What's Happening in Asian Art...

Asia Week New York Presents Their Summer 2021 Exhibition: Shades of Blue

July 9, 2021

An Unusually Large Kraak Bowl, Late Ming dynasty, Late 16th-early 17th century, Diameter: 36.5 cm. (14 3/8 in.), Height: 17.0 cm. (6 3/4 in.), Courtesy of Kaikodo LLC

Asia Week New York is pleased to announce that Shades of Blue, a Summer 2021 online exhibition which includes one work of art from each of the two-dozen plus galleries and 6 auction houses–Bonhams, Christie’s, Doyle, Heritage, iGavel and Sotheby’s. The online show opens on July 15th and will run through August 15th.

“We are delighted to present our summer exhibition, Shades of Blue, which explores the many ways blue has transformed Asian art,” says Dessa Goddard, Chairman of Asia Week New York.

First produced by the Egyptians 6,000 years ago, the discovery of blue pigment, in the form of cobalt blue and indigo dyes, led to the creation of many now classic styles of decoration in Asian art. For example, blue and white porcelain became a major style of decoration from Safavid Persia to the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties of China and later throughout Asia, including Vietnam, Japan and Korea. Much admired throughout the world, it was also imitated in Europe.

In the early 19th century with the introduction of Prussian blue, a genre of Japanese prints, known as aizuri-e exclusively used blue, while indigo dyes were extensively used in many Asian textiles, notably in the rustic textiles of rural Japan and the tribal textiles of Southeast Asia and China.

As of press time, the following galleries are presenting works in Shades of Blue:

An Important Enamelled Pandan, Mughal, Akbar period, possibly from Multan in the Punjab, c.1570-1600, Gilt copper and champlevé enamel, 7 cm high ; 14.5 cm diameter (max), courtesy of Francesca Galloway

Ancient and/or Contemporary Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art

The application of blue pigment, a compound of cobalt oxide, onto ceramics dates to 9th century Islamic Mesopotamia. However, its presence in Chinese ceramics was largely unknown until the arrival of the cobalt blue pigment in China from Persia in the early 14th century. This blue and white Faience plate at Art Passages painted in two shades of underglaze blue on a white background is in imitation of a Chinese Kraak ware that was so popular that the Persian potters were challenged to meet this growing demand for the Chinese blue and white ceramics by the rulers and the elites.

Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch, Ltd. offer a mid-17th century Safavid cobalt-backed blue and white pottery dish, from Persia. This type of bowl with its distinctive incised decoration and brilliant cobalt blue glaze on the reverse, dates to the reign of Shah Abbas II (1642-66), ruler of Iran, when the arts of the Safavid royal court were at their zenith and is possibly amongst the most sophisticated group of Persian ceramics of its time.

An important 16th/17th century Mughal paandaan will be available at Francesca Galloway. This eight-petalled and lobed box and cover is one of the earliest examples of Indian copper enameling to have survived. Displaying the imaginative skill of its artist, it is a beautiful and quite extraordinary early Mughal object.

The 18th century Nepalese opaque watercolors Illustrations from the Ramayana at Kapoor Galleries illustrate a portion of the Ramayana, as the three figures on the right side of the composition resemble the exiled triad at the center of the Indian epic: Krishna’s avatar Rama, his betrothed, Sita, and his brother Lakshmana. The seven sages depicted, however, may very well be the saptarishi or celestial brothers born from Brahma.

An exceptionally rare handspun Proto-Batik with an ancient Kawung pattern, is available at Thomas Murray. This is an important aesthetic and art historical fragment from an old Japanese collection of textiles.

Susan Ollemans presents an enormous 19th century silver, enamel and glass mirror ring from Lahore, Pakistan. When a couple married, it became customary for the bride to wear a mirror ring so that her future husband could glance at his betrothed’s face under her veil for the first time.

Featured at Akar Prakar, is Metaphors of my terrain, by Manish Pushkale, who articulates his fascination with geology, archaeology, and epigraphy in compelling, enigmatic creations. The melding of these varied ideas is evident in this captivating work. He employs the running stitch associated with the kantha tradition of embroidery as his generative motif, playing it out over surfaces animated by a palette of reds, ochres, and umbers. The painted stitch morphs into rivers, ravines, rising terraces as in a survey map. The colors are reminiscent of the textile and embroidery arts of the nomadic communities that traverse what had once been the Dakshinapatha, the great trade route connecting the northern cities of Varanasi and Vidisha with the capitals of the peninsula, Pratishthana, Madurai and Kanchipuram.

