« The Tale of Prince Vessantara », until 09 September 2018, Ashmolean Museum (University of Oxford)
The Buddha is believed to have had many lives before being born as Siddhartha Gautama. Stories of his past lives are known as jatakas (‘birth stories’). They play an important role in teaching Buddhist values.
The Vessantara Jataka is the last and most popular of the jataka tales. Here the Buddha was born as Prince Vessantara of the Sivi Kingdom, a very generous man who gave away everything, including his wife and children, to help others. His actions demonstrate the virtue of generosity, which in Buddhism is one of the ‘perfections’ required to achieve enlightenment.
The tale is often illustrated in Southeast Asian and Sri Lankan art. Buddhists can gain merit by making and commissioning these images. This display, drawn from the Ashmolean’s own collection, highlights a selection of Burmese and Sri Lankan drawings, paintings and woodcarvings of the story dating to the 19th century.
« National Gallery Singapore brings major show of works by Latiff Mohidin to Paris’s Centre Pompidou » by Gareth Harris, 5 /03/2018, The Art Newspaper
The exhibition of 1960s works by the Malaysian artist is part of a long-term plan to turn Euro-centric Modernism on its head
The National Gallery Singapore is going global, presenting its first show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris as part of the joint Reframing Modernism initiative launched by both institutions. The exhibition in Paris, Latiff Mohidin; Pago Pago 1960-69 (until 28 May), includes more than 70 works by the eponymous Malaysian artist and poet drawn from private and public collections in Singapore and Malaysia.
Reframing Modernism “was developed in the spirit of re-examining the currents and perspectives which have shaped existing notions of Modernism”, write Eugene Tan, the director of the National Gallery Singapore, and Bernard Blistène, director of the Centre Pompidou’s Musée national d’art moderne, in the exhibition catalogue.
Both institutions are keen to “contribute to a more nuanced understanding of interactions between southeast Asia and Euro-America from a decentralised perspective”. In 2016, the Beaubourg gallery loaned works by artists such as Picasso and Chagall to the Reframing Modernism show held at the National Gallery Singapore, putting southeast Asian works in a new global context.
Prints, poetry, sculptural objects and writings on display reflect Mohidin’s multifaceted practice during the 1960s. The co-curators—Catherine David of the Centre Pompidou and Shabbir Hussain Mustafa of the National Gallery Singapore—demonstrate how Mohidin was exposed to movements such as German Expressionism and Cubism during his time studying at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in west Berlin from 1961 to 1964. Key works on show include Nature Morte I, Paysage de Berlin (verso; 1962), and the work on paper Un garcon (1963).
In the second half of the 1960s, Mohidin travelled across southeast Asia against a turbulent political backdrop whereby various nationalist movements had begun to prevail (Singapore split from the Malyasian Federation in 1965, for instance). The artist also forged important relationships with other avant-garde thinkers such as the writer Goenawan Mohamad in Jakarta. Mohidin dubbed this dialogue, and the new aesthetic taking shape regionally, Pago Pago.
Hussain Mustafa outlines the process, saying: “Mohidin evokes the consciousness that emerged through these travels with a phrase, Pago Pago, a manner of thinking and working that complicated Western Modernism through the initiation of dialogues with other avant-garde thinkers in southeast Asia.”
Mohidin describes how the Pago Pago works are made, saying in the exhibition catalogue: “Each Pago Pago object is constructed with a black contour… sometimes the colouring came after the shape had taken form. The bottom ground is uniformly the same colour, like the Berlin still-life paintings. In terms of the brush technique, although Pago Pago has fewer brush strokes, there is significant control over the form, the curves, the leaves.” His poetry of the time is, meanwhile, in free verse form, echoing the biomorphic aspect of his art.
Exhibition : Ifugao Sculpture : Expressions in Philippine Cordillera Art, 01/12/2017 – 04/02/2018, University Museum and Art Gallery, University of Hong Kong
The University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, is delighted to present Ifugao Sculpture: Expressions in Philippine Cordillera Art from December 1, 2017 to February 4, 2018, an exhibition of tribal art and culture. Rarely shown in such a large group display, both figurative sculptures and ritual boxes exemplify the talent of artists from the Ifugao, Bontoc and Kankanaey tribes in the northern Luzon region of the Philippines. The exhibition is organised in cooperation with Mr Martin Kurer and the Hong Kong-based Asian Art:Future (AA:F), a collection specialising in contemporary and antique Asian art.
