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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- India Art Fair 2017: a gathering place for South Asian art – round-up – February 2017 – the 9th edition of the India Art Fair focused on strong sales and on showcasing contemporary artists
- Art Stage Singapore 2017 sees strong local collectors’ support – round-up – January 2017 – despite flagging local engagement, Art Stage Singapore 2017 draws strong support from regional collectors
- 10 Highlights from the Shanghai Biennale 2016 – December 2016 – “Why Not Ask Again: Arguments, Counter-arguments, and Stories” at Shanghai Power Station of Art is curated by India’s Raqs Media Collective
- Ai Weiwei: “translocation—transformation” at 21erhaus, Vienna – in pictures – August 2016 – Beijing-based artist Ai Weiwei’s most significant show to date in Austria runs from 14 July to 20 November 2016 at 21erhaus, Museum of Contemporary Art, Vienna
- Preview: The Armory Show 2016 – Highlights from Africa and Asia – March 2016 – the Armory Show steps into its 22nd year with a headlining focus on African perspectives
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