“The Unity of Time and Place”: Iranian artist Mahmoud Bakhshi at narrative projects, London

Mahmoud Bakhshi explores the unresolved triggers of the 1979 Iranian Revolution in “The Unity of Time and Place” at narrative projects gallery.

Mahmoud Bakhshi holds his second solo show at narrative projects gallery in London, where the Iranian artist explores the relations between history, politics and artistic research. The exhibition – on display until 17 March 2017 – marks an important shift in the artist’s practice.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Immersive installation

Iranian-born artist Mahmoud Bakhshi’s “The Unity of Time and Place” at narrative projects in London sees the gallery space transformed into an immersive installation that references the infamous Cinema Rex fire in Abadan, in southern Iran. Hundreds of people had packed the theatre in a working-class district of Abadan to watch The Deers (1974) (a film directed by Masud Kimiai and starring Behrouz Vossoughi), when four men barred the doors of the cinema and set fire to all four sides of the building to prevent rescue attempts. The arson attack tragically killed over 400 people on 19 August 1978, and is considered to have triggered the 1979 revolution.

Film still from 'The Deers' (Gavazn-haa) By Masoud Kimiai, 1974. Image courtesy narrative projects, London.

Masoud Kimiai, ‘The Deers’ (Gavazn-haa), 1974, film still. Image courtesy narrative projects, London.

History as a scenography

Films documenting the episode and archival footage set the scene in the gallery space and tell the story of what happened on that day while the interior of the cinema has been replicated at the gallery with vintage furniture and carpet adorning the floors and walls. Eliding investigative or historical enquiry, the artist rather chooses to reconstruct historical events as a means of creating a stage for discussion and creation in the present. History is thus approached by the artist as a scenography that continues to structure aesthetic, social and political life into the present.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Artistic research and history

That is not to say that new details of historical relevance have not been uncovered as part of the research process. Bakhshi’s research has highlighted details that have escaped the public’s attention to date, including significant details linked to the atrocity. He has, for instance, interviewed Masoud Kimiai who directed The Deers (Gavaznha) film that was showing when the arson attack took place. The interview is one of the film and video materials screened in the exhibition. narrative projects gallery founder Daria Kirsanova said in a press statement that the exhibition is the result of a year’s worth of research.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

The exhibition draws parallels between the Cinema Rex fire and the coup d’état of 1953, which occurred 25 years to the day before the fire. Gallery director Kirsanova explained:

Both events had a crucial impact on the history and transformation of not only Iran but the entire region, drawing parallels on both their date of occurrence and location. Abadan, an oil-producing city in the south of Iran, was an epicentre of the coup d’état and is also where Cinema Rex was located.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

The Iranian Revolution, art and politics 

The project feeds into the wider focus of artistic inquiry in Bakhshi’s practice: the possible roles and impact that an artist today may have, as well as the effect that a given work of art may have on society. In an artist statement published in 2009, when the artist was shortlisted for the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOC CAP) which he subsequently won, Bakhshi reflects on the motivations for exploring the relation between history, politics and art:

Most of my projects are direct answers to situations I observe and connections I make with the historical past of my country. I have often had conflicted feelings about this approach and have always looked at artworks that are disconnected from political issues, that are beautiful and important for art history, with envy. But, I was born in Iran, grew up after the Revolution and during the Iran-Iraq War period. I have found difficult to create artworks disconnected from my surroundings.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­15’, 2013. Plexiglas, Florescent Light 198.5 x 37 x 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­15’, 2013, plexiglas, florescent light, 198.5 x 37 x 15 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

Previous work has also explored the “aftermath” of the revolution and specifically how this has effected the development of visual languages – from official propaganda to dissident art practices. In his 2014 project TalkCloud – a cross-disciplinary project that includes lightbox sculptures, drawings and video – the artist presented a number of sculptures and a series of digital drawings that investigated the relationship between art and power-holding systems in Iran and globally.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘Untitled 92-­22 (Hard copy series)’, 2013. Drawing on paper. 70 x 55 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘Untitled 92-­22 (“Hard Copy” series)’, 2013, drawing on paper, 70 x 55 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

The drawing series Hard copy (2012-ongoing) reference familiar propaganda iconography that glorifies martyrs in the Iran-Iraq war. Bakhshi transformed them into simple, childlike drawings, using formal alterations to trigger conceptual metamorphoses. He took these images out of their charged context, the detached realm of ‘heroic propaganda’, and turned them into schematic, nearly abstract graphic symbols that recall both embroidery and traditional storytelling visual techniques as well as digital glitch systems.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­02’, 2013. Galvanized Iron and Florescent Light. 269 x 49 x 20 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­02’, 2013, galvanized iron and florescent light, 269 x 49 x 20 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

A series of four lightbox sculptures included in the TalkCloud installation hold text displayed in a manner that recalls traditional Persian calligraphy. The content, however, are famous verses of poetry or manifestos. The artist selected well-known phrases that comment on the social role of art. The quotes include expressions by the leaders of the Iranian Islamic and Russian Bolshevik revolutions – Khomeini and Lenin – alongside those by the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and the ideologue of the ‘artistic engagement’ and Social Realism, Anatoly Lunacharsky. One work also cited Andy Warhol.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­1’7, 2013. Galvanized Iron, Florescent Light 122 x 201 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘TalkCloud 92-­1’7, 2013, galvanized iron, florescent light,
122 x 201 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and narrative projects.

The contrast between the content of the phrases, which call attention to a social role of art, and their presentation in the shape of embellished ornament, seeks to ask questions about the aestheticisation of politics. In this body of work – exhibited at Niavaran Cultural Centre in Tehran as well as at narrative projects for his first exhibition with a commercial gallery – Bakhshi explored the origins of the notion of so-called ‘political engagement’ in art, as well as thinking through the interaction between art and capital in the art world.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, 'The Unity of Time and Place', 2017 (detail). Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

Mahmoud Bakhshi, ‘The Unity of Time and Place’ (detail), 2017. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and narrative projects, London.

“The Unity of Time and Place”: a shift in direction for Bakhshi’s practice

“The Unity of Time and Place” marks a shift in artistic strategies for the artist, demonstrated by the artist’s experimentation with what can be called immersive installation or scenography. Where as Talk Cloud probed the generalities of the relations between art and politics, “The Unity of Time and Space”, in its direct engagement with a historical case study, attempts to construct a more active role for politicised art in the context of a commercial gallery. According to “The Unity of Time and Place”, art can serve as a way to create stages for direct intervention: into the gallery, into history and then perhaps also subjectivity.

Rebecca Close

1548

Related Topics: Iranian artistsinstallationsculpturemuseum showsart about art, events in London

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on Iranian contemporary art

Save

Save

Save

Photo Gallery: “Creative Operational Solutions” at Para Site, Hong Kong

Para Site presents the first exhibition to emerge out of Container Artist Residency 01.

The Container Artist Residency is an artist-in-residence programme by artist Maayan Strauss that takes place on-board commercial cargo ships. The Para Site exhibition is curated by Prem Krishnamurthy and Cosmin Costinas.

