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3 Defining Moments When Asian Artists Challenged the Audience
Asian contemporary art is is a thriving scene, filled with incredible talent and awe inspiring works. And there are many points in recent history when Asian artists confronted and challenged their audience.
We’ve gathered a few of the most iconic moments when Asian artists generated controversy and changed the art world.
Ai Weiwei and an Urn
It’s no surprise that Chinese artist and provocateur Ai Weiwei would land on this list. For the last few decades, he’s been at the center of numerous artworld controversies. But perhaps the biggest was one of the first: his 1995 effort Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.
The piece is a photographic triptych, showing the artist doing exactly what the name suggests — dropping a 2,000 year old ceramic urn. By the third image, the urn is in pieces on the floor. These black and white frames are stark and shocking, with no pomp and circumstance.
To add insult to injury, the first attempt at photographing the act was not successful. So to create the piece, Ai actually had to destroy two priceless urns.
Critics were outraged. What right did the artist have to destroy something of so much historical and cultural value? ButAi did not bend to these critics. He famously quoted Mao, stating that to build a new world, you have to destroy the old.
The resulting artwork generated lots of discussion in a society battling with how to negotiate its move into the future while maintaining the past.
Takashi Murakami at Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is a testament to the artistic achievements of France. What began as a small hunting lodge was expanded into a stunning architectural masterpiece starting in 1661 at the behest of King Louis XIV.
Set on a landscape tailored to the neoclassical aesthetic, the Palace bursts at the seams with world renowned baroque artwork that lines its halls.
Imagine the controversy then, when Takashi Murakami was set to display his manga and anime inspired sculpture in the hallowed halls of Versaille in 2010. His characters, like the effervescent Miss Ko2, stuck out like a sore thumb to many critics.
This three-month show saw thousands of angryRoyalists sign a petition and protest the event, but they were only doing Murakami’s work for him. The resistance to change and the perception of past forms as superior to new ones cemented exactly what the artist was saying all along.
And yet, Murakami’s transgressive exhibition has aged well, with people looking back on it as a bold recontextualization of both Murakami’s manga/anime style and what we revere as part of the European canon. It stands as both a clash of cultures and times, and it cemented Murakami as a trickster artist of the highest caliber.
Check out 10 other Southeast Asian artists who are getting increasingly bold when it comes to abstract art
Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece
Yoko Ono has never shied away from controversy, and her 1964 masterpiece of performance art was so eyebrow raising that it helped cement the form as a pillar of the contemporary art scene.
In pop culture, the name Yoko Ono is often overshadowed by her marriage to John Lennon of Beatles fame, along with a theory that she helped break up the legendary band. But the truth is, Ono’s work should stand on its own right. Her bravery and inventiveness have made her work some of the best in performance art history.
One of her earliest successes remains one of her best. Cut Piece has a simple concept: the artist sits still while audience members are offered a pair of scissors and are invited to use them to cut off pieces of Ono’s clothing.
Audiences were stunned into silence and had difficulty understanding what they had witnessed. The work was so provocative that even to hear about it today gives us pause.
By putting her own safety on the line, Ono pioneered a fearless form of performance art that has been rarely matched up to the present day.
As theSouth east Asian art industry continues to expand, we have seen an increase in established Asian artists from the region displaying their works on RtistiQ art platform. Discover our Asian Art collection & a wide variety of paintings for sale.
