“In the Heart of the Cosmos”: Asad Faulwell at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai – in pictures

Iranian-American artist Asad Faulwell develops new work for his ongoing series Les Femmes d’Alger.

Art Radar takes a look at some of the key influences that inspired the series.

Asad Faulwell, "Les Femmes D'Alger #68", 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #68’, 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

From 9 January to 4 February 2017 Dubai-based gallery Lawrie Shabibi presents “In the Heart of the Cosmos” by Iranian-American artist Asad Faulwell (b. 1982). The exhibition features new works from the series Les Femmes d’Alger, which explores the forgotten history of Algerian women freedom fighters from the 1954 – 1966 Algerian war for independence from French occupation.

Asad Faulwell, 'In the Heart of the Cosmos', installation view "Les Femmes D'Alger #68", 9 January to 4 February at Lawrie Shabibi. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, ‘In the Heart of the Cosmos’, installation view of ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #68’, 9 January – 4 February 2017 at Lawrie Shabibi. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

The series draws on several influences. The title “Les Femmes d’Alger” alludes to the work of both Delacroix’s 1834 painting of the same name and Picasso’s 1954 version. Where these earlier versions depict Algerian women in sexualised positions, objectifying their experiences, Faulwell brings the stories and experiences of the female fighters to the centre of the work. He highlights the suffering they endured as soldiers in the civil war as well as questioning the very role of violence. He revisits the history of Orientalist depictions of women from another perspective.

Asad Faulwell, 'In the Heart of the Cosmos', installation view "Les Femmes D'Alger #68", 9 January to 4 February at Lawrie Shabibi. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, “In the Heart of the Cosmos”, installation view of ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #68’, 9 January – 4 February 2017 at Lawrie Shabibi. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

This is a clear reversal from some key thinkers who had depicted the conflict from a Westernised or male perspective. In an interview with Reorient: Middle Eastern Arts and Culture Magazine, Faulwell gives the example of Albert Camus’ The Stranger, in which he argues that the reader does not hear directly from Algerian speakers, that they are just props for the French characters. Faulwell observes that like Camus he is telling a story from mostly one perspective, but that it is the perspective of Algerian women fighters.

Asad Faulwell, 'In the Heart of the Cosmos', installation view of 'Les Femmes D'Alger #71'. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, “In the Heart of the Cosmos”, installation view of ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #71’. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Faulwell’s series is strongly inspired by Gillo Pontecorvos’s 1966 film The Battle of Algiers, which is based on events during the Algerian War (1954–62) and portrays guerrilla fighters as well as French paratroopers. Faulwell saw the film in 2007, which led him to research the lives of the women over two years before making the first works.

Asad Faulwell, 'Les Femmes D'Alger #72', 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #72’, 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Faulwell explains to Reorient that

The series is intended to shed light on these women in order to both examine their lives, and to address larger issues such as the lingering effects of colonial rule, gender inequality, and the morality (or immorality) of violent resistance.

Asad Faulwell, 'In the Heart of the Cosmos', installation view from left to right - 'Les Femmes D'Alger #72 and #68', 2016, Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, “In the Heart of the Cosmos”, installation view from left to right ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #72’ and ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #68’, 2016. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi and the artist.

The works show a complex picture of the period, the women involved and the role of violence. As the press release describes,

[Faulwell] illustrates the women as both saints and villains, aggressors and victims, captured and brutally tormented by their French adversaries and alienated by their Algerian male counterparts who recruited the women with no intention of recognising their contribution or empowering them after the war ended.

Asad Faulwell, 'Les Femmes D'Alger #68', 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #68’, 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

The works in “In the Heart of the Cosmos” places the women in almost shrine-like contexts with halos, crowns or shrouds and surrounded by bright colours and flowers. The geometric patterns are reminiscent of Matisse’s decorative patterning and allude to Faulwell’s own Iranian/Islamic tradition of geometric design and ornamentation.

In the newer paintings Faulwell has developed complex collage compositions onto which he has incorporated black and white photographs from news clippings. The clippings have mainly been taken from women on trial in French courts.

Asad Faulwell, 'Les Femmes D'Alger #72', 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

Asad Faulwell, ‘Les Femmes D’Alger #72’, 2016, acrylic. Image courtesy Lawrie Shabibi gallery and the artist.

In the interview with Reorient Faulwell explains:

While I do see my work as a celebration of resistance, I do not see it as a justification or celebration of violent resistance. I [rather] make an attempt to show the torment and psychological anguish that these women must have lived with. If anything, I think my work points to the moral ambiguity of using violence to overthrow an oppressive entity.

While Faulwell is bringing to light these untold stories of women revolutionaries, he is not evaluating their actions, leaving the viewer to ponder the complexities behind the colourful works.

Claire Wilson

1522

Related topics: Iranian artists, painting, memory, feminist art, gallery shows, picture feast, colonialism, violence

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Taiwanese artist Wu Tien-chang at festival of new media art MADATAC 08, Madrid

Wu Tien-chang has been challenging the status quo with his painting, digital photography, video and sculpture since the 1980s.

Art Radar takes a look at some of they key themes in Wu Tien-chang’s work, on show at Spain’s contemporary festival of new media arts MADATAC 08.

Wu Tien-chang in his studio. Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang in his studio. Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

From 12 January to 5 February 2017 the Cultural Centre Conde Duque in Madrid presents MADATAC 08, the contemporary Festival of New Media Arts and Advanced Audio Visual Technologies. The festival brings together over 100 audio-visual, experimental and new media artists from 40 countries. The emphasis of the festival is on work that is experimental and that pushes boundaries. It brings together artists, audiences, critics, curators, collectors and the academic community in order to explore new technology and innovative ideas. The festival includes exhibitions, projections, conferences, talks, interactive performances, video installations, workshops and audio-visual concerts.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Pilot', 2016, from "Farewell Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions". Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Pilot’, 2016, from “Farewell Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions”. Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Two Would Treat Each Other', 2001. Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Two Would Treat Each Other’, 2001, type-C print. Image courtesy MADATAC and the artist.

The theme for the 2017 edition is “Humantrope” and it looks at the limits and nature of being human, as well as incorporating aspects of technological progress and the use of machines. The festival includes a screening of 50 shortlisted video artists for the MADATAC prize and a special programme of screenings on the biggest LED screen in Europe. There are also interactive installations from Canadian Hugues Clément, Spaniard Juan Carlos Sánchez Duque, Italian Giuliana Cunéaz, Polish artist Przemyslaw Sanecki and Russian collective Tonoptik.

Wu Tien-chang, installation at the space of TKG+. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, installation at the space of TKG+ at the exhibition “Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye, 2001-2015” from 18 June to 9 November 2016. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

A creative practice of social commentary

One of the highlights of the festival is the exhibition “Liquid Glare” by Taiwanese artist Wu Tien-chang. He is known for work that critiques social policies and inequalities through painting, digital photography, video and sculpture. He uses a vibrant baroque aesthetic that is reminiscent of Taiwan’s post-war period in which the country began a process of Westernisation.