Maayan Strauss, 'Curve', 2011, from the series "Freight", digital print, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Maayan Strauss, ‘Curve’, 2011, from the series “Freight”, digital print, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Launched at Para Site in December 2016, “Creative Operational Solutions” is the first to emerge out of the Container Artist Residency 01 and features works by Container Artist Residency 01’s artists Mari Bastashevski, Tyler Coburn, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Erin Diebboll, Ferenc Gróf, Christopher Page and Samson Young, alongside artworks by James T. Hong, Zheng Mahler and Guo Xi & Zhang Jianling. The exhibition also includes a historical section curated by Qu Chang, which presents materials related to Hong Kong’s early history as a major shipping port and its role in the opium trade. Framing the entire residency programme, its financial underpinnings and conceptual structure, a further “meta-display” makes transparent the logistics of the project. As the press release (PDF download) explains,

Responding to both the residency and the conditions of increasing globalisation, the projects explore technology’s effects on geopolitics, the linguistics and semiotics of maritime shipping, the role of the artist as labourer, individual and collective memory, collaborations with industrial entities, and surveillance, among other themes.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

The starting point of the exhibition is represented by the works of the seven residents of Container Artist Residency 01, a programme which identifies the shipping industry as a driving cultural and economic force in the contemporary world. The Residency, realised for its first edition in partnership with ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, is conceived as “a distributed artwork in the form of an institutional and operational residency that foregrounds global commerce as the artist’s own immediate work environment”.

The seven artists-in-residence were selected by the curator of the first edition, Prem Krishnamurthy (also the curator of the Para Site exhibition alongside Cosmin Costinas), together with a jury consisting of Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Niels Van Tomme and Xiaoyu Weng. The selected resident artists were invited to travel with a cargo vessel on a route of their choice, and provided with an on-board studio space, accommodation in a ship’s cabin, an honorarium, a return travel allowance, and a production budget with which to produce work. The show represents the next phase of the project, through which the artworks created are shown in a travelling exhibition that extends the journey begun by the participating artists to multiple audiences.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Erin Diebboll, 'Voyage 51 East', 2016 (Detail, Fireworks), pencil on paper, metal frames, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Erin Diebboll, ‘Voyage 51 East’, 2016 (Detail, Fireworks), pencil on paper, metal frames, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Erin Diebboll, 'Voyage 51 East', 2016 (Detail, Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer), pencil on paper, metal frames, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Erin Diebboll, ‘Voyage 51 East’, 2016, (Detail, Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer), pencil on paper, metal frames, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Samson Young, 'What the lighthouses taught me (July 5, 11:30am–1:13pm, outside bridge facing East, between China and Hong Kong waters, ZIM Qingdao)', pencil, colour pencil, watercolour, pastel and stamp on paper, 22 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, ‘What the lighthouses taught me (July 5, 11:30am–1:13pm, outside bridge facing East, between China and Hong Kong waters, ZIM Qingdao)’, pencil, colour pencil, watercolour, pastel and stamp on paper, 22 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, 'What the lighthouses taught me (July 1, 12:10pm–12:45pm, on deck F, outside, boatside, ZIM Qingdao)', pencil, colour pencil, watercolour, pastel and stamp on paper, 22 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Samson Young, ‘What the lighthouses taught me (July 1, 12:10pm–12:45pm, on deck F, outside, boatside, ZIM Qingdao)’, pencil, colour pencil, watercolour, pastel and stamp on paper, 22 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

James T. Hong, 'Three Arguments about the Opium War', 2015 (video still), installation with five prints, two tracings, toy soldiers and synchronised two-channel video (HD video, colour, sound, 20 min. each). Image courtesy the artist.

James T. Hong, ‘Three Arguments about the Opium War’, 2015 (video still), installation with five prints, two tracings, toy soldiers and synchronised two-channel video (HD video, colour, sound, 20 min. each). Image courtesy the artist.

James T. Hong, 'Three Arguments about the Opium War', 2015 (video still), installation with five prints, two tracings, toy soldiers and synchronised two-channel video (HD video, colour, sound, 20 min. each). Image courtesy the artist.

James T. Hong, ‘Three Arguments about the Opium War’, 2015 (video still), installation with five prints, two tracings, toy soldiers and synchronised two-channel video (HD video, colour, sound, 20 min. each). Image courtesy the artist.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, ' Dissolution (I Know Nothing)', 2016, still from two-channel video with sound 12 min. Image courtesy the artists.

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, ‘ Dissolution (I Know Nothing)’, 2016, still from two-channel video with sound 12 min. Image courtesy the artists.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Mari Bastashevski, 'ZimTm', 2016, (Installation detail onboard), mirrored box installation connected to automated Twitter feed, water from the Suez Canal. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Mari Bastashevski, ‘ZimTm’, 2016, (Installation detail onboard), mirrored box installation connected to automated Twitter feed, water from the Suez Canal. Image courtesy Para Site.

Mari Bastashevski, 'ZimTm', 2016, (Installation detail onboard), mirrored box installation connected to automated Twitter feed, water from the Suez Canal. Image courtesy the artist.

Mari Bastashevski, ‘ZimTm’, 2016, (Installation detail onboard), mirrored box installation connected to automated Twitter feed, water from the Suez Canal. Image courtesy the artist.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, 'A Pool of Experience', 2016, (Detail), nickel, gold and tin on stainless steel, 300 x 200 cm. Image courtesy the artists.

Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, ‘A Pool of Experience’, 2016, (Detail), nickel, gold and tin on stainless steel, 300 x 200 cm. Image courtesy the artists.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Guo Xi & Zhang Jianling, 'An Iron Hearted Man', 2015, resin sculpture, Venus flower basket, 27 x 25 x 11 cm. Image courtesy the artists.

Guo Xi & Zhang Jianling, ‘An Iron Hearted Man’, 2015, resin sculpture, Venus flower basket, 27 x 25 x 11 cm. Image courtesy the artists.

Zheng Mahler, 'A Season in Shell', 2013-16, (Installation detail), red sea abalone calcium carbonate glazed porcelain, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Zheng Mahler, ‘A Season in Shell’, 2013-16, (Installation detail), red sea abalone calcium carbonate glazed porcelain, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

"Creative Operational Solutions", 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

“Creative Operational Solutions”, 10 December 2016 – 26 February 2017, Para Site, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Para Site.

Maayan Strauss, ' Window', 2011, from the series "Freight", digital print, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

Maayan Strauss, ‘ Window’, 2011, from the series “Freight”, digital print, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist.

 

“Creative Operational Solutions” runs from 10 December 2016 to 26 February 2017 at Para Site, Hong Kong.

1566

Related Topics: artist residencies, gallery shows, events in Hong Kong, photo galleries

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on artist residencies around Asia

Save

Save

Save

Save

Art jobs and opportunities | Peabody Essex Museum, MOSTYN… and more

Looking for new career options in the arts? Art Radar Opportunities is an archive of openings in the visual art world. 

Whether you are an artist or an aspiring curator, a market analyst or a scholar, Art Radar Opportunities has listings that will pique your interest. Every week we add new positions suitable for a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience. 

Reader offer! We’re offering free job listings to all of our readers. If you would like to advertise your opportunity to 25,000 visitors a month, fill out our Internships or Opportunities submission form.

New this week!