10 Contemporary Asian Artists You Should Know
The world of contemporary art is a vast and ever-evolving landscape, with artists from different corners of the globe making their mark on the artistic discourse. Despite its size and wealth of artistic talent, the art of Asia remains largely unexplored for many people around the world. In this article, we explore the works of nine talented contemporary Asian artists who have been instrumental in shaping the art scene, challenging conventions, and offering fresh perspectives. From traditional mediums to innovative techniques, these artists showcase the rich diversity and cultural vibrancy of Asia's art scene. Yayoi Kusama (Japan) Kusama has been an institution of the contemporary art scene since the 1960s. Her work in pop-art and performance art over the years are now the stuff of legend. Her installations are particularly popular. She often works with red and white polka dot motifs in her installations (like at the Singapore Biennale in 2006 and at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art).More recently, she created an Infinity Room—a dark, mirror-covered enclosure with hanging lights that appear to go on forever. Through her signature use of repetitive patterns and vibrant colors, Kusama explores themes of infinity, self-obliteration, and the interplay between the individual and the cosmos. Her immersive installations, such as "Infinity Mirror Rooms," invite viewers to delve into their own introspection and experience the boundless nature of existence. Kusama’s career has spanned fashion, film, painting, performance, and even writing. Nam June Paik (South Korea) Nam June Paik is a highly influential and pioneering contemporary Korean artist who is often regarded as the "father of video art." Born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1932, Paik's groundbreaking work has left an indelible mark on the art world, merging technology, performance, and popular culture in innovative and thought-provoking ways. Paik’s work encapsulates the second half of the 20th century. Much of it involved creating sculptures and installation pieces using manipulated television sets and embracing themes of communication and the rapid expanse of technology. Maybe his most notable achievement is TV Buddha (a series beginning in 1974). In this, a statue of the Buddha watches a small television that displays a live feed of the statue itself. Bharti Kher (India) Bharti Kher, an Indian-born artist, explores themes of identity, gender, and mythology in her multidisciplinary practice. Known for her distinctive use of bindis (forehead decorations), Kher's works often incorporate found objects and traditional Indian iconography. Her thought-provoking sculptures and installations challenge societal norms and invite contemplation on the role of women in Indian culture. The artist's works have been exhibited internationally and have garnered critical acclaim. Her powerful and visually arresting pieces have been showcased in prominent institutions and galleries, including the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Bharti Kher's contributions to contemporary art have made a significant impact, both in India and on the global stage. Through her compelling and thought-provoking works, she continues to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and provoke dialogue about the complexities of identity and culture in our interconnected world. Ai Weiwei (China) Ai is an influential contemporary artist and political activist. His work, connected to the Excessevist movement, includes video, sculpture and installation. One of his most popular pieces is Sunflower Seeds (2010). It was made for the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. It is made up of one hundred million porcelain sunflower seeds—all handcrafted to perfection. The seeds were spread to fill the 1,000 square meter area and stacked up to 10 centimeters high. Through various mediums, including sculpture, photography, and installation, Ai Weiwei addresses issues such as human rights, freedom of expression, and the role of the individual in society. His thought-provoking artworks challenge authority and shed light on the complexities of contemporary Chinese society. His political advocacy for democracy and human rights in his home country has made him a controversial figure there. Sopheap Pich (Cambodia) Sopheap Pich is a celebrated contemporary artist from Cambodia whose works combine sculpture, installation, and conceptual art to explore themes of memory, history, and the relationship between humans and the natural world. Born in Battambang, Cambodia, in 1971, Pich experienced the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge regime, which greatly influenced his artistic practice.Pich uses highly selective materials (like rattan, bamboo, dye, glue, and metal) to connect with his Cambodian heritage. These traditional materials are transformed into intricate sculptures that are both captivating and ephemeral. Pich's art is deeply rooted in his personal experiences and the history of Cambodia. He often incorporates materials deeply connected to Cambodian culture, such as rattan, bamboo, and found objects, into his sculptures and installations. Through his work, Pich explores the complexities of memory, displacement, and the process of healing in the aftermath of war. As the most internationally recognizable Cambodian artist, his work is an important porthole into a culture that is emerging as a major player in the artworld. Han Sai Por (Singapore) Han is a sculptor with a naturalist’s heart. Many of her best known pieces are stone installations crafted to plant forms—mimicking the look and feel of seeds and fruits. But she is also renowned for her geometric work that carefully replicates a logical thought process through visual exploration. Han Sai Por's artistic practice is deeply rooted in her fascination with organic forms found in nature, such as rocks, trees, and