What's Happening in Asian Art...

Happy Memorial Day Weekend and Summer's Beginning!

May 27, 2022

Karamono and Birds (detail), 18th century, pair of two-panel screens, ink, colors, gofun, and gold leaf on paper, each: 170 x 165 cm, Courtesy of Giuseppe Piva Japanese Art

The exuberant flowers and exotic birds in this vibrant and colorful pair of screens set a lively tone for the beginning of summer. Giuseppe Piva Japanese Art in Milan provides an informative commentary about this 18th century painting.

The term karamono is used to define ceramic, carved lacquerware, furniture, bronzes and other decorative items imported from China. They became highly prized as imported curios, used in Japan as kazari (display items) and even the shōgun would install karamono in his chamber (zashiki) and invite members of the court and clergy to view them. Often karamono have been copied by Japanese craftsmen, so shapes from Chinese bronzes and porcelain have been used in Japan for centuries. Flower baskets for ikebana were also imported from China. These karamono baskets had formal, symmetrical structures with tightly plaited weaves. Unlike those used during the tea ceremony, that maintain a natural and austere wabi-sabi construction, karamono bamboo baskets, like those represented on this pair of screens, were modelled on Chinese bronzes and show classical forms. Chinese bronzes themselves, as seen here, would also be used to display flower compositions.

Even exotic birds would serve as kazari. While bird-keeping was already popular since the early Edo period for the enjoyment of their songs, the habit of breeding birds for aesthetic purposes was quite unusual. Some entertainment stalls kept parrots and other rare specimens in exquisite cages for their customers’ enjoyment. The composition of this pair of screens seems inspired by the same amusement: kept on an elaborate perch or in an elegant cage fitted with a scholar’s stone, these birds are intended to intrigue and fascinate the viewer. Also, natural history studies became fashionable in Japan during the 18th century, due to the import of European books and prints. These imported images inspired paintings of rare birds which, regardless of whether they had any significance or meaning, were highly appreciated by collectors. Painting with this style were introduced by the nanga samurai painter and Confucian scholar Yanagisawa Kien (1703-1758), who began his training with artists of the Kanō school, but became a disciple of Watanabe Shūseki and then of the nanga painter Gion Nankai.

Read more and see more details, click here

Ippodo Gallery's Magic of the Tea Bowl, Volume 2

May 27, 2022

L-R: Mokichi Otsuka (born 1956), Teabowl, ceramic, H. 3 3/8 x Dia. 4 ¾ in. and Tomoyuki Hoshino (born 1976), Sugar-coated Bowl, ceramic, H. 3 3/8 x Dia. 5 1/8 in.

Magic of the Tea Bowl, Volume 2, Ippodo Gallery
June 2-July 7, 2022
Opening reception: Thursday, June 2, 5-8pm

The Japanese tea ceremony was first established during the 16th century and has continued to flourish to the present day. Closely related to Zen philosophy, it has held a central place in Japanese art, culture, and soul. Known as chawan, tea bowls are handed from the tea master, who prepares the tea, to the guests, transmitting the scent and warmth of the tea through the hands to the lip.

Ippodo Gallery held the Magic of the Tea Bowl exhibition last year, which was collected during the height of the pandemic (2020-2021) by visiting workshops around Japan. Many tea bowls left the hands of potters to the hands of their owners. In this second exhibition, Ippodo has added new artists and collected their masterpieces: Yasushi Fujihira, Hideyuki Fujisawa, Noriyuki Furutani, Hiroshi Goseki, Tomoyuki Hoshino, Morimistu Hosokawa, Takeshi Imaizumi, Koichiro Isezaki, Yukiya Izumita, Tsubusa Kato, Kohei Nakamura, Akio Niisato, Mokichi Otsuka, Kai Tsujimura, Shiro Tsujimura, Yui Tsujimura, Koichi Uchida, and Kodai Ujiie.

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Last Days for Chanoyu: A Taste of Tea at Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.

May 26, 2022

Chanoyu: A Taste of Tea, Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd.
Last day May 30, 2022

Dai Ichi Gallery is delighted to present a group of teawares this Spring, functional wares representing the art of Chanoyu, the ritual Japanese tea ceremony that involves serving, taking, and drinking of tea. The modern history of Chanoyu carries through the style and grace of tea tradition. Vases, teabowls, water jars, and other functional objects act as aesthetic anchors for the ceremony.

