Gareth Nyandoro works with three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional collages in a technique he calls ‘Kuchekacheka’. He creates multilayered surfaces by inking, cutting, scratching and peeling layers of paper. A recurring theme in his work explores human interaction within the urban environment, bringing to the surface issues related to urbanisation, alienation, displacement, diversification and social reconstruction as they relate to the Zimbabwean social fabric.

Cyrus Kabiru, 'African Silo', 2017, Mixed Media - Found Objects, 215 x 200 x 55 cm. Image courtesy the gallery.

Cyrus Kabiru, ‘African Silo’, 2017, mixed media,  found objects, 215 x 200 x 55 cm. Image courtesy SMAC gallery.

Emerging artists

The section called “Presents” showcases recent work from emerging artists, with the aim of spotlighting the next generation of innovators. A few stand-outs in this section are Saudi Arabian Manal Al Dowayan, South African Turiya Magadlela, Iranian Nazgol Ansarinia, German-Ghanaian Zohra Opoku, Hong Kong-American Jo-ey Tang and Chinese artist Yanyan Huang.

Jo-ey Tang, 'rue Charles-François Dupuis, Paris, Nov 20 - Dec 10 2016 as Aimable Vainqueur (THREE)', 2017, Photogram on 9.5 x 12in resin-coated paper, mat board, 21-1/4 x 16in, 1/8in-thick perforated glass / Photogram on 24 x 30.5cm resin-coated paper, mat board, 54 x 40.5cm, 3mm-thick perforated glass. Unique. Image courtesy The Armory Sho

Jo-ey Tang, ‘rue Charles-François Dupuis, Paris, Nov 20 – Dec 10 2016 as Aimable Vainqueur (THREE)’, 2017, photogram on 9.5 x 12 in resin-coated paper, mat board, 21-1/4 x 16 in, 1/8 in-thick perforated glass / photogram on 24 x 30.5 cm resin-coated paper, mat board, 54 x 40.5 cm, 3 mm-thick perforated glass. Unique. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Manal Al Dowayan uses a diverse range of media including black and white photography, sculpture, video, sound, neon and large-scale participatory installations. She looks into themes of memory and forgetting, including the use of archives in this process, with a particular focus on Saudi women and their representation. In her various projects she has investigated groups such as oil men and women of Saudi Arabia and explored the impact of mass media on the formation of identity. She has also created participatory projects that attract large number of women to use art as a platform to address social injustice.

Manal AlDowayan, 'Poolside 1', 2015, canvas, copper, string, 184x69 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show and the gallery.

Manal AlDowayan, ‘Poolside 1’, 2015, canvas, copper, string, 184 x 69 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show and Sabrina Amrani.

Nazgol Ansarinia’s work looks at systems and networks present in everyday life. She investigates objects and events from Iran and reflects on their relationship to the mechanisms and assumptions present in social structures. Her creative process involves detailed research and analysis and incorporates diverse media such as video, 3D printed models, municipal murals and drawings. Through her practice Ansarinia explores the line between the private and the wider socioeconomic context.

Nazgol Ansarinia, 'Untitled, Demolishing buildings, Buying waste', 2016, Ink and marker on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show and the gallery.

Nazgol Ansarinia, ‘Untitled, Demolishing Buildings, Buying Waste’, 2016, ink and marker on paper, 29.7 x 42 cm. Image courtesy The Armory Show and Green Art Gallery.

Turiya Magadlela, 'Untitled', 2012. Image courtesy The Armory Show and Blank Projects.

Turiya Magadlela, ‘Untitled’, 2012. Image courtesy The Armory Show and Blank Projects.

Curated show presenting 12 solo artists

The section “Focus” is an annually curated part of the show that selects new or rarely seen work by contemporary artists. This year there are 12 solo artist presentations directed by Jarrett Gregory under the title of “What Is To Be Done?”. “Focus” section explores the idea of social and political awareness during a time of uncertainty. Curator Gregory explains that “each artist demonstrates an acute awareness of his or her local conditions as well as the failing structures, conflicts and ideologies that define our era.”