______________________________

OPEN CALL | UK | Call for Artists | MOSTYN – 24 February 2017

MOSTYN, Wales UK is delighted to announce the call for submissions for the 20th anniversary edition of the MOSTYN Open contemporary art exhibition, to be shown from July 2017. Since its inception in 1989, the MOSTYN Open has nurtured and presented the talent of established and emergent contemporary artists internationally. The exhibition of selected works takes place at MOSTYN, with a cash prize of GBP10,000 awarded to a single artist or collective. In addition, the Audience Award grants a cash prize of GBP1,000 to those who receive the most votes from visitors during the exhibition. MORE HERE

______________________________

JOB | Hong Kong | Art Fair Assistant | JanKossen Contemporary – 1 March 2017

JanKossen Contemporary, an international gallery based in New York and Venice, was established in Basel in 2009 by Dr Jasmin Kossenjans, and focuses primarily on abstract, conceptual art created by both established and mid-career international talents. JanKossen Contemporary will be exhibiting during ART CENTRAL in Hong Kong, from 20 to 25 March 2017. The gallery seeks an art-fair assistant, fluent in Mandarin (Cantonese a plus) and English with contemporary art fair and retail experience. A daily stipend and bonus upon sales is paid to the successful candidate. Please submit a CV and a cover letter. Submit your email with subject “Art Central Position”. MORE HERE

______________________________

JOB | Austria | Festival Director | steirischer herbst – 10 March 2017

The General Assembly of steirischer herbst festival gmbh is hiring a Festival Director for the duration of five years. The Festival Director is solely responsible for drawing up the programme of the annual multidisciplinary festival of contemporary art, and management of steirischer herbst festival gmbh on his or her own responsibility with the due care of a prudent businessperson. The successful candidate will have knowledge of art with experience in a wide range of disciplines of art. He/she will have organisational and commercial skills and several years of international experience managing a cultural organisation. He/she will also possess experience in conceiving, planning and carrying out festivals, and have a strong affinity for contemporary art. MORE HERE

______________________________

JOB | Salem | Curator of South Asian Art | Peabody Essex Museum – 17 April 2017

The Peabody Essex Museum seeks a curatorial leader with deep experience in South Asian art, and a track record of developing engaging exhibitions. The Curator of South Asian Art will be active in global circles, well versed in current developments in the field, and adept at teasing out connections between diverse South Asian art forms and cultural traditions and with broader historical and contemporary art and culture. The new curator will play a pivotal role in shaping and implementing the museum’s go-forward, team-based programme in Asian art and its specific manifestation of Indian and South Asian art and culture. This will be accomplished primarily through innovative exhibitions, interpretation and programming, as well as through strategic enhancement of the collection and original research. MORE HERE

______________________________

OPEN CALL | Montréal, Berlin, London | 2017 Residency Programme | Centre for the Study of Substructured Loss – apply by unspecified

Established in 2009, the Centre for the Study of Substructured Loss is a Canadian organisation dedicated to the development of applied grief and bereavement research. Interdisciplinary in nature, the research is documented through the use of practice-based/led methods within art and is comprised of work from both creative and technical practitioners. The Centre is now accepting applications for its rotating city residency programme. Artists, researchers and other arts professionals are encouraged to apply. The residency programme encourages experimentation and the development of multi/interdisciplinary studio work grounded in research within the field of grief and bereavement. MORE HERE

______________________________

JOB | Flexible Location | Curricular Designer | Arte Ponte – apply by unspecified

Arte Ponte seeks a Curricular Designer and content delivery expert to design course materials in the field of Art Management for online learning, with materials also adaptable to in-classroom settings. This is a part-time contract position with the current contract for the initial planning phase of the project only. Contingent upon funding and planning phase outcomes, work may continue to deliverables under a separate contract. The initial planning phase is scheduled to take 3 months. The individual in this position can be based anywhere. The Curricular Designer will work with the Arte Ponte Senior curator and Director to design supplemental curricular materials for a collection of arts case studies. The process will be guided by principles of innovation and cutting-edge design. The Designer will have a mind not only for content delivery, but also for elegant design, fresh perspectives, and synthesis of themes and content. This individual will have the latitude to design a suite of higher education classroom materials from inception to implementation and will be encouraged to use new and untested approaches to the design work. MORE HERE

______________________________

Did you know that Art Radar runs its very own online art writing course? Click here to find out more about Art Radar‘s Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

Looking for more opportunities in the contemporary art world? For Art Radar’s complete list of jobs, internships, residencies, courses and open calls, click here.

Closing this week!

______________________________

JOB | Chicago | Interim Curator of Asian Art | University of Chicago – 24 February 2017

The Interim Curator of Asian Art at UChicago’s Smart Museum will serve as a coordinating curator for previously planned exhibitions and will be primarily responsible for the annual reinstallation of the Museum’s permanent collection. In collaboration with other museum colleagues, s/he will work closely with faculty, guest curators and students to support, encourage and develop related public programmes for exhibitions and collection installations that strengthen the Museum’s engagement with Asian art. As a member of the Smart Museum’s highly collaborative collections, exhibitions and education team, the interim curator has primary responsibility for the coordination of exhibitions, collection installations, research and publications in this key area of the Smart Museum’s collection. In addition to working with the Smart’s Curator and Associate Director of Academic Initiatives, the curator encourages curricular and co-curricular collaboration with the Departments of Art History, Visual Arts and others whose content expertise aligns with Asian exhibition projects and collection installations. MORE HERE

______________________________

OPEN CALL | Berlin | Call for Submissions | WomenCinemakers – 28 February 2017

WomenCinemakers is now accepting submissions from female filmmakers, directors and producers for its new annual showcase. Since 2012, WomenCineMakers has brought audiences critically-acclaimed and innovative films directed by women, supporting both emerging and established auteurs whose work manifests stylistic innovation and a deep knowledge of the cinematographic medium. Women Producers, Writers and Directors from around the world have the opportunity to present their films to the wide attention of the English-reading audience. Shorts, documentaries and features written, directed or produced by women will be accepted. Non-English language works must have English subtitles at the time submitted. There are four (4) categories that films can be entered: Independent Cinema, Documentary, Dance Video, Experimental cinema. MORE HERE

______________________________

This is just a sample of art world opportunities we gather each week. If you’d like to see more, click here to sign up for more information on how to get full access and feeds of opportunities.

 

Vilcek Prize 2017 for Fine Arts awards immigrant artists

New York’s Vilcek Foundation awards annual prize to immigrants who have made outstanding contributions to science and the arts and humanities.

The 2017 edition of the Vilcek Prize for Fine Arts goes to Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward, while the Prize for Creative Promises awards three young immigrant artists based in the United States.

Winners of the 2017 Vilcek Prize and Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Fine Arts. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

Winners of the 2017 Vilcek Prize and Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Fine Arts. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

The Vilcek Foundation recently announced the winners of its annual Vilcek Prize, which awards immigrants living and working in the United States who have made outstanding and long lasting contributions in the fields of biomedical science and the arts and humanities.

The Vilcek Foundation was founded in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The Foundation’s mission was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities offered to them as newcomers to the United States. In addition to its annual Prize, the Foundation also sponsors cultural programmes and organisations whose work aligns with their mission, and holds an art collection of American Modernist art.

The Foundation annually designates a field in which to award the Vilcek Prize for the arts and humanities, and for the first time since 2006, the 2017 edition is awarded in the category of Fine Arts. In 2018, the Prize will be awarded in Architecture.

Jan Vilcek, President and Co-founder and Marica Vilcek, Vice President and Co-founder of the Vilcek Foundation. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

Jan Vilcek, President and Co-founder and Marica Vilcek, Vice President and Co-founder of the Vilcek Foundation. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

The Vilcek Prize for Fine Arts 2017 winner: Nari Ward

Vilcek Prize winners each receive USD100,000 and a trophy, uniquely designed for each winner by Stefan Sagmeister. In 2017 the fine arts winner is Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward. The winner was selected by a jury comprising influential art world professionals, including Brooke Davis Anderson, Executive Director of Prospect New Orleans; Deborah Cullen, Director and Chief Curator of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University; artist Coco Fusco; Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director of the New Museum; Paul Ha, Director of List Visual Arts Center at MIT; and Sara Raza, curator at the Guggenheim.

Nari Ward was born in Jamaica and immigrated in the United States at the age of 12. He creates assemblages of found objects that address issues of race, immigration, poverty, consumer culture and the Caribbean diaspora identity. Ward broke into the New York scene in 1993, with an artwork entitled Amazing Grace, made with 365 abandoned baby strollers that he arranged with pieces of fire hose into the shape of a ship’s hull in a former firehouse on 141st Street in Harlem, accompanied by a recording of Amazing Grace sung by Mahalia Jackson, played on a loop throughout the space. The piece was a poignant commentary on the situation of the neighbourhood and its future, with its epidemic of illegal drugs and abandoned public spaces.