Wu Tien-chang, installation at the space of TKG+ at the exhibition "Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye, 2001-2015" from 18 June to 9 November 2016. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, installation at the space of TKG+ at the exhibition “Wu Tien-chang: Never Say Goodbye, 2001-2015” from 18 June to 9 November 2016. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, born in 1956 in Taiwan, first came to widespread attention in the 1980s when he portrayed taboo subjects in his works, using symbols and narratives to interpret history through his alternative perspectives. He began working in paintings, and moved to photography in the 1990s. In his photography he used diverse textures, such as velvet cloths, sequins and Christmas lights to create pieces that incorporated a Taiwanese aesthetic style.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Beloved', 2013, single channel video, 3'11. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Beloved’, 2013, single channel video, 3’11. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

In the 2000s he began to employ digital retouching and image-collaged techniques in his staged photography, however the way he composes his scenes through distinct settings, textures and lighting is still a key feature and strength of his work. Since 2010 he has been integrating video, moving images and the creation of interactive installations into his work. Through his work Wu Tien-chang uses recreated scenes and irony to create a mysterious atmosphere rich in character.

Wu Tien-chang’s work has been exhibited internationally and he represented Taiwan at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 with a solo exhibition.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions', 2015, video installation, 4’10’’. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions’, 2015, video installation, 4’10’’. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Investigating Taiwanese history and culture

In an interview with Art Review about his Venice Biennale exhibition, Wu Tien-chang explained the creative motivation behind his work:

Maternal culture and the belief in life of Taiwanese people are the main inspirations of my creativity. I hope to create a powerful visual impact with Taiwan’s highly recognisable unique visual aesthetics and universal humane spirit to break the barriers between ethnicities and countries.

Wu Tien-chang, 'The Blind Fumble Around in an Alley', 2008. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘The Blind Fumble Around in an Alley’, 2008, light box installation, 240 x 478 cm. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

His multi-layered works that show different facets of Taiwanese history – including its colonial past – create a diverse portrait. Wu Tien-chang added that throughout his work he has always striven to present Taiwan’s unique culture. He commented that

As an artist who commenced on the foundation of historical and cultural criticism, I firmly believe that the awareness of cultural subjectivity is necessary and real; also, I believe that the nature of globalisation is not in conflict with the nature of localisation. On one hand, my works very much appeal to the purely visual and intuitive perceptions, but on the other, I communicate with the world through a precise artistic language; what links the two are themes related to universal values, which are embraced by the world.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Luan', 2010, single channel video. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Luan’, 2010, single channel video. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Luan', 2010, single channel video. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Luan’, 2010, single channel video. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

An evolving practice

Wu Tien-chang’s work continues to evolve. In an interview with Director of Taipei Fine Arts Museum Ping Lin, he explains that he keeps challenging himself every ten years:

I think, as an artist, there is an important mission to respond to the times and the spirit of an era which resonates with the changing environment. So almost every ten years I make a change to reflect the era we live in and to solve problems related to the bottleneck in my artistic practice.

Wu Tien-Chang, 'Unforgettable Lover', 2013, video, 4'30". Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-Chang, ‘Unforgettable Lover’, 2013, video, 4’30”. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

However, a common thread that carries throughout his work is the concern with the hidden symbolism of farewell, and the interplay between death and love. His work, which can sometimes display a dark soul, places side by side the elegant and the obscene, the moralising and the decadent. Seemingly contrary positions interplay to create a complex picture that tackles the conflicts inherent in human nature.

Wu Tien-chang, 'Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions', 2015, video installation, 4’10’’. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

Wu Tien-chang, ‘Farewell, Spring and Autumn Pavilions’, 2015, video installation, 4’10’’. Image courtesy TKG+ and the artist.

This theme of farewell also references the continual change of regimes or change of leadership witnessed in Taiwan. In his interview with Ping Lin, Wu Tien-chang observes that he hopes Taiwan can become an independent country or new type of country that will not be dependent on external leaders.

Claire Wilson

1524

Related topics: Taiwanese artists, new media art, photography, events in Spain

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Singaporean and Indonesian artists explore “Fantasy Islands” at Objectifs, Singapore

Art Radar takes a look at “Fantasy Islands”, running at Objectifs until 26 January 2017.

“Fantasy Islands” presents the work of seven Singaporean and Indonesian contemporary artists that deal with the notion of ‘island’ and the fantasies and ideas attached to it.

"Fantasy Islands", 11-26 January 2017, Objectifs, Singapore. Image courtesy Objectifs.

“Fantasy Islands”, 11-26 January 2017, Objectifs, Singapore. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Imagine an island. Are there palm trees, sandy beaches, perhaps a leafy green interior and a whispered hint of a drink with an umbrella in it? Why not forbidding, ice-bound cliffs? As one of “Fantasy Islands” curators, Kin Chui, puts it, “The idea of an island evokes a certain sort of tropical paradise – you don’t usually think about something Scandinavian,” which is one of several island-related ideas scrutinised in this exhibition at Objectifs in Singapore.

As the exhibition title makes plain, there isn’t one island in particular being explored, but islands as a category (and the fantasies we project upon them), as well as the relationship between two neighbouring, yet very different islands: Singapore and Batam. It is that combination of proximity and stark difference that formed the seed of the project, according to curator Mitha Budhyarto: “We were talking about Batam and Singapore, and how to talk about them in relation to each other, with them being so close but yet so different – that gave the project focus.”

Ardi Makki Gunawan, 'Proposal for gaze subverting loosely', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Ardi Makki Gunawan, ‘Proposal for Gaze Subverting, Loosely’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

The relationship between the two islands is one of some complexity, but some headway towards understanding it might be had with the observations that Singapore is, compared to Batam, rather wealthier and more developed. Hence, the island plays host to such phenomena as the unofficial acceptance of Singaporean currency, the development of both family-friendly resorts and a brisk vice trade, and a special economic zone for Singapore and other nations to offshore operations and manufacturing.

Fyerool Darma, 'Shroud', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Fyerool Darma, ‘Shroud’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Interestingly, the objections of officialdom also made a curious contribution to the exhibition: Fyerool Darma’s Shroud, which would originally have been draped around the façade of the building, is instead neatly folded and weighted under a slab in front of the gallery. As the colonial-era church is gazetted as a historic site, the government agency involved limited its original display to a maximum of one hour per day, a constraint which was adapted to by performing these hour-long displays only at the beginning and end of the exhibition. Ironically enough, the artwork addresses the pre-colonial oral history of the region.

Fyerool Darma, 'Shroud', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Fyerool Darma, ‘Shroud’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Ila, 'Air dicincang tidak akan putus', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Ila, ‘Air Dicincang Tidak Akan Putus’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Within the gallery proper, one is immediately confronted by Ila’s Air dicincang tidak akan putus, an imposing, double-walled vitrine. Its innermost chamber displays sand and miscellaneous flotsam the artist collected from Batam, while a layer of somewhat cloudy seawater is interposed between the viewer and these collected objects. This curious display is the result of the artist’s work with a traditional fishing community in Tanjung Uma, with the flotsam forming a literal, visible artefact of the impact of increased industrialisation and trade for communities like Tanjung Uma, jeopardising fishing as a way of life. As a prism of sorts at the very front of the exhibition, curator Kin Chui quips: “Having Ila’s work placed here allows us to look at the entire exhibition through the effects, or the symptoms, of modernisation.”