The works displayed in the show range from sculptural objects, including ‘bulul’ statues, deities associated with the production of bountiful harvests; ‘hipag’ (or ‘hapag’) figures, war deities used as vehicles through which divine help can be summoned; sculptural boxes used in ceremonies, the ‘punamhan’; and various boxes for the storage of food—sometimes called ‘tangongo’ or ‘tanoh’—along with other functional items such as ‘kinahu’, food bowls, and toys. Fascinated with the modern abstract style of these carved 19th- and 20th-century sculptures, the exhibition takes an artistic rather than an anthropological approach, highlighting the aesthetics of the displayed artworks rather than signifying them as ethnic markers or religious tools. Both the bulul figures and boxes are deeply connected to cultural rituals, while they present abstract expressions of a group of talented rural artists.
Together, these selected pieces showcase the aesthetic and artistic side of a wide range of Cordillera sculptural art from the 18th through the 20th centuries. The pieces are arranged in line with various centres of artistic gravity—‘archaic’, ‘minimalist’, ‘transition’—although the lines are sometimes blurred, and most of the ‘archaic’ material also shows ‘minimalist’ elements.
One of the essays in the exhibition catalogue draws comparisons with other tribal arts and describes their influence over modern Western artists, such as the Russian Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), the Romanian Constantin Brancusi (1876–1957) and the French artist George Braque (1882–1963). This claim is based on visual comparisons and it is each object’s physical structure, design value and international character that is highlighted in the current exhibition.
Exhibition : Voices of Transition : Contemporary Art from Myanmar, 16/11/2017 – 03/12/2017, Lunn + Sgarbossa Gallery, Londres
Lunn+Sgarbossa presents ‘Voices of Transition: Contemporary Art from Myanmar’, an exhibition of unprecedented size, scale and scholarly ambition in Europe to display contemporary artists from Myanmar.
In our curation, we aim to communicate the dynamic experiences of artists in Myanmar from the inception of contemporary art in Myanmar in the 1980’s to the present day. Our title – ‘Voices of Transition’ – demonstrates our enquiry into the transitional context for contemporary artists, understanding the oppression of state censorship, and how artists have boldly fought to have their voices heard. We also place the work in a broader, non-artistic context and challenge the reality of the often quoted ‘transition to democracy’ of Myanmar post-2015. In essence, ‘Voices of Transition’ asks how we reconcile individual voices and national context, in order to understand societal ‘transition’.
Visitors to the exhibition will be exposed to a carefully curated set of media and practises. Moe Satt (b. 1983) presents his captivating video-art ‘Hands around in Yangon’ (2017), which deals poignantly with the daily tasks of many pairs of hands, revealing through its hypnotic pace the inner-workings of a day in the life of Yangon. Aye Ko (b.1963), winner of the Joseph Balestier Freedom of the Art’s Prize 2017, prints striking and tortured self-depictions, through which we are able to reflect on his time as a political prisoner. Nge Lay’s (b.1979) visceral and disarming photography explores the effects of time on the bodies of the female role models from her personal life, illustrating a central curatorial tenet of the exhibition, the departure of the old and the emergence of a new generation.
The exhibition will display major new works from the ‘father of Burmese modern art’, artist Aung Myint (b.1946), whose artworks have been collected by the Guggenheim. Until the 2000s, the colours red and gold were largely censored in art and film for political and religious reasons. Aung Myint’s use of colour and reinterpretation of traditional calligraphic and mural techniques are radical acts of rebellion. Acclaimed performance artists from Myanmar will be performing in person at the exhibition. Performance art, requiring minimal tools beyond the artist’s own body, has been a crucial medium of social-political participation, protest and solidarity in the struggle for a democratic Myanmar. While paintings can be symbolic, performance art is a direct action of defiance.
Southeast Asia Stakes Its Claim in the Art World by Jason Farago, 27/09/2017, New York Times
Until recently — the 1990s, let’s say — an American critic keeping tabs on new art would concentrate on New York’s museums and galleries; cast an occasional, often dismissive eye on Western Europe; and perhaps try to visit Los Angeles now and again. No longer. By the ’90s the idea of a single avant-garde was dead and buried, and in its place arose a pluralist art ecosystem that spans the planet. It makes larger intellectual demands than ever, and requires us to accept that we’ll never see everything or understand it completely. In the new global art world, even we New Yorkers are provincials.