water. Her sculptures often incorporate materials like stone, bronze, and wood, which she meticulously carves, shapes, and manipulates to create abstract yet evocative forms. Her works reflect her deep understanding of the inherent beauty and energy present in the natural world. One of Han Sai Por's notable series is the "Rock Series," where she explores the diverse textures, patterns, and qualities of rocks. Through her skillful manipulation of materials, she captures the essence of rocks, conveying their solidity, weight, and geological history. Her sculptures, which range from small, handheld pieces to monumental installations, celebrate the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. The Tropical Leaf, Installation outside One Raffles Quay, Singapore Her work appears in public spaces throughout the world, making her art some of the most viewed on the planet, though many people might not recognize that they have walked by, touched and appreciated her work. David Medalla (Philippines) David Medalla, a Filipino artist, was born in Manila in 1942 and has made significant contributions to the international art world. As a multidisciplinary artist, Medalla has explored various mediums, including sculpture, installation, performance art, and painting, throughout his career. His experimental and boundary-pushing approach to art has garnered recognition and acclaim. Medalla was one of the major Filipino voices in contemporary art. And he built that voice using a tremendous range of disciplines, including: sculpture, painting, installation, and more. Medalla's early works were influenced by the Fluxus movement, a global network of artists that emerged in the 1960s. He became associated with the movement and participated in Fluxus events and exhibitions, collaborating with renowned artists such as Yoko Ono and John Cage. Medalla's works often incorporated ephemeral materials and explored concepts of process, transformation, and audience participation. He began his career creating performance art that brought him to prominence and connected him to key artists in Europe. Later, he co-founded the Signal Gallery in London where he spent time working with an international group of artists. He also helped fund and support revolutions as the chairman of Artists for Democracy. One of Medalla's most famous works is "A Stitch in Time" (1968), an ongoing participatory performance piece that involves visitors threading and weaving a collective tapestry. The artwork symbolizes the interconnectivity of individuals and the shared experiences that shape our world. Rirkrit Tiravanija (Thailand) TRirkrit Tiravanija is a highly regarded contemporary artist originally from Argentina but of Thai descent. Born in Buenos Aires in 1961, Tiravanija is known for his influential contributions to the field of relational aesthetics, a concept that emphasizes social interaction and participation as integral components of an artwork.. Tiravanija is a contemporary artist who uses concepts from architecture to reinvent to engage with that central question: how to live? He often creates rooms or entire buildings that reformat the way people cook and eat food or engage in leisure activities. In Untitled 1999 (a replication of the artist’s own apartment in the East Village), participants in the exhibition lived inside it while it was being shown. Tiravanija's works often explore themes of community, cultural exchange, and globalization. He draws inspiration from his Thai heritage and frequently incorporates elements of Thai culture into his installations. His artwork serves as a platform for dialogue, fostering connections and understanding among diverse audiences. Beyond his installations, Tiravanija has also created multimedia works, including video, photography, and text-based pieces. He often collaborates with other artists and musicians, further emphasizing the communal aspect of his art and expanding the possibilities for creative expression. Tiravanija's influential contributions to contemporary art have earned him numerous accolades and exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide. He has participated in major international art events such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta, solidifying his position as a significant figure in the global art scene. Tiravanija’s continuously playful insight into our lives makes his work exciting and always engaging on a personal level. Shooshie Sulaiman (Malaysia) Born in Kuala Lumpur, Sulaiman's works encompass a diverse range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, installation, and multimedia art. Known for her thought-provoking exploration of identity, history, and cultural heritage, Sulaiman's art carries a powerful narrative that challenges and engages viewers. Sulaiman is an artist who sets a critical eye to today’s culture and the way it both produces and views art. Her oeuvre includes installation, architecture, writing, and drawing. Many of her pieces In the Kedai Runcit No.12 (Sundry Shop No.12, 2011) installation, she created a Malaysian general store that sold food and art side-by-side, completely recontextualizing both. It highlights the importance of art as a nutritious activity, as well as highlighting its current status as a mere commodity. Sulaiman’s inventive and always growing catalogue of provocative work make her one of the contemporary Asian artists you should know. Conclusion: The ten contemporary Asian artists highlighted in this article represent a mere fraction of the vibrant artistic talent emerging from the region. Through their unique perspectives, innovative techniques, and thought-provoking themes, they challenge traditional boundaries, question societal norms, and invite viewers to reconsider their perceptions. These artists contribute to the global art scene, enriching it with the cultural diversity and depth of the Asian artistic landscape. As they continue to create, these visionary artists pave the way for further exploration and appreciation of contemporary Asian art.