Evelyn Pritt, "Land Marks", installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Evelyn Pritt, “Land Marks”, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

This drive towards modernisation, and its attendant costs, also finds expression in Evelyn Pritt’s “Land Marks”, a series of photographs cataloguing abandoned buildings and speculative development on the island. It is not unlike the Chinese phenomenon of ‘ghost cities’, though the buildings photographed here range from individual homes to larger-scale commercial and industrial spaces – vanished and abandoned hopes and futures of every variety. One unique aspect to the artwork is the welded metal frame onto which the photographs are mounted – rather than quirkily thematic method of hanging, it is an integral part of the work, with its form referring specifically to the façade of a failed attempt to build a national park.

Stephanie J Burt, 'A Friendly Slide', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Stephanie J Burt, ‘A Friendly Slide’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Speculative development and urban decay are also explored in Stephanie Jane Burt’s A Friendly Slide, which takes the form of a dangerously, improbably steep slide in shades of pastel pink and blue, atop which are perched the fragile material traceries typical of her work, suggesting a sense of absurdity and precariousness. Much as Pritt’s “Land Marks” responds to speculative development in general, Burt’s installation takes as its point of departure a specific abandoned theme park, Costarina, and the dissolution of the intended ludic functions of its structures.

Ardi Makki Gunawan, 'Proposal for gaze subverting loosely', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Ardi Makki Gunawan, ‘Proposal for Gaze Subverting, Loosely’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Meanwhile, Ardi Makki Gunawan’s Proposal for gaze-subverting, loosely, tackles the subject of the sex industry in Batam through a combination of online and offline fieldwork—the former yields excerpts of posts on Sammyboy, a forum featuring reviews of commercial sex in the region, while the latter supplies the Hello Kitty printed fabric used in the artwork, apparently common to Batam brothels. The former, in the forum’s terse, peculiar vernacular, are embroidered on the latter, to generally surreal effect.

Eldwin Pradipta, 'Keppres No 41 Tahun 1973', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Eldwin Pradipta, ‘Keppres No. 41 Tahun 1973’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Eldwin Pradipta’s Keppres No. 41 Tahun 1973 takes yet another tack on the two island’s relationship – specifically, through a 1973 decree by Indonesia’s president at the time, Suharto, pushing for Batam’s industrial development whilst dubbing it the Singapore of Indonesia. The artist reads this as a sort of subsumption or overshadowing of Batam, which he renders by displaying projected footage of Batam with chintzy souvenirs of Singapore casting shadows onto the projected images. As an added touch, the shadow of Singapore’s Merlion lines up with an overlay of text, as if spouting from the statue.

Eldwin Pradipta, 'Keppres No 41 Tahun 1973', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Eldwin Pradipta, ‘Keppres No. 41 Tahun 1973’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Wu Jun Han, 'Collection of Sounds on Islands', installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

Wu Jun Han, ‘Collection of Sounds on Islands’, installation view at Objectifs, Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Objectifs.

In addition to these relatively sober artworks, which concern themselves with specific social themes and issues, Wu Jun Han’s Collection of Sounds on Islands presents a collection of field recordings of everyday, humdrum soundscapes. One haunting or nostalgic element to this piece is the overheard jingle for the Paddle Pop brand of ice cream, common to both islands. Though the sounds recorded might be unremarkable, everyday sounds that we might otherwise consign to the background, playback is achieved through an incredibly fragile set of tape loops – delicate enough that Wu admits: “Oh man, if I weren’t the gallery sitter, it’d be hard to pull this work off. It looks fragile – that’s the impression, that all it takes is a bump and it’s all over? That is true.”

Bruce Quek

1515

Related Topics: Singaporean artists, Indonesian artists, gallery shows, installation, events in Singapore

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Art Stage Singapore 2017 sees strong local collectors’ support – round-up

Despite flagging local engagement, Art Stage Singapore 2017 draws strong support from regional collectors.

Art Stage Singapore 2017, the flagship fair of Southeast Asia and anchor event of the Singapore Art Week, closed its seventh edition on Sunday 15 January, drawing a total of 33,200 visitors. Art Radar takes a look at the events and gallery sales results.

Art Stage Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Art Stage Singapore, 2017. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Art Stage Singapore: a regional forum 

The event is considered crucial for helping galleries across Southeast Asia to find a consolidated platform. This year, 131 galleries from 27 countries exhibited, just over a third of them from Southeast Asia. With the aim of extending the fair’s reach beyond market interests, Art Stage Singapore offered new engaging content this year through the Southeast Asian Forum exhibition and lecture series, which was initiated in the 2016 edition, and the Collectors’ Stage exhibition, which is new this year.

Visitors viewing artworks by Jose Tence Ruiz at the Southeast Asia Forum exhibition at Art Stage Singapore_Image courtesy of Art Stage Singapore.

Visitors viewing artworks by Jose Tence Ruiz at the Southeast Asia Forum exhibition at Art Stage Singapore. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Regional and international collectors at Art Stage Singapore

The support and presence of regional collectors from Southeast Asia increased significantly compared to previous editions. The greatest single turn out of collectors came from Indonesia, with Alex Tedja, Deddy Kusuma, Ir. Ciputra, Prasodjo Winarko, Haryanto Adikoesoemo, Wiyu Wahono all present. Other prominent international collectors could be seen wandering the fair’s aisles including Disaphol Chansiri from Thailand; Soichiro Fukutake, Tetsuyuki Oishi and Daisuke Miyatsu from Japan; Alain Servais from Belgium; Dick Quan and Stephen Shaul from Australia; Dato’ Noor Azman bin Mohd Nurdin, Dato’ Marcus Tan Ser Lay and Pakhruddin Sulaiman from Malaysia; Leo Shih and Stephen Wu from Taiwan and Chong Zhou from China.

Francis Ng, 'REACT', 2010. Mixed medium. 121.5 x 121.5 x 13 cm. Image courtesy the private collection of Hady Ang.

Francis Ng, ‘REACT’, 2010. Mixed medium. 121.5 x 121.5 x 13 cm. Image courtesy the private collection of Hady Ang.

“Collectors’ Stage 2017: Expose” exhibition

Art Stage Singapore 2017 intended to demonstrate the strength of the local collecting scene with six Singapore-based collectors Hady Ang, Jim Amberson, Michael Tay and Talenia Phua Gajardo, Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson, and Kenneth Tan opening their collections to the public at the art fair’s inaugural “Collectors Stage: Expose” exhibition. The exhibition “Collectors’ Stage 2017: Expose” aimed to foster an understanding about art collections and reveal the thought processes and motivations behind cultivating a coherent personal collection.

Present in the exhibition were the work of local artist Francis Ng as well as a range of names in the Southeast Asian scene (Martha Atienza, Leslie de Chavez, Ronald Ventura and Kawayan de Guiya from the Phillipines; Faisal Habibi, Aditya Novali, Handiwirman Saputra, Eddy Susanto, TROMARAMA and Albert Yonathan Setyawan from Indonesia; Wong Hoy Cheong from Malaysia and Vasan Sithiket from Thailand). Also present was the work of international artists Moffat Takadiwa (Zimbabwe), Rashid Johnson (USA), Steve McQueen (United Kingdom) and Asim Waqif (India).

Despite promotion of the local collecting scene attempted by the exhibition “Collectors’ Stage 2017: Expose”, sales of works to local collectors at the fair did not quite live up to their regional and international counterparts.