Perhaps nowhere benefited as much from this shift to a pluralist art world as Asia, where the 1990s saw an explosion of biennials and triennials. The Gwangju Biennale, Asia’s most important such exhibition, began in 1995 in South Korea, and was soon followed by large-scale shows in Shanghai, Taipei, Fukuoka, Yokohama, Singapore, Jakarta, and a half dozen other Asian megacities — all of which introduced Asian audiences to foreign art and pushed their own region’s figures to the international forefront. In these exhibitions, as well as in the new museums and art schools that arose around them, traditional styles of painting, drawing, pottery or calligraphy fell by the wayside, and installation, video and performance served as lingua franca.
The art in “After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History,”at the Asia Society on Park Avenue, is the fruit of this global shift. The work here comes from Indonesia, Myanmar (or Burma) and Vietnam, though with just seven artists and one collective, it’s small enough to avoid the curse of the “regional show” and doesn’t force any unity on a diverse lineup. Not every work here is a masterpiece, but all of them plumb the roiling past and fractured present of places that, with a combined population of nearly 400 million, we have no excuse to be clueless about.
Ancestors & Rituals, Europalia Indonesia, 11/10/2017 – 14/01/2018, BOZAR/Palais des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles
Commissaire: Daud Tanudirjo Conseillers:Pieter ter Keurs & Francine Brinkgreve
Immense archipel de plus de 13 000 îles s’étalant sur pas moins de 5 000 kilomètres d’est en ouest, l’Indonésie compte près de 255 millions d’habitants, 300 groupes ethniques et plus de 700 langues. Ces quelques chiffres donnent une idée de la diversité de ce pays et de la variété des cultures qui le composent.
Un point commun relie cependant une grande majorité de ces cultures : l’importance accordée aux ancêtres. De Sumatra à la Papouasie, en passant par Java, Bornéo, Sulawesi, les petites îles de la Sonde et les Moluques : les ancêtres ont joué et jouent souvent encore un rôle de premier plan en Indonésie.
Qu’ils soient généalogiques ou mythiques, les ancêtres remplissent trois fonctions cruciales ayant trait au passé, au présent et au futur. Ils relient les vivants à leur passé, leur permettant de revendiquer une place au sein d’une lignée et de définir ainsi leur statut et position sociale. Ils sont ensuite garants de l’équilibre de la société et assurent par leur soutien et protection un présent harmonieux. Ils sont enfin source de fertilité et préservent ainsi le futur des peuples et cultures.
Les échanges avec d’autres cultures et religions ont, au fil des millénaires, influencé les arts, les identités et la manière même d’envisager le monde des peuples indonésiens. La majeure partie des cultures de l’archipel trouvent leurs racines dans la culture austronésienne, apportée par des peuples migrateurs qui partirent de Taiwan il y a plus de 5 000 ans. La splendide culture Dong Son du nord du Vietnam, connue pour sa grande maîtrise du bronze, n’est pas non plus restée sans influence.
Enfin, un important volet de l’exposition est consacré aux surprenants rituels funéraires. Accomplis en différentes phases, parfois étalées sur plusieurs années, c’est ceux-ci qui permettent aux défunts d’accéder au statut d’ancêtres. Ceux qui leur survivent ne ménagent ni leurs efforts ni leurs finances pour les accompagner vers les mondes supérieurs et préserver ainsi l’équilibre et l’harmonie de la communauté.
La plupart des 160 trésors archéologiques et ethnographiques ont été prêtés par le Musée national d’Indonésie et sont exposés pour la première fois en Europe. Une trentaine de ceux-ci proviennent quant à eux de musées et de collections privées européennes. L’ensemble est mis en contexte à partir de photographies d’époque, de vidéos, de dessins et de peintures.
Exposition : Between worlds : Raden Saleh & Juan Luna, 16/11/2017 – 11/03/2018, Singtel Special Exhibition Gallery C, National Gallery Singapore
Explore the extraordinary life stories of two artists who are considered national heroes in their home countries––Indonesian painter Raden Saleh (c.1811–1880) and Filipino painter Juan Luna (1857–1899). Drawing from important collections around the world, this landmark exhibition brings together more than 80 of their works for the first time.
Between Worlds takes you through significant chapters of each artist’s journey, uncovering parallels and differences in their experiences, from their emergence as artists in Java and the Philippines; to their subsequent training and participation in artistic and social circles in Europe; and their later return to Southeast Asia.
Between Worlds is part of the showcase Century of Light, which features two exciting exhibitions on art from the 19th century, a post-Enlightenment era of innovation and change. Together with Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, the show demonstrates the range of painting styles and art movements that emerged in Europe during this formative period, which has been and continues to be influential to the development of art in Southeast Asia and around the world.