Runjeet Singh presents a remarkable 18th-19th century Turkish blue glass handled knife from the Ottoman empire which brilliantly exemplifies the artistry often applied to exceptional pieces of arms and armor.

Ancient and/or Contemporary Chinese Art

Ralph M. Chait Galleries, Inc. will feature a magnificent early to mid-18th century Chinese blue and white soft paste porcelain jar, decorated with the Sanduo (Three Sacred Fruit), and finely painted in deep underglaze blue.

Ai Weiwei’s ‘Blue and White Porcelain Plate (Crossing of the Sea), 2017 at Chambers Fine Art is from an important series of works in which the decorative motifs typical of classical Chinese porcelain have been replaced with imagery derived from Weiwei’s personal experience with the refugee crisis.

A wool pile rug on a cotton foundation from Ningxia in Western China dating to the first half of the 19th century is offered by Nicholas Grindley LLC.

Ink Studio features an ink drawing by Peng Kanglong, a literati-recluse artist who paints in the traditional landscape and flower genres. His major stylistic influences include the 17th century Monk artists Shitao and Kuncan, as well as the Modern landscape master Huang Binghong. Landscape and flower painting are two distinct genres with their own metaphoric languages, painting techniques, representative masters and developmental histories. Kanglong is perhaps the first ink artist to explore the artistic possibilities of integrating these formerly separate genres.

Mammoth, monumental, colossal, enormous are words that go only so far when describing this late-16th/early 17th century Ming dynasty bowl at Kaikodo LLC. Seeing it in real life is the only way to be dazzled by its tremendous size. The massive yet surprisingly light-weight bowl was perfectly potted and fired, painted in underglaze cobalt—a watery brilliant blue in the interior ranging to more subtle tones on the exterior, all beneath a bright, clear glaze, the composition arranged in panels enclosing botanical and geometric motifs combined with Buddhist emblems and the bottom interior roundel with riverine lotus and geese.

At Zetterquist Galleries, a small Ming Dynasty blue and white food bowl with a pendant and Ruyi–Middle Eastern scrolling–is of a type often made for export to Southeast Asia and Middle Eastern markets during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797−1858), Kinkizan on Enoshima Island in Sagami Province (Sōshū Enoshima Kinkizan), Color woodblock print: aiban yoko-e uchiwa-e, 8⅞ x 11½ in. (22.5 x 29.2 cm), courtesy of Sebastian Izzard LLC Asian Art

Ancient and/or Contemporary Japanese Art

The Art of Japan showcases Hiroshige’s woodblock print, #109 Minami, Shinagawa, Samezu Coast (1857), an excellent example of the artist’s masterful use of the blue dyes/pigments from his most well-known series of prints from the 100 Views of Edo.

Dai Ichi Arts, Ltd. features a stoneware incense burner by Shimizu Uichi, the Living National Treasure. This historical lineage of celadon ware is referenced in this piece, where Shimizu’s transparent glaze takes on an icy, blue-white color. While this textured glaze, which showcases small cracks on a jade-like veneer, references rare Guan pottery, the three-footed silhouette of the object highlights a mountain-scape at its summit.

Egenolf Gallery Japanese Prints is presenting Evening Snow, Edo River (Blue Version), a first edition Japanese woodblock print by Kawase Hasui (1883-1957).

Hara Shobo is showing Mother and child looking at Goldfish candies (Kinkato) on a blue and white dish, from the series Fashionable striped fabrics made to order (Atsurae some tosei shima), a Japanese polychrome woodcut print by Utagawa Toyokuni III, circa.1844.

Kinkizan on Enoshima Island in Sagami Province (Sōshū Enoshima Kinkizan), by Utawaga Hiroshige at Sebastian Izzard LLC, emanates from an untitled series of fan prints depicting famous landscapes in and around Sagami Province.

Joan B Mirviss LTD, is showing a bold and inventive vessel by the Living National Treasure, Matsui Kōsei (1927-2003), who was the seminal figure in the revival of neriage (marbleized clay). This signature, blue and white gradated, brush-rubbed, marbleized globular stoneware vessel dates to the artist's middle period, circa 1982. While a priest at Gessō-ji Temple in Kasama, Japan, Matsui studied ancient Chinese ceramics to perfect his neriage technique but his original, abstract works with geometric surface patterns far surpassed these historic precedents.