Ivan Lam, 'COMA 38-500', 2012 – 2013. Vending machine and mixed media installation. Installation shot at Forum exhibition "Capitalism" at Art Stage Singapore 2017. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Ivan Lam, ‘COMA 38-500’, 2012 – 2013. Vending machine and mixed media installation. Installation shot at Forum exhibition “Capitalism” at Art Stage Singapore 2017. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

“Forum” exhibition and international gallery sales highlights 

A host of international galleries took up booths this year – although significantly less than 2016’s edition. First-time exhibitor Emmanuel Fremin Gallery from New York reported sales of USD270,000. Another first-time exhibitor Galerie OVO from Taipei also reported good sales of works ranging from USD3,600 to USD25,000.

Prominent Vietnamese Galerie Quynh participated in the Southeast Asia (SEA) Forum, curated by Nadia Ng under the title “capitalism”. Galerie Quynh represented artist Trong Gia Nguyen showed his three-channel video installation entitled Nouveau Ghetto (2016). The work depicts various artists promoting themselves in commercials with irreverent scripts written by Nguyen. In email correspondence with Art Radar, Associate Director of Galerie Quynh Celine Alexandre commented:

The Forum section seemed to be the strongest overall at the fair this year. Despite the decrease in number of exhibitors, which usually translates to a better quality fair overall, the number of collectors appeared to have also decreased, unfortunately. Despite that, we were able to connect with a number of important collectors who did travel, and overall we had a very successful fair.

Trong Gia Nguyen, 'Nouveau Ghetto', 2016. Mixed media and video installation. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Trong Gia Nguyen, ‘Nouveau Ghetto’, 2016. Mixed media and video installation. Image courtesy Art Stage Singapore.

Pearl Lam of Pearl Lam Galleries also reported in correspondence with Art Radar positive results despite the seeming drop in local collector interest in the fair:

The seventh edition of Art Stage Singapore saw a larger presence of regional collectors, which has once again showed that it is the right platform for us to meet and engage with the collectors from Southeast Asia. We are very pleased by the strong interest in and reception of the works and artists we presented at the Fair.

Richard Koh Fine Art performed well with their Malaysian artists such as Anne Samat, Haffendi Anuar and Yeoh Choo Kuan, whose works all sold out at the fair.

Aboudia, 'Halloween'. Mixed media on canvas. 215 x 324 cm, 2016. Image courtesy Ethan Cohen Gallery.

Aboudia, ‘Halloween’. Mixed media on canvas. 215 x 324 cm, 2016. Image courtesy Ethan Cohen Gallery.

Speaking to Art Radar, a representative of New York’s Ethan Cohen Gallery, who showed Aboudia, Yigal Ozeri, Li Daiyun, Lan Zhenghui and Chi Ming, commented:

Ethan Cohen Gallery has always been focused on contemporary Asian, particularly Chinese, art. Mr Cohen was among the first American gallerists to show artists such as Ai Weiwei, Gu Wenda, Xu Bing and Ushio Shinohara. As such, participating in fairs such as Art Stage Singapore that emphasise Asian artists is important for promoting, as well as discovering, artists that are often underrepresented in the United States.

John Clang, 'Being Together', 2010. Fine art archival print. 40 X 60 inches (101.6 X 152.4 cm). Edition of 3 + 2 AP. Image courtesy the artist.

John Clang, ‘Being Together’, 2010. Fine art archival print. 40 X 60 inches (101.6 X 152.4 cm). Edition of 3 + 2 AP. Image courtesy the artist.

Local gallery sales highlights

Local Singaporean gallery Art Seasons exhibited the work of Singapore-based Chinese artist Liu Xuanqi and Singaporean artist David Chan, who is exhibiting at Art Stage Singapore for the sixth time. Also present from Singapore was local Gajah Gallery with Jason Lim‘s performance and ceramic work sharing the booth with fellow Gajah Gallery represented artist Ahmad Zakii Anwar – one of the most well-known artists in Malaysia. Works by Indonesian artist Rudi Mantofani presented by Gajah Gallery were snapped up by a regional collector for SGD280,000 within 15 minutes of the Fair’s VIP Preview on 11 January.

Art Agenda, S.E.A sold a work by Singaporean artist Cheong Soo Pieng for SGD150,000 and STPI sold a work by Rirkrit Tiravanija for USD80,000, reporting sales of works by Singaporean artist Han Sai Por from between SGD10,000 to SGD40,000. Sullivan + Strumpf did well with their emerging Indonesian artist Irfan Hendrian as well as with Australian artist Karen Black. Local FOST Gallery also reported successful sales of the entire series Being Together (2010) by Singaporean artist John Clang.

Rebecca Close

1509

Related Topics: Singaporean artists, art fairsevents in SingaporeSingapore art scenemarket watchart and urbanisationart and the communitynews

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Preview: Singapore Contemporary 2017 art fair highlights

Held in conjunction with Singapore Art Week, this second edition of the art fair will bring together over 90 exhibitors from 20 countries.

Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights from this year’s fair.

Martin Chambi, 'Cruz Velacuy - Festival of the Cross', ENLACE Contemporary Art, Peru, Latin American Voices. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Martin Chambi, ‘Cruz Velacuy – Festival of the Cross’, ENLACE Contemporary Art, Peru, Latin American Voices. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

From 19 to 22 January 2017 Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre will host the second edition of Singapore Contemporary. With over 90 exhibitors from 20 countries across Asia, Australia, Europe and North and South America, the event is part of Singapore Art Week from 11 to 22 January.

Singapore Contemporary is divided into five sectors: Photo17 Singapore, Latin American Voices, Artists Dialogues, China Encounters and Gallery Projects. It also has a number of accompanying programmes including art tours, kid’s studio, art talks and live painting demonstrations.

Masayuki Tsubota, 'The Layer of Self', Yamaki Art Gallery Japan. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Masayuki Tsubota, ‘The Layer of Self’, Yamaki Art Gallery Japan. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Singapore Contemporary has increased the number of exhibitors by 30 per cent since the first edition in 2016. There will also be two new features that highlight photography and Latin American art that aim to reflect the current movements in the contemporary art market.

Shen Gubo, 'Green Hills', Art Xchange, China. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Shen Gubo, ‘Green Hills’, Art Xchange, China. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

In the press release Director Douwe Cramer comments that a core aim of the art fair is to increase opportunities for learning about art. He explained that

Singapore Art Week is not only about the art, it is about the learning and experiencing of art, the talking about art, and Singapore Contemporary supports this ethos with a defined program that fosters artistic discovery – whether through educational talks led by experts in the field or artists themselves, or through a series of exciting and informative tours led by experienced docents from some of Singapore’s most respected art institutions. The aim is to create a nurturing environment where art is felt, its context and processes demystified.

Olivia Marty, 'reCollection - Bi kịch nhỏ (Un petit drame)', Visionairs Gallery Asia, Singapore. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Olivia Marty, ‘reCollection – Bi kịch nhỏ (Un Petit Drame)’, Visionairs Gallery Asia, Singapore. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Encouraging the collection of photography

Photo17 Singapore is a newly curated segment that focuses on contemporary photography. The exhibition focuses on the innovative nature of photography, exploring not just the photo-taking but rather the whole process from conception to final print. The curated works display continuous evolution of new ideas and practices, with special attention given to fine art, conceptual, documentary and digital installation photography. The exhibition explores the growing importance of photography in creative practice and it highlights the collectable nature of the art form.