Some highlights of the section include Vietnamese Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976), Ghanian Ibrahim Mahama (b. 1987), Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantations Congolaises (CATPC) and Japanese Koki Tanaka (b. 1975).

After studying in the United States, artist Tuan Andrew Nguyen returned to Vietnam in 2004 and has since developed a creative practice inspired by Vietnam’s often turbulent history. He investigates the tension between socialist propaganda and capitalistic marketing, through which he develops themes of chaos and control within political and economic structures. He is also a co-founder of Sàn Art, an artist-initiated exhibition space and educational program in Sai Gon, Vietnam. The Armory Show will bring together some new works from the artist.

Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities, exhibition overview, 'A New Settlement', in Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam, 2015. Photography Ernst van Deursen. Image courtesy The Armory Show and artists.

Renzo Martens and the Institute for Human Activities, exhibition overview, ‘A New Settlement’, in Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam, 2015. Photo: Ernst van Deursen. Image courtesy The Armory Show and the artists.

Founded in 2014, CATPC is an art collective in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that explores questions related to labour on plantations. The collective often creates sculptures cast in chocolate, referencing and challenging the exploitative economics of global trade. CATPC invests the profits from sales back into self-owned agriculture. The members of the collective include plantation workers (Djonga Bismar, Matthieu Kilapi Kasiama, Cedrick Tamasala, Mbuku Kimpala, Mananga Kibuila, Jérémie Mabiala, Emery Mohamba and Thomas Leba), ecologist René Ngongo and artists Michel Ekeba, Eléonore Hellio and Mega Mingiedi.

Weiwei Ai, 'Niao shen long shou shen', 2015, bamboo and silk, 450 x 280 x 200 cm / 177.17h x 110.24w x 78.74d in. Image courtesy Galerie Forsblom.

Weiwei Ai, ‘Niao Shen Long Shou Shen’, 2015, bamboo and silk, 450 x 280 x 200 cm / 177.17h x 110.24w x 78.74d in. Image courtesy Galerie Forsblom.

Platform

For the first time, this year The Armory Show presents “Platform”, staging large-scale artworks, installations and site-specific commissions. In 2017 the programme, entitled “An Incident, is curated by Eric Shiner and features 13 internationally acclaimed artists including Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama and Jun Kaneko. Curator Shiner explains that he hopes “Platform” will provoke and challenge visitors:

With my selection of artists, I endeavor to present a series of incidents that start to change our relationship with the art fair—a series of happenings, interactive works, objects and images that make the viewer take pause, think, refresh, smile, and remember that art, by its very nature, is meant to provoke, incite and challenge.

Helsinki-based Galerie Forsblom is presenting Ai Weiwei’s Niao Shen Long Shou Shen (2015), a suspended sculpture made of bamboo and silk. The sculpture has the body of a bird but the face of a dragon, the hybrid shapes creating a mythical creature floating in an in-between world.

Yayoi Kusama, 'Guidepost to the New World', 2016. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Yayoi Kusama, ‘Guidepost to the New World’, 2016. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

London gallery Victoria Miro will present a recent, 11-piece installation by Yayoi Kusama entitled Guidepost to the New World (2016). Kusama staged innovative happenings and exhibitions in the postwar New York art scene and her work has continued to appeal through immersive walk-in installations, public sculptures and the “Dots Obsessions” paintings. Her participation in The Armory Show marks the beginning of a national tour of her installations.

Jun Kaneko, 'Dango' and 'Mirage', 2016. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Jun Kaneko, ‘Dango’ and ‘Mirage’, 2016. Image courtesy The Armory Show.

Los Angeles-based gallery Edward Cella Art & Architecture will present Jun Kaneko’s 63-foot painting Mirage (2016), made of colorful abstract panels. Jun Kaneko is known for experimental large-scale ceramic works and public sculptural installations. He combines these large works with abstract motifs to explore both painterly and sculptural techniques. His works challenge concepts of space by creating an enveloping experience for the visitor.

Claire Wilson

1571

Related topics: Asian art, African art, art fairs, market watch, events in New York

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