Exposition : Les Mentawai d’Indonésie : trésors de la réserve, 21/10/2017 – 28/05/2018, Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden
Dans cette exposition, des objets uniques nous racontent l’histoire des traditions séculaires et de la culture d’aujourd’hui des Mentawai (Indonésie). Dans quelle mesure des traditions comme celles des Mentawai continuent-elles à être observées à une époque où la modernité s’est frayé un chemin jusque dans leur île ? Dans quelle mesure les Mentawai sont-ils prêts à faire partie d’un monde globalisé ? Les anciennes traditions sont-elles compatibles avec la vie au 21e siècle ?
C’est grâce au don de Reimar Schefold, ancien professeur d’anthropologie de l’Indonésie à l’Université de Leyde, que le Museum Volkenkunde peut disposer d’une collection d’art et d’objets Mentawai.
« Philippine Art: Collecting Art, Collecting Memories », 14/07/2017 – 11/03/2018, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Landmark exhibition at Asian Art Museum showcases centuries of creativity and cultural exchange
On view July 14, 2017–March 11, 2018 and presented in the Tateuchi Thematic Gallery, Philippine Art: Collecting Art, Collecting Memories is the result of more than a decade of study and collecting by the museum’s curatorial team — a labor of love to expand the institution’s holdings in this oft-overlooked area.
This is the first exhibition ever mounted in the United States of Philippine art spanning from the precolonial period to today. It explores the Philippines’ diverse artistic practices through twenty-five rare and compelling works: traditional carving and weaving; Islamic metalwork; Christian art from the colonial period; and modern and contemporary painting and mixed-media. This rich variety comes together to tell the sometimes unfamiliar story of how the Philippines — an island nation positioned along ancient trade routes between China and India, and, later, Europe via the Americas — has for centuries been a center for artistic exchange and innovation.
“The artistic culture of the Philippines has been marked by a history of invasion, resistance, accommodation and adaptation,” explains Natasha Reichle, who as the museum’s associate curator of Southeast Asian art spent years acquiring the artworks organized into this exhibition. “What has been fascinating is seeing how contemporary artists draw upon aspects of this complex legacy to create new works, works that are celebrated in the Philippines and valued in a global art market that is beginning to appreciate their beauty, originality and sophistication.”
“Ironically, the Philippines’ colonial history and Christian artistic legacy placed much of its art outside familiar ‘Asian art’ storylines of Hinduism or Buddhism, which may have led to its exclusion from our museum’s original founding collection,” explains Reichle. “Luckily for our visitors, this is a story that wants to be told. We have pieces in this exhibition acquired by donation, given directly from artists and collectors, even from the families of former missionaries and on-the-ground field researchers. The backstory of how we acquired every artwork mirrors the fascinating history of the Philippines.”
« Land of Freedom » : Heri Dono’s First Solo Exhibition in Hong Kong by Valencia Tong, 07/07/2017, the Artling
As one of Indonesia’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Heri Dono is known for his satirical political commentary in his paintings and installations. Earlier on, The Artling interviewed the Yogyakarta-based artist back in 2015 during his residency at STPI in Singapore, before his solo installation at the Indonesian Pavillion for the Venice Biennale. Fast-forward to 2017, Heri Dono is showing his works at Tang Contemporary Art in his first solo gallery exhibition in Hong Kong.
The artworks on view seem humorous at first glance, yet they deal with serious sociopolitical issues, such as those in the Brexit and Trump era. To illustrate the complexities of the global political scene, strange-looking mythological creatures are juxtaposed against political caricatures. In Super Trump – Land, US president Donald Trump is depicted as a superhero-like figure with three eyes.
The artist, born in 1960 in Jakarta, Indonesia, is inspired by wayang kulit, a form of traditional shadow puppet play in Indonesia. Symbols of animals, mythological beasts, machines, spaceships and parodies of world leaders are commonly found in his work.