Kate Baker, 'Flux Series 3 - Panel 5'. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Kate Baker, ‘Flux Series 3 – Panel 5’. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

In the press release Director Cramer observes that there is a need for more informed discussions about contemporary photography. He states:

Although there is widespread interest in photography, many art buyers are still reluctant to add photography to their collections. This is partly due to a lack of understanding of the medium and the processes involved. With Photo17 Singapore we want to help make a larger group of art buyers comfortable with photography and introduce some genuinely collectable works.

Two examples of innovative photography on display at Singapore Contemporary are Kate Baker from Australia, Olivia Marty from France (represented by Visionairs Gallery, Singapore) and Daido Moriyama from Japan (represented by Akio Nagasawa Gallery in Japan).

Daido Moriyama, 'Rose', Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Japan, Photo17 Singapore. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Daido Moriyama, ‘Rose’, Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Japan, Photo17 Singapore. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

A feature on Latin American art

Although Latin American art is new to the Asian region, it has increased in popularity, which can be seen in Christie’s recent Latin American Art successes. The new section called “Latin American Voices” is a special exhibition showcasing more than 25 artists from across Latin America, including Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and Chile. Presenting a range of emerging, mid-career and established artists, the exhibition focuses on artists who have already been collected in institutions across the Americas.

Gallery ENLACE Contemporary Art from Peru is featuring, among others, Uruguay artist Pablo Atchugarry (b. 1954). Working principally in Carrara or pink Portuguese marble, Atchugarry creates monolithic pieces of art that are sumptuous, smooth and simple.

X Espacio de Arte from Mexico is presenting Mexican artist Mayté Guzmán (b. 1956) at Singapore Contemporary. Well-known across the Americas and Europe, Guzmán recreates the movement of the body on canvas with a technique of random paint drippings. The works are spontaneous, powerful, organic and expressive.

Ignacio Poblet, 'Untitled', Arte Amerika Gallery, Colombia, Latin American Voices. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Ignacio Poblet, ‘Untitled’, Arte Amerika Gallery, Colombia, Latin American Voices. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Colombian gallery Galería Arte Amérika is exhibiting Peruvian artist Ignacio Poblet (b. 1975) who explores today’s Latin American reality. Using a neo-figurative style in acrylic and oil, Poblet creates an anonymous urban hero who takes responsibility for the difficult conditions of his life.

Other highlights

Akio Nagasawa Gallery represents Japanese and international photographers and artists. For Singapore Contemporary they are showing Japanese photographers including Daido Moriyama (b. 1938), Sakiko Nomura (b. 1967), Toshio Shibata (b. 1949) and Eiichiro Sakata (b. 1941).

Taipei-based gallery ARTISTS IN TAIWAN (AIT) supports up-and-coming artists from China, Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Taiwan and USA who practice in diverse media and styles. The gallery is bringing a wide range of artists to Singapore, including several works from Singaporean Teo Huey Min who connects with nature through collecting, mould making and slip casting of seeds and seedpods, as well as Japanese glass-worker Satoshi Nishigaki and South Korean Ji Yo-Sang, who draws on the traditional style of ink painting and the western technique of chiaroscuro.

Lin Xueming, 'Falling Mountains No.76', Pu Gallery, China. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Lin Xueming, ‘Falling Mountains No.76’, Pu Gallery, China. Image courtesy Singapore Contemporary.

Located in Guangzhou Redtory Art District, Pu Gallery works mainly with contemporary Chinese artists. To Singapore Contemporary they bring artists Lin Xueming (b. 1954), who is inspired by the exchange of both Western and Chinese art, and Shen Shaomin (b. 1956) who works between Beijing and Australia and whose work reflects the darkness of the human being.

Kuala Lumpur-based Art WeMe Contemporary Gallery is showing a number of artists from Malaysia, Thailand, China and Taiwan. The newly established space will bring works from artists such as Malaysian Ng Foo Cheong, whose abstract expressionist style layers paint, symbols and textures, Thai artist Saenkom Chansrinual, who uses a technique layered technique of melted, squeezed and planted acrylic, and Chinese contemporary painter and designer San Zi.

Claire Wilson

1518

Related topics: Singapore art galleries, art fairs, Southeast Asian artists, emerging artists, market watch, events in Singapore, Asian artists

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United Arab Emirates Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017 announces artists

UAE Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017 will feature five UAE-based contemporary artists.

Curated by Hammad Nasar, the exhibition “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play” will explore a strand of artistic practice in the UAE through the analogy of play.

Entrance to the UAE permanent pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, located at Arsenale Sale d'Armi, Venice, Italy. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE.

Entrance to the UAE permanent pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, located at Arsenale Sale d’Armi, Venice, Italy. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE.

On 16 January 2017, the National Pavilion United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced the five UAE-based contemporary artists who will be participating at the 57th International Art Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale), running from 13 May to 26 November 2017. The exhibition is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.

Entitled after a traditional game played across cultures around the world, “Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play” explores artistic practices in the UAE through the analogy of play, and features five UAE-based contemporary artists, including Nujoom Alghanem, Sara Al Haddad, Vikram Divecha, Lantian Xie and Dr Mohamed Yousif.

Curated by curator, writer and former Head of Research and Programmes (2012-2016) at Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong, Hammad Nasar, the exhibition features existing works by the artists, as well as re-fabrication of “lost” works and new commissions. The exhibition will function as a stage for a set of nested questions: where does “playfulness” in artistic practice come from? How and where is “play” nurtured? What does “play” do?

Hammad Nasar, Curator of National Pavilion UAE 2017. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE.

Hammad Nasar, Curator of National Pavilion UAE 2017. Image courtesy National Pavilion UAE.

An accompanying publication will serve as an additional site for the exhibition and as its “speculative expansion”, including newly commissioned texts by Aisha Bilkhair, Uzma Rizvi and Murtaza Vali, among other contributors to be announced in the coming months.

Other artists, architects and creative writers, like Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian, Deepak Unikrishnan and WTD magazine, have also been invited to intervene and respond to the themes of the exhibition with new commissions. In addition, several cultural institutions in the UAE have been invited to act as interlocutors in exploring the theme of the exhibition, such as Sharjah Art Foundation, The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, Alserkal Programming, Tashkeel, Maraya Art Centre and Warehouse421. The institutions will “extend, expand, critique, reflect and respond” to the myriad issues posed by the Venice Biennale exhibition, created a forum and “a starting point for ongoing discussions”, as Khulood Al Atiyat, Manager of Arts, Culture and Heritage at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation comments.

As quoted in the press release (PDF download), Hammad Nasar explains about the upcoming exhibition that “stages an inter-generational conversation”:

Through the artists’ diverse and distinctive practices, we believe that this exhibition will bring to life wider cultural and societal ideas of how ‘play’ functions in the world—as a source of vitality and a method of navigation.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

1520

Related Topics: UAE artists, biennales, curatorial practice, news, events in Venice, 57th Venice Biennale

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Anna Laudel Contemporary launches in Istanbul with “When did we stop playing…”

Anna Laudel Contemporary Gallery hosts inaugural show “When Did We Stop Playing…”

Curated by Isabel Bernheimer, the founder of Bernheimer Contemporary, the group show “When Did We Stop Playing…”, on display until 12 February 2017, marks the first exhibition at Anna Laudel Contemporary’s new gallery space in Istanbul.

Jan Kuck, 'I want to be an artist too', 2015. Electric light installation. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary and Bernheimer Contemporary.