His more recent installation Naturalization Drawing Table features a large desk built out of Plexiglas bodega barriers. The desk is covered with dense linear drawings made over Immigration and Naturalization Service applications. On select days during the exhibition, viewers are invited to “apply” for naturalisation by lining up and filling out an application, to experience the bureaucratic process of applying for citizenship.

The Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Fine Arts 2017

The Vilcek Foundation has also established the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in the Fine Arts, awarded to three young immigrant artists in 2017, each receiving USD50,000. The winners are Egyptian-born Iman Issa, Meleko Mokgosi from Botswana and Colombian Carlos Motta. The Jury who selected the awardees includes Nicholas Baume
, Director and Chief Curator, Public Art Fund; Hitomi Iwasaki
, Director of Exhibitions/Curator, Queens Museum of Art; Naomi Beckwith, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator, The Museum of Modern Art; and Rita Gonzalez
, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Vilcek Foundation Headquarters in New York City. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

The Vilcek Foundation Headquarters in New York City. Image courtesy The Vilcek Foundation.

A conceptual artist, Iman Issa creates objects and installations that attempt to address complex philosophical questions. She holds a particularly interest in the idea of monuments and memorial, which are seen as aesthetic forms with a shifting relevance based on their location in time and relationship to history.

Meleko Mokgosi is painter who before creating a work spends hours of research, reading and conversation with people. He composes depictions of Africa and its people, and is primarily interested in politics, seeking to understand and illuminate the relations of power that shape people, families, villages, regions and nations.

Carlos Motta works in a wide range of media, including film, performance, photography and sculpture. His work explores questions of identity, sexuality and politics, and attempts to identify and dissect the relations between an individual and the culture that forms them. Since his move to the United States in 1996, Motta has been exploring ideas of representation and the experience of democracy, the emotional underpinnings of political awareness, and the ways that dominant accounts of history have become biased.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1553

Related Topics: African artists, art prizes, art awards, art and migration, art and politics, news, events in New York

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on art prize winners around the world

Save

Save

Save

Save

“Here After Here”: India’s Jitish Kallat – artist profile

Jitish Kallat’s “Here After Here” features the artist’s work spanning 1992-2017.

The first of its kind, “Here After Here” is an extensive solo exhibition of Jitish Kallat’s work over the last two decades. It is open for viewing at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, from 14 January to 14 March 2017.

Jitish Kallat, 'Year 2012, Covering Letter', projection on fogscreen, 220 cm, 86 inches (width). Collection- Philadelphia Museum of Art, Surana Family Collection, Burger Collection.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Covering Letter’, 2012, projection on fogscreen, 220 cm, 86 inches (width). Collection Philadelphia Museum of Art, Surana Family Collection, Burger Collection.

“Here After Here”, for the first time, brings under a single exhibition over 25 years of the prolific and varied Indian contemporary artist Jitish Kallat’s artistic practice. It is comprehensive and encompassing enough to pass for a retrospective but for the fact that Kallat, who is only 43 years old, has many more years of artistic enquiries ahead of him. Curated by Catherine David, Art Historian and curator, Here After Here brings together over 100 works by Kallat at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in New Delhi. The show is an excellent introduction to some of Kallat’s recurrent concerns of the rapidly changing Indian urban spaces, the nature of postcolonial nation-states and cosmic meditations on time. His work, much like his thematic preoccupations, flits between a wide variety of media: drawings, paintings, photography, video, sculpture and installations.

Widely exhibited across the globe, Jitish Kallat’s practice, among other things, has become synonymous with acute observations on the urban landscape of Mumbai, a bustling chaotic city flanked by the Arabian Sea. He was born in the city, and its little wonder that the maddening crowd and its culture continues to inform his work.

 Jitish Kallat, 'Annexation', 2009, black lead, paint, resin and steel, 183 x 150 x 130 cm. Singapore Art Museum collection.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Annexation’, 2009, black lead, paint, resin and steel, 183 x 150 x 130 cm. Singapore Art Museum collection.

The Urban or the ‘Siesmographic Record of the City’s Heartbeat’

Over the years, Kallat’s concerns have diversified and moved back and forth but unsurprisingly, even his earliest works from his student days at Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai (1992-94) were already anticipatory of the tonal preferences that would recur in his later oeuvre. The use of disturbed surfaces would also already be, anachronistically speaking, reminiscent of the ubiquitous scabby walls that stand crumbling in every Indian metropolis that make many appearances in his later works. As early as in 1999, Canis Familiaris-A Dog’s Life proclaimed his preferred iconography of the urban working class. Divided sharply into two halves, the upper part of the canvas is an urbanscape of towering buildings flanking frozen, casual chaos in between it, and the lower half is a dog’s form superimposed on a background made of pavement patterns.

Jitish Kallat, 'Lotus Medallion on a Siamese Twine', 1998, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 92 in. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Lotus Medallion on a Siamese Twine’, 1998, mixed media on canvas, 60 x 92 in. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

Following the similar conversation, the series of photographs entitled 365 Lives (2007) depicts magnified montages of hollows, bumps and scratches on the bodies of automobiles. In their tonal brightness, almost aqueous-shine, these photographs are even deceptively Instagram-pretty. Automobiles being an increasingly accessible symbol of Indian middle class mobility, literally and socially, 365 Lives becomes another story of post-colonial India – that of the 1990s liberalisation of a heretofore socialist-protectionist economy and the newly acquired taste for global commodities.

Jitish Kallat, '365 Lives', 2007, pigment print on hahnemühle photograph archival paper, 16 x 21 in, 365 prints. Image courtesy NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘365 Lives’, 2007, pigment print on hahnemühle photograph archival paper, 16 x 21 in, 365 prints. Image courtesy NGMA.

Kallat describes 365 Lives as “an inventory of daily quakes in urban existence, a seismographic record of a city’s erratic heartbeat…”, in an interview with Farhad Dadyburjor for “The Urban Space Mixed with Chaos Becomes My Muse”, published in DNA India, 2 December 2005. However, one would also not be far off to see in 365 Lives a reminder of the subterranean anger and masculinity that overruns urban Indian streets and often unfolds into mob violence at the flicker of a moment – an issue he explores in his other works. Juxtaposed with and on the body of the aspirational commodity par excellence of the Indian middle class, it tells a divergent story: that of a crowd always already on the verge of violence coexisting with the national ambitions of joining the global commodity chain.

 Jitish Kallat, 'The Cry of the Gland', 2010, 108 C-Prints, 24 x 18 in each, installation size 141.72 x 322.8 in. Image courtesy NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘The Cry of the Gland’, 2010, 108 C-Prints, 24 x 18 in each, installation size 141.72 x 322.8 in. Image courtesy NGMA.

The Cry of the Gland (2009) is another series of photographs that springs from the urban landscape. It it appears a collection of many bulging shirt pockets, magnified and laden with pens, wallets, cell phones, glass cases, embroidered professional identities, some probably heavy with bidis hanging next to the ubiquitous checked red and white scarves worn by migrant day labourers. In this work, these pockets become characters in the bustling routine of the metropolis, each literally bursting with a story.

The myriad urban Indian stories also go hand in hand with overcrowdedness, cramped accommodations, slums or in many cases, no accommodation at all. Cenotaph (A Deed of Transfer) (2007) is a photographic documentary of one of the many demolition drives executed on decades-old pavement dwellings on a Mumbai street and its aftermath. As the viewer changes her position, these photographs of broken and beaten lone walls shift plane, thereby creating a three dimensionality of what was and is. The coexistence of multiple planes is reminiscent of the many lenticular household objects commonly sold by footpath vendors and small local stationary shops: 3D scales, cartoon stickers that come free with bubble gums, even postcards of 3D gods and goddesses.