10 Exciting Southeast Asian Artists Experimenting in Abstract Art
Abstract art has roots across many cultures, and the contemporary art scene is now filled with many artists working in the abstract from every region on Earth. Hence, the understanding of abstract art can vary among individuals with different backgrounds. Below, we’ve assembled 10 of the most exciting abstract artists from Southeast Asia. These artists represent a wide variety of aesthetic approaches and span multiple generations. What is clear from these artists is that Southeast Asia continues to produce some of the most exciting voices in the world of abstract art. No survey of the field is complete without their work. Vietnam 1. Ha Manh Thang (b. 1980) Cry For A Flag #2 (2020) [SOURCE] Ha Manh Thang is a Vietnamese artist who is working at the forefront of his culture. As tidal shifts continue to occur since Doi Moi — a series of reforms set forth in 1986 that have brought Western corporations and values into the country — he discusses these ongoing changes on the canvas. His abstract works are as much studies in texture as in color, using the paint to build forms that cast shadows and reach out from the surface. While his figurative pieces are often satirical confrontations with society, these newest experimentations give his work a more universal tone. Ha Manh Thang received a degree from Hanoi Fine Arts University in 2004, going on to participate in several notable regional and international exhibitions. He currently lives in Hanoi. 2. Tulip Duong (b. 1966) My Window (2018) [SOURCE] Tulip Duong revels in the fast paced, the things in the world that are coming into being. Her abstract art borders on representation, though it never quite coheres into a full image. Instead, the pieces hang in that liminal space just before fully materializing. Working from her Hanoi studio, Tulip Duong has shown work around the world, touching on global issues while still maintaining Vietnamese characteristics in her compositions. This riveting connection is held together by her singular voice. The centrality of her viewpoint runs throughout her oeuvre, even as her paintings continue to explore new horizons. Since 2000, Tulip Duong’s work has appeared in several group and solo shows, as well as publications. 3. Tran Tuan (b. 1961) Spring (2012) [SOURCE] Vietnamese artist Tran Tuan’s career covers many different forms and approaches, but all of his work stands out as vivid, colorful and energetic studies. These paintings are alive with bold, heavy brushstrokes stitched together in unexpected ways. His abstract work takes a maximalist approach, every inch of his canvases are alive and urgent. He manages these brilliant palettes through an almost athletic vigor. The overwhelming images deliver the viewer over to a world entirely its own, one built out of dazzling color and intricate brushwork. Tran Tuan’s work appears in private collections throughout Europe, North America and Australia. He received his degree from Fine Art University of Hanoi in 1990. Indonesia 4. Christine Ay Tjoe (b. 1973) Large Space of Shoots #2 (2020) [SOURCE] Chrstine Ay Tjoe is an Indonesian artist who restlessly seeks out the depths of the human condition. Her work spans many mediums, including: intaglio prints, textiles, painting, drawing, sculpture and large-scale installations. Her abstract paintings carry on the mission of her entire career, evoking the power — and darkness — in subjective experience. These works are splashes of complex forms on white canvas, both cryptic and beautiful. While an initial glance might only find confusion, a closer look reveals intricate control and detail work. These are intricately crafted pieces, with forms that seem to arise spontaneously out of the amorphous composition. Christine Ay Tjoe works in Bandung, her hometown. Her work has appeared around the world. 5. Erizal As (b. 1979) Formless Existence (2019) [SOURCE] Erizal As creates rhythmic, almost musical abstract works. His muscular brushstrokes and use of heavy layers of paint create crowded canvases that deliver up an excessive bounty. In all that excess is patterning akin to syncopation, a tension between the expectation of the viewer and where the art ultimately takes them. His work deals in real subject matter, but it handles scenes and portraiture in an entirely abstract way. This approach delivers an experience very rare in abstract painting, again testing expectations. His work often takes on themes like authenticity, or the lack of it, often with a critical eye toward society and power. Erizal As received his education at the Indonesian Institute of Fine Art. His selected group and solo exhibitions have appeared across Southeast Asia. 6. Rinaldi Syam (b. 1976) Landscape Color (2019) [SOURCE] Rinaldi Syam is a painter and sculptor working out of Indonesia. His abstract paintings are filled with sumptuous forms in a kind of collage, quilted together in rough edged regions. The soft texture draws the eye in, and the complex composition keeps the viewer there to decode what they have found. His work sometimes moves from the abstract to the surreal, but always with hallucinatory grandeur and a deeply felt sense of beauty. While his canvas sometimes overflows with detail, there is a gentleness to his technique, always rendering forms with reverence. That care and tenderness seeps out when looking at his paintings, a calming force that quietsthe space. Rinaldi Syam lives and works in Yogyakarta. His work has won several awards in both Indonesia and Japan. Thailand: 7. Nim Kruasaeng (b. 1974) [SOURCE] Nim Kruasaeng’s paintings are simple, elegant observations. Their presence is unassuming and yet captivating. They gradually make their way through to the viewer, never demanding attention but always earning it — the way you lean in when someone whispers. The pieces often rely on rhythm and a palette of only two or three colors. Her ability to get the most out of these pared down elements reveals the mastery of the artist and her guiding obsessions: the relation between bodies in space, the pleasure of a perfect line, the ability to say more with suggestion than direct description. It is through thesegrounding ideas that her delicate and meditative work flows. Nim Kruaseng is a self-taught artist who found recognition in the 1990’s from peers in the Thai art scene. She currently lives and works in both Bangkok and Pattaya. 