« Banda : Heritage for Indonesia : a seminar and an exhibition about Banda, nutmeg and the treaty of Breda 1667-2017 », 31/07/2017 – 31/08/2017, Erasmus Huis, Jakarta
2017 marks the 350th anniversary of the Treaty of Breda. This Treaty, named after the Dutch city where it was signed on 31 July 1667, ended the Second Anglo-Dutch war (1665–1667) during which England and the Netherlands had fought over maritime hegemony and world trade. Through signing the Treaty of Breda, the Dutch accepted English rule over what is now New York (New Amsterdam), while the British accepted Dutch rule over Suriname and Run, the remotest of the Banda islands. However, the Banda islands had been an international trade centre long before the Portuguese were the first Europeans to visit Banda. It was after their arrival to the islands that various European powers attempted to monopolize the worldwide trade in nutmeg. These disputes turned the Banda islands into a lively, yet often violent stage for world politics. After the Dutch, led by J.P. Coen, unleashed a lethal expedition against the Bandanese in 1621, a Dutch monopoly on the spice was secured even though the British maintained their claim on Run until 1667.
This exhibition traces this fascinating history behind the Treaty of Breda. Through the presentation of historical maps, images and objects, Banda’s multi-faceted history will be highlighted. The visitor gets acquainted with nutmeg and its characteristics, Banda as a centre of international trade and world politics.
« Deep South ‘Patani arts’ opens in the North » by Kong Rithdee, 20/07/2017, Bangkok Post
A major contemporary art exhibition about the Deep South is on display at a museum in Chiang Mai, one of the biggest gatherings of artists from the region, with the addition of others whose works touch on the stories of conflicts and violence in the southernmost provinces.
« Patani Semasa » opened last night at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai. It features 27 artists who work in painting, photography, installation pieces and video art.
The majority are from « Patani », the generic and historic name of the provinces of the Deep South. Many are women, and while the exhibition generally showcases the development of contemporary art in the region, the dominant theme at this show is the loss, reflection and hope that come with the protracted unrest plaguing the region for decades, particularly since 2004.
Passion and procession : art of the Philippines, 24/06/2017 – 12/11/2017, Art Gallery New South Wales
Celebrating the diverse and vibrant art of the Philippines.
Passion and procession brings together painting, sculpture, video and installation works from ten contemporary Filipino artists, revealing their very personal responses to faith, history, politics and life in the Philippines.
The works draw on folk mythology, family archives, nature and religious ceremony to reconsider established narratives of history and nation. The artists have used found as well as ritual objects, plant specimens and symbols of precolonial histories to address the ambiguities of faith and science, social inequality and relationship to place. In doing so, they demonstrate a belief in the potential of art to inspire, heal and effect social change.
The artists include Santiago Bose, Marina Cruz, Alfredo Esquillo Jr, Nona Garcia, Renato Habulan, Geraldine Javier, Mark Justiniani, Alwin Reamillo, Norberto Roldan and Rodel Tapaya.
Accompanying their works is a selection of textiles and sculptural objects from the Philippines given to the Gallery in 2005 by Dr John Yu and Dr George Soutter.
This exhibition is part of the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project, a collaboration between the Art Gallery of NSW, Blacktown Arts Centre, Mosman Art Gallery, Peacock Gallery (Auburn) and Campbelltown Arts Centre in association with Museums & Galleries of NSW, to celebrate the art and culture of the Philippines through a series of exhibitions, performances, creative writing and community programs across multiple venues.
The last issue of TAASA Review: The Journal of the Asian Arts Society of Australia (vol. 26, n° 2, June 2017) is dedicated to the Bayanihan Philippine Art Project, and the art and culture of the Philippines.
Exhibition : Patani Semasa : Pameran Seni dari Patani, 19/07/2017 – 14/02/2018, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum
An exhibition on contemporary art from the Golden Peninsula. Ranging from different time periods, works of art as well as cultural representations of the « Patani region » from 27 artists have been selected – both locals and those engaged with issues relevant to the area in question.
« Sunshower : Contemporary art from Southeast Asia 1980’s to now », 05/07/2017 – 23/10/2017, The National Art Center, Tokyo & Mori Art Museum
With its total population counting around 600 million, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-faith Southeast Asia has nurtured a truly dynamic and diverse culture. Contemporary art from the emerging economic powerhouse of Southeast Asia is currently earning widespread international attention. The “sunshower” – rain falling from clear skies – is an intriguing yet frequently-seen meteorological phenomenon in Southeast Asia, and serves as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of the region. This exhibition, the largest-ever in scale, seeks to explore the many practices of contemporary art in Southeast Asia since 1980s from 9 different perspectives. It aims to showcase its inconceivable dynamism of Southeast Asia that is somewhat nostalgic yet extraordinarily new.
Nine sections : Fluid World, Passion and Revolution, Archiving, Diverse Identities, Day by Day, Growth and Loss, What is Art ? Why Do It ?, Medium as Meditation, Dialogue with History.