Jan Kuck, ‘I want to be an artist too’, 2015, neon light installation. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary and Bernheimer Contemporary.

Anna Laudel Contemporary: contemporary art, jewellery, shop and artist residency programme

Anna Laudel Contemporary, formerly ART350 gallery, was founded in 2012 by the German textile magnate Anna Laudel with the aim of supporting the work of Turkish and international artists. The new five-story gallery space also hosts an Artist in Residency programme, an Art Shop and a jewelry concession of luxury Danish jewellery brand Monies through the first commercial outlet of the design label within Turkey. The gallery’s multidisciplinary approach to exhibiting and dealing in both contemporary art objects and luxury design and fashion items can be seen as part of a trend in the global art capitals of galleries diversifying to survive the vicissitudes of the contemporary art market.

Anna Laudel Contemporary gallery store front on Bankalar Street, Karaköy, Istanbul.

Anna Laudel Contemporary gallery store front on Bankalar Street, Karaköy, Istanbul.

Art Shop at Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Art Shop space at Anna Laudel Contemporary.

In the context of Turkey, the political instability has affected the commercial art world with various international events being closed, including the cancellation of 2016’s Çanakkale Biennial and Moving Image due to political unrest. Speaking to Art Radar about the lasting effects of unrest on the local art scene, Anna Laudel Gallery Director Ferhat Yeter commented:

The political situation affects not only young art initiatives, but also the entire art scene. A feeling of paralysis, powerlessness is spreading throughout the artistic scene, which as a result produces even stronger art and pushes the discourse with the political situation. In challenging situations, like today, individual business professionals, like Anna Laudel, should be supportive for the artistic and cultural environment of this country.

As well as hosting an exhibitions programme, Yeter is planning to develop the space into a centre for public art discussions, workshops and interdisciplinary readings. There are also plans to launch a new Artist Residency Programme with the aim of nurturing the talent of local, regional and international artists.

Jan Kuck, 'Speech is Silver', 2014. Resign, brass trumpets and paint on wood. 160 x 140 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist, Anna Laudel Contemporary and Bernheimer contemporary.

Jan Kuck, ‘Speech is Silver’, 2014, resin, brass trumpets and paint on wood, 160 x 140 x 30 cm. Installation shot at “When Did We Stop Playing?” at Anna Laudel Contemporary, 2017. Image courtesy the artist, Anna Laudel Contemporary and Bernheimer contemporary.

When did we stop playing…

Curated by Isabel Bernheimer, the founder of Bernheimer Contemporary, the group show “When Did We Stop Playing…” marks the first exhibition at Anna Laudel Contemporary’s new gallery space. The group show features the work of Peter Alasztics, Blue and Joy, Daniele Sigalot, Alexander Deubl, Swaantje Güntzel, Felix Höfner, Sebastian Klug, Jan Kuck, Milana Schoeller, Ludovic Thiriez and Johannes Vetter, all of whom are under permanent contracts with Bernheimer Contemporary.

Speaking to Art Radar about the genesis of the collaboration between Bernheimer Contemporary and Anna Laudel Contemporary, the gallery’s director Ferhat Yeter commented:

The collaboration with “Bernheimer Contemporary” was already planned for the longer term and with the new location we were able to realize the exhibition with 10 artists and more than 60 works of art and carry the current Zeitgeist from Berlin to Istanbul. Together with the new location and the new name, as Anna Laudel Contemporary, we would like to expend our outreach and stay more connected with the international art world as well as providing a prominent contemporary exhibition platform. This opening exhibition is a milestone for us to present our aim to do more international collaborations and work with international artists as well as artists from Turkey.

(Left) Johannes Vetter, 'Washing hands, TateModern', 2010. (Right) Ludovic Thiriez, 'Rocking Horse', 2016. Installation shot of 'When did we stop playing'. Image courtesy Anna Laudel.

(Left) Johannes Vetter, ‘Washing hands, TateModern’, 2010. (Right) Ludovic Thiriez, ‘Rocking Horse’, 2016.
Installation shot of ‘When did we stop playing’. Image courtesy Anna Laudel.

Curator Isabel Bernheimer told Art Radar about the exhibition’s theme of ‘play’:

‘When did we stop playing?’ aims to explore the great, universal game of life in our shared, contemporary existence. Sometimes we make the rules of this game, but most of the time we are being ruled by it. As we deem our lives to be more important and more serious, we begin to a sense of playfulness. Yet a life without joy is not worth living. That is why I felt it was time to ask ourselves, in all seriousness, when did we stop playing? All the selected art works has something to say about the dichotomy of play being at once both genuine and joyful but always responsible and suspenseful.

Milena Schoeller, Titans, 2014, Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm

Milena Schoeller, Titans, 2014. Oil on canvas, 120 x 100 cm. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Swaantje Güntzel, Discounter Still Life, 2013, Photography, Lumasec, 66 x 100 cm

Swaantje Güntzel, ‘Discounter Still Life’, 2013. Photography, Lumasec, 66 x 100 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel.

Daniele Sigalot – Blue and Joy, 'No matter where the wind blows', 2016. Paper installation. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Daniele Sigalot – Blue and Joy, ‘No matter where the wind blows’, 2016. Paper installation. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Paper airplanes: between art and advertising

The exhibition contains a number of works that explore the tropes and objects associated with childhood play. Relevant in this respect is Italian duo Blue and Joy’s (Daniele Sigalot and Fabio La Fauci) work No Matter Where the Wind Blows (2016), comprised of 135 aluminium paper planes stuck in the wall. The duo has been working with different representations and installations of paper airplanes since 2014, when their iconic tiny aluminum planes were chosen by the Italian fashion powerhouse FENDI to launch their new collection.

Sigalot and La Fauci began their collaboration in the advertising industry, where they quickly made a career moving from Milan to Barcelona and eventually to London, where they were hired by Saatchi & Saatchi in 2006. Once at the top of the advertising chain, they quit their job to focus full time on their collaborative artistic project. In 2008 they moved to Berlin where they opened their studio ironically naming it “La Pizzeria” in order to stick to the cliché of Italians being good only in the food business.

Since then the Blue and Joy project has developed a varied artistic language: testing through a variety of materials, often innovative, multiple and interdisciplinary techniques, always resulting in visually striking installations. Ironic and conceptual, the Blue and Joy project seeks to provide constant confrontation about communication. Their work, which moves across commercial fashion and art worlds, is representative of the repertoire of practices represented by Bernheimer Contemporary and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Installation shot of 'When did we stop playing' at Anna Laudel Contemporary. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Installation shot of ‘When did we stop playing’ at Anna Laudel Contemporary. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Childhood Play

Other artists in the exhibition also see play as something related to the games, objects and imaginative capacity of our early years. The works of Ludovic Thiriez – a French artist living and working mainly in Budapest – were chosen for this exhibition as the artist has been exploring childhood as a source of inspiration for many years. Thiriez explores the games invented in early childhood, exploring their connection with adult life. The artist asks how these games represent an important precursor to the social models and moral structures we have built.

For the artist, the dynamics never quite leave us: sometimes we behave like grownups and reflect on our lives, sometimes we are selfish and careless, critical or romantic. In his “prologue” series, Thiriez uses memories of childhood and attempts a series of illustrations of the aesthetic potential of childhood imagination: Thiriez’s pictures explore a strange and fantastic world, amalgamating European and tropical plants, animals from the forest, Hungarian symbols and abstract gestures.  In the same way that ivy grows on a wall, these motifs grow organically on the canvas creating a balanced composition.

