Asian Contemporary Art Fair
New York, 2008
ACAF founder Crystal Kim, photo by Sang-soo Ahn
This event was highly anticipated as Asian Contemporary Art has gained recent worldwide appeal and significance, led by China and artists like Zhang Xiaogang and Takashi Murakami. This year’s fair looked beyond a post-Olympic China to include Korea, India, Singapore, the Middle East, and beyond.
Boo Moon Kwon
On the Clouds #6721, 2008
Johyun Gallery, Seoul
How does Asian Contemporary Art contribute to what is largely considered to be an American and European context? Curator and writer Peter Weibel asked these relevant questions: “How is contemporary art, and art in general, conceived of in such places where there is no art history and no tradition of exhibitions? What does art, as a contemporary phenomenon, mean in this respect outside a Western context? Is it no more than the most recent development of modern art or does it represent something else that demands the mediation of museums?” Anyone who has walked these same halls for the Armory Show may question where Asian Contemporary Art lies in the broader spectrum outside of its commercial success.
Some of the stronger pieces in the show were rooted in Asian philosophies like Zen and Tao that follow their own reflective path. Ran Hwang’s Dreaming for Joy installation was a study in Eastern meditation, where literally thousands of individual buttons were used in the ongoing process.
Dreaming for Joy
Curator: Liang Chong
Wu Jian’an’s Xiantian 2006 was a stunning work of laser cut paper depicting Chinese mythology. Respected Korean artist Seo-Bo Park’s Ecriture No. 040920, 2004 hung idly alone in the VIP lounge in pure stillness as if it had always been there and always will be.
Chambers Fine Art
Fashion designer Angel Chang presented her latest collection. Pictured with International Center of Photography Curator, Christopher Phillips. Photo by Julienne Schaer
Opening night was the usual mix of fashion, curators, and collectors. Throughout the opening night space, a performance art piece placed mock Chinese soldiers silently among the exits, artworks, and fashion models, adding a slightly ominous tone of unpredictability to the proceedings.
Many pieces reflected a fast paced tension with the dramatic Westernization of traditional Asia.
China, 2008 by artist Jimin Kim was an interesting stand out with hundreds of clothing tags used to create a portrait of Mao.
Art Seasons Gallery
Art duo They’s painting They Can See the Chinese Building reflects Western objectification and exoticism of Asian culture.
They Can See the Chinese Building
Curated by: Min Hee Kim
Regarding the incredible change in China and Asia, Curator and National Art Museum of China Director Fan Di'an explains: “Under the circumstances of the rapid development of the Chinese economy, daily life in the city has undergone a kind of revolution, as witnessed by the evolution of people’s visions, tastes, and inner experiences.” Artists all over Asia are grappling with their identity in an age of economic globalization and transnationalism.
Fu Jijiang’s Mongolian Feast, 2007 presented by theKrampf Gallery was equal parts beautiful and disconcerting. Small animals and household pets, caste in decorative porcelain, were laid out for a dinner feast.
Mongolian Feast, 2007
Shen Shaomin’s Experiment Field No. 1, Peapod No. 116, 2004 furthered Shaomin’s obsession with alien and exotic themes. In much of his work, Shaomin uses actual animal bones as a medium.
Experiment Field No. 1
Peapod No. 116, 2004
by Eli Klein Fine Art
Last year’s explosion of the Chinese Contemporary Art market has been tempered by the recent global financial crisis as auctions around the world have begun to reflect a much needed re-evaluation of the prices. At auction in Singapore buyers returned to tradition as brush painting performed well while important Contemporary works failed to influence.
At a crossroads of ancient traditions, post modernism, and commercialization, there is a movement in Asian contemporary art that is both vital and nascent.The diversity of work and themes at the Asian Contemporary Art Fair seemed to try and encompass all of this, while at many times it appeared disjointed or under-executed. Yet we should remember that this was not a show but a commercial fair, and, unfortunately, there were very few red dots.