8. Udomsak Krisanamis (b. 1966) Your Disco Needs You (2001) [SOURCE] Udomsak Krisanamis has built a career out of conceptually rigorous paintings that continue to develop a single line of thought. Through the integration of mixed-media on his canvas — including cellophane, noodles, newspaper, among other items — he builds pieces that combine strict formalism with exploration at the borders of these self-imposedlimits. The diversity born out of this single project is sweeping, though always anchored by his trademark style. The longer one takes in his work, the more one gets into the headspace of its creator. It is a journey into an uncompromising artistic vision that continues to remake the world. Udomsak Krisanamis currently lives and works in Bangkok. He received his education at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok and the Art Institute of Chicago. His solo and group exhibitions have shown internationally. Singapore: 9. Genevieve Chua (b. 1984) EdgeControl #21, More True Than False (2017) [SOURCE] Genevieve Chua makes abstract work that seeks to evoke natural forms while always inserting visual reference from technological artifacts like the glitch. She aggressively explores beyond the expected presentation of painting, pushing the uneasy mix of the natural and the digital even further. Her work often breaks out of the traditional canvas, exploring unique objects to introduce abstract painting. She incorporates shaped canvases that come together to produce a kind of deconstructed canvas for her to explore. She also integrates printing methods to ground her painting, like screen prints and giclée prints. Genevieve Chua received her education at the Royal College of Art in London. Her solo exhibitions have spanned Asia, with group exhibitions around the world. 10. Jamie Tan (b. 1990) IntoxicatedCalls (2018) [SOURCE] Jamie Tan takes color field into the next century with a unique take on the genre that is informed as much by the structure of computer displays as the career of Rothko. Rather than taking off into highly conceptual detours, his work keeps returning to color. The paintings use a sophisticated understanding of that single tool and continue to reimagine how to present it. The clean lines and interlaced patterns of color strips that define Jamie Tan’s work produce energy and movement through their interaction. But these pieces are not just practices in color theory. They also serve as a link in the discussion begun by color field painters from the century past with the current visual landscape of contemporary society. Jamie Tan earned a degree in Fine Arts from Lasalle College of the Arts in 2017. His first solo show debuted in 2019 Inspired by the artists? Shop abstract art on RtistiQ Art Marketplace. Enjoy 7 Day Delivery & 14 Day Return policy for all users today. Author: Jonathan M Clark
5 Japanese Artists You Should Know
With the excitement of the Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 still fresh in our memory and the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 just around the corner, Japan is still on our minds. Unfortunately, we were not able to cheer live for our favorite athletes or to get lost in translation on Tokyo’s vibrant streets, but nothing stops us from discovering more about the unique Japanese history, culture, and art. Because of its long isolation as an island nation, Japan’s history overflows with one-of-a-kind perspectives and unique cultural forms. That independent streak makes Japanese art an always exciting realm of new experiences and fresh ideas. Over the 20th century, Japanese artists also began leading the pop art blend of mainstream fare with a critical artistic lens, while often embedding a rich mixture of themes and nods to historical legacy. Despite Japan’s incredible cultural output, many people around the world are not nearly as familiar with artists from the nation as they should be. Below, we’ve put together a list of five Japanese artists you should know. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and it’s in no particular order. This is a quick stroll through Japanese visual art, something to get you started on your own journey of discovery. 1. Mariko Mori Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami Mariko Mori (1967) is an artist known for work in many fields, including: sculpture, digital art, and photography. Her oeuvre is filled with futuristic visions embedded with a profound influence from Japanese history. Her work plays with imaginative worlds and space-age forms, and the end result is always ethereal and mysterious. Some of Mori’s pieces are particularly sweeping in scope. Primal Rhythm saw her place sculptures in a bay, standing above the water in haunting silence. One, Sun Pillar, is a transparent sculpture that juts out of a large rock. Beside it in the water is Moon Stone, an orb that changes its color depending on the tide. While the shapes and material appear futuristic, they collaborate with the natural environment. It’s both beautiful and poignant, and it gives us an opportunity to rethink the way we interact with the world around us. Mori’s profile has steadily risen since the 1990s, and for good reason. She continues to explore new methods while staying true to the conceptual depth and attention to form that have made her work an integral part of contemporary art. 2. Yuko Mohri Copyright Yuko Mohri Yuko Mohri (1980) is an installation artist who recombines items