At her eponymous gallery MIYAKO YOSHINAGA, presents Yojiro Imasaka’s, Blue Bayou 9, a hypnotic interpretation of this mysterious Louisiana landscape, creating an illusion of natural beauty in just two colors, their nuanced tonality reminiscent of solemn blue-and-white porcelain.

Sonsu, the blue and white Ohi ceremonial vessel at Onishi Gallery, by Ohi Toshio Chozaemon XI, exemplifies his personal perspective and understanding of his family’s 300-year-old heritage, and applies a contemporary twist to the signature amber color of Ohi ceramics. By incorporating the color of blue and white, Ohi is developing a new family tradition.

In this impression of Niagara Falls, available at Scholten Japanese Art, Hiroshi Yoshida contrasts layers of light and dark blue swirls of water in the foreground against the soft pink mist drifting upwards towards tufts of pale cotton candy pink and lavender clouds. In 1924, he was involved with a traveling exhibition of paintings and prints in America which was organized to support those artists who were struggling in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake that devastated Tokyo on September 1st in the previous year. Upon his return to Japan in January of 1925, Yoshida established his own printing studio and began production of woodblock prints, starting with a series based on compositions from the United States.

TAI Modern is showing Breaking Composition #14, kiln-foaming cast glass, by Kojiro Yoshiaki, whose works are created by the complex interaction of glass, tiny bubbles, heat, and gravity. The artist concludes that this transformation echoes the life cycle in the natural world where objects are always changing, and his goal is to create forms that express the natural properties of glass.

A beautiful 18th century fan painting with flowers, mounted as a hanging scroll, is available at Thomsen Gallery. With rich mineral colors, ink and gofun on gold paper, it depicts a group of colorful blossoms in bloom. Flowering in the late spring and early summer, the Clematis became a symbol of the summer and a perfect image to place on a fan, so that its owner could start fanning him or herself at the first arrival of hot days.

An 18th century Korean blue and white porcelain Dragon jar, with an underglaze cobalt-blue design from the Yi Dynasty is the selection at Hiroshi Yanagi Oriental Art.

Bohnchang Koo (B. 1953), OSK 39, 2005, Archival pigment print, 19.6 x 15.7in. (50 x 40cm.), courtesy of HK Art & Antiques LLC

Ancient and Contemporary Korean Art

OSK 39, an archival pigment print, by Bohnchang Koo is presented by HK Art & Antiques LLC.

Object in focus

July 8, 2021

A Gold and Turquoise Belt Chinese Tang Dynasty 7th Century Length: 63cm Width: 5cm, courtesy of Susan Ollemans

A rare gold belt inset with turquoise.

Belt ornaments appeared in bronze or gold from around the 9th Century B. The majority of belt ornaments come from male tombs although a few have been found in female tombs re-enforcing the warrior-like nature of the nomadic women. With increased exposure to the northern nomads the Chinese began to develop their own design of the belt and belt hook. By the Tang Dynasty lavish belt decorations were given as marks of respect with Imperial edicts decreeing and regulating the number of plaques that could be worn according to rank and status. Jade was worn by the Emperor and down to third –ranked officers. Gold, silver, bronze and iron inset with hard stones were regulated to the lower ranks. By the Ming Dynasty many of these belts had lost a functional use and had become only a symbol of rank.

For more information, go to: https://www.ollemans.com/

Thomsen Gallery is participating in NOMAD St. Moritz

July 2, 2021

Maeda Chikubosai I (1872-1950)
Flower Basket with Natural Bamboo Handle, in the Form of a Cluster Fig, 1942, Japan
Bamboo and rattan, height 21 inches (54 cm)

Thomsen Gallery is participating in NOMAD St. Moritz, the international art fair for collectible design and contemporary art, this July 8-11.

Their exhibition will take place in the historic mansion Chesa Planta, St. Moritz, Switzerland and will offer a select group of Japanese bamboo ikebana baskets by the great masters from the first half of the 20th century, regarded as the Golden Age of Japanese basketry.

The baskets will be complemented by a selection of works by contemporary makers, including Japanese modern bronze vessels and contemporary gold-lacquer boxes.

Please register here or contact Thomsen Gallery at www.thomsengallery.com for admission.

Songtsam Hotels Resorts Tours, launches sustainability initiatives

June 30, 2021

Songtsam Meili Lodge

Songtsam Hotels Resorts Tours, a boutique luxury group in Tibet, has been firmly committed to sustainability and to supporting local communities since its founding 20 years ago by Baima Duoji. At the newly opened Songtsam Lodge Namcha Barwa, the goal is to help improve the Dalin Village’s living standards and support local development.