Jitish Kallat, 'Epilogue', 2011, pigment print on archival papaer, 753 prints, 12.5 x 15.5 in each. Image courtesy NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Epilogue’, 2011, pigment print on archival papaer, 753 prints, 12.5 x 15.5 in each. Image courtesy NGMA.

The Postnational

Kallat’s oeuvre is marked by the osmotic interaction of seemingly divergent issues. Ecto (2000) is a sculpture of a boy child drinking from the nose of a kettle that he is holding. Street urchins and child labourers have often made an iconographic appearance in other works by the artist, so it is only a further exploration of the relationship between the two seemingly unconnected spheres: the informal economy of the urban space, including the children on its streets, and the metastory of the Indian nation-state. Ecto invokes youthful innocence and the possibilities that therein lie, but made of black lead, fibreglass and stainless steel, and its surface covered in graphite, Ecto leaves a mark on any hand that dares touching it, either “affectionately or in sympathy”. In Kallat’s work, as we will see further, ‘you’ as a ‘viewer’ are never bereft of a role in the story, the possibility of contamination to even a bystander being ever present.

Jitish Kallat, 'Public Notice 3', 2009, LED bulbs, wires, rubber. Collection Art Institute of Chicago.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Public Notice 3’, 2009, LED bulbs, wires, rubber. Collection Art Institute of Chicago.

Death of Distance (2006) elaborates the story of the Indian nation further. It uses two found texts: that of a news report announcing a new telecom scheme proclaimed as the “death of distance”, which would bring down the cost of calls within India to one rupee; and the other a news report of a twelve year old Indian girl who committed suicide because her mother could not afford to give her one rupee to buy a meal. Both these stories coexist within a single frame, and either one stands out depending on where the viewer stands in respect to the work. One story becomes visible only at the cost of the erasure of the other, and in this erasure, the viewer becomes complicit. Next to these stands erected a one-rupee coin that is nothing short of monumental – an aloof viewer to the two of its sides.

Another installation, Anger at the Speed of Fright (2010), explores similar ideas. It is an installation composed of Lilliputian human figures frozen in a rioting frenzy, replete with stones, rods and chains. The vantage point of the viewer – hovering over the rioting lot – engenders a perspectival moment akin to epiphany.

Jitish Kallat, 'Public Notice 2', 2007, resin 4479 sculptural units (display dimensions variable). Collection Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Public Notice 2’, 2007, resin 4479 sculptural units (display dimensions variable). Collection Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Perhaps the most explicit statement that Kallat makes on the metastory of postcolonial India is contained in the Public Notice trilogy made between 2003 and 2010. Public Notice 1 (2003) consists of five acrylic mirrors onto which the artist first inscribed Nehru’s momentous midnight speech to the nation on the eve of Indian Independence and then burnt the texts as a gesture of protest against the discrepancies between the high ideals of the immediate post-independence era and the contemporary state of affairs in the country. Once again, as the viewer moves closer to read the burnt texts, her distorted image stares back at her from under the blackened sentences; her body becomes one with the process of distortion and failure even as she moves between the mirrors; once again, she is contaminated in this story of the death of a/the nation.

Jitish Kallat, 'Public Notice 2', 2007, resin 4479 sculptural units (display dimensions variable). Collection Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Public Notice 2’, 2007, resin 4479 sculptural units (display dimensions variable). Collection Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney, Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Similarly, Public Notice 2 (2007) and Covering Letter (2011) revisit the positions of Swami Vivekananda and MK Gandhi. In many ways, Kallat’s position is postnational, which is not to mean that he speaks from a stage where national boundaries have ceased to exist, but that his ethical and critical positions are wary of the early optimism associated with the creation of the postcolonial nations and the theoretical end of imperialism that it was assumed to herald. In this, he talks of the metastory of India but also talks of issues above and beyond it, into the sphere of what the very nature of nation-states are.

 Jitish Kallat, 'Public Notice 3', 2009, LED bulbs, wires, rubber. Collection Art Institute of Chicago.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Public Notice 3’, 2009, LED bulbs, wires, rubber. Collection Art Institute of Chicago.

The Artist-Self and the Cosmic

Despite all the above, to limit Kallat’s oeuvre to the urban space and the nation would be unfair, to say the least. Many of his works are also intimately personal and deeply philosophical. Artist Making a Local Call (2005) is a monumental, panoramic photograph of the artist making a phone call from a public phone booth in a relatively busy street. The phone booth also serves as a small electrical shop and a paan (betel nut shop) at the same time; there is a deceptive taxi-autorickshaw collision and some characters reappear in multiple places in the same photograph.

Jitish Kallat, 'Modus Vivendi (1000 people - 1000 Homes)', 2002, mixed media on canvas, 96 x 216 in. Collection Nitin Bhayana.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Modus Vivendi (1000 people – 1000 Homes)’, 2002, mixed media on canvas, 96 x 216 in. Collection Nitin Bhayana.

Manacled Man and the Secret Society (1999) is an earlier work that follows the same line of inquiry about the artist/self as an observer-creator and his position in the overall map of the artistic universe. In this, the artist is manacled by a giant insect, somewhat reminiscent of Gregor Samsa’s bewilderment in Metamorphosis; over him hovers an anklet, a piece of jewellery widely worn by Indian women. In Peter Nagy’s words, Kallat treats “that which is specifically Indian… no differently than the images which have been imported. The result is a self-portrait that accepts contradiction, hybridisation and foreign influence without a trace of anxiety.” (published in exhibition catalogue “Private Limited”, New York, 1999).

Jitish Kallat, 'Epilogue', 2011, pigment print on archival papaer, 753 prints, 12.5 x 15.5 in each. Image courtesy NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Epilogue’, 2011, pigment print on archival papaer, 753 prints, 12.5 x 15.5 in each. Image courtesy NGMA.

Maternamortal (Mom’s Mom’s Mom-Mom’s Dad’s Mom) (2000) is a twin portrait depicting the artist’s great grandmothers. Superimposed on them are blue flowers on a blue vase and a wreath made of “labouring hands”. Epilogue (2010-11) is a series of photographs of 22,000 rotis, a staple Indian flat bread, changing shape as though in a movement around an orbit, representing the 22,000 moons on which his father might have gazed on. In 22,000 Sunsets (2011), Kallat records every sunset he ever saw, as a parallel record of his own life in conversation with his father’s. He brings together the given and the mundane – like the changing regularity of the moon and the life-sustaining roti – in order to arrive at the measurement of a life(s) within the infinite span of cosmic time.

Jitish Kallat, 'Sightings', 2015, 7 part lenticular photopiece, 27 x 18 in each. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Sightings’, 2015, 7 part lenticular photopiece, 27 x 18 in each. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

In the recent years, Kallat has explored his preoccupation with cosmic space and time further in his Wind Study (the hour of the day of the month of season) (2015) and Rain Study (the hour of the day of the month of the season) (2016). Earlier, a series of seven lenticular prints depicting close details of the surfaces of fruits entitled Sightings D9M4Y2015 (2015) found the cosmos contained on the surface of various fruits. The photos shift plane as one moves – the viewer transitions between the colour of the fruit as retinally perceived and its chromatic opposite. Of this, Kallat says in an interview with Homi Bhabha (“Drawing Fire- A Conversation Between Homi Bhabha and Jitish Kallat”):

Every time I looked closely at the surface of a fruit it was as if I was seeing a photographic image of the universe with distant supernova explosions and dispersed constellations manifested on its skin. The fruits thus became a small gateway to speculate about the very energy in the fruit as a temporary incarnation of this vital stellar power; that very force posing as a fruit, for a time offering a spectacular sighting of the cosmos in your hands.