from our day-to-day life into what she calls “ecosystems.” These installations often seem perilously balanced. Mohri includes sound and narrative as well, often telling stories through Rube Goldberg-like contraptions. In Moré Moré (Leaky), the artist made visual riffs on the use of buckets and plastic to catch leaking rain water that she saw in a subway station. Many of her pieces focus on the relationship between the human built world and the natural world. But the work is never overly ponderous. Often, the installations create a sense of fun. 3. Takashi Murakami Copyright Takashi Murakami Takashi Murakami (1962) is one of the most controversial artists in the contemporary scene. His anime-influenced sculpture and design have become the center of massive debates in the art world. Plus, his forays into commercial work have made him more popular than ever among fashionistas while angering art world purists. Murakami describes his style as “superflat,” a term he also used for postwar Japanese culture as a whole. Aesthetically, the term refers to Japan’s legacy of 2D art with little use of perspective. But societally, it points to the reduction of class influence on Japan. Today, Murakami asserts, the differences between high and low culture have flattened out into a single plane. Murakami has done everything from an anime-character sculpture show at Versaille, album covers for the likes of Kanye West, and hypebeast fashion crossover designs with Supreme. His flower motif is world famous, appearing on Louis Vuitton bags and jewelry worn by hip hop artists. It’s become a kind of calling card for the rebel. Today, he devotes a large amount of his time cultivating the careers of young Japanese artists while still making art that destroys our notion of high and low culture. 4. Yoshitomo Nara Courtesy Wikipedia Yoshitomo Nara (1959) is a sculptor and painter who creates images of childhood with an unsettling undercurrent of horror. His subject matter is very consistent, but it is through this steady stream of similar images that he’s been able to communicate so effectively. His characters, children with cartoonishly large eyes, are often engaged in naughty behavior, a rebelliousness that matches the artist’s own. Nara constantly subverts the nostalgia of childhood while still evoking it. The effect is a strange blend of the cute and concerning. Nara is closely associated with another member of this list, Murakami, as both a contemporary and as a fellow traveller in the superflat school. But while Murakami is in a pitched battle between the high and low, Nara is much more focused on the expression of genuine human emotion. In 2020, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a retrospective of Nara’s work spanning 36 years. The major event has helped boost his recognition outside of Japan. A well-earned honor 5. Yasumasa Mormura Copyright Yasumasa Mormura Yasumasa Mormura(1951) is a master of parody and humorous counterfeiting. But while many of his pieces are great fun, his career has an undercurrent of serious critique at its heart. Mormura’s pieces appropriate the great works of Western art and other iconic images, inserting his own photography into them. The works are strangely shocking. We are so used to the Mona Lisa, we feel at home within its frame. And then to see it changed into a self portrait of Mormura himself turns everything on its head. It’s a confrontation with the dominance of Western culture throughout the world. It subverts not only our expectation of a given painting, but our expectation of Western art as the source of all great masterpieces. In this way, Mormura is something of a punk rock artist. His themes of identity and imperialism are incredibly relevant to our times. That is why, late in his career, Mormura is still able to command attention for his important work. Asian art is more popular than ever, and collecting them is a fascinating hobby that can enrich your life through beauty, culture and education. Learn why you should start collecting Asian Art today.
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From Gond Art to Jangarh Kalam: The Legacy of Jangarh Singh Shyam lives on!
A pioneering artist, Jangarh Singh Shyam redefined the Pardhan-Gond school of art. His signature style which was later named after him saw the evolution of Gond art from a ritualistic pictorial art made on the walls and floors to a more sophisticated menagerie of dots and dashes. This re-interpretation of the Gond art came to be famously known as Jangarh Kalam. Belonging to the Pardhan Gond community from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the artist was considered a cultural prodigy in his native village Patnagarh being an excellent flutist and painter. In 1981, the artist was invited by the legendary J. Swaminathan to work as an artist at Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal. It was at Bharat Bhavan, one of the country's most prestigious museums of tribal and contemporary Indian art, Jangarh Singh Shyam grew as an artist as his creative practice underwent sweeping changes. Mentored by Swaminathan, Shyam’s inheritance in traditional music and storytelling blossomed into a distinctive style of image-making, imparting his paintings a rare life force and energy. As his popularity grew, Shyam found himself amidst the changing contemporary Indian art scene that was becoming more global in its outlook and more inclusive in its representation. It was for the first time we saw that the historically marginalized gained momentum and ground in the narrative space of the country. The artist gained major recognition when he participated in the Magiciens de la terre exhibition held at Centre Pompidou, Paris in 1989, and in Jyotindra Jain’s Other Masters exhibition at the Crafts Museum, New Delhi in 1998. The artist was also commissioned to paint the interiors of Vidhan Bhavan, the Legislative Assembly of Madhya Pradesh, and the dome of Bharat Bhavan. Posthumously, his