Another initiative has been to preserve the 2000 year old tradition of making Nixi Black Pottery in Shangri-La City, Diqing Prefecture.  Songtsam's guests are taken to visit the traditional Tibetan villages of Nixi to experience pottery-making firsthand. They often purchase these vessels, thereby contributing income to the Nixi craftsmen and to the local village.  

Songtsam pays special attention to environmental sustainability in all aspects of the design and construction process of their hotels and lodges.  Songtsam Lodge Ranwu, with an altitude of approx. 13,779 feet, stands at the highest altitude of all Songtsam hotels so far. In order to preserve the natural environment, the building was designed as modular prefabrication, embedded under a high cliff, hidden from sight, despite the difficult construction challenges.  Most of Songtsam’s lodges are brick-wood structures and are made of wood recycled from abandoned buildings or from trees that have naturally fallen, due to Tibet’s logging ban. The buildings are of a similar size and architectural style to those in Tibet’s villages and fit into the local environment.

 

As part of their involvement with the preservation of the natural ecosystem, Songtsam organizes tours for their guests to enjoy the magnificent natural scenery and learn about the complex plants within the Hengduan Mountains in the area of the Three Parallel Rivers.

Cooperating with Baima Snow Mountain National Nature Reserve, Songtsam launched the Tibetan Eared Pheasant Charity Program to restore the population of the rapidly disappearing protected species. The first group of Tibetan-eared pheasants farmed and nurtured by the Songtsam staff have been successfully released back to nature.

For more information about Songtsam visit www.songtsam.com/en/about

New exhibition at Joan B Mirviss LTD

June 28, 2021

Sugiura Yasuyoshi (b. 1949)  Magnolia Hypoleuca  2016  Glazed stoneware  8 5/8  x 18 1/8  x 18 1/2 in.

Summer Sculptures, at Joan B Mirviss LTD, showcases the many ways that earth, through fire, can appear to transform into completely different materials.  The featured artists take advantage of this elemental change to shape clay into strikingly inventive sculptures. Some go further in exploiting these unexpected transformations by adding textures or patterns to evoke wood, metal, rubber, glass, stone, or textile.

Through the use of a rare type of gray clay and multiple firings, Itō Tadashi (b.1952) creates sculptures that have the appearance of antique metal. The large geometric works of Imai Hyōe (b. 1951), with their hemispheres of concentric black bands, suggest the elasticity of rubber. Rectangular decorations in matte glazes on the tiered block form by Sawada Hayato (b. 1978) emphasize its wood-like appearance, as if it were hewn rather than molded.

Celadon glaze has long been prized for its translucent quality reminiscent of glass, a trait that Kino Satoshi (b. 1987), Minegishi Seikō (b. 1952), and Yagi Akira (b. 1955) highlight in their various light-catching sculptures.

Fujino Sachiko’s (b. 1950) background in textiles informs her approach to folding and pleating clay with the intricacy of fabric, which in her latest sculptures she employs to great effect.  And in a rare departure from her biomorphic forms, a recent work by Katsumata Chieko (b. 1950) looks like an encrusted stone pillar excavated from ancient ruins, an effect enhanced by its ridged monolithic form and textured gray surface.

Nowhere is the utter transformation of clay more evident, however, than in the flower forms of Sugiura Yasuyoshi (b. 1949). Sugiura’s stunning, oversized summer blooms appear complete with delicate petals, curling leaves, and individual stamen. His naturalistic sculptures point to the real mysteries that can arise from the earth, as each of our artists explore the endlessly surprising transformations possible in clay.

The exhibition can be viewed in the gallery and online here (https://www.mirviss.com/exhibitions/summer-sculptures)

Objects in Focus

June 25, 2021

Torii Ippo, 2011, Spring Surf, madake bamboo, rattan 29.25 x 28 x 17 in, Courtesy of TAI Modern

Torii Ippo (1930-2011) was the oldest son of Torii Hounsai, a well-regarded bamboo artist who won many prizes from the early 1900s to the late 1930s for his flower baskets and offering trays. As a young boy, Torii liked to spend time in his father’s studio making toys out of bamboo scraps. Though Hounsai had several students who assisted him, he chose not to train his own son. We do not know why. However, in 1950, when Hounsai became ill, he called his 20-year-old son and asked him to become a bamboo artist and take over the family studio. Hounsai died shortly thereafter. Torii was not sure if he had the aptitude or artistic talent to take on this task but decided to give it a try.