The exhibition focuses on functional pieces, featuring tea bowls, vases, water jars, and functional works by artists: Kato Mami 加藤真美 (born 1963), Goto Hideki 後藤秀樹 (born 1973), Shingu Sayaka 新宮さやか (born 1979), Murata Gen 村田元 (1904-1988), Shimaoka Tatsuzo 島岡達三 (LNT, 1919-2007), Kinjo Jiro 金城次郎 (LNT, 1912-2004), Sugimoto Sadamitsu 杉本貞光 (born 1935), Nakamura Takuo 中村卓夫 (born 1945), and many more.

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Tribal Blankets Exhibition at Charles B. Wang Center
Closing Soon

May 26, 2022

Blanket from Zhuang Tribal, early 20th century, silk supplementary weft on a fine cotton tabby ground, 45 x 67 in., Collection of Chinalai Tribal Antiques

Auspicious Dreams: Tribal Blankets from Southern China,
Charles B. Wang Center at Stony Brook University

Last day May 31, 2022

The Charles B. Wang Center celebrates precious, rarely seen Chinese textiles, specifically blankets made by South and Southwest Chinese tribes in Auspicious Dreams: Tribal Blankets from Southern China exhibition. Often made with fine materials, exemplary techniques, and unparalleled artistry, these striking textiles convey the unique identities, statuses, and traditions of diverse Chinese tribal groups. Curated by Vichai and Lee Chinalai of Chinalai Tribal Antiques and Jinyoung Jin, director of cultural programs at the Charles B. Wang Center, the treasures in this exhibition take visitors on a remarkable journey across regions and time.

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Asia Society Japan's Art for Breakfast

May 25, 2022

Art for Breakfast 2022 Japanese Painting for the 21st Century | Ryo Shinagawa
Asia Society Japan

May 31, 8am Tokyo time/May 30, 7pm EDT

Asia Society Japan is honored to invite artist, Ryo Shinagawa for Art for Breakfast this May. His works at first sight look academic and historic. They are contemporary Japanese paintings using traditional Japanese materials but mixing modern expressions that are highly minimized. Like the artist himself, his works are philosophical, quiet, and disciplined.

In this program, Mr. Shinagawa will talk about his process, journey, and experiences abroad had broadened his work to go beyond the limits of Japanese paintings and expand their future. He is bringing together elements of Japanese art to discover contemporary meaning for traditional materials and styles.

Read more and register, click here

Exhibitions Ending Soon - Ippodo Gallery and Korea Society

May 24, 2022

Toshio Tokunaga (born 1952), Vibrato Chair, Triple, Yoshino Cedar, Japanese Zelkova,
H. 37 3/8 x W. 59 1/8 x D. 19 3/4 in. (95x150x50 cm)

Bring Forest Bathing to the Home: Chairs by Toshio Tokunaga
Ippodo Gallery

Concludes Thursday, May 26

Toshio Tokunaga (born 1952) is an artist whose expertise in furniture is uniquely attuned to the natural world. Precious Zelkova, mulberry, cherry, and cypress woods are all sourced with passion and dedication from local forests, then dried for decades. The artist delicately familiarizes himself with each rare tree’s individual spirit, allowing him to develop a strong bond with the work and can thus infuse each chair with this warm understanding.

Read more and watch a recorded interview with the artist, click here

Wonju Seo, Through My Window: Ocean, Sky and Wind, 2021, silk organza with abstract painting images, silk thread, 112 x 105 in. (284.48 x 266.7 cm.)

Wonju Seo: Travelogue, Korea Society
Concludes Friday, May 27

This exhibition, Wonju Seo: Travelogue, is a contemporary abstract textile art exhibition. In her solo exhibition, Seo reinterprets the aesthetic value of traditional Korean wrapping cloth called Bojagi with a modern twist.