Ludovic Thiriez, 'Prologue Pinochio', 2016. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 120x170cm. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Ludovic Thiriez, ‘Prologue Pinochio’, 2016. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 120x170cm. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Jan Kuck, 'It's worth it', 2015. Concrete gold 40x40cm Edition of 5. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Jan Kuck, ‘It’s worth it’, 2015, concrete gold, 40 x 40 cm, edition of 5. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Play and critique

In correspondence with Art Radar, Bernheimer and Yeter both highlighted the work of conceptual artist Jan Kuck (b. 1978, Hannover) in the exhibition as particularly interesting for its analysis of the contemporary world. Many times the conceptual artist’s “design objects” are conceived not as functional in design terms but to solve conceptual problems. His work It’s worth it is a sculpture that departs from the idea of a “Zero Euro Coin”. Made from concrete and measuring 40 centimetres in diameter, the work explores strategies for playfully materialising the sometimes elusive economic and political issues such as the current crisis in Europe. Other works, such as Speech is Silver (2014) – an installation with golden megaphones – also give bombastic form to the “immaterial”, exploring topics of consumption and overproduction, luxury and language.

Detail of Jan Kuck, 'Speech is Silver', 2014. Resign, brass trumpets and paint on wood. 160 x 140 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Detail of Jan Kuck, ‘Speech is Silver’, 2014, resin, brass trumpets and paint on wood, 160 x 140 x 30 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Swaantje Günztel, 'MICROPLASTICS III / Discofish', 2016. Backlit print, lightbox, 50 x 80 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Swaantje Günztel, ‘MICROPLASTICS III / Discofish’, 2016, backlit print, lightbox, 50 x 80 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Anna Laudel Contemporary.

In German artist Swaantje Güntzel’s Microplastics III Discofish (2016), a plaice fish has been covered with glitter particles extracted from beauty products – a photograph of its treated body displayed in order to, as stated on the artist’s website, “address the alienated relationship between humanity and nature by exposing the inconsistencies of our actions and the hypocrisy of our value system”. A few of the works in the exhibition, such as Güntzel’s glitzy taxidermy made from the corpse of an animal, perform their critique through rhapsodic gestures that border on repeating the injustices they seek to condemn through play. The exhibition thus might also inspire another similar question: when should we stop playing?

Jan Kuck, 'I want to be an artist too', 2014. Mirror edition (40x50cm). Installation shot at 'When did we stop playing', 2017 at Anna Laudel Contemporary. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

Jan Kuck, ‘I want to be an artist too’, 2014. Mirror edition (40x50cm). Installation shot at ‘When did we stop playing’, 2017 at Anna Laudel Contemporary. Image courtesy Anna Laudel Contemporary.

The exhibition frames the relationship between ‘play’ and ‘art’ as intrinsic – a dynamic operating across the artworks gathered in the exhibition as they move between the critical and the frivolous. The question ‘When did we stop playing?’ suggests that artists never stop playing, and that critiques of social, economic and political structures are often enacted through play. In the current context in Turkey, whereby play and critique are increasingly curtailed, the initiation of a discussion around how play functions and what it can contribute to an art practice, and a social forum, is an important one.

Rebecca Close

1514

Related Topics: events in Istanbul, emerging artists, art in Istanbul, promoting art, Turkish artists

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7 Highlights from Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016

Art Radar looks at some of the highlights of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

On 12 December 2016 the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Bienniale inaugurated, beginning 108 days of performance, workshops, ambitious artist interventions and education programming in what is the largest and most anticipated celebration of contemporary art in South Asia. 

Curators past and present: Kochi-Muziris Biennale co-founders and KMB 2012 curators and Bose Krishnamachari (left) and Riyas Komu (right) flank KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty (second from left) and KMB 2014 curator Jitish Kallat.

Curators past and present: Kochi-Muziris Biennale co-founders and KMB 2012 curators and Bose Krishnamachari (left) and Riyas Komu (right) flank KMB 2016 curator Sudarshan Shetty (second from left) and KMB 2014 curator Jitish Kallat.

KMB 2016: “Forming in the pupil of an eye”

The third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Bienniale is entitled “Forming in the pupil of an eye”, and features the performances and production of 97 artists from 31 countries. Of the 36 Indians on the list, eight are from Kerala. Expanding on his artistic vision at a press conference before the opening, KMB 2016 Curator Sudarshan Shetty said:

The eye is the only reflective organ in the body. It reflects as much back into the world as it takes. ‘Forming in the pupil of an eye’ is not an image of one reality, but a reflection of multiple realities and of multiple possibilities in time. My curatorial approach was shaped therefore as a conversation between different streams and forms of art practice. This Biennale is intended as a dialogue between multiple perspectives and possibilities as it evolves within the space and through the duration of the Biennale and beyond.

In aid of this, there are art projects this year that will involve spaces and individuals not traditionally associated with the Biennale. For example, Latvian artist Voldemars Johansons has changed the horn sounds on a number of auto rickshaws making them ambassadors of the Biennale as they drive around the city while Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec is writing a 88-chapter novel while moving through Kochi.

The Biennale saw more than 30,000 visitors attending the ‘Opening Week’ programmes, which drew to a close on Sunday 18 December 2016. The Biennale will run until 29 March 2017. Art Radar takes a look at a few of the events and artworks that have been unveiled so far.

Aki Sasamoto, 'Memo Random', 2015. December 12, 2016 - March 29, 2017 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale TKM Warehouse, Kochi, Kerala, India *performances on December 13 & 14, 2016.

Aki Sasamoto, ‘Memo Random’, 2015, 12 December 2016 – 29 March 2017, 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, TKM Warehouse, Kochi, Kerala, India. Performances on 13-14 December 2016.

1. Aki Sasamoto – Memo Random

Aki Sasamoto is a New York-based, Japanese artist, who works in performance, sculpture, dance and whatever more medium that takes to get her ideas across. Her works have been shown both in performing arts and visual art venues in New York and abroad. Sasamoto’s performance/installation works revolve around gestures on nothing and everything. Her installations are careful arrangements of sculpturally altered found objects, and the decisive gestures in her improvisational performances create feedback, responding to sound, objects and moving bodies. The constructed stories seem personal at first, yet oddly open to variant degrees of access, relation and reflection. Writing about her performance work Memo Random, which Sasamoto presented on 14 December 2016 at the TKM Warehouse, the artist states:

There is an 8 foot deep hole in the ground with a trampoline at the bottom. The cabinet is drawn out of the hole, and the body goes in to jump up and down through the sea level many times.

Naiza Khan portrait. Photo credit: Fahim Siddiqui. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Bienniale.

Naiza Khan portrait. Photo credit: Fahim Siddiqui. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Bienniale.