Jitish Kallat, 'Wind Study', 2016, burnt adhesive and graphite on Indian handmade paper, 66.9 x 44.9 in. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

Jitish Kallat, ‘Wind Study’, 2016, burnt adhesive and graphite on Indian handmade paper, 66.9 x 44.9 in. Image courtesy the artist and NGMA.

Rain Study (the hour of the day of the month of the season) is a series of drawings created by exposing paper to rain momentarily and thereafter, overlaid with a fast-drying paint. The outcome is as though the view from an antiquated telescope was captured and archived. Similarly, Wind Study (the hour of the day of the month of season) is created by submitting graphite lines drawn at random to fire and wind. In the same interview with Bhabha, Kallat says that “the burnt line becomes a transcript of what transpired between wind and fire in the life-duration of that line.” By submitting his artistic devices to agents beyond his control, Kallat makes an entry point towards hinting at the larger, alchemical forces in the universe – perhaps even whispering about the miraculous in art.

Lily Tekseng

1544

Related Topics: Indian artists, Jitish Kallat, installation, painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, video, museum shows, events in New Delhi

Related Posts:

Save

Save

Save

Save

Subscribe to Art Radar for more retrospective exhibitions on prominent Indian artists

Save

Save

Revitalising the Art of Landscapes: Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung at Galerie du Monde, Hong Kong

Galerie du Monde spotlights Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung’s contemporary take and zeal for traditional art.

Art Radar takes a thorough look at “Inwardscape”, Wu Chi-Tsung’s latest solo exhibition and debut in Hong Kong. Like the city, which continuously blends the East and the West, this Taiwanese artist’s works are hybrids of the traditional and contemporary.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Cyano-Collage 002’, 2016, cyanotype, paper and acrylic gel, 122 x 244 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Cyano-Collage 002’, 2016, cyanotype, paper and acrylic gel, 122 x 244 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Taiwanese artist Wu Chi-Tsung (b. 1981) has been making a name for himself in recent years. Apart from collaborating with premier brands such as Dior and Rolls-Royce, he has garnered several recognitions, namely being shortlisted for the 2015 Prudential Eye Awards and 2006 Artes Mundi, winning the WRO Media Art Biennale – The Critics and Editors of Art Magazines Award in 2013 and top prize of Taipei Arts Award in 2003.

Undoubtedly, his list of credentials would draw in any collector or art enthusiast, but what makes Wu a much-talked about artist is his persistence to create dialogue about the traditional and the contemporary, while his methods clearly show that it doesn’t matter how long the art-making takes. This dedication of Wu was spotted by Galerie du Monde Founder and Chairman Fred Scholle in Beijing, back when Wu exhibited his Crystal City installation as part of a group show in CAFA Art Museum. Scholle recalls encountering a work of Wu for the first time, as he tells Art Radar:

I was extremely impressed with his work. Wu’s videos involve a great deal of Chinese traditional art elements such as plum trees, bamboo, pine trees, etc. with the videos being composed in either a vertical or horizontal scroll format with a very strong Zen meditative Chinese visual art core, but in very contemporary forms rather than painting. The moving images in his videos are much like the movement one experiences in ink painting.

This captivating first-time experience eventually led Scholle to bring Wu to Hong Kong, holding a solo exhibition that exposes the public to the Taiwanese artist’s well-known pieces. On view until 14 March 2017, “Inwardscape” includes Crystal City 007, which was part of the 2016 International Ink Art Biennale of Shenzhen, as well as new works that call to mind conventions in traditional art.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Crystal City 007’, 2015, installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Crystal City 007’, 2015, installation, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

“Inwardscape” Conceptualised

With the mission to promote modern and contemporary Chinese artists, Galerie du Monde decided to mount a solo show on Wu as his practice involves a “refreshing ability to transform Chinese traditional aesthetics to a very experimental new direction”. Scholle, who has been a part of the Hong Kong art scene for four decades, decided to bring the focus to Wu’s various series from recent years, which are bound together by Wu’s sincere and well-thought of interpretations of his background. The gallerist explains:

‘Inwardscape’ was translated from the Chinese word 憬 (jing), which means a landscape in the heart… meditated, signifying a more comprehensive look at his art.

Included in the exhibition are pieces from his series called “Cyano-Collage”, “Crystal City”, “Wrinkled Texture” and “Drapery Studies”, which are complemented by the videos Landscape in the Mist and Still Life.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Still Life 005 Cherry’ (film stil), 2016, single-channel video, duration 20min:43sec:45 (over 20 minutes). Image courtesy Galerie du Monde

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Still Life 005 Cherry’ (film stil), 2016, single-channel video, duration 20min:43sec:45 (over 20 minutes). Image courtesy Galerie du Monde

The Debut of Drapery

One of the highlights of “Inwardscape” is Wu’s never-before-shown “Drapery Studies” series. Essentially a meticulous mingling of painting, sculpture and installation inspired by Graeco-Roman sculptures that began in 2013, this fresh series was projected by the artist to only be ready for public viewing in the succeeding years.  Wu shares with Art Radar:

First of all, I would like to thank Galerie du Monde, otherwise it might take 10 more years for “Drapery Studies” to be shown to the public. Since developing “Drapery Studies” is a long process and the whole structure grows, the complete series will not to be finished in few years.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Drapery Studies 001’, 2014, mixed media, variable dimensions. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Drapery Studies 001’, 2014, mixed media, dimensions variable. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

The long process of “Drapery Studies” entails manipulating linen wrinkles, persevering the shape and form with multiple layers of rabbit-skin glue and gesso and finishing it all off with oil paint/toner, which the artist sees as an off-shoot to his iconic “Wrinkled Texture” series. Talking to Art Radar, he comments:

Since developing “Wrinkled Texture”, which discusses oriental painting tradition, I had an idea of extending the similar practice to Western art, [which] is part of my art background as well. I studied calligraphy, ink painting, as well as pencil, charcoal, watercolour and oil painting since I was a kid. However, my own creation began [with] media and conceptual art, such as installation and video. I [have] always struggled and [felt] divided [by] Eastern and Western culture, as well as tradition and modern contemporary art.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Drapery Studies 003’, 2016, oil on canvas, 140 x 170 x 30 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Drapery Studies 003’, 2016, oil on canvas, 140 x 170 x 30 cm. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

His “Drapery Studies” therefore is a new way for him to create dialogue and balance about culture from the East and West and art from the past and the present. Noting how his “Wrinkled Texture” and “Drapery Studies” series are heavily anchored on the use of texture in traditional art, Art Radar asked Wu if he came across any interesting parallelisms between the East and West. The Taiwanese artist notes:

The characteristics of papers in “Wrinkled Texture” and fabrics in “Drapery Studies” are simple phenomena. Just like my other artworks, they are filled with ubiquitous daily materials and phenomena, for example, wire net, plastic boxes and dust. Depending on what we imagine and what context we give, the simple phenomena then [gather] meanings and become part of culture and art.

Wu then further dives into the series:

[The] “Drapery Studies” series discusses not only the Graeco-Roman sculptures as a symbol of the beginning of western art history, but also [the] oil painting materials after Renaissance, modern abstract spirit and so on. It deals with pretty much everything what is fading in contemporary art nowadays. However, drapery is drapery, there are no differences between [it] being on Graeco-Roman sculptures or being on our daily clothes. You can cast yourself onto a tiny fold to discover a scene and then walk into it.