Read more and see a talk by the artist, click here

Member Monday - Executive Director Margaret Tao

May 23, 2022

AWNY Executive Director Margaret Tao (left) with Katherine Martin, former Chairman of the AWNY Planning Committee, AWNY Treasurer, and Director at Scholten Japanese Art during Asia Week March 2022. Courtesy Annie Watt Agency

A veteran of the Asian Art world and lifelong New Yorker, it is not an understatement to say that Asia Week New York runs so well in large measure as a result of the leadership and sheer hard work of Executive Director Margaret Tao. While most AWNY participants know Margaret professionally and socially, few likely realize how diverse and crucial her responsibilities are.

Margaret started working at AWNY in 2011, just a couple of years after the organization was started, as Administrative Coordinator. In 2015, Margaret succeeded Noémie Bonnet to become Executive Director and was the first to bring Asian Art experience to the role. At the outset, Margaret assumed responsibility for managing interactions with existing AWNY dealer, auction, and museum members, expanding membership, supervising staff and consultants, financial oversight and supporting and collaborating with AWNY’s Planning Committee and Board of Directors. She also manages all facets of organizing the March event, including the preparation of the Gallery Guide, planning the various events and programs, the reception at the Met, and overseeing promotion and publicity. In other words, Margaret is essentially the public face of AWNY and in one form or another involved with or responsible for nearly all the organization’s undertakings, along with the rotating Planning Committee Chairperson.

Recently outside factors, most notably the COVID pandemic, tariffs placed on Chinese art imports, and issues of repatriation of Asian works of art have impacted AWNY. As readers are well aware, AWNY responded by dramatically expanding its activities during the past two years, so that Margaret’s tasks now run year-round with ongoing promotion of and engagement with members and followers. In addition to the annual March Asia Week, AWNY now also is engaged in the September Asian art sales, auctions, and exhibitions. Moreover, AWNY has significantly increased its online roster of programs, especially offering virtual exhibitions during Asia Week and regular webinars. The weekly newsletter is emailed to more than 6,000 readers; fresh material is posted most days on AWNY’s website, which now has over 68,000 visits, an increase of 75% since last year; AWNY also communicates actively on social media, including in Chinese on RED.

As a result of these endeavors, all under Margaret’s purview, AWNY has grown to have not only nationwide reach but also international scope. While New Yorkers are the most numerous users of AWNY’s website, the second largest number are in California and Virginia, respectively. And while 60% of users are based in the US, an impressive 17% are in China, followed by the UK, Japan, and Canada.


L-R: Margaret Tao works closely with AWNY’s Planning Committee, Courtesy Annie Watt Agency

Margaret has had a global outlook since childhood, when she attended the Lycée Français in New York and then in London and so is bilingual in French. In college at Wellesley, she majored in Asian Studies and studied Mandarin intensively. Margaret has worked in all aspects of the Asian art market during her career, which provides an unusually wide range of experience and personal contacts. She began at Sotheby’s in the Antiquities and Chinese art department and then was gallery director for Didier Aaron Gallery. She was the US representative for Orientations magazine for twenty years, contributing reviews of Asian art exhibitions and auctions in New York. Margaret’s journalism activities benefited several other major art periodicals, including Art and Auction, The Art Newspaper, Departures, and Architectural Digest. She covered the Asian art sales for Asian Art Newspaper up until March 2020 when Covid halted live art events.

Always interested in deepening her understanding of Asian culture and art, over the years Margaret has traveled to China frequently and spent long holidays there. These trips allowed her to refresh her Chinese language abilities and explore many parts of the country and culture. Margaret studied Chinese traditional painting with artist, connoisseur, and collector C.C. Wang for several years and recalled that she particularly enjoyed copying a painting of rocks from his collection by the Qing-dynasty master Shitao, like the below painting at the Met.


L-R: Shitao (1642-1707), Landscapes of the Four Seasons (detail), album of 8 leaves, Bequest of
John M. Crawford Jr., 1989.363.155a–h and C.C. Wang (1907-2003) practicing calligraphy, courtesy of Eileen Travell

Looking ahead, Margaret expressed a desire to expand the membership of Asia Week New York and to broaden the organization’s outreach and influence. She is also exploring ways to attract a new group of collectors to Asian art by using all existing tools available and enlisting new devices and practices.