Torii taught himself how to select quality bamboo, how to prepare the material, and how to construct and weave a basket by closely copying his father’s baskets, thus honing his skills through trial and error.

For the first 30 years of his career, Torii Ippo made baskets for use in matcha tea ceremonies. But, at the age of 50, Torii felt the time had come to create and share an entirely new style of art. In 1980, he created his first sculpture, Tabane, a large-scale, architectural bamboo piece that was a dramatic departure from the traditional baskets he had been making. Over the next 30 years, Torii established himself as one of the most original and successful bamboo sculptors of his time. In 2006, he became the third bamboo artist to be awarded the top prize at Nitten (Japan Fine Arts Exhibition).

Spring Surf was the last major piece Torii created before his death in 2011. Inspired by the crashing waves of Mikawa Bay and the Pacific Ocean, this bold and dynamic sculpture employs the artist’s signature band construction.

Torii’s work is in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens; De Young Museum; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Nishio City Museum; and Mint Museum.

To view TAI Modern's current show of his work, click here.

Virtual Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art & Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

June 24, 2021

Removal of lining papers from the back of a Japanese painting using transmitted light (F1904.202).

East Asian Painting Conservation: Perspectives on Education, Research, and Practice
Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 8 – 10 am

Register here

Please visit the Symposium webpage to see a complete list of talks, summaries and speaker biographies in English and either Chinese, Korean or Japanese.

East Asian painting conservation and mounting have a long history of traditional practices rooted in the cultures of China, Korea, and Japan. Since the late twentieth century, however, internationalization and the influences of modern technology and scientific research have rapidly advanced the field. This symposium will explore the three themes—“Education and Training,” “Conservation and Research,” and “Materials and Methods”—that are central to these current developments. Six speakers will share perspectives as conservators, scientists, curators, and educators to broaden our understanding of East Asian painting conservation and related disciplines. By presenting diverse viewpoints, we hope to enrich the ongoing discussion of shifting educational models, the integration of traditional practice and modern innovation, the impact of cross-cultural influences, and the growing importance of interdisciplinary cooperation.

This symposium is organized by the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Artist Talk at The Korea Society

June 24, 2021

Artist Talk: Mina Cheon
Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 | 6:30 PM (EDT)

The global art activist Mina Cheon draws inspiration from the partition of the Korean peninsula, in which she enlists a range of mediums including painting, sculpture, video, installation, and performance to deconstruct and reconcile the precarious history and ongoing coexistence between North and South Korea. Her solo exhibition at The Korea Society showcases her most recent painting series of Unification Flags.

Mina Cheon will discuss her art and career; with a special introduction by Ethan Cohen, director of Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York.

This Artist Talk will be held at The Korea Society. The number of attendees will be limited, and all attendees are encouraged to have been fully vaccinated by the date of the event. Face covering is required to enter the building. Live webcast of the event will also be available.

Click here to RSVP

The Art of Japan: New Acquisitions

June 21, 2021

New Acquisitions for Summer 2021

Enoshima Island, above, is connected to the shore by a long causeway. Here, a group of women and children gather shells and enjoy the beach with a view of the island and Fuji-san in the distance. This place has prevailing ocean breezes and now has a yacht harbor nestled on the left side of the island.  Enoshima was the ideal sailing venue for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and and is the site for the 2020-21 Tokyo Olympics Sailing events which start in just a few days.

Please visit the new website and view over 100 new acquisitions here:  www.theartofjapan.com

June Collection at Dai Ichi Art

June 19, 2021

Miwa Kazuhiko 三輪和彦 Japanese, b. 1951, "Abyss" Guinomi 淵淵盃, stoneware, H1.5" x Dia3.7"; H3.8 x Dia9.3cm, with signed wood box

This June, we reflect on Kigo (季語) or "Season words", which refers to words used to express the seasons and, in turn, feeling, in classical Japanese poetry. As June arrives in full swing, we may observe the term "minazuki" (水無月; the month of water), conceptualizing June. In 1941, the poet, author, and critic Masaoka Shiki 正岡 子規 (1897-1902), wrote about minazuki:

水無月の虚空に涼し時鳥

In the coolness
of the empty sixth-month sky...
the cuckoo's cry.

Complementary to Masaoka Shiki's poetry, Dai Ichi Arts features exceptional functional Sake Wares by Miwa Kazuhiko, Koie Ryoji, Kakurenzaki Ryuichi, Takeuchi Shingo, and more, echoing the refreshing tone of this summer season.

More information here...

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