2. Naiza Khan – The Journey We Never Made

Karachi-born Naiza Khan’s current body of work emerges from a long engagement with Manora Island and the urban landscape of Karachi and its relationship to the sea. Through a range of media she explores architectonic phenomena such as ruins, found objects and construction sites as well as the nature of public space that surrounds such sites. In this regard, her practice explores a perceptual and textural building of terrain, as it is linked to witnessed political and social realities that are immediately apparent to present experience, but also the challenges to the present posed by the resurfacing of past realities. The work is grounded in Karachi, but references global phenomena. At the Bienniale the artist is presenting her 2016 work The Journey We Never Made, which according to an artist statement

plays with an objective tourist vernacular through representing her long-term engagement with the small island of Manora, which sits in Karachi harbour…For this project, local artisans were given scale drawings of vessels soures from Khan’s photographic archive, and images of historic vessels that have left their imprint on the Indian Ocean in their journeys of trade and conquest.

Padmini Chettur, 'Varnam' (2016). Performance. Image of performance at Kochi-Muziris Bienniale, 2016. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Bienniale.

Padmini Chettur, ‘Varnam’ (2016). Performance. Image of performance at Kochi-Muziris Bienniale, 2016. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Bienniale.

3. Padmini Chettur – Varnam

Chennai-based practitioner and choreographer of contemporary dance Padmini Chettur premiered her three-hour long performance entitled Varnam at David Hall, Fort Kochi between 12-16 December. Commenting to Deccan Chronicle about the work, the artist stated:

First of all, my idea came with a few starting points. One of which was the growing concern that the larger contemporary dance movement in India seems to have either forgotten the traditions or don’t care about it. There seems to be a kind of mindless adoption of western contemporary practices, bringing it to India and setting up a piece, which I feel doesn’t connect to the country at all.

Padmini (b. 1970) began her training in the traditional Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. From 1991 she worked with the choreographer Chandralekha for ten years and her own artistic research began in 1994. She departs from the classical repertoire of gestures, posturing and mythical tales, to shape an alternative, no less strict, but very condensed dance form. Looking for complete detachment from her classical formative years, she resists the temptation to seduce, choosing instead, to convince. At the core of her work is resistance. Her work unveils a taut vision that takes the contemporary dance of India, from what it is and how it should look, to radical dimensions.

Chinese scholar Li Tuo details the work that the late artist Li Bo'an put into 'Walking Out of Bayan Har', the scroll painting exhibited at Kottapuram Fort.

Chinese scholar Li Tuo details the work that the late artist Li Bo’an put into ‘Walking Out of Bayan Har’, the scroll painting exhibited at Kottapuram Fort.

4. Li Bo’an – Walking Out of Bayan Har

A scroll painting by late Chinese artist Li Bo’an entitled Walking Out of Bayan Har, and measuring 1.88 metres high and 121.5 metres wide is on display at Kottapuram Fort, an unassailable spot on the ancient trade map and a part of the State tourism department’s Muziris Heritage Project. The work has been reproduced on plastic and stretched out at the fort. The artwork has the quality of a mural painting on paper. KMB 2016 Curator Sudarshan Shetty, whose curatorial vision involves invoking the meaning of tradition and exploring it through fresh perspectives, said the ancient fort was an apt location to showcase Li Bo’an’s work. Shetty was introduced to the artist, who died in 1998, by noted Chinese scholar Li Tuo. “There have been many archeological discoveries in this area. There is a lot of history about China’s relationship with India here,” said Li Tuo, who presented a talk with art critic Lydia Liu on the scroll painting at Kottapuram fort on 16 December.

Art residency 1 & 2:- Visitors exploring works of artists who have participated in the Pepper House Art Residency programme at Mandalay Hall in Mattancherry

Art residency 1 & 2:- Visitors exploring works of artists who have participated in the Pepper House Art Residency programme at Mandalay Hall in Mattancherry. Image courtesy Kochi-Muziris Bienniale.

5. Artist Residency Exhibition at Mandalay Hall

The Pepper House Residency programme is an international residency opportunity for artists from all disciplines to work and collaborate within a studio space situated at the Pepper House, Fort Kochi. The space of the Pepper House Residency consists of extensive studio facilities (for production), the Laboratory of Visual Arts library (for research) and the Pepper House cafe (for dialogue). The residency is structured on the idea of a three-dimensional approach to creativity in which the idea of artistic practice is supported by its two necessary extensions – public interaction and inquiry. Artist and curator of previous editions of KMB Riyas Komu commented in a statment about the residency programme:

We have been receiving good response from other countries for our art Residency project right from the beginning. Many artists from abroad came down to Kochi and displayed their work. As a next step, we will send Indian artists, who will have a short stay in foreign counties and imbibe the culture of the town and display their art work there.

He also added that the project will enable Indian artists to have a wider exposure to international art practices, besides enhancing their artistic skills. The KBF initiative aims to create a space for expression and dialogue for artists and to provide them with a platform to establish and explore new possibilities. Works of Sabine Schründer, Deepa K, Sunanda Bhat, Anja Kempe, Peter Bialobrzeski, Hans-Christian Schink, Jigesh Kumar, Augustin Rebetez, Santhosh Kalbande, Victor Hazra, Mo Reda, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Mohammed Kazem are on display at Mandalay Hall.

Danielle Galliano making his participatory art project entitled Bad Trip at Kochi-Muziris Bienniale. Image courtesy Kochi Muziris Bienniale.

Danielle Galliano making his participatory art project entitled Bad Trip at Kochi-Muziris Bienniale. Image courtesy Kochi Muziris Bienniale.

6. Danielle Galliano – Bad Trip

Italian artist Daniele Galliano presents a series of live paintings near a cashew tree outside his exhibition space in Aspinwall House. Entitled Bad Trip the project involved the artist drawing over non-professional paintings produced by unknown artists. Galliano works on one artwork everyday until the Biennale ends, thus expecting to finish 108 paintings. Commenting about his work the artist said in a press statement:

People in Kerala are as open-minded as people in Italy. Since the faces here are so different, it makes my work refreshing since I’m constantly on a search for new faces and landscapes.

The work is conceived as a kind of travelogue of the bienniale, which reflects KMB 2016 Curator Sudarshan Shetty’s core idea of the creations at the Biennale being in constant evolution. The complete series will be shown to the public at the end of the Biennale but visitors are welcomed by the artist to watch or participate in the constant production of the work.

Click here to watch Rachel Maclean’s ‘Please, Sir…’ on Vimeo

7. Rachel Maclean – Please, Sir…

A multimedia artist living and working in Glasgow, Rachel Maclean uses film and photography to create sickly, candy-coloured worlds filled with ghoulish characters. Rachel has also been selected to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2017. “Please, Sir…” is a darkly comic adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and The Pauper, exploring themes of greed, class and dependence within a cultural rhetoric of austerity and aspiration. Presented as a dual projection, the characters interact between screens, appearing to inhabit two distinct worlds. Shot entirely using green-screen, the work creates a synthetic, shape-shifting realm in which an Adidas-striped Oliver Twist mugs a Tudor Prince at knifepoint, a pauper steals GBP10 from the pocket of Simon Cowell and a vagrant youth is offered heroin by a well-dressed servant. Maclean is the only actor in the work and mimes to found audio plundered from a myriad of sources, including Britain’s Got Talent, Jeremy Kyle and The Apprentice. The characters wear heavy make-up, prosthetic noses and fake teeth, an appearance that sits somewhere between a Hogarth satire and the cheap-plastic grotesque of joke shop fancy-dress.

Rebecca Close

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Related Topics: Indian artists, biennales, curators, biennials, events in India, news, Japanese artists, Taiwanese artists, Pakistani artists, Iranian artists

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