 

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Landscape in the Mist 001’ (video still), 2012, single-channel video, duration 9min:15sec (over 9 minutes). Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung, ‘Landscape in the Mist 001’ (video still), 2012, single-channel video, duration 9min:15sec:20 (over 9 minutes). Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung Beyond the Nutshell

Scholle provides a clear rundown of the Taiwanese artistic development, which started right after Wu finished his studies at the Taipei National University of the Arts in 2004:

Wu first started working with video arts after he graduated from university, where he received multiple awards. From his initial work in video, he then developed installations which combined video projection with industrial metal materials to create Chinese landscape images. These works had a strong relationship with his video work. He then began working with cyanotype, an old and very traditional photographic skill, but developing it to a very contemporary result by the wrinkling of Xuan paper to achieve a Chinese landscape image. These works were in a vertical or horizontal scroll format. A traditional western photo method but with a traditional ink painting visual format resulting in extremely contemporary abstract works as seen in his “Wrinkled Texture” series.

In 2013, Wu started to experiment with his “Drapery Studies” series, which were a further development of his cyanotype series, and were inspired by Classical Greek and Roman sculpture. The “Drapery Studies” series works are very three dimensional and textural where the artist attempts to study the relationship between materials and techniques. From this, one can see how the artist’s works developed over the years experimenting with new materials and techniques but with a traditional Chinese aesthetic still evident, and in particular, through the recurring theme of the landscape.

Wu Chi-Tsung in the studio surrounded by his cyanotype photographic works. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

Wu Chi-Tsung in the studio surrounded by his cyanotype photographic works. Image courtesy Galerie du Monde.

While there is an evident display and exploration of the memory of traditional art (both from the East and West) and its principles in Wu’s different series of works, Scholle notes that the artist’s future pieces may be different from what the public is accustomed to. He concludes:

It’s not possible for me to anticipate how the artist will develop his work in the future or what may inspire him. But a very positive aspect regarding Wu is that he is always experimenting with something new, and his works are always developed and created from the depth of his heart and from his cultural background.

Javelyn Ramos

1550

Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, painting, photography, video, installation, gallery shows, events in Hong Kong

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on Taiwanese artists and exhibitions

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Between hospitality and hostility: Iranian artist Abbas Akhavan at DRAF Studio London

Toronto-based Iranian artist explores conflict and nature in his latest solo exhibition.

Art Radar takes a look at Abbas Akhavan’s creative practice and his exploration of the tension between hospitality and hostility in his latest solo exhibition in London.

Installation view of Abbas Akhavan, "variations on a garden" in DRAF Studio, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, DRAF and Mercer Union Toronto. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Installation view of Abbas Akhavan, “variations on a garden” in DRAF Studio, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, DRAF and Mercer Union Toronto. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

From 20 January to 18 March 2017 Iranian-born artist Abbas Akhavan’s “variations on a garden” will be on display at London’s David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF) Studio. The solo exhibition includes sculptural and video installations that explore the native flora and natural environment of Iraq as well as the impacts of conflict in the domestic sphere.

Abbas Akhavan’s practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video and performance. His work often explores the domestic and domesticated space, contemplating the tensions between hospitality and hostility. He has recently began expanding this study of the home to include the surrounds of gardens, backyards and other domesticated landscapes.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Study for a Hanging Garden', 2013-15 (detail). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Study for a Hanging Garden’, 2013-15 (detail). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

In an interview with Jadaliyya, Akhavan explained why he focuses on domestic spheres in his work. He pointed out that the house is a microcosm of what is going on in the rest of the world. He explained:

Part of the reason I started dealing with domestic objects is because we all have a relationship to utensils, knives, and beds. It’s a very open access point for people to talk about. I think there are a lot of presumptions about the domestic space that I want to explore. Especially when it becomes a bigger sphere, for example dealing with xenophobia. The house is a microcosm for a much bigger concern. I also deal with domesticated landscapes and parks.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Study for a Hanging Garden', 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Study for a Hanging Garden’, 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Born in Tehran in 1977 and based in Toronto since 1992, Akhavan won the 14th edition of the Sobey Art Award in 2015. He was chosen from a shortlists five artists from the main Canadian provinces and territories and the judges commended him for the “generosity and empathy at play” in his work. Akhavan is also the recipient of Kunstpreis Berlin (2012), the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2014) and the Fellbach Triennial Award (2016).

Abbas Akhavan, 'Study for a Hanging Garden', 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Study for a Hanging Garden’, 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Nature and conflict

In “variations on a garden” Akhavan presents Study for a Monument (2013–15), an installation of bronze plants laid out on white cotton bed sheets. The plants are from Iraq, specifically the area in and around the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This area is thought to be the location of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but it was also targeted and mostly destroyed by Saddam Hussein in his campaign against the marsh rebels and in the Iraq war in the 1990s.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Study for a Hanging Garden', 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Study for a Hanging Garden’, 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Akhavan worked with the archive at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London and with living plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh in order to develop plants on a larger scale. As highlighted by curator Georgina Jackson, Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the largest repository of herbs in the world (with over 7 million species) and the gardens hold over 30,000 plant species from around the world. The collection is not only a scientific endeavour, but it also reflects historical colonisation and territorialisation.

Akhavan drew from the Iraq flora collections in order to sculpt the pieces in plasticine, cast them into wax, encased them within plaster, melted them, cast them into bronze and then charred them. The array of plants on the gallery floor is presented like a scientific experiment where the plants are examined and sterile.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Ghost', 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Ghost’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Another work in the exhibition is Ghost (2013), composed of excerpted YouTube footage of American soldiers returning home to surprise their families. The work continually fades to white, through which screams are heard. This video reflects the trauma and the impact of war on the people involved.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Study for a Hanging Garden', 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Study for a Hanging Garden’, 2013-15 (details). Image courtesy the artist and Abraaj Group Art Prize. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Akhavan uses the garden in this fertile place in Iraq in order to explore space and its functions. The garden in the exhibition is a representative space between territories. As observed in the exhibition text,

The garden often operates as a symbolic territory in the division between the commons and the proprietorial, between one nation and another.

Abbas Akhavan, 'Ghost', 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘Ghost’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Curator Georgina Jackson explains (PDF download) the metaphor of the garden in the exhibition when she states:

Excavating the tales of ancient Babylon, the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens which at once exist and are absent, the garden lingers as both a symbolic site of labour and leisure, private and public, nature and humanity, but furthermore, as a site of sovereignty and war. All of these locations, stories and histories are variations on a garden.

Abbas Akhavan, 'and after and after', 2003/2008. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Abbas Akhavan, ‘and after and after’, 2003/2008. Image courtesy the artist and Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

The unseen interactions between nature and people

In an interview with Canadian Art, Akhavan explained the relationship his work has to nature:

Because I work so much with natural materials, like plants and animals, I think it was also about how any kind of relationship to nature is a kind of trapping of nature for the benefit of humanity, whether that’s resource extraction, or human-centric therapy, or for the “wellbeing” of the human. In the case of Study for a Curtain, the artwork was a trap for an idea about the use of nature as capital.

This relationship between art and human actions was also explored in an article for Art Review in which writer Oliver Basciano saw Akhavan’s work as critiquing agriculture as something that people use to control and exploit the world around them. He comments that

for Akhavan the subjugation of nature is a result not just of man’s love of power, but of the unseen, arguably abstract and immaterial systems that we have built up ever since we stopped being huntergatherers.

Installation view of Abbas Akhavan, "variations on a garden" in DRAF Studio, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, DRAF and Mercer Union Toronto. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Installation view of Abbas Akhavan, “variations on a garden” in DRAF Studio, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, DRAF and Mercer Union Toronto. Photo: Tim Bowditch.