painting Landscape with Spider (1988) was sold for a record price of $31,250 at Sotheby's New York auction in 2010, marking a first for an adivasi (vernacular) artist. Gleaning from the vast repertoire of tales, ballads, folklore, and fantasies of the Pardhan-Gond community, Shyam fabricated them into his visual narrative, thus bringing the ancient myths and stories to life. As he sought inspiration from the past and the present, the rural and the urban, the real and the imagined, a new visual vocabulary emerged that gave concrete shapes and forms to his community’s myths, legends, fables, tattoos, and music, which were, till then, hidden from the ‘mainstream’ society. It marked a paradigmatic shift in contemporary Indian art when the artist started using canvases, acrylic, oil and pen instead of the traditional charcoal, coloured soil, plant sap, leaves, cow dung, limestone powder, etc. This effective adaptation of the new media, tools and newer themes resulted in unforeseen results and inspired a generation of Gond artists to learn from Jangarh Singh Shyam. Jangarh Kalam, or Jangarh Singh Shyam’s personal rendition of the Pardhan Gond art instilled a creative energy that surged with the emergence of individuality and personal style in a traditionally collective society where artmaking was a group endeavour. In Jangarh Kalam, the images are transcribed from oral narratives that take shape as birds, flying snakes, or growing trees, floating to the rhythm of the music in diverse innovative variations. From enchanted woodlands to aero planes, indigenous deities, childhood stories, and animals, Shyam used colourful dots and peripheral contours of radiating lines to create these unique shapes and patterns reverberating with movement, fluidity, and power. In a tragic turn of events, the visionary artist took his own life at the age of 39 while he was on an international art residency at the Mithila Museum, Japan. While the artist died young, he inspired a legion of young men and women from his community who followed him and were mentored by him in the style he created incidentally. Today, many well-known Gond artists including Shyam’s wife and children and those who apprenticed under him continue to work in the Jangarh Kalam tradition keeping it alive and vibrant. Jangarh Singh Shyam, Paysage avec Araignée (Landscape with Spider), 1988 Image courtesy: Sotheby’s Jangarh Singh Shyam, The Seprpent Shesha Holding The Earth on his Hood, ca. late 1980s Collection and image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore Jangarh Singh Shyam, Ped, Chidiya Aur Hawaijahaz (Trees, Birds, and an Airplane), 1996 Collection and image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore Jangarh Singh Shyam, Phulwari Devi, early 1990s Collection and image courtesy: Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bangalore Jangarh Singh Shyam, Untitled, 1989 Collection: FONDATION CARTIER PARIS
CHRISTEL HAAG - UNSTOPPABLE FEMALE ARTISTS
In the one-century life span of abstract art, female abstract painters are not hard to find, to name just a few: Sonia Delaunay (a multidisciplinary artist who achieved success during her lifetime only due to her commercial work, whereas her husband Robert Delaunay was regarded as a serious artist), Lee Krasner (whose contribution to art history has been for a long time overshadowed by her marriage to the abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock), Elaine de Kooning (an accomplished artist, member of the Eighth Street Club in New York City she was mostly known as Mrs. William de Kooning, she dedicated most of her life to supporting her husband’s career), Barbara Hepworth (less recognized than her contemporary and fellow British artist Henry Moore), Françoise Gilot (the French-American artist who never managed to escape the “Picasso’s lover” title) and the list can go on. These talented artists have been less visible, not to say “invisible”, to an art establishment blinded by gender bias. Despite a recent shift in mentality and contemporary culture, female artists are still seen as “less” than their male counterparts. Female abstract painters and women artists, in general, deserve more awareness. Christel Haag is a commercially successful German abstract artist. Her work is very process-orientated. She plays with various contrasting effects on canvas by using an entire arsenal of mark-making in her process. The evolution of her paintings does not follow a predetermined concept. Rather, her works gradually evolve through an intuitive and dynamic process. Despite the gestural process, a coherent painting emerges. Haag finds her inspiration in nature. She translates into marvellous color combinations the beauty and harmony that surrender her. Lot 34 Are we Flying In her own words: "In 2002 I made the decision to give up my career in Public Relations at a university, follow my heart and retrain as an artist. Once I made the decision to open the door to my creative urges, I felt that I had to go back to the beginning to discover who I really am as an artist. It was as if I granted myself the right to be free again, free without boundaries or pre-existing ideas of who I should be as an artist. Over the years my experiences led to my colorful, abstract, dynamic, and gestural style of painting. I always try to go to my creative limits while experimenting and giving my artworks my individual expression. Nature inspires me. The marvellous impressions I take home from my travels. Also, I express in my paintings the mood and feeling of a particular moment in time. It is first and foremost the joy of painting, of colors, of the creative process itself, and of the energy of being that drives my artistic creation." 5 vivid paintings from Haag’s portfolio have been minted as unique NFT digital editions and are sold at auction in our coming event SHE IS UNSTOPPABLE. Browse her art and choose your favourite. Don’t forget to register for the auction. Bidding starts May 14th.