Silver Splendor: Conserving the Royal Thrones of Dungarpur, India Now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum

May 22, 2022

Maharaja's Thrones, India, 1911, molded and carved silver sheet, wrapped around a wood core, with silk velvet, brocaded silk and horse or ox tail, 59 1/4 x 31 1/2 x 35 7/16 in. (150.5 x 80 x 90 cm.), Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust through the George H. and Elizabeth O. Davis Fund, 2013.10.1.1

Silver Splendor: Conserving the Royal Thrones of Dungarpur, India
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

May 21, 2022-May 28, 2023

Thrones communicate the authority and grandeur of their owners. Created in the early 1900s while India was under British colonial rule, these silver thrones and their regalia reveal complex histories of cultural exchange and the representation of political power. In 1911 the Maharawal (ruler) of Dungarpur, a small kingdom in the western state of Rajasthan, commissioned these European-style objects for use in a new royal palace. 1911 was also the year of the British King George V’s coronation as Emperor of India, an event celebrated by a grand Durbar (court assembly) and King-Emperor’s tour of India. Given the date, the thrones were likely created to receive dignitaries in Dungarpur during this year of tours and celebrations. A former Dungarpur king brought the thrones to Europe in 1969 and the Nelson-Atkins acquired them in 2013. Since then, the museum, with local and international partners, restored these objects, using a combination of advanced technologies and traditional Indian art forms to give a sense of their original appearance.

Visitors can request special tours of the exhibition. Read more, click here

Dialogues in the Diaspora: Bahar Behbahani and Farsad Labbauf at Asia Society

May 21, 2022

Bahar Behbahani, Mother River, 2022, video still of drawing made by the artist with lapis lazuli on board, duration: 1 minute. Video still courtesy of the artist

Dialogues in the Diaspora: Bahar Behbahani and Farsad Labbauf
Asia Society New York

Online and in person, May 23, 6:30-8:30pm

Join Asia Society Museum Director Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe in conversation with Persian artists Bahar Behbahani and Farsad Labbauf about their respective practices and their experiences working in the diaspora.

Bahar Behbahani is a painter, collaborator, educator, and a hospitable instigator. Born and raised in Iran, she currently lives and works in New York City. Behbahani’s multilayered work explores the complexities of memory, loss, adaptation, and a fundamental search for a sense of place.

Farsad Labbauf is a multidisciplinary Iranian artist living and working in the New York area. Best known for his linear figurative paintings, Labbauf immigrated to the United States at the age of thirteen. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts, followed by a second degree in Industrial Design, from the Rhode Island School of Design. The origins of Labbauf’s work lie in Figurative Expressionism, a style he practiced for more than two decades leading to the creation of his linear figurative painting style. His paintings as well as his ongoing sewing series are inspired by studies in quantum physics and a reverence for ideas of Unity and Monism. Labbauf began exploring these ideas during his first visit back to his native country of Iran twenty-two years ago.

Read more and register, click here

Moonlight on Stones Opens at Fu Qiumeng Fine Art

May 20, 2022

Wang Mansheng (born 1962), Diary of Travels West of Changchun Zhenren, ink and color on cardboard

Moonlight on Stones | Wang Mansheng 王满晟
Fu Qiumeng Fine Art

May 20-July 23, 2022
Opening reception Friday, May 20, 6-8pm
Curated by Dr. Chao Ling

Fu Qiumeng Fine Art presents Moonlight on Stones, the gallery’s first solo exhibition devoted to the Asian-American landscape artist Wang Mansheng. Wang uses self-invented organic painting materials, in addition to conventional ones, to explore contemporary forms of landscape and finds enchanting and enlightening visual structures to embody his perception of nature.

Moonlight on Stones features 19 paintings selected from Wang’s Night Mountain and Ancient Trees series. These artworks, executed between 2008 and the present, are on display for the first time. Each work in the Night Mountain collection is inspired by a line from classical Chinese poetry. The relationship between text and image–a traditional scope–has been enacted in a novel way through the artist’s sensitivity and intellectual interests. The Ancient Trees collection represents his consideration of longevity and form. In intimate contact with the ecosystem of the Hudson River Valley, he makes brushes and ink out of local organic materials to paint objects found in the area while demonstrating his reflections on lines, shape and texture.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Chao Ling, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese and History, City University of Hong Kong. An exhibition catalog will be published, in which his introductory essay will be included.

Read more, click here

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