Akhavan prefers to leave his works open to interpretation, encouraging viewers to explore connotations rather than have a set meaning. Rather than being a closed idea, Akhavan sparks curiosity by sometimes presenting work with little explanatory text. This is particularly evident in his site-specific work. The view is involved in the work and interacts with it. Akhavan observed in an article for Canadian Art:

I’m interested […] in making site-specific work that sparks interest in viewers because it relates to their local politics or architecture or culture. You learn about your own work when people come to see it.

Claire Wilson

1549

Related topics: Iranian artists, Canadian artists, events in London, feature, independent art space

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on Iranian contemporary art

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

“The Ease of Fiction”: four contemporary African artists at California African American Museum

Four contemporary African artists residing in the United States join forces for a critical discussion on history, fact and fiction.

“The Ease of Fiction” runs from 19 October 2016 to 19 February 2017 at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. The multimedia exhibition includes painting, drawing and sculpture that test the notion of a single historical narrative and explores ideas around power, agency and memory, thus creating new hybrid truths.  

Installation view, "Ease of Fiction" at California African American Museum. Image courtesy of California African American Museum.

Installation view, “The Ease of Fiction” at California African American Museum. Image courtesy California African American Museum.

Curated by Dexter Wimberly for the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, and organised by Mar Hollingsworth at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, “The Ease of Fiction” brings together four US-based African artists, including ruby onyinyechi amanze, Duhirwe Rushemeza, Sherin Guirguis and Meleko Mokgosi, in an exploration of fiction presented as truth, more commonly known as parafiction. As stated in the wall text,

The artists’ cultural backgrounds, as well as geographic diversity, create an opportunity for a provocative examination of varied perspectives of reality. The works in The Ease of Fiction challenge and test the no on of a single historical truth in order to reveal how the “powerful” construct historical accounts in order to perpetuate their poli cal and economic dominance. The primary tool that these ar sts select for this task is the strategy of constructing parafictions—works in which fictions are presented as facts. To invent a fiction is, in essence, to invent a space in which it becomes possible to live amidst the confusion and complexi es of reality; a fiction allows us to remake the political and social systems that govern this imagined territory, holding out the revolu onary promise of changing both our selves and the web of social relations that make us significant.

Art Radar explores the work of the four artists in the exhibition.

Meleko Mokgosi , 'Democratic Intuition, Exordium' (Famulus Africanis), 2013-present , Oil and charcoal on canvas Image courtesy of the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery.

Meleko Mokgosi , ‘Democratic Intuition, Exordium (Famulus Africanis)’, 2013-present, oil and charcoal on canvas. Image courtesy the artist and Honor Fraser Gallery.

Meleko Mokgosi’s (b. 1981, Botswana) work Democratic Intuition, Exordium (Famulus Africanis) inquires how one can approach democratic ideas in relation to the lived experiences of inhabitants of southern Africa. Mokgosi concerns himself with the ways in which democracy is considered to be inscribed within the individual consciousness due to institutional impact and the extent to which it is intuitive or self-taught through socialisation and what Mokgosi calls “intersubjective exchange”.

Meleko Mokgosi works within an interdisciplinary practice to create large-scale project-based installations. He works with conceptual frameworks such as history painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis and post-colonial theory. He interrogates narrative tropes and the way in which these models are inscribed and history is transmitted in parallel to established European notions of representation, with a view towards investigating nationhood, anti-colonial sentiments and the perception of historicised events. Mokgosi has exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Botswana National Gallery, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art.

Installation view, "Ease of Fiction" at California African American Museum. Image courtesy of California African American Museum.

Installation view, “Ease of Fiction” at California African American Museum. Image courtesy of California African American Museum.

Dehire Rushemeza, 'Red Ochre, White, and Blue', 2014, thin set mortar, wood, acrylic, and metal detritus, 48" x 48" x 5". Image courtesy of the artist.

Duhire Rushemeza, ‘Red Ochre, White, and Blue’, 2014, thin set mortar, wood, acrylic, and metal detritus, 48″ x 48″ x 5″. Image courtesy the artist.

Duhirwe Rushemeza’s (b. 1977, Rwanda) weathered surfaces remind us that the past remains continually relevant no matter how much of it may actually fade away. She is acutely aware of how she executes a process she calls “urban excavation” to collect materials for her installations. She carves used books and steel into map-like shapes that she rusts using sundry acidic solutions with salt, water, hydrogen peroxide, bleach and urine to create a painting medium that allows her to render marks and create on the surface. This process is reminiscent of the nomadic life that is continually moving forward into new territories, including traces of each past location in its ever-transforming reality.

Dehire Rushemeza, 'Who Am I When I am Free', 2014, thin set mortar, wood, acrylic, and metal detritus, 48" x 48" x 5". Image courtesy of the artist.

Dehire Rushemeza, ‘Who Am I When I am Free’, 2014, thin set mortar, wood, acrylic, and metal detritus, 48″ x 48″ x 5″. Image courtesy the artist.

ruby onyinyechi amanze, 'Kindred', 2014, Graphite, ink, pigment, enamel, photo transfers, glitter on paper, 80” x 78”. Image courtesy of Tiwani Contemporary, London and the artist.

ruby onyinyechi amanze, ‘Kindred’, 2014, Graphite, ink, pigment, enamel, photo transfers, glitter on paper, 80” x 78”. Image courtesy Tiwani Contemporary, London and the artist.

Ruby onyinyechi amanze (b. 1982, Nigeria) is an artist whose practice revolves around drawing and works on paper. amanze’s work in this exhibition entitled Kindred is part of a larger series known as “aliens, hybrids and ghosts”, which as amanze states, “exists somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination”. In her artist statement she further explains that

these creatures and their adventures reflect the layered experiences of people who live in-between worlds and whose fluid identity is not grounded in a singular geography or permanence-based, notion of home. In this space, creatures find authenticity, wholeness and freedom in their ability to simultaneously belong nowhere and everywhere. In this world, they play.

In this sense Kindred is the ultimate parafiction and the mirror image of the realities we construct in an attempt to negotiate the realities we currently live in, and desire to experience going forward.

Installation view, "Ease of Fiction" at California African American Museum. Image courtesy of California African American Museum.

Installation view, “Ease of Fiction” at California African American Museum. Image courtesy California African American Museum.

Sharon Guirguis, 'Untitled (Babel Hadeed)', 2013, mixed media on hand-cut paper, 108 x 72 inches. Image courtesy of The Third Line Gallery, Dubai and the artist.

Sherin Guirguis, ‘Untitled (Babel Hadeed)’, 2013, mixed media on hand-cut paper, 108 x 72 inches. Image courtesy The Third Line Gallery, Dubai and the artist.

Sherin Guirguis (b. 1974, Egypt) produces work that examines the tension between the contemporary and the historical. She contrasts Western minimal aesthetics with Middle Eastern ornamentation. Like her own experience having immigrated to the United States, Guirguis resides as much in the margins as it does in the balance between two identities, two countries and two realities. In a 2013 essay, writer James Scarborough speaks of Guirguis’ work thus:

It shows in her paintings. Created from ink, watercolour, acrylic, some dry pigment and various gold and silver leafing, they are lush and frenetic, with counterpoised eddies of surge and repose, powerful and, at same time, on the verge of tottering. Cinematically, they recall the too-big-to-imagine crowd scenes in The Birth of a Nation, Battleship potemkin and Ben-Hur. Their forms resemble continents whose malleable and shifting tectonic plates suggest upheaval, both geological and social. Their glowing centres suggest magma – a spontaneous life energy beneath the crust of the surface of pedestrian events and daily life – poised to erupt.

Negarra A. Kudumu

1532

Related topics: Nigerian, Egyptian, painting, drawing, sculpture, museum shows, Los Angeles

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on African contemporary artists

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save