10 Most Influential Living Female Artists
Below, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 most influential female artists alive today. These women have left an incredible mark on the art world, and while their importance to the current scene is important, their impact will no doubt be felt for generations to come. Cindy Sherman Courtesy of Cindy Sherman Cindy Sherman made a name for herself through intricate self-portrait photography. Taking advantage of her skills as a costume maker and make-up artist, Sherman’s early work began exploring identity by using the artist’s body as the canvas. Her work frequently explores the place of women in the media and cultural landscape. Untitled Film Stills (1977-80) saw Sherman dressing as B-movie characters. In Centerfolds (1981), she upended the expectations of the male gaze, presenting complicated female characters where one might expect titillating, sexualized images. Her latest work speaks directly to the tools we use to communicate with each other. She now takes self-portraits using her phone, manipulating the images using multiple “face tuning” apps. The results are provocative and often disturbing. Tracey Emin Courtesy of Tracey Ermin Tracey Emin is no stranger to controversy. Her work is striking and confrontational, as well as deeply autobiographical. Her work reaches across an enormous array of mediums, from drawing, painting, and sculpture to neon text, film, photography, and sewn appliqué. Some of her installations made major waves in the art world. She premiered Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995 (1997) at the Royal Academy of London. The work is a tent that visitors can enter into, and on the walls are appliquéd the names of, you guessed it, everyone the artist had slept with. It serves as a kind of haunted space, especially in the greater context of Ermin’s work that challenges the role that sex plays in the perception of women. She has gone on to be a professor at the Royal Academy of Arts and a prolific, widely influential artist of our time. Yayoi Kusama Courtesy of Wikimedia Yayoi Kusama is an artist working in sculpture and installation, as well as many other mediums. She became a fixture of the 1960’s counterculture, organizing happenings where participants were nude and covered in painted polka dots. Beginning in 1963, Kusama began creating her Infinity Rooms, a series of installations in which the walls of the rooms were covered in mirrors with colorful balls of light hanging at different lengths from the ceiling. The effect is the perception that the room of lights goes on forever. Her public installation work continues to appear across the world, including Brazil, Japan, Singapore, and beyond. Marina Abramović Courtesy of Wikimedia Marina Abramović is likely the most important and influential performance artist of our time. Her newsworthy works have captured the attention of the artworld for decades, and she isn’t done yet. The Artist is Present (2010) saw Abramović sitting at a table at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Visitors were invited to sit across the table from Abramović. This went on to become the largest performance art exhibit in MoMA’s history. On top of her amazing career as an artist, she is also a philanthropist and a supporter of young artists through her Marina Abramović Institute. Judy Chicago Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum Judy Chicago is a major name in the worlds of both art and feminism, with her career striking a path that unites them. Many of her unique techniques are borrowed from boat building, auto body repair, and similar disciplines — what the artist calls the “macho arts.” The Dinner Party (1979) is likely Chicago’s most important work to date. It shows a dinner table set in a triangle, with 39 places set for female heroes, both real and mythical. The dinner plates are all hand-painted homages to the woman who is seated there. The sprawling ambition and bold statement continue to fascinate and inspire people today. Shirin Neshat Courtesy of Wikimedia Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born New York artist primarily working in photography, film, and video. Her work often focuses on the dichotomies, both socially constructed and eternal, that make up our world: Isamic and Western culture, male and female, public and private. Her film Women Without Men (2009) received the Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. The film, based on the novel by Shahrnush Parsipur, depicts events during the British and American backed coup in Iran that overthrew their democratic government and installed the Shah as monarch in 1953. Vija Celmins Courtesy of SFMoMA Vija Celmins works in paintings and drawings, creating photorealistic pieces. She is celebrated today as one of the leaders in realism, though she pushes her work into almost abstract places by focusing on visual rhythm and the exclusive use of gray tones. Her early breakthrough saw her making exquisite replications of photojournalism, making masterful use of grayscale in her painting. These works highlighted how much of our world view at the time was dictated by black-and-white photographs and disseminated through the media. She has gone on to focus on sweeping visions of natural spaces and events. Much of her current work shows us starry skies, ocean waves, and other large and small scale views of the natural world. Bharti Kher Courtesy of Wikimedia Bharti Kher is an artist working sculpture, installation, and painting. Her work often speaks to realities of inhabiting a body as well as issues around culture. Perhaps her most popular work is The Skin Speaks a Language Not Its Own (2006). The piece depicts a full-size female elephant collapsed on the ground, covered in the traditional bindi — a mark made on the forehead among followers of Hinduism representing the third eye. By bringing together these two images of India, Kher creates a vivid embodiment of the country. Marlene Dumas Courtesy of Wikimedia Marlene Dumas is an artist working in the Netherlands who is known as one of the first three living women to sell an artwork above the $1 million mark. The notoriety is well deserved. Her work is always in ceaseless exploration of human moods and social conditions. Her paintings often eschew direct representation and instead make suggestions of emotional states. Her work often distorts faces and specifics, driving down into the heart of her subject. She continues to be a major name in the art world today. Dumas’s prolific career continues to challenge viewers and evoke what it means to be alive. Julie Mehretu Courtesy of Forbes Julie Mehretu works in painting, drawing, and printmaking, often focusing on the socio-economic realities of our time. Her meticulous work is precise but ultimately deeply felt, mapping out the psychology of people in the urban environment. Her pieces often take on an enormous scale, often two stories tall. Mehretu describes her mark-making process as one that charts the movements and interactions of people in their own societal context. While her compositions can be overwhelming and grand, when viewers take the time to look at it in detail, they often find